James Bond never wore an aftershave — not officially, at least. In all 3,371 pages of Fleming’s first editions, not once does Bond spritz or splash on a scent. Nor can he be seen doing so during the 3,042 minutes that make up the official EON film franchise. To all intents and purposes, James Bond, 007, is a fragrance-free man.
And yet, Ian Fleming himself was a devout wearer of the stuff. The author may have written Bond as a blunt British instrument — a man who, in From Russia, With Love, quips that he and his fellow countrymen don’t wear cologne because “we wash” — but Fleming had a soft-spot for perfume parlours and barbershops, particularly those found in his preferred London district, St. James’s.
From Duke’s Bar, where the former naval intelligence officer sipped dry martinis, to White’s — the £85,000 per year members club where Fleming did much of his writing — the illustrious West End district served as an inspiration for many of Bond’s daily exploits and endeavours. Among the institutions that made up James’ St. James’s: Boodles, the old gentleman’s club and blueprint of the fictional Blades; Scott’s Restaurant, which Fleming once told a reporter would have been Bond’s favoured lunch spot; and the Beretta Gallery, next-door to White’s and the inspiration for Bond’s early sidearm of choice, the Beretta 418.
The district held a special place not only in the author’s heart — but also in his invention of the world’s most iconic spy. Fleming carried a gold lighter from Dunhill, and so did Bond. Fleming smoked Morlands of Grosvenor Street ‘Special’ cigarettes, and so did Bond. He even had his shirts made by Turnbull & Asser, and Bonds from Connery to Craig have buttoned them up, too. So what aftershave did Ian Fleming wear? One, and one only: Floris No.89.
Founded in 1730 by Menorcan Juan Famenias Floris, this heritage brand was selling its fragrant wares in St. James’s centuries before Fleming became a regular. The perfumer received its first Royal Warrant from George IV in 1820 — and produced scents for everyone from Winston Churchill to Florence Nightingale. The original shop still stands at 89 Jermyn Street; an address that lends its number to the brand’s best-selling eau de toilette.
No.89, in fact, was created just one year before Fleming published his first novel — and the author went on to include many of the brand’s products in the Bond books. In Moonraker, when describing Blades Club, Bond observes that “Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms”. In Diamonds are Forever, the spy considers how his housekeeper should prepare his Chelsea flat for his imminent arrival: “He would have to send a cable to May to get things fixed. Let’s see – flowers, bath essence from Floris, air the sheets…”
Even in Dr No, after being captured by the titular villain, the brand’s products are present when Bond freshens up in a luxurious en-suite: “There was everything in the bathroom — Floris Lime bath essence for men and Guerlain bathcubes for women.”
But Floris No.89, or indeed any aftershave made by the brand, is never mentioned on page or has been seen on screen. That being said, we can be fairly sure that Fleming — a man who projected so many of his own preferences, quirks and characteristics onto his most famous creation — could have also imagined him splashing on this most signature of scents.
And what an eau de toilette to choose. We can’t think of anything more fitting for a superspy than Floris’ flagship fragrance. Considered a quintessential British gentleman’s scent, it was not only found in Fleming’s bathroom cabinet, but also that of Cary Grant — coincidentally, EON producer Albert R. Broccoli’s first choice for the role of 007 in 1962’s Dr No.
So what makes No. 89 such a fitting fragrance for James Bond? Firstly, its woody aroma. Strong, musky and with a depth of aroma unlike Floris’ more floral options, it has a dependability and solid style not unlike 007 himself. But there are also enigmatic touches. You immediately catch the bold, expected top notes of bergamot, orange, neroli and nutmeg — but a second sniff reveals more secretive, covert scents.
Like the world-famous secret agent, then, there are layers at work here. Who would think, upon closer inspection, we’d be finding delicate rose and ylang-ylang among the sturdy oakmoss and sandalwood? And yet the notes are there. This made No.89 the perfect choice for Fleming, a man with such flair for both style and substance — and the ideal aftershave for Bond.
After all, despite the fleeting mentions of other fragrances — Geo. F. Trumper’s ‘Eucris’ is mentioned when Bond visits the nefarious Marc-Ange Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and a bottle of Taylor of Old Bond Street’s ‘Jermyn Street’ aftershave was chosen as part of Bond’s grooming Set in Skyfall — Floris No.89 is undoubtedly the best choice for Bond. Because, like the man from MI6 himself, it’s classic, impeccably stylish — and always gets the job done.
Floris No. 89 Eau De Toilette
Want more from Bond’s bathroom cabinet? We followed the secret agent’s grooming routine for a week…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.