Members were recently given a unique chance to go behind the scenes at British perfumery company Floris. Hosted by Shelagh Foyle – Creative Perfumer at Floris, the evening began with a chance to look around the store at 89 Jermyn Street in Piccadilly and enjoy a glass of wine. Members were then split into two groups. One group joined Shelagh in the back room of the shop where the cabinets and shelves are packed with a collection of bottles, flasks and other unique objects dating back to the very beginnings of the business. The lecture began with a look at the history and evolution of Floris fragrances. The shop was opened in 1730 by Juan Famenias Floris and his wife Elizabeth and originally sold shaving equipment, hair combs and perfumes. Shelagh passed around examples of perfume formulae from their archives, showing the evolution of their products from simple natural based blends to the introduction of synthetic ingredients in later years. There was also a chance to see some of the original distillation equipment.
During Shelagh’s lecture members had the opportunity to smell a number of long standing Floris creations including “Limes perfume” which is one of their oldest formulations, “280” a limited edition perfume created to celebrate 280 years of Floris perfumery and Madonna of the Almonds, an Eau de Parfum for women that was exclusively created for the launch of ‘The Madonna of the Almonds’, the highly acclaimed novel by internationally renowned author Marina Fiorato.
The second group assembled in the main shop with Edward Bodenham, a ninth generation member of the Floris family. Edward took us on a journey through his family history, from 1730, when founder Juan Famenias Floris arrived from the Balearic Islands to open the shop through to 1820 when the company received its first Royal Warrant. In 1851 the Great Exhibition was held in London and magnificent Spanish mahogany cabinets from the exhibition were installed in the store and are still used today. We followed the company history through the war years when the store was damaged during bombing raids and had an opportunity to see some of the unique sales ledgers and document archives including a black edged letter from Florence Nightingale thanking Floris for a “fragrant nose-gay” that helped her avoid the terrible odours in and around the hospital to ledger entries for Sir Winston Churchill and members of the Royal Family. The company still holds Royal Warrants to this day.
In the following years the business grew and began exporting their perfumes. The archives show that Marilyn Monroe was also a fan of Floris perfumes and a bottle even travelled to the Arctic with explorer Ranulph Fiennes! Our journey through history took us to the present day as Floris celebrate 280 years of perfumery and the launch of their new Website.
Photographs of the evening are available on the Gallery page.
The Society’s great thanks go to Shelagh Foyle and Edward Bodenham for giving the BSP such a fantastic opportunity to explore the history of Floris.
The article above is the authors interpretation of events.
Report by Helen Hill