A Serendipitous Alphabetic Telling of
Atkinsons’ Utterly Fantastic History
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 1826.
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.
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
N is also for Never being seen out on the town without a liberal
spritz of your singularly special Atkinsons blend.
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
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.
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.