February 26, 2020 6 min read
British Family Perfumers Since 1730, Floris has been providing uncompromising fragrances for stylish generations over 9 generations of family ownership. The oldest independent family perfumer in the world and the only appointed perfumer to Her Majesty The Queen, Floris is the original and authentic fragrance house.
Floris’ in-house perfumers produce unique and timeless creations, all of which are given approval by Edward Bodenham, the Floris perfumery director and 9th generation of the Floris family since the brand’s inception nearly 300 years ago.
Edward and his team can be found at 89 Jermyn Street, in the perfumery behind the founding shop where they have created all of their fragrances since 1730. In this same perfumery Edward learnt his craft as a boy from his grandfather. They would blend the fragrances in the basement beneath the store. We were fortunate to have a chat with Edward about where Floris is today, and what motivates him as head of the brand.
Nathan Gareau - Hello Edward, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We've been huge fans of your brand since visiting the London shop in 2015.
Despite it being in your blood, I would imagine that you have your own passion for perfume. What drives you as the director of the Floris brand?
Edward Bodenham - It’s a pleasure. Thank you very much, that’s wonderful to hear.
Well, having grown up surrounded by the wonderful world of perfumery it has been a real passion of mine since childhood. The nostalgic connection to scents and particularly the fragrances that my forefathers created, that I have grown up with, is very emotive and powerful and certainly drives me. Many of our scents are like old friends to me.
Having a love of perfume, and taking inspiration from life experiences and emotions that are unique to myself enables me to create fragrances that are designed in such a way that they have a very personal connection for me which I hope that other people can also appreciate and relate to in some way.
NG - Your personality and close attachment to the fragrances certainly comes out, especially in the new scents that Floris launches! What are the challenges of maintaining that three-century tradition of your forefathers, while appealing to a modern audience?
EB - Being an independent family business competing in a fragrance market which is dominated by huge corporations does have some challenges, but it does also highlight that, by being a family owned company our values are very different and we are driven by very different goals.
One of the challenges we have had in the past is the perception that a company with heritage is sometimes seen as old fashioned. Fortunately our marketing team do a great job in communicating that though we have our heritage, of which we are immensely proud, and which has shaped where and who we are today, we are also very much forward thinking in our fragrance creation and are inspired by new experiences that relate to and are absolutely relevant to the modern world.
We have found more and more, especially in these uncertain times when companies often come and go within just a few years or even months, that much of the modern audience take their time to research and educate themselves in order to find a company or brand that has stood the test of time, and that they connect with because they share their values of artistry and craftsmanship. Having spoken to a great deal of our long established customers as well as our new customers, many of them mention that they find it very reassuring wearing fragrances and using products from a company with such longevity.
NG - Funny enough, we find the exact same thing in our shops. Folks often trust the brands that have stood the test of time, not to mention the tools that have also weathered centuries of innovation. If you would pull the curtain back for the lay-person who is new to perfume, what is the process of designing and crafting one of your fragrances?
EB - Creating one of our fragrances starts with an inspiration, whether that is a stirring experience of a place visited, or perhaps something imagined or remembered that sparks a strong emotion.
The process then involves trying to create that emotion by carefully painting an invisible picture with our pallet of fragrance oils, finding the perfect balance of the materials used. I usually approach creating a fragrance like composing a piece of music, and in fact the language of fragrance shares many words with the language of music with the use of ‘accords’, ‘top notes’, ‘heart notes’ and ‘base notes’ which are all referred to regularly.
When we work on a new perfume it is always on a very small scale, delicately adding drops of each ingredient and creating a series of fragrance directions to evaluate. We then make iterations on the chosen directions until the final fragrance has eventually been arrived at. This usually takes many months, but can sometimes take years.
NG - Wow. The labour involved is absolutely evident in your perfumes, but I love the image of 'painting' or 'composing' a new scent. It truly is an art. Perhaps for this reason, Floris has been extremely well-received with Canadian audiences. Your perfumes are a breath of fresh air here. If you were to ever design a Canadian-inspired perfume, what ingredients would you use?
EB - Thank you very much for your kind words. I am delighted that our fragrances connect with the Canadian audience.
I’m sorry to say that I have not yet visited Canada, so firstly I would love to change that and have the opportunity to experience the beauty of Canada first hand.
However, taking inspiration from photographs and my imagined interpretation of Canada, the fragrance would certainly contain a substantial cedarwood element to it along with the addition of a warm, smoky birch tree note and fresh woody, fir notes of cypress. I absolutely love maple syrup and have done since I was a child. It has very nostalgic, comforting and cosy connotations for me so adding a hint of a maple syrup type of note would be essential. I would then like to try including cool, icy, green notes of juniper and cassis to represent Canada’s beautiful snow-capped mountains and lush green pastures.
NG -Coming from a Canadian,I think you nailed it. I hope we can host you some time, our boss might even try to drag you out fishing! And hopefully that fragrance sees the light of day, I would love to see a cedar, birch and juniper forward scent in your collection. On that note, I adore your new Vert Fougere and wear it several times a week. What Floris scents do you wear most, both classic and modern?
EB - I wear many of our fragrances and am fortunate that I’m able to change which one I wear depending on the day, but the scents that I wear the most are ‘Elite’, which is a complex, classic, green, woody, mossy fragrance and is one that my grandfather used to wear. Interestingly I found out recently from my uncle that it was the fragrance that David Bowie used to buy when he visited, as he was fortunate enough to have met Bowie when he served him in our Jermyn Street Shop in the 1980s.
The other fragrance that I wear most often is Jermyn Street which I think has a perfect balance of fresh citrus notes, sparkling juniper and the comforting warmth of vetiver and musk. It’s a fragrance that I tend to wear all year round.
Other fragrances that I wear fairly often are the classic ‘Special No.127’ and the modern ‘Neroli Voyage’.
NG -Elite is indeed a spectacular scent. If it works for you, your grandfather,and Bowie, I would say it's good enough for anyone.
Thank you for taking this time for us Edward, I hope you can visit the great white north one day. For now farewell, and I can't wait to see what other fantastic fragrances you craft in the coming years.