Just a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park, a familiar scent lingers in the air of posh Mayfair. It’s been a long time – 67 years to be exact – since it’s wafted through these winds, but for those in the know, the eccentric notes are unmistakable. Follow your nose and you might end up at 41 Burlington Arcade – the new home to a 200-year-old British fragrance house that’s making its comeback.
Founded in London in 1799 by James Atkinson, the brand was initially best known among London’s upper crust for its pomades, balms and fragrances, before it went on to become the official perfumer to the Royal Court of England. Today, it has developed a reputation for its quintessentially English, idiosyncratic scents.
The perfume house first took residence at the iconic 24 Old Bond Street, but vacated in 1950 when trade slumped after the war and did not have a standalone store since. Until now, that is. As fate would have it, the new boutique is now just around the corner – and in a very timely move too, following Atkinsons’ brand revival in 2013, after being bought over by Italian group Perfume Holding.
Apart from the significance of homecoming that Mayfair holds for the maison, the historic Burlington Arcade is also an extremely fitting location for the flagship, having become the go-to place for fragrance aficionados in recent years. With prestigious names like Roja Parfums, Penhaligon’s, Frédéric Malle and Kilian as neighbours, Atkinsons looks right at home.
The boutique itself was designed by Christopher Jenner, a London based designer, and every one of the three glamorous floors is full of character. “We were taking inspiration from Georgian England but it was also very much about making it contemporary,” said Jenner. “Because the last thing we want is a brand who lives in the past.”
At the core of the store is a striking perfume bar on the ground floor. Fitted with sophisticated black marble and brass, the bar draws customers to the fragrances on display and encourages them to take their time to discover what they like. In contrast to the rich purples and golds of the main floor, upstairs, at the end of a spiral staircase is a colourful, cosy space for intimate fragrance consultations and special events. The room is dressed in light pinks and blues, and made homely with inviting plush sofas.
Finally, customers can enjoy grooming services by appointment at the barber shop in the basement. The underground space is run by the effortlessly cool and impeccably dressed Italian barber Umberto Fiorilla, who has been cutting Christopher Jenner’s hair for five years. Fiorilla will have the gents looking dapper in clean fades, and ensure the ladies walk out with fantastic blowouts.
Jenner commissioned English craftsmen to create all the bespoke furnishings in the boutique. “I think the natural result of collaborating with English craftsmen is it reinforces the English values of Atkinsons,” said Jenner. “There’s the element of quality. There’s the element of care, and of dedication and magic.”
It is in all these special touches that the designer hopes will create a joyful experience, and help customers to revel in the whole store experience. “There were many free and jovial elements in Georgian English society so I wanted to reflect that mood,” said Jenner. “It’s really about having a good time.”
Words by Annabel Tan