Niche Perfumery Betrothal by Grossmith

Betrothal by Grossmith

04/26/11 01:30:26 (9 comments)

by: Suzy Nightingale


Modern day fairytales are few and far between these days, it seems, but they do happen you know. Listen, and I will tell you a wonderful story about a Princess, a perfume and a passionate family business rediscovered, which just happens to be absolutely true…
Simon and Amanda Brooke
 

Once Upon a Time there happened to be a man who, whilst mostly satisfied with his life, felt a deep stirring in his heart to trace his family history, to reach back through the years and shake hands with his ancestors, as it were. Perhaps you recognise this need to look back and wonder, to introduce yourself to those who came before you and find out what they were like, who they became, and what they would have thought of you, now? It’s certainly a calling that many of us feel, particularly in this age of families and loved ones scattered all over the world, separated perhaps by necessity or choice.


The man in our story is Simon Brooke, and the journey he began when tracing his family tree led him, ultimately, to completely change his life. Simon’s career to date had been firmly routed in the world of property: a world which may very well be a hotbed of intrigue and scandal, for all we know, but one which doesn’t tend to transport the majority of us into rapturous dreams, perhaps it’s fair to say. One day, however, this perfectly normal man discovered a long-forgotten secret treasure: a family perfumery that had once been renowned throughout the Empire for their exquisite creations. Grossmith, one of England’s very oldest perfume houses, launched in 1835 by John Grossmith, and now lovingly brought back to life by Simon—the great, great grandson of the original founder.
 
Loading...

The esteemed House of Grossmith were no strangers to adventure—something that must surely run in the family to this day—as they forged ahead with great advancements in the modern perfumery of the early 19th century. This pioneering spirit combined their meticulous standards with the all-encompassing trend for the Exotic, and the three perfumes they created are at the very heart of the Grossmith revival today; Hasu-no-Hana, Phul-Nana, and Shem-el-Nessim. The very names roll sensuously off the tongue, an incantation evoking a sense of mystery, the delicious shock of the new, yet safely anchored in their rich heritage.

The precious secret formulae for these perfumes would have been lost forever, had the books containing the hand-written lists of ingredients and notes regarding their blending not been rescued from the London offices, so sadly bombed during the Blitz. These tomes were passed down through three generations of the family, until 1970 when the brand left the family and then, the very heart ripped out, closed down soon after.


The original Betrothal perfume was made by the Grossmith perfumery for Princess May, on the occasion of her wedding to King George V. Then the princess became the newly crowned Queen Mary, who happens to be Prince William's great-great grandmother, and those ripples of history resonate in Betrothal’s beautiful revival in time for today’s fairytale royal wedding of William and Kate.

Simon explained how Betrothal hadn’t been launched to coincide with their wedding, it had always been planned as their next release, but the timing of it is another happy accident of Fate on this wonderful journey of discovery.
 


Hearing Simon and his wife, Amanda, talk about their business, a shyly proud glow beams from them, as if they were discussing a particularly gifted and treasured child, a much-loved member of the family itself. Grossmith encompasses many of my own passions—the Victorian era (my absolute favourite period of history), the perfume
labels, packaging and design, and of course the wonderful perfumes themselves. It was inevitable: I was bound to fall deeply in love with this modern fairytale, both with the story of how they came to be, and with the company itself.


Grossmith are fanatical about who they work with—from the careful selection of equivalent family-run manufacturing houses, to the intricate designs of their bottles, romantically harking back to the past but with a clean, modern appearance overall; this is a man—a family—who care very much about every single aspect of the process of production.

The stunning engraving on the Baccarat crystal bottles comes from the original design, with even the refined pink and silver colour references and typeface of the modern Betrothal’s label being directly inspired by the original. Simon and Amanda even go to the lengths of personally interviewing perfume shops who would like to stock their fragrances, because they want to make sure the perfumes will be sold by people who care just as passionately as they do.
 
Loading...

