In the early Spring of 1799, James Atkinson, an enterprising young
gentleman from the wilds of Cumberland, set forth by carriage for the
glorious city of London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine scents
and toiletries of his own devising. Next to him sat a sizeable quantity of
rose-scented bear grease balm. Next to the balm sat a growly bear.
The growly bear was thoroughly devoted to James. Within mere days
the utterly fantastic balm became indispensable to London’s most uppity
crust, who braved the bear at the door of 44 Gerrard Street
(“that marvellous perfume shop with the most terrifying bear”)
to procure sufficient stock for the Social Season.
In 1800, James Atkinson hit upon his most startling creation to date,
a fearlessly English Eau de Cologne totally different from the
Italianate colognes then in vogue. Curiously fresh yet warm and spicy,
the new Eau de Cologne was stronger and more prepossessing than
its continental cousins, with a lingering trail that conjured
forth the confident attributes of the British Empire.
It and all things Atkinsons became such a sensation with the royal ranks that
when King George IV caught a whiff of it at Buckingham in 1826, he proclaimed
Atkinsons the Official Perfumer to the royal Court of England on the spot.
From then on the sweet smell of Atkinsons’ success wafted
throughout the realm, emanating most deliciously, in 1832, from its
utterly fantastic new headquarters at 24 Old Bond Street.
Atkinsons’ greatest devotee in Regency England was that fabulous arbiter of all
things elegant, Beau Brummel, First Dandy of the Realm. Lesser luminaries –
Napoleon, the duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince Tomasi
di Lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, and the Tsarina of Russia – also
clamoured after Atkinsons’ customised bouquets. Soon, all of society was hot
for the house’s instantly recognisable, off- the-peg creations. To meet demand, new
shops were opened abroad – in Paris, the Americas and Australia. The Atkinsons
inventory was positively bursting with new fragrances. White rose. English
Lavender. Royal Briar. The British Bouquet. The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet… Then as
now, and quite unlike anything anyone has sniffed before or since, each is
unconventionally powerful, and unexpectedly vigorous and enduring. They are,
we dare say, the very essence of English Fragrance.
After a most delightful hibernation, Atkinsons and its growly bear have awoken
from their slumber totally refreshed and revived. Drawing on 200 years of English
eccentricity, style and impeccable manners, not to mention an incomparable
heritage and imperishable commitment to making the highest echelons of society
as fragrant and delectable as humanly possible, we are now ready to usher in a
new century of perfume snobbery. How? By means of our newest collections, our
boldest and most irresistible to date. “True style,” as Beau Brummel once said,
“never goes out of fashion. You simply cannot keep
a good bear down.”