Follow your nose to London’s oldest pharmacy
In the year 1790, King George III was on the throne and electric light bulbs were yet to be invented, but it was also the year that two cousins, Henry Harris and Daniel Rotely Harris, set up shop on the corner of King Street and St James’s Street, peddling remedies tailored to patients’ ailments.
They soon gained a reputation for their lavender water, colognes and perfumes made from English flowers, which were dotted behind the ears of London’s most fashionable residents – something which they have continued to be relied upon for the last 227 years. And while eight different monarchs have sat on the throne since the shop first opened, they still remain committed to making men’s grooming products in the UK with a low carbon footprint.
As London’s oldest pharmacy, among the soaps and shaving essentials, you can still visit for the time-tested medications, tinctures and draughts that have earned them their Royal Warrants of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. It is some of the earliest products that remain popular with customers all over the world, such as the Classic Cologne and Old English Lavender Water, both of which encapsulate the brand’s clean fragrance profile and dedication to using natural oils.
While these fragrances remain at the core of the company’s offering, today the range encompasses around 400 products. Each is made with care and attention to detail in the UK and the company’s commitment to reducing waste with an emphasis on recyclable and re-usable materials such as glass bottles for fragrances and wooden bowls for shaving soap, with packaging sourced within the capital.
What D. R. Harris doesn’t know about shaving isn’t worth knowing, boasting an extensive offering of the finest badger- tipped brushes, soothing aftershave milks, horn-finished razors and even beard brushes. Their solid shaving soaps are one of the last examples to continue using a traditional formulation that contains tallow, resulting in an unsurpassably rich lather. And for the full shaving experience, there’s the newly opened Fortnum & Mason barbershop which uses D. R. Harris products.
Last year, the company returned to its newly refurbished flagship at 29 St James’s Street. To commemorate the occasion, they developed the Twenty Nine range, which combines rose geranium, cinnamon and clove, and derives from one of the company’s stalwarts: Almond Oil Soap. It was also, in part, inspired by a collaboration to provide the in-room amenities for The Beaumont hotel in Mayfair.
Women, fear not, for D. R. Harris also carries a large number of unisex products. Their delicately scented soaps are all triple-milled, so they last for longer, and their skincare products, such as Milk of Cucumber and Roses and Crystal Eye Gel, contain gentle ingredients that target dermatological problems quickly and effectively without resorting to a long list of unpronounceable ingredients.
Nor do they solely sell soaps and shaving cream; you’ll also find specifically designed soap dishes, dispensers and canisters that were the fruit of some brilliantly British collaborations with potteries such as Burleigh and Caverswall china.
D. R. Harris’ approach to fragrance could be summed up as discreet, not shouty – there is, after all, nothing sophisticated about drowning yourself in a cloying scent that turns heads for all the wrong reasons. Their shaving soaps are available in a dizzying array of subtly balanced scents, chief of which is the company’s long-term bestseller, Arlington, a classic eau de cologne with notes of citrus, fern and musk.
For a more contemporary scent, try the Windsor, which blends citrus, black pepper and vetiver, creating a slightly warmer fragrance that develops a rich leathery note. Once you’ve found a fragrance you like, you should be able to stick with it; as such the Arlington fragrance is available across a broad spectrum of grooming products. So follow your nose to their St James’s shop and sniff out your fragrance for life.
D R HARRIS 29 ST JAMES’S STREET, LONDON SW1A 1HB +44 (0)20 7930 3915