Smart Dressing

On the nose: Floris London’s Fragrance Customisation

The Jackal's Deputy Editor goes on the trail of his very own scent, at England's oldest family owned perfumer

I can’t say I’d ever wondered what Oscar Wilde smelt like. Or Winston Churchill. Not, that is, until I stepped inside Floris London’s recently refurbished Jermyn Street store. The perfumer was established in 1730 and if you so wish, you can dip into its archive and recreate the scents chosen by messers Wilde, Churchill and any number of the capital denizens counted by Floris as loyal clientele over the last 300 years.

The reason I’m here, though, is to experience Floris’s personalisation service. Floris, which is run by the ninth generation of the founding family and holds two royal warrants, is the only traditional English perfumer offering the opportunity to create your own unique fragrance.

Consultations are overseen by Floris’s charming Bespoke Perfumer, Nicola Pozzani, who starts our session by learning a little of my tastes and expectations: when will the fragrance be worn, what will make it truly personal, and which olfactory memories might be evoked by a particular smell. This forms a starting point to work through the four ‘families’ of fragrances that Floris uses: citrus, floral, woody and oriental.

From that he selects a foundation, along the way sampling the house’s original 1730s formula for Eau de Cologne. Some two-dozen sniffs later, I whittle down my choice to just two base-notes before more testing to find ‘accords’ to accent the final fragrance. From leathery heart-notes or floral top-notes of patchouli, to exotic blends of ‘oriental resins’, the chosen composition is altered drop by drop until we’re both content.

Which I am. Not just because the resultant perfume is complex and fruity (like you – Ed.), but because the ingredients really do have a personal significance. The lavender from my mother’s garden, the orange blossom from a long-gone holiday in Andalusia, the muskiness of discovering rare old books at university – somehow, Pozzani’s got it all into one engraved bottle.

What’s more, my personalised scent is now banked in Floris’s archives. Which means that 300 years from now, my descendants will be able to find out what I smelt like. If they really want to know.

Floris’s bespoke fragrance customisation service takes two hours and costs £450. Book an appointment at florislondon.com