07 aprile 2011

Esxence 2011 (2): Grossmith London Betrothal

I must confess that when I saw the brands present at Esxence 2011 I was very happy to find Grossmith London besides the fact they were launching a new fragrance or not. I've been lucky enough to know about them when they just landed to Italy right out of my door and I've been enthusiastic about them since the beginning. But for who hasn't read their singular story, let me do a short resumé.
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.

Betrothal Vintage
A: "No, we've never been into perfumes since then, me and Simon used to wear perfumes, above all classics from Dior, for example I used for years Diorissimo and Simon Eau Sauvage, but that's all till now. It's Simon's discovery that  got us more and more passionate about the story of John Grossmith and therefore to fragrances. After retrieving the book with the formulas we thought a lot about what to do and who to apply. Them an evening we went with friends to a lecture held by Roja Dove and at the end they introduced us to him. Hearing our story and knowing about John Grossmith's great past, he became our mentor and told us to go to Robertet. They did a great and very fashinating job that we followed closely for more than two years, starting from some vintage bottle we foung on the web. First step has been to analyze them with a gascromatograph to make some trials matching the analysis with the formulas we had. At first it wasn't easy also for us to get into an unknown world, to hear about raw materials, costs, production processes, but we didn't care about time and money involved, by that time we wanted to get at the end. It's been necessary a great effort and the use of extraordinary quality natural raw material but in the end when we got to recreate the fragrances as close as possible to the originals we were thrilled about the result."

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 first three Grossmith perfumes ispired by exoticism and travels of late eighteenth century colonial England speak about the far-east: Hasu-no-Hana (the scent of japanese lotus lily) is a Rising Sun impression, Phũl-Nãnã (lovely flower in Hindi) speaks about savage India while Shem-el-Nessim (the scent of Araby) tells about the one thousand and one nights middle-east and are characterized by an enveloping structure with lots of facets. Betrothal, which literally means a wedding promise in ancient english, surprised me for its brightness and freshness yet keeping the same victorian style but with a further proudly elegant twist.
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.

2 commenti:

Bettina ha detto...

I had the pleasure to meet the two in Duesseldorf at Global Art of Perfumery. They are very sweet people and it is interesting to talk to them and learn about their perfumes as well as how they got into the world of perfumes. Betrothal I liked very much and to me it is in a way different than the other 3 fragrances out of the line.

Magnifiscent ha detto...

Hi Bettina,
indeed Mr&Mrs Brooke are adorable and it's been fascinating to talk to them. I'm glad you liked Betrothal, it's a lovely gentle fragrance with a clear european footprint and I agree is quite different from the first three eastern inspired perfumes. Did you have the chance to try it on skin too? I'd love to know how do you smell it on you.

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