The essence of history

Floris in Jermyn Street, London

Floris in Jermyn Street, London - Credit: Archant

The stories behind some of our favourite perfumes can be fascinating, says Suzie Abel, Jarrold’s beauty buyer.

Having worked for Jarrold’s for over 25 years, I have always been intrigued by the history of the company and how the world of retail has changed dramatically since it was founded 245 years ago – from humble beginnings as a drapers shop in Woodbridge, Suffolk, to the flagship department store it is today. It’s absolutely fascinating to look through the many old photographs, lithographs and marketing material from across the ages. Of course, beauty was a relatively late introduction in the 1960s when the radical decision was also taken to add fashion to the mix, and we truly became a department store.

The heritage of British fragrance brands across the eras is really interesting too, and I love to research how they adapt their new scents to the mood and fashion of the time. Two of the most successful – Floris (established in 1730) and Penhaligon’s (1870) - are still part of our brand portfolio. Amazingly, they both still occupy their original premises in Jermyn Street, London. Floris claims to be the oldest independent perfumer in the world and holds a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales. Esteemed customers have included King George IV, Sir Winston Churchill and Marilyn Monroe, and their classic men’s fragrance No 89 was a favourite of Ian Fleming! I feel very privileged to have seen these names in the original ledgers in the Jermyn Street archives.

William Penhaligon was appointed barber and perfumer to the royal court at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, and the brand also holds Royal Warrants to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh. Their fragrances are divine and my two favourites are Vaara and Juniper Sling (nothing to do with the fact that one of the ingredients is real gin!)

A brand that isn’t quite so old but that is launching a totally appropriate range of delicious fragrances this month is Jo Malone London. The limited edition collection of 30ml colognes is called Rock The Ages and celebrates the atmosphere of some of our most defining eras - the five different scents capturing the drama and ambience of each one.

Tudor Rose & Amber is rich and sumptuous with Clove, Rose and Amber

Lily of the Valley & Ivy embodies Georgian Britain and is captivating and ethereal

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Pomegranate Noir will be well known to fans of Jo Malone but perfectly represents the drama and intensity of the Victorian age

Geranium & Verbena is a clean, herbaceous fragrance which suits the Edwardian era perfectly

Birch & Black Pepper is bang-up-to-date – individual, audacious and modern

A clever finishing touch is a piece of material wrapped around the bottle stopper appropriate to that particular age.

So whatever your taste in fragrance, why not spare a moment to try some of the classic, heritage scents still available – they may just surprise you.

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