Located in the heart of St. James and flanked by John Lobb (the signature of bespoke shoes worn by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles) and Lock and Co. Hatters (Charles Chaplin’s or Lord Nelson’s favorite hatters), Floris it is the only perfumery distinguished with a Royal Guarantee granted by Her Majesty the Queen of England. Also, although those responsible are very discreet, it is common knowledge in London that Elizabeth II’s favorite perfume is signed by them. “I can’t give the name out of respect,” explains Edward Bodenham, a member of the seventh generation at the helm of this perfumery founded in 1700 by a menorqun, Joan Femenas.
But the list of famous fans of this house is endless. Oscar Wilde was addicted to Malmaison Carnation Perfume (a carnation-based scent that, much to the chagrin of many people, is no longer sold). Ian Fleming made Limes, inspired by the citric smell of Menorca, a distinctive feature of James Bond (in the author’s novels there are constant allusions to this perfume as the talisman of Agent 007) .And the one that Winston Churchill used throughout his life. life is today another of his best sellers. “It’s called Number 127 because that was the page where the formula was listed in the archives. Gary Oldmann came to the store recently. He was preparing his role in Darkest Hour and took several jars,” says Edward. And it is that Floris continues to market -with slight variations- the perfumes revered by the great characters of the British landscape (and many others, such as Marilyn Monroe). “He was very fond of Rose Geranium Eau de Toilette. In 1959 he visited the store and took six bottles,” Edward explains excitedly. This history has undoubtedly contributed to the fact that the business, which is still in the hands of the same family and has only twenty employees, has survived to this day despite the winds of change. That is a very personal vision of the perfumery. “At Floris we do not work with gourmand (a type of sweet aroma that all multinationals use and that is reminiscent of caramel)”, Edward exclaims. This is the advantage of being one of the few perfumers in the world that maintains its independence in a world dominated by large corporations.
Floris is … Concrete emotions and inspirations. We consider trends to come and go, so we don’t follow them. Some perfumes lose popularity from generation to generation, but return years later.
Tell me about your balearic origins. My ancestor, Joan Femenies Floris, was born in Ciutadella in the 18th century. He studied perfumery in Montpellier and soon after he settled in this same building. At first he sold shaving foams, combs and Spanish combs, but his real passion was perfumes.
How many of your perfumes were created in the past? Limes was formulated in 1700 and today we sell it with slight variations to avoid allergens. It was very successful because eighteenth-century London didn’t smell exactly good (laughs). Joan Femenies created it thinking about the citric smell of Menorca. Lilly of the Valley, which is very popular with young women today, is from the late 18th century.
Who die for their perfumes? Many of our clients have grown up with them because their grandparents used them. It is very exciting to offer them the possibility of reliving their memories through our aromas. I think we all unconsciously seek aromas from our childhood. (The perfume that Edward uses, Elite, is the one that his grandfather used every day).
What does a Royal Guarantee mean? It is an acknowledgment to those who have served the British Royal Household well for at least five years. As the carrier of various Royal Warranties since 1800, we are committed to offering the highest standards of quality and excellence.
Tell us about the tradition of making perfumes on the occasion of royal weddings. Our shop is opposite St. James’s Church, and my ancestors often made perfumes for English high-society brides. In 1840, on the occasion of the royal wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Bouquet de La Reine was created.
Can any customer buy these editions? When we create these fragrances we usually launch a limited edition that we offer to our customers (however they do not merchandise them).
What perfume did they create on the occasion of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di? For “bridal” perfumes we usually work with Stephanotes. It is the foundation we use for the wedding of Prince William and Princess Katherine. Although in this case, the final formula was more critical.
It has been said that Prince Harry wore a version of Positano from Calabria (another of his most iconic perfumes) on his wedding day.. (He makes a surprised face and shakes his head, but I am sure he does so because he does not take advantage of the meditative pull).
Will your children take the reins? I hope so. My daughter has already made a perfume inspired by one that she gave to her mother at the age of six and called The Flowers of my Garden.
There are no prices in the store. However, after this interview, I discover that their perfumes are not at all expensive. Certainly no more so than any of those found in department stores under the names of designers or famous singers. There is something real and authentic about this family business. Something that, minutes before closing this interview, Edward defines as: “In the world we live in, everything is changing but you can always go back to Jermyn Street, where everything has remained the same for centuries.”