Grossmith until the firm's recent relaunch. Originally established in 1835, it fell on hard times and was dissolved in the mid-80s, only to be revived last year by Simon Brooke, the great-great grandson of founder John Grossmith. The house has now reissued three classic scents and succeeded in reinventing itself as a major player on the luxury niche scene.
The most enchanting of the new trio is without doubt Phul-Nana (1891/2009), an exquisite study in old-world refinement. With a trajectory that is a joy to behold, it starts with neroli (edgy-sweet citrus), which then attaches itself to geranium (edgy-sweet floral) before linking up to benzoin (edgy-sweet resin). Enriching the background is a wondrous mix of sandalwood, cedar and tonka bean which lends the whole an air of delectable hauteur. Wear it, hold your head high and walk through the world with the certainty that you're as perfectly proportioned as the Discobolus.
Although Hasu-No-Hana (1888/2009) is far better than half the stuff you'd find on an average high street, it does suffer from being too similar to Phul-Nana. Its opening places a stronger emphasis on bitter orange and its heart is more floral, but as it reaches its drydown, you begin to realise that it's trying - and failing - to compete with its more confident cousin. On the other hand, Shem-El-Nessim (1906/2009) has something different to say and manages to impress with its sophisticated cocktail of parched orris and smooth vanilla.
Regrettably - but unsurprisingly - it hasn't been possible for me to compare these re-releases with their Victorian/Edwardian originals, so I'm in no position to comment on their 'historical accuracy'. What I can say is that they evoke the past - is a certain type of sugared powderiness becoming our generation's signifier of bygone years? - whilst remaining wearable in a modern context, and that they certainly whet one's appetite for any other formulae Mr Brooke may be hiding in his family vault.
[Review based on samples of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]
I'm very pleased to be able to offer one lucky reader of Persolaise.com a special set containing samples of each of the three perfumes; the set has been generously provided by Grossmith. If you'd like to enter the draw, please leave a comment which begins with the following words: "One of the most elegant perfumes ever made is..." Comments must be left on this post.
Please note: i) the draw will be open until 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday 21st November; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; iv) by entering the draw, you indicate that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume posted from the UK; v) if the samples are lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be sent; vi) the address of the winner will not be kept on record, nor will it be passed to any third parties; vii) Persolaise takes no responsibility for the composition of the scent, as regards potential allergens and/or restricted materials.
THE DRAW IS NOW CLOSED. Please click here to find out who has won.