This month sees the launch of Richard E. Grant’s second fragrance – Jack Covent Garden, exclusively stocked at Selfridges. A charming progression from his original scent, Jack Covent Garden is spurred by Richard’s time in the theatre district, where he worked as a waiter in the 1980s

Words by Shona Wallace

Entirely self-financed, Richard’s quintessentially British fragrances are, by his own admission, “a project of personal passion”.” A far cry from ubiquitous celebrity scents, Richard was inspired by his childhood in Swaziland, where he sought to win a lady’s affection with a homemade potion of gardenia petals boiled in sugar water. A boyhood dream with commercial clout, he launched his debut scent in 2013 and came into profit after just seven months.

So far, so fabulous – especially for a one man brand. Never one to sit still, Richard soon began working on Jack Covent Garden, a powerful potion inspired by all aspects of the theatre – from throat-soothing ginger root through to opening night floral bouquets. The resulting scent is sweet and vibrant, with bright citrus top notes, a spicy rose heart and a luxurious base of Orris oil, musk and carrot.

In keeping with the theatrical theme, Richard has designed and built a splendid Punch & Judy-esque pop-up in Selfridges beauty hall, and is already working on his third fragrance.

We caught up with him over breakfast to talk spring, show-business and signature scents…


Richard E Grant has launched his second fragrance

You say scent takes you back – what is your strongest memory of scent?
My mother had a lipstick that she always wore when she was going out in the evening, so the smell of that was so glamorous. Mainly that lipstick smell, but I suppose many children would say that.

You describe Jack Covent Garden as your signature in scent, what defines that for you?
Because I love eating, I wanted something that was almost lick-able, so when you smelt it on somebody you’d want to put your nose to their neck and lick it at the same time. It’s the moreish quality that does it for me.

Where else in London do you find particularly inspiring?
Markets. I love Portobello and I go there almost every Saturday, and where’s the big flower market in the East end? Columbia Road! Absolutely amazing. The street food in the East End is also revolutionary.

You are based in Richmond, how would you capture the scent of TW10?
I live not too far from Petersham Nurseries where there is an incredible, exotic selection of plants. At the moment they are awash with narcissi, which has an unbelievable scent – that’s English spring to me, narcissi and wisteria which I have growing outside my house.

You’ve conquered Covent Garden, where’s next on the map?
I’m developing it right now, but because I’m waiting for the trademark, I am bound to silence until the 2 June. It is central London and it’s very personal.


Richard E Grant’s new fragrance is inspired by London

How would you like to embrace the theatre of fragrance moving forward?
I think that everything you do there’s an element of showbiz in it, so because I’m an actor and I’ve been a model maker it’s a very clear line. When I was seven I made theatres out of shoeboxes with lollipop sticks and cut-out figures from magazines, so I felt like I’d gone full circle when I was making the stand for Covent Garden. Making the mini theatre here, I realized that at the age of 58 I was doing what I’ve been doing since I was seven years old!

How have you overcome the initial scepticism of transitioning from acting to perfumery?
I think that for people to take you seriously, the proof is in the pudding of the sales. If you get repeat customers, they are coming because they like the product, being known means the door of interest is open to some extent but it doesn’