The famous British perfumer Jo Malone once said, “fragrance is my way of translating the world.”
The fragrance has the power to tell stories and resurrect memories. The olfactory senses are powerfully tied to memory due to scents’ ability to travel the limbic system.
Nobody does perfume and cosmetics like London. Yet London’s contagiously popular luxury private label cosmetics are often overshadowed by the beauty capital of the world, Paris.
However, many people don’t realize that some of the world’s most exquisite scents and brands originated in London. Some are centuries old, and others were born in the last decade. We’ll share our thirteen British favorites in this London perfume and luxury cosmetics guide.
Shay and Blue
Bestseller: Atropa Belladonna
Shay and Blue is based in London, UK. They are a relatively new perfume house. They have not failed to make a splash, or shall we say “spritz” in the perfume industry.
In 2014 just two years after their launch, they won the “Best New Fragrance House” by The Beauty Shortlist. Every year The Beauty Shortlist recognizes up-and-coming talent in the Natural beauty and wellness industries.
Shay and Blue proudly label themselves as a “clean fragrance” on their website. Setting themselves apart from brands that hide controversial chemicals under their one required ingredient, “fragrance.”
The brand started with a mission to provide a clean, unisex fragrance with real ingredients. Dom De Vetta founded the brand after more than 21 years in perfume and serving as the VP of Chanel and Global GM of Jo Malone- a cult favorite British fragrance brand.
They cater to audiences who enjoy natural, not artificial scents and even sell concentrates on their site.
Ormonde Jayne seeks the unfamiliar with intention. They built their brand on sourcing the world’s rarest ingredients to create scents that are unmistakably Ormonde Jayne.
The British perfume brand has very interesting origins rooted in artisanal craftsmanship. Linda Jayne, Ormonde Jayne’s founder, started her career with the scents of flowers. She later took on an opportunity that required her to travel the world, where she broadened her knowledge and nose for exotic essential oils.
She began crafting scents in London and was instantly recognized by awards shows and Chanel, who asked her to create the “perfect candle.” A few years later, she branded herself, and one of the most iconic London perfume brands was born.
There isn’t a beauty blogger who doesn’t have a bottle of Ormonde Jayne women’s perfume on their vanity. They maintain the luxury cosmetics expectation by boxing every bottle by hand to ensure pristine delivery.
Bestseller: White Gardenia
In the same year of the brand’s inception, the Duchess of Cambridge wore the perfume to her wedding. The Duchess is otherwise known as Kate Middleton.
Quite literally the peak of press at the time. The marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William had nearly 18 million viewers and plenty of talks afterward. This catapulted the brand into fame and into the hands of the famous.
Lenny Kravitz, Nicole Richie, and Hallee Berry are some of the few spectated to love the Illuminum Haute Perfume Black Gardenia.
Bestseller: Woody Citrus
Floris is more than a perfume brand. It is a stamp in London history. Descendants manage the over 300-year-old brand that operates out of its original shop at 89 Jermyn Street in London.
Floris started as a family business when Juan Famenias and Elizabeth Floris sold perfume and shaving products out of their London store.
Floris perfumes have a history so rich and luxurious it is a symbol of prestige to wear. They are the only perfumer to hold a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth. They created a special perfume to celebrate her birthday called Royal Arms.
With truly such a rich history, it only seemed fitting for Floris to open a museum space. The museum celebrates historical moments like the opening of their Devon warehouse with Princess Diana and their American debut with Marilyn Monroe’s Floris Rose Geranium love.
Miller Harris combines Paris and London into a bottle. Lyn is breaking the mold in the predominately male industry of perfume.
Miller Harris fragrances focus on extracting the “richness in simplicity” from natural botanicals. They stay away from synthetics and work to only use natural ingredients.
They are based in the natural landscape of London in an area called Covent Garden. They collaborate with urban foragers to discover new scents and new experiences.
Another heritage London perfume brand that actually starts with Middle Eastern roots. William Penhaligon’s first fragrance, Hammam Bouquet, was inspired by the Turkish bath preparations known as Hammams.
William noticed the fine scent of rose, lavender, and sandalwood that saturated these purifying baths. He bottled the bath into a fragrance, and the rest was history.
