Simon Brooke, a distinguished gentleman a bit aged but still very forward, gets interested in his family tree and while he was doing some research he found in a branch of his relatives there was a perfumer, John Grossmith, who in 1835 enstablished the Grossmith London. Doing further researchs he got in touch with a distant cousin from the Grossmith side and got to know about the glorious past of his ancestor. At that time in fact the Grossmith London was very popular among the english victorian high society for its extreme quality products made with raw materials coming above all from Grasse that had great success and appointments by the courts of United Kingdom, Spain and Grece and was even prized with a gold medal a the 1851 Expo. The distant relative preserved for many years the shrines containing all the medals and a precious book with thousands of formulas for fragrances, soaps, lotions and ancillars, a true treasure hidden till then, a treasure Simon decided to take with him. So he and his wife Amanda, charmed by the history, decide to buy what's left from the brand Grossmith which business stopped in 1980 but they didn't stop there, they wanted to go further and with a whole book of formulas the road is decidedly long to walk.
Meeting them at Esxence at Campomarzio 70, I had the chance to talk with Amanda wo I asked her if till them she and Simon had ever been interested in perfumes before.
E: "Among all that formulas of fragrances, which was the method for choosing the first fragrances to bring back to life?"
A: "We didn't have a clue about how would have smelled the perfumes. So doing a search on the web we found the old catalogues, vintage bottles and people still remembering they used Grossmith perfumes. The three most popular ones were for sure Phũl-Nãnã, Hasu-no-Hana and Shem-el-Nessim. Just think that Phũl-Nãnã was created in 1891 and sold till the end of the '70s, that means almost a century, I'd say like a kind of No. 5. Phũl-Nãnã was so popular that with its fragrance they made lots of ancillars, soaps, after shaves and even, it seems incredible, a tooth paste. That's why we have chosen these fragrances."
E: "Speaking about this new fragrance, Betrothal, did you think to recreate it on purpose for prince William's wedding?"
A: "Good question. To tell the truth, since the beginning, even before prince William's engagement we already decided that Betrothal would have been Grossmith's fourth fragrance"
As she speaks and smiles, Amanda shows me an old Grossmith advertisement in which appear the name fo the most famous fragrances among which, aside Phũl-Nãnã, Hasu-no-Hana and Shem-el-Nessim, also Betrothal appears. Then she takes out of a box a vintage bottle of Betrothal to show me the label with the writing "Semper Filelis" as an emblem of marital fidelity and the decorations with pink triple bows that's been drawn and made more modern on nowadays packaging.
A: "Betrothal was created by John Grossmith in 1893 to be worn by Mary of Teck the day of her wedding with the future King George V. We planned to launch the fragrance in 2012 to tell the truth but this occasion seemed so special that was a pity not to match the lauch of the fragrance with it, so we did everything we could to shorten the time. We also wrote to the Royal family inviting prince William's bride to wear it the day of the wedding, we should get a reply in a few days. It would be nice if she would wear it like her great-grandmother, we would be very happy about that."
|Grossmith fragrances in Baccarat bottles|
The fragrance opens with the lively hesperidic notes of bergamot and lemon from which, through whispers of lavender, sprouts flourishing the petitgrain that floods of greeness the head accord. It speaks about a young scion covered in dew, strong as it fills the buds and make them bud in spring yet tender with its shiny brittle leafs. Like the borders of Monet paintings, the opening fades out into a delicate white flowers bouquet: green and moist May rose, neroli standing out with its fresh spikes and hinting to the wedding theme and later jasmin from Grasse with its smooth facets, emblem of love sweetness, and finally the carnal and slightly powdery facet of ylang-ylang shyly alluding to the delights of the nuptial bed. The heart of the fragrance is a classic beauty, romantic and proud at the same time and recalls the floral heart that would have made famous few decade later some big classics of the nineteenth century, Chanel No. 5 and Guerlain Liu just to name a few.
Closes the perfume a solid accord of moist woods dominated by vetiver with patchouli and sandalwood hints made more filmy by musky touches ans smoothed by a whiff of vanilla. Like the other Grossmith fragrances, also in the beaming halo exuding from Betrothal, I can feel the foolish quality of the raw materialsstarting from the huge amount of excellent raw materials used like the petitgrain and even more white flowers from Grasse and the mastery in putting them together so closely in a perfect balance, features that more than ever make it the perfect sillage of a future Queen.