And so to the perfume itself—Betrothal is a floral bouquet with a citrus opening which blooms quickly into the floral heart of Rose de Mai and Jasmine. Incidentally, this precious ingredient can only be called ‘Rose de Mai’ if it is specifically grown in the tiny town of Grasse, in France—the very heart of perfumery itself. Very few perfume houses source their ingredients from here, now, as they are so incredibly expensive to produce. Of course, Grossmith, working closely with the renowned perfumer Roja Dove, decided they must only ever use the finest ingredients to honour the history of the family name, whilst also ensuring the quality of their perfumes keeps them in annals of perfumery history yet to be written.





There is a wonderfully luxurious powdery note from the Heliotrope mixed with Ylang Ylang and Neroli, clean and lingering, which reminds one of dusting powders applied with swansdown feather puffs with handles entwined in satin. It's not all virginal white, sweetness and light, however. Though delicate, this isn’t some trembling, fragile bouquet of blossoms soon spoiled—there's a definite hint of minxy naughtiness once that billowing veil has been lifted, a suggestion of the final seduction to come.
 

Roja Dove describes this Betrothal by likening it to a modern-day gardener taking the same flowers in that original hand-written list, but planting them in a contemporary pattern. A paradox: the same but different. Original, contemporary, roots deeply flourishing in history: quintessentially English. Fit for a Queen.



Betrothal will exclusively be made available after the Royal wedding, in either 10ml or 50ml bottles, and may be purchased from Grossmithlondon.com

10ml: £195
50ml: £375

 

Author: Suzy Nightingale  (Miss_Nightingale)
Fragrantica Member

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Previous Niche Perfumery Next


Miss_Nightingale
Miss_Nightingale

Alexandrarae: Oh that's okay, I just get upset when people dismiss fragrances as "too expensive" when I really think we need high quality perfume houses to keep the industry as exciting and fresh as it can be, that's all! I'm thrilled to hear you may like to try a sample of one and I'd absolutely love to read your review of any niche or luxury brand you try, truly. I have never been so excited as when I first tried a niche brand - it opens up a whole new area of perfume to be passionate about! :) xxx

Apr
28
2011
Alexandrarae
Alexandrarae

Sorry Miss Nightingale ... didn't mean to upset you. Take your point about the time and special ingredients and quality etc. to make these very authentic perfumes. Hope one day I will have the opportunity to just have a precious drop on my wrist to understand what a truly great perfume smells like. I think to date, that Patou's Sublime has been the most expensive one I have bought so haven't had the opportunity to even try a niche perfume like Betrothed. Consider me chastened! Love your review by the way and can tell you are a Passionate Perfume lover, as I am. Regards, Alexandrarae

Apr
27
2011
Miss_Nightingale
Miss_Nightingale

Alexandre: It's not a souvenir, and it's not for Will & Kate's wedding - it was always going to be the next perfume on the historic list to be re-vamped, but as the original was made for William's great-great grandmother, it would seem very odd not to have released it as they planned! It is expensive, yes, but so are the incredible ingredients. I met the lady who had spent months & months chemically analysing vintage bottles of the original vintage Betrothal perfume... She & her team work in Grasse & were directly responsible for sourcing ingredients as close to the quality & standard of the original as possible. I also met the man who spent years working on the exact engraving they wanted on the bottles, the people who were specially comissioned to make the boxes - as you can imagine, employing all these experts to not only research the original so extensively, but to create works of art (and I've had them in my hands, that's what they are!) is very labour intensive & costs a lot of money.

It's a bit like saying "Goodness, aren't handmade couture wedding dresses much more costly than mass-made t-shirts?!" Yes, they are, but there's a really good reason for that! :)

I know Betrothal is a much more considered purchase than many perfumes you can buy in high street shops & supermarkets, but the perfume industry only continues to thrive because of artisan companies & niche perfumiers insisting on premier ingredients & craftsmanship at every stage.

Yes, there should always be more reasonably priced perfumes for us to buy along with our groceries or just on an impulse, but I am so glad there are still companies out there making beautiful perfumes like this. Even if I can't always afford a whole bottle, I get decants to try & sometimes save for ages & really treat myself with a luxury one - and I'd live to do that with one on my forthcoming wedding day! ;) x

Apr
27
2011
Alexandrarae
Alexandrarae

WOW.......What a money spinner this one is - another "souvenir" for Wills & Kate. Three hundred and Seventy Five English Pounds for a 50 ml bottle - that's Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars here in Australia. One would have to be extremely well off to be able to purchase this one. (Must admit I would probably love it - the notes sound gorgeous and I like the sound of a bit of "minxy naughtiness"!) My invitation to the wedding got lost in the post but we are looking forward to watching it on the tele. Cheers, Alexandrarae

Apr
27
2011
camillia
camillia

Whoam, the Brooks are doing things the right way! Very clever! And very sympathetic! I'm sure the perfumes are masterpieces, unfortunately way over the top price-wise for me mainstream consumer.

Apr
27
2011
naheed
naheed

That sounds like finding a time capsule, and how they learnt about their family history of perfume making. Their care about the delicacy of perfume ingredients sounds like carefully written compositions.

Apr
26
2011
Miss_Nightingale
Miss_Nightingale

TigerLillian: Their perfumes are really beautiful, I hope you get to try some more :) I love companies who focus first on the quality of their fragrances, not just ad campaigns!

NebraskaLovesScent: Thank you! I just adore Victorian imagery & think it's so clever how Grossmith have come up with a way of paying homage to their old packaging designs with a flair for the new. Am somewhat obsessed with Victorian history, so this was such a joy to write about. Simon & Amanda are lovely people, too.

Apr
26
2011
Tigerlillian
Tigerlillian

I sampled Phul-Nana not so long ago--highly impressed with the quality and mastery. I'm looking forward to trying more!

Apr
26
2011
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Very nice, Suzy! Betrothal looks like a gorgeous scent!

I can't stop looking at those old Victorian bottles and labels. So colorful and animated! Though the new sleek packaging on their scents is also lovely and elegant.

Apr
26
2011

Add Your Review

Become a member of this online perfume community and you will be able to add your own reviews.

New Perfumes

Loverdose Tattoo Eau de ToiletteDiesel
Loverdose Tattoo Eau de Toilette

4711 Wunderwasser MenMaurer & Wirtz
4711 Wunderwasser Men

4711 Wunderwasser WomenMaurer & Wirtz
4711 Wunderwasser Women

Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc Limited Edition Lacoste
Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc Limited Edition

Puma Green Brasil EditionPuma
Puma Green Brasil Edition

Puma Yellow Brasil EditionPuma
Puma Yellow Brasil Edition

Eau FraicheBiotherm
Eau Fraiche

L'Eau de PhaedonPhaedon
L'Eau de Phaedon

Rose IriseeAu Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
Rose Irisee

Violette SacreeAu Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
Violette Sacree

Lavender on the RocksAtkinsons
Lavender on the Rocks

Posh on the GreenAtkinsons
Posh on the Green

Rose in WonderlandAtkinsons
Rose in Wonderland

Secret SucreMolinard
Secret Sucre

Cher WoodMolinard
Cher Wood

Ambre LumiereMolinard
Ambre Lumiere

Rose EmoisMolinard
Rose Emois

Acqua LotusMolinard
Acqua Lotus

Heavenly Eau de ParfumVictoria`s Secret
Heavenly Eau de Parfum

Angels OnlyVictoria`s Secret
Angels Only

Ballerina No1Les Parfums de Rosine
Ballerina No1

Liu Jo Eau de ParfumLiu Jo
Liu Jo Eau de Parfum

Palm Springs for Spencer HartFloris
Palm Springs for Spencer Hart

Asian InspirationThe Merchant of Venice
Asian Inspiration

Suave PetalsThe Merchant of Venice
Suave Petals

Noble PotionThe Merchant of Venice
Noble Potion

Byzantium SaffronThe Merchant of Venice
Byzantium Saffron

Mandarin CarnivalThe Merchant of Venice
Mandarin Carnival

Flower FusionThe Merchant of Venice
Flower Fusion

Classique IntenseJean Paul Gaultier
Classique Intense

Popular brands and perfumes: