Edward Bodenham – in-house ‘nose’ and 9th generation of the Floris family

Right on the Nose

8th February 2019

Lisa Botwright talks about the subtleties of scent with perfumery expert Edward Bodenham…

Scent is incredibly evocative. Our olfactory system is located in a region of the brain where memories are stored, which means our conscious recollections become even more powerful and emotive when linked with aroma.

So when you’re the ninth generation of the Floris family, a scion of Juan Famenias Floris who launched the perfumery business in 1730, and the current ‘nose’ of Floris London, I venture you’re bound to have an especially heightened emotional connection with this particular sense…

“I love the smell of my children’s hair when I kiss them on the head,” Edward enthuses. “I love the smell of a crisp sunny day in winter, especially in the countryside when you can smell the lovely uplifting green, leafy and woody notes but also the faint smell of woodsmoke. I also love our ‘Elite’ fragrance as it is very nostalgic for me… the scent that my grandfather used to wear.”

And for more family memories, Edward also recalls “the mixture of fragrance oils that my father’s briefcase used to smell of after returning from our perfumery in Jermyn Street.”

Father and son now run the business from its London flagship store, and I wonder if, when growing up under the auspices of such an inspiring family legacy, Edward felt under any pressure to eventually take the helm? “It felt like a very natural calling to continue the tradition. I have such fond memories of visiting the shop from a young age, and it is very nostalgic for me to be around the fragrances that I have grown up with my whole life.” Looking after those nostalgic scents is important, he explains, “but it is also very exciting to be able to add new fragrances to the collection, which will hopefully become future classics for many generations to come.”

As the ‘nose’, Edward’s role involves working closely with the two in-house perfumers, discussing ideas and inspirations for new fragrances, and then gradually bringing these to life by working on the scents collaboratively at their antiques-filled London premises. Edward has been overseeing the refurbishment of the Jermyn Street store – which still boasts stunning mahogany cabinets purchased at the Great Exhibition in 1851 – and is currently busy managing two new projects within the newly realised space: a museum that will share items from the extensive Floris archive, and the launch of the new Ledger Series – eight carefully selected, centuries-old fragrances based on historic customer ledgers. These fragrances won’t be released into the main collection, but will be available to be hand-poured on request by the perfumery team.

“There is an element of pressure,” Edwards admits, “because we are building on the life’s work of my forefathers and adding to their repertoire of scents but, with the passion and expertise gained from growing up within the company and learning from my relatives, as well as the wider perfumery industry I am confident that we are evolving, and I hope that my ancestors would be proud of our creations today.”

Floris even offers a bespoke service where customers are taken on a ‘six month olfactory journey’ and scents are hand-blended to create the perfect, personalised product.  
“To be taken on an emotional and often nostalgic tour through the curation of our near 300 years of perfumery archives, smelling rare and exotic oils and essences is a wonderfully uplifting and emotional experience,” Edward tells me. Once the desired fragrance has been created, the customer is invited to name it and then it’s stored privately in the Floris records for subsequent orders, “leaving a legacy for future generations to come”.

Edward is fortunate to work with some of the most exclusive raw materials in perfumery, and claims a personal preference for ‘musk, iris, sandalwood, cade, honeysuckle and orange flower’.

Since fragrance is so personal to the individual, both emotionally and in the way it manifests on our skin, Edward advises that when choosing a perfume, it’s best to wear the fragrance on for half an hour or an hour to see if it develops on us in a way that we like. He also encourages us to consider whether the fragrance is for a certain occasion or a particular season as these are “all factors that should be taken into consideration”.

Most importantly, he shares, “you just need to look for something that connects with you emotionally and in a positive way. That way it will uplift you, make you feel more confident and bring an extra touch of joy to your day.”

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