A is for Atkinson, first name James, an enterprising Gentleman from the
wildest reaches of northern England, who, on a fine morning in the early
Spring of 1799, set forth, with a large brown bear, to make his fortune
in London. Tucked into the capacious pockets of his waistcoat were
recipes for fine English scents and toiletries, and a sizeable quantity
of rose-scented bear grease balm.
Within days, James's utterly fantastic pomade, unguents
and fragrances had become indispensable to the entirety of London's
most uppity crust, who, to procure sufficient stock for the Social
Season, boldly braved the brown bear tethered to the door of James's
smart new shop at 44 Gerrard Street.
B is not for Bear but for Bouquets, the preferred 19th-century
nomenclature for Fragrances. The uppity ranks especially clamoured for
Atkinsons' off-the-peg Bond Street Bouquet, The Sandringham Bouquet,
Woodland Bouquet, and The British Bouquet, instant classics quite unlike
anything anyone had sniffed before or since. Unconventionally powerful,
enticingly complex, and unexpectedly vigorous and enduring, they were,
and are, the very essence of Englishness.
E is for the Eau de Cologne, which young James Atkinson brought to
hand-crafted perfection in 1800. Dissatisfied with the vapid Italianate
colognes then prevalent, James gave his Eau de Cologne a decidedly
unContinental twist Uncommonly assertive, extremely English and
elaborately textured so as to last well past even the weeest hours,
Atkinsons' Eau de Cologne was an altogether different and exciting
perfume proposition. Exactly one century anon, it carried away the
coveted Gold Medal at the Universal Exposition.
Today, it is the inspiration of Atkinsons' emblematic 24 Old Bond Street Cologne.
G is for George, aka George IV of the United Kingdom, aka Prinny.
Despite his kingly status, in matters of what constituted the finer
things, Prinny was but a mere acolyte of Beau Brummel, First Dandy of
the Realm and eminent style guru whose influence is still felt today. A
devotee of all things Atkinsons, Brummel wisely advised Prinny to
declare the house the Official Perfumer to the Royal Court of England in
V is for Queen Victoria, renowned as much for her prodigious green thumb
as her wisdom in matters of Colonial and Domestic governance.
Victoria's passion for the mystical language of flowers was such that
she composed her own bridal blooms. Selected for their special secret
significations, those flowers are the inspiration for The Nuptial
Bouquet, Atkinsons' top-hole tribute to Royal Romance.
L is for Legendary, Atkinsons' contemporary collection of heritage
bouquets of character. These spiffing spritzes powerfully span past and
present and are as profoundly British as cricket.
O is for Old Bond Street, Number 24, where Atkinsons found new lodgings
in 1832. With its magnificent Carillon that chimes the hour to this day,
the gloriously gilded building, entirely rebuilt from ground to spire
after a dreadful fire, has been the object of much envy ever since, and
is now justly celebrated in its own eponymous Cologne.
N is for the Nobility, the Newsworthy and the Notorious, scads of whom
flocked to the house demanding their own bespoke Bouquets. Among them:
Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince
Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, the Tsarina of Russia
and Sarah Bernhardt.
N is also for Never being seen out on the town without a liberal spritz of your singularly special Atkinsons blend.
R is for the Return of Atkinsons and its bear after a most delightful
hibernation, utterly revived and ready to usher in a new century of
gloriously fragrant perfume snobbery.
S is for Sartorial, Savoir-faire and Snobbery Scents of the poshest
perfumery persuasion, the kind that comes from two hundred years of
elegant eccentricity and timeless chic, which an Atkinsons girl or boy
has in Spades.
T is for Traditionally British, darling. It can never be surpassed, and never goes out of style.