Thursday 26 September 2019


It’s impossible to predict which fragrance will become the iconic scent in a company’s range and it’s even harder when the perfume company has fans across the world, but that is exactly the case with Atkinsons. The company recently went through a major rebrand worldwide but its Italian market still demands some of the original packaging and scents, including the legendary English Lavender. By combining fashionability with familiarity, Atkinsons have succeeded in rejuvenating the legacy for their existing customers whilst still managing to attract new ones. Happily, there’s even room for a little bit of retro.

Atkinsons began life in 1799 and, famously, sold pots of rose scented hair pomade that was made from bears’ grease. Now, whilst this might not sound too appealing today, this one product took London by storm and really secured the company’s reputation. Their grooming range subsequently increased but they also released their Essence of Lavender. This fragrance would form an unbreakable bond for the company, even two hundred years later. George IV appointed them as perfumer to the royal family in 1826 and this, combined with the incredible drive of Eugene Barrett, saw the company begin to conquer the world.

Their phenomenal success continued right through until the end of the Second World War but, whilst they were still producing excellent quality products, post-war shoppers wanted something different. Unilever had owned Atkinsons since 1940 but, after a short tenancy at Procter & Gamble in 2002, the future looked brighter when it was purchased by Perfume Holding in 2008. It was under their control that Atkinsons would go on to launch fragrances that honoured its history. They set about creating perfumes that were inspired by previous releases, or even by previous customers, rather than exact recreations. However, there’s one iconic fragrance whose place is secure.

Many companies have launched fragrances based around lavender but they seldom manage to maintain their success over the following decades. Atkinsons long-standing love-affair with the ingredient stretches back to their Essence of Lavender. However, when they released English Lavender in 1837, which was relaunched in 1910, it seemed to really strike a chord with customers. It’s now only produced for overseas stockists and is in its original packaging but, because Italy fell head-over-heels with it and there are diehard fans in the United Kingdom, it’s also secretly stocked in the Atkinsons Burlington Arcade boutique in London.

The fragrance opens with a sparkling lavender, thanks to a large dose of bergamot, and is immediately joined by an aromatic blend of what smells like rosemary, thyme, and sage. Now, the listed notes vary dramatically depending on where you look but, for me, I then get a clove-touched geranium coming through. It feels very “tweed suited” and this is emphasised when a prominent oakmoss* decides to show itself. The whole scent is rounded off with a tonka bean and sandalwood combination but, throughout, a citrus touched lavender remains the focus. With a final hint of patchouli and a whisper of musk, English Lavender has a decidedly vintage fougère feel and is the perfect scent as we enter the cold and crisp autumn months.

English Lavender is available from Amazon with prices starting at £10 for 40ml and also from the Atkinsons boutique in the Burlington Arcade, although stock and sizes are limited.

* Newer batches no longer show Evernia Prunastri (Oakmoss) Extract in the ingredient list.


  1. Thank you so much for this review Stephan. It really sounds like my kind of scent. I will even risk buying this blind.

    1. Hello Barry, it's definitely your kind of fragrance and I'm sure that you'll enjoy it. Best, Stephan