Chemist and perfumers by royal appointment
Whenever Oscar Wilde had a heavy night he cracked open a bottle of D. R. Harris’s legendary Pick-Me-Up Hangover Cure.
At least, we like to think he did: the popular playwright was certainly a regular at the St James’s Street apothecary, though history does not record what he actually purchased. By then, D. R. Harris had already been established for the best part of a century, founded in 1790 and given its name by brothers Henry Harris, a surgeon, and Daniel Rotely Harris, a pharmacist. Not such an unlikely combination since, in those days, it was common practice for apothecaries to perform minor surgeries as well as prescribing and dispensing medicines – handy for the members of the nearby gentlemen’s clubs who could combine lunch in town with a discrete trip to D. R. Harris.
The brothers also formulated toilet waters, colognes and English flower perfumes, which were hugely popular.
Fast forward 228 years, and while some things have changed – D. R. Harris no longer sells the Pick-Me-Up Hangover Cure – the original concept of delivering a high level of service and discretion, along with good quality products, prevails. And though the emphasis is very much on grooming, with an astonishing range of shaving soaps, creams, aftershaves and colognes, D. R. Harris dispenses NHS and private prescriptions, too. While D. R. Harris is synonymous with men’s fragrances and shaving products, there’s much to tempt women too, including skincare, shampoos and conditioners.
The soaps are simply the best you can buy: all are triple-milled, a process in which water is pressed from the soap mixture three times, resulting in a denser, firmer soap that produces more lather and lasts longer. Equally, D. R. Harris’s shaving soap is one of few available that still contains tallow, which creates a luxurious lather. Need a new toothbrush? You can buy that here, too.
The days when D. R. Harris concocted curatives on site may be long gone, but the company has a policy of sourcing as many British products as possible, cutting down on delivery miles and allowing production in relatively small batches, which ensures freshness.
Where possible packaging is recyclable and if you live within a mile of St James’s Street, D. R. Harris will deliver by customised bicycle. To keep things current, D. R. Harris regularly collaborates with relevant brands to produce unique products, including pottery with Burleigh, Caverswall China and Wade Ceramics. It has also partnered with Bunney, a London-based jeweller to create special silver editions of D. R. Harris’s iconic lip balm, while its partnership with Olivia Knox to make shoe horns showcases some of the best practice in husbandry and horn craftsmanship. In 1938, D. R. Harris was awarded a Royal Warrant by HM The Queen (later The Queen Mother), in 2002 by HRH The Prince of Wales and in 2012 by HM The Queen, confirming what its clients have always known: D. R. Harris really is a chemist and perfumers fit for a (future) king or queen.
D R HARRIS 29 ST JAMES’S STREET, LONDON SW1A 1HB +44 (0)20 7930 3915