Floris is one of the oldest and most reputable perfume houses in Britain as well as in the world. They have been dedicated to making perfumes and fragrances for centuries, dating back to 1730. Rich heritage, history, and tradition are one of the main reasons why people turn to the perfumes of this house. I had the opportunity to interview the heir of Floris, Edward Bodenham and the direct descendant of founder Juan Floris.
IGOR: What are the top 5 fragrances when someone wants to try Floris for the first time, that would give him the best representation of what Floris is and what it stands for and why?
EDWARD BODENHAM: If I was introducing our collection to someone for the first time I would start with two of our iconic fragrances which represent our heritage and DNA but which are from different fragrance families, so Lily of the Valley and Special No.127.
Jermyn Street is the fragrance that I would introduce next as it is a current representation and reflection of our heart and home at our shop and perfumery at 89 Jermyn Street. The fragrance is inspired by the expertise and craftsmanship of St. James’s and various ingredients are a nod to our long-standing neighbors.
I would then introduce A Rose For… which is a contemporary and intriguing take on the rose, combining the freshness of rose with rich dark themes. I would then also introduce Vert Fougére which is the most recent scent that we shall be launching next week. It is our complete reinterpretation of the classic fougére style of fragrance and is our first in that style for 17 years.
IGOR: Is British perfumery different from French or Arabic and in which way?
EDWARD BODENHAM: Traditionally British fragrances were more subtle than French and Arabic ones with more emphasis on the floral family of fragrances which I think to some extent still influences many of our fragrances as it is ingrained in our culture, however as more ingredients become available and new inspirations are borne from the exploration of travel there is a little more cross over these days. Our Honey Oud and Leather Oud fragrances take exotic inspiration but add a quintessentially British twist.
IGOR: What would you say is the distinctive characteristic of Floris perfumes, scent-wise?
EDWARD BODENHAM: We have many raw materials that have been the backbone of our fragrances since the early days although used in different ways and within different combinations. These are rose, jasmine, bergamot, neroli, sandalwood to name a few.
I do feel though, that as we create all our fragrances in the same building that we always have done since the 1700s and that used to be the family home, there is some inspiring magic and soul that finds its way into all of our fragrances.
IGOR: Is it hard balancing the historical heritage of Floris with new trends in perfumery, and what’s the biggest challenge in it?
EDWARD BODENHAM: No, it feels like a natural progression and we wouldn’t want to be constricted by having to make sure that every fragrance that we work on must fit certain Floris criteria. It has happened very organically due to our technique and approach being handed down through the same family. Our most recent scents are representative of our unique evolution over the centuries and of how we express our creations in today’s world.
The biggest challenge is respecting and communicating our heritage without coming across as old fashioned’. We have many years of heritage and experience, but as each generation of the family comes with new energy and inspiration we continue to blossom and move forward.
IGOR: Many of Floris scents are inspired by parts of London. Having in mind that London is rapidly changing with its multiculturality, can we expect some fragrances that will embody new faces of London?
EDWARD BODENHAM: Yes, I’m sure that the changes around us will continue to shape and inspire our scents going forward.
IGOR: I guess there are many famous Brits who love your perfumes. Can you tell us their names, favorite Floris perfumes and maybe some anecdotes about them?
EDWARD BODENHAM: We have to be rather discreet when talking about our well-known customers.
We have a few well-known stories like Sir Winston Churchill favoring our Special No.127 fragrance. Funnily enough, when making The Darkest Hour and being a method actor, Garry Oldman requested to wear the scent on set so that he could get as close to the character of Churchill as possible.
Benedict Cumberbatch is also a customer of ours and our products were featured as part of the plot in an episode of Sherlock which was quite a surprise.
My uncle once served David Bowie in our shop, who wore our Elite fragrance.
I actually once served Liv Tyler in our shop too, who was very graceful and absolutely charming.