The fragrance quickly gained popularity, and William traded his barber shears for the perfumer’s passion.
Penhaligon’s stepped beyond fragrance and into body cosmetics with their addition of lotions, lip balms, and hand creams infused with Penhaligon’s signature scents.
Bestseller: English Pear & Freesia
Jo Malone London ranks high on every “top perfume” list worldwide.
The female founder of Jo Malone created something so appealing to men and women that Estee Lauder had to make an offering in 1999 after only a few years in business.
The brand considers itself the “tapas” of perfume, allowing you to get a sampling of many scents and even layer different scents, which is traditionally taboo and even offensive in the perfume world.
The scents are sold at an accessible price yet with a luxury experience. The gift scents enable you to try warm amber scents to fruity, citrusy scents and discover your iconic Jo Malone scent.
Bestseller: Creed Millesime
Queen Victoria was a longtime fan of this family-operated Lond perfume brand. The Creed house has created well over 200 different perfumes since its inception. Today the brand receives instant recognition on luxury cosmetic counters with its uniquely shaped bottles.
Creed states on their website, “from father to son since 1760.” Although many of their options are unisex or for women specifically today, they have always been an heirloom brand.
Creed is not something that you own but something that you pass down. A scent that is adopted by family members. It was especially popular with one of the world’s most notorious families- the Kennedys.
Clive Christian is one of the world’s most expensive perfume brands. But price doesn’t denote luxury. The luxury lies in raw materials.
The eponymous brand started by accident when Clive discovered an old bottle of Queen Victoria’s favorite perfume brand, Crown Perfumery. It hurt Clive to see the legendary brand losing its grip.
Clive revived the brand as Clive Christian in 1999 with five perfumes. The most expensive scent, No 1., is inspired by the very bottle of Crown that Clive found abandoned. The 1.6 oz. The bottle is an investment of $865.
When asked why No.1 is so pricey, it was an explanation of concentration. You’re paying for chemically scented water with other perfumes, even luxury ones.
With Clive Christian, you’re paying for concentration. The extracts of these oils tattoo themselves on your skin and linger for days, even after showers. You’ll feel naked without a scent and adorned in luxury with it.
Founded: 1981 (fragrance)
Burberry doesn’t need an introduction. But many only know the brand for its iconic trenches and signature plaid patterns.
However, Burberry has been a fragrance powerhouse since launching its very first fragrance in 1981. The fragrance came 125 years after the brand’s origination in Basingstoke, UK.
The first fragrance Burberry launched was called “Burberry for Men.” A fairly straightforward cologne scent that quickly gained popularity and remains in their line to this day. In 2003 they introduced “Burberry Brit” which took the world by storm.
They now have a scent archive with over 100 perfumes and an entire range of luxury cosmetics with everything you need to fill your luxury cosmetic bag.
Bestseller: Botanical Booster
Orveda’s mission is to make luxury skincare cleaner and greener. One of Orveda’s founding partners reigned as L’Oreal’s former CEO.
Bestseller: Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Elemis follows a “farm to bottle” process of using locally sourced plants as the base of their formulations. They collaborate with expert growers and produce in small batches. The brand is a favorite amongst beauty editors.
Bestseller: Flawless Filter
The eponymous cosmetics brand launched after Charlotte became one of YouTube’s most famous makeup artists. Charlotte’s history of doing makeup for some of the world’s most viewed faces and publications provided the knowledge and connections to launch what is today one of the best-selling luxury cosmetics brands worldwide.
London: The Heart of Heritage Perfume and Luxury Cosmetics
From 1730 to 2012 to modern-day, London artists have created world-renowned London perfume and cosmetics. All the brands in this guide have held their name and continue developing new products.
Many of the bestseller fragrances and brands above have been worn by England’s finest such as Queen Elizabeth. If you want to smell like a royal, grab a bottle of Clive Christian.
If you’d like to broaden your search for the finest luxury perfume, check out our 5 Rare and Expensive Perfumes Worth Finding coverage.
We did the digging, so you don’t have to. One of our picks has a price of $57,000.
Featured image source: gq-magazine.co.uk