What does a perfume mean to you?

It’s an emotion. It’s about memories, joy, positivity. A fragrance is something that connects people. It’s amazing how it has the ability to release memories. A whiff of your favourite scent is enough to bring a smile to your face. It can move you to tears, or take you to another place or age that you had forgotten. Memories, that’s what fragrances are all about.

How does it feel to be part of such a legendary family business?

It feels very privileged to be carrying on a business that my forefathers had started and worked in. As the ninth generation of Floris, the family owned and oldest independent British perfume house in the world, established in London in 1730, it’s a real honour to be the custodian of the brand for future generations.

[The Perfume House traces the role of scents in Emirati culture]

What is the USP of Floris?

We have over 300 years of perfumery expertise – unbroken because we’ve never been taken over by an outside entity; it’s always been passed down through the same line of our family. We still have our perfume formula books that date back to the 1700s. Our craft of making artisanal perfumes has been passed down through each generation of my family. One of our USPs is that we are able to use the many years of our perfumery expertise. That acts as our inspiration to work on new fragrances.

How has Floris managed to stay relevant in the modern age?

Lots of people have grown up with the brand and because the sense of smell is very emotive and brings with it a lot of nostalgia, they have continued with the brand and consider it like their friend… their relative.

Not one to rely on the emotive value of a fragrance, I believe one needs to constantly keep creating scents to stay relevant in the industry. That said, we have every right to be confident because our fragrances truly speak for themselves. [An advantage we have] is that we get to work on projects that we want to because there are no outside influences coming to the business.

Floris founder Juan Famenias Floris
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Over the years, have you changed the recipes to appeal to the modern customer?

We have evolved quite a bit since our original fragrance lines were created in the 1700s. Over the years new techniques, raw materials and new ingredients have found their way into our fragrances. One of the original fragrances – part of the citrus line – was created during the summer in London to make you feel very fresh. That line still continues. But we are always working on new fragrances. Each generation of the family brings their own inspirations and experiences to the table that go into the making of some new fragrances.

What changes have you brought to the company and to Floris’s range of perfumes?

I like to think that I am steering the ship and helping guide the team – telling them what we are all about, what the ethos of the company is and what our brand and family values are. I work closely with our perfumery team to come up with new fragrances and have been associated with the launch of several new fragrances as well.

How has the choice of ingredients that go into the making of a perfume changed over the years?

There are a few staples that figure on the list of ingredients and they are all floral scents such as rose, bergamot or lily. Citrus was another ingredient. In nearly 300 years we’d never created a perfume that contained oud – which is crazy when you think about it. Creating a scent with oud was a really exciting project. Now we have two lines that contain oud – leather oud and honey oud.

How is an English scent different from say a French or an Arabic perfume?

English scents tend to be more delicate. We are known for our floral scents. Some French fragrances tend to be strong. Ours are lighter and sophisticated. But we have added to the range and so now we have something that appeals to everybody.

Floris perfumes have a staple floral scent
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You’ve travelled quite a bit. Do cities inspire you to create scents?

Yes, definitely. Travel is the biggest inspiration. It’s all about being where everything is different, of being thrown into a different city. It is so exciting. Definitely all that goes into the making of a new scent.

For instance my visit to Morocco inspired me to create a scent with notes of rose because there I had the chance to visit rose fields that totally captivated me. It was very interesting to smell a rose in a very different environment. That smell combined with the colours of the country, the aroma of spices and the energy of Morocco was exhilarating. It changed my entire perception of roses. We had done so many rose fragrances but when I returned from my travels I wanted to capture the feeling and the excitement that I experienced when I witnessed the rose fields in Morocco. That led to a fragrance. I think when you are travelling all your senses, including that of smell, is heightened. It is so stimulating that you can’t help but be inspired by that.

Has Dubai inspired you to create a scent?

I find this place very interesting. I love the fact that there are so many different cultures intermingling and living so harmoniously in the UAE. Everybody respects each other in very different ways. So, a scent that reflects Dubai would be one that incorporates all of these elements – which you wouldn’t traditionally think of putting together – to make a lovely harmony which is what the city and the country is.

Several celebs use your scents...

We try to be discreet. But I can tell you during the making of the Darkest Hour (2017), Gary Oldman who essays the role of Winston Churchill, had read that the former late prime minister of UK used to wear Floris’s special fragrance no 127. The method actor that he is, Gary wanted to use the same scent so he could get into the character of Churchill. So his assistant came to us and we arranged for a set of No 127s to be sent to the actor.

Ian Fleming too has specifically written about Floris scents in some of his books such as Dr No, Moonraker and Diamonds are Forever.