How do you capture in scent the maverick nature of a man who, it could be argued, was one of the first true influencers? This is the quest of British perfume brand Atkinsons London who, with their new scent James, pay homage to the inimitable spirit of the house’s founder, James Atkinson. The man who famously dared to create an Italian cologne through a British lens. A fragrance that would go on to become the signature of then reigning monarch, King George IV. Or so the legend goes. But when it comes to the life of James Atkinson the truth is often far spectacular still…

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For starters, the story of James begins with the kind of fantastical tale it sounds like it could have been written by Dickens. Determined to enter the rarified world of perfumery, Atkinson left his hometown of Cumberland for London armed with a collection of recipes for toiletries and fragrances… and a real bear. The stunt delivered the young entrepreneur an immediate sense of infamy, entrenching him as one of the industry’s most colourful characters.

This character – bold, creative, unafraid to take a risk and make a statement – is the defining exposition of James, the new fragrance by Atkinsons London in honour of their founder. Created by Olivier Pescheux and Yann Vasnier, James combines the richness of vetiver and akigalawood with soft violet leaves and resinous elemi lifted by a top accord of bergamot, finger lime and vegetal greenness of clary sage.

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“James really captures a very smokey, alluring concept,” says Ruth Stonier, the Training Director at Atkinsons London. “The top note delivers lime and aromatic clary sage and that is so striking when you first spray while the violet leaves really build that aromatic essence and the base is made with Haitian vetiver and patchouli.”

Stonier states that the richness and complexity that each of the notes adds to James comes from the use of OrPur essences, described as the ‘grand cru’ of raw materials in perfumery.

The result, says Stonier, is a fragrance that acts as a time capsule of James’ arrival in the English capital, with its distinct florals and smoke intertwining in the air. “They’ve created a fragrance that, if you close your eyes, you can really imagine yourself in the streets of London and translate that into this sophisticated smokiness.”

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