Extraordinary gentleman of the Knight… White Rose by Floris for Sir John Gielgud The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

Perhaps Sir John was always more Green Carnation than White Rose.

A peculiarly British contradiction: feted peer of the realm, first among actors, arrested and prosecuted for ‘sexual offences’. Further enobled after his conviction.

His surface charm, that most say ran deep, and mellifluous tone that spoke of an equally honeyed, and giving, heart, never deserted him.


I wonder if, like his great aunt, the every bit as legendary Ellen Terry he might have been tempted by the wares of Floris of Jermyn Street.

I’m sure he knew of the Turkish baths that once stood nearby, and proved inspiration for Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet.

The Floris shop still has the same wooden counters created for the Great Exhibition in 1851, from behind which Ellen, and John and now you are served.

Perhaps he might have chosen White Rose, a quintessentially theatrical scent.

Not large or grating you understand.

But subtle and insinuating like a fine actor’s performance.

It starts as a juvenile violet, sweet, innocent, slightly confectionery. Grows into a leading lady heart, more power and depth, jasmine providing elocution and projection.

The finish is pure dressing room: fading flowers, endless powder and slap, the spice of costumes worn tens of dozens of times.

Actor and theatre, person, place, perfume all one.

Gielgud, the performer personified is one of only eleven people, five actors, to have the rare distinction of an EGOT.

This inelegant acronym signifies their capturing of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, and dominance of all performing arts.

Interestingly, Sir John received more Grammy nominations than for any of the purely acting awards… that voice…

… Wizardry!

Farewell then from the world of magic and theatre and roses.

Happy St Valentine’s Day.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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12 responses to “Extraordinary gentleman of the Knight… White Rose by Floris for Sir John Gielgud The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

  1. Lilybelle

    Raising my glass to Sir John Gielgud, may he rest in peace, and long may he be remembered. I was just reading about Floris White Rose, wondering whether that would be one for me to try.

    • Dearest Lily
      I feel we should all raise a glass of fine claret or something similar to the memory of dear departed Sir John.
      I think you should definitely try White rose, though give it time, it’s not necessarily an instant winner. They’ve also added aldehydes, which of course, were not there in 1800 when it first appeared.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Arthur: Hobson?
    Hobson: Yes.
    Arthur: Do you know what I’m going to do?
    Hobson: No, I don’t.
    Arthur: I’m going to take a bath.
    Hobson: I’ll alert the media.
    “Arthur” 1981
    Just a perfect review. I so want to sample Floris and this may be a perfect place to start.

    • Dearest Lanier
      Oh yes.
      The relish with which Sir John took on that part without a hint of the ‘this is all beneath me’ which can afflict ‘great actors’ when appearing in ‘light comedy’. Well, his Oscar was most certainly deserved.
      Have you seen his turn in Brideshead Revisited? Comic genius of an altogether different order…. I’m sure you’d love it,
      Do try Floris, there are some in there I feel you’d certainly fall for and the shop on Jermyn Street, well, we’ll save that for next time you’re in town.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. rosestrang

    I wonder why people always compared him to Olivier, but anyway Olivier could never have played Prospero as Gielgud did, utterly brilliant – with gravitas and whimsy combined. His demeanour seemd quite humble despite the fact egot all those awards! (That’s the first time I’ve heard that term!)

    • Dearest Rose
      Now I mustn’t start on the whole Larry vs Johnny thing, but I just think that their two performances in Brideshead Revisited speak volumes, and I know which I prefer.
      Also, from what I’ve heard there wasn’t a pompous bone in the man’s body.
      I like to think of him dressed up to the nine grilling the young assistants at Floris as to which fragrance he should opt for…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Cheryl

    After reading of Alexandra’s love of White Rose in Lili Dehn’s The Real Tsarista, I had to experience the scent. She mentions Atkinson’s White Rose, but some believe she was confused and it was actually White Rose by Floris. It is special and deserves more love than it gets.
    Gads, I know who I prefer as well! Many thanks.
    Love, Cheryl

    • Dearest Cheryl
      I agree. In fact I feel Floris is generally rather over looked. I adore Mahon, Edwardian Bouquet, Amarylis, Victorious and many of the older soliflores. Night Scented Jasmine’s also rather fine
      But white rose, well it just has something about it, indefinable, delectable.
      So pleasing too to hear of so much love for Sir John, can one imagine ‘Larry’ ever having the sense of fun to take on that ridiculous role in ‘Arthur’ with such relish?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy


    my remark is going to be off the perfume track, but what is it with GB being a c r a d l e of Acting Talent? why? how? is it in the tea? in the roses? in the – heavens forbid – marmite? is it shakespeare’s ink in your blood?
    P.S. by the way, it’s not only “johnny vs. larry” – you totally forgot alec 😉
    (how dare you.)

    • Dearest Calypse
      Just one word “Theatre”.
      We have so much of it, from school, in schools, in communities, professionally in the provinces and then all the great national companies and the West End (which is still bigger than Broadway).
      Television helps (we are, or at least used to be, the only country that exports more programmes to the USA than we import). All of this means work and work is the lifeblood of any profession, it’s how actors perfect their craft, associate with others, develop relationships with writers and directors.
      Oh, and how remiss of me, of course Alec, “Kind Hearts and Coronets” one of The Dandy’s most favourite films ever… but there were so many more Richard Burton, Ralph Richardson, Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney… one could go on and on….
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy


        That must be it.
        What are your favourites “under 40”, dear Dandy?

        And oh my Gosh, I hope you never visit a German theatre. My impression is all they are taught today is getting naked and loud (and actors among my friends nod to that). German actors yell a lot in fact. Undertones, “negative space” are not appreciated or maybe just not du jour. It’s pretty often about provocation for provocation’s sake, not for the sake of artistic expression.
        Well, maybe I don’t do them justice because there are exceptions to the rule, but that’s just my impression. None of the British format far and wide… Especially not under 40 or even 50 I’d say.
        Oh and then there’s Til Schweiger. But why is there Til Schweiger? Beats me. But such is the face of acting success in Germany.

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