The Comeback of J. Grossmith Son & Co Perfumes {Fragrance News}

A 19th century British perfume brand that few remember today, Grossmith, has been re-established by a descendant, Simon Brooke, with the help of perfume expert Roja Dove.

J. Grossmith Son & Co which has had slightly differing company names since 1835 the year of its original establishment was a contemporary of familiar-sounding fragrance brands to the contemporary ear like Eugene Rimmel, Yardley, Jean-Marie Farina or more obscure ones like George Payne from the Isle of Wright and T. W. Fisher & Co.

One of their bestsellers seems to have been Shem-El-Nessim the Scent of Araby. When looking at advertisements for Grossmith perfumes, one cannot but be struck by how they carried the prejudices of its time offering some of the most colonialist imagery I have seen, and certainly as appearing behind the name of a fragrance.

For Wana-Ranee the Perfume of Ceylon and in 1918 it won't do if the perfume is not presented as a quasi devotional offering by a deferential Indian woman who is either on her knees or hunched and extending her arms from afar (in terms of social distance hinted at by her gesture) towards a group of Blond, European maharanis as if all English women ought to be ideally blond as cherubs. It is unsettling to the modern eye and we see that Grossmith was a great supporter of the British imperial crown...



The London Evening Standard is running a piece about the revived line of fragrances which they exaggeratedly call the oldest London perfume house, but it's potentially a good selling point. It sort of calls attention back to issues of identity as mediated by perfume.

"A Mayfair businessman has revived the fortunes of London's oldest perfume house after discovering it was founded by his great-great grandfather.

Simon Brooke had no idea of his link with Grossmith perfumers, which made scent for Queen Victoria, when he began researching his family tree six years ago."

Read more in Revived: Perfume Range Worn by Queen Victoria...

In 2008 Boots took a similar revivalist approach in the UK at the mass-market level with the Girard brand.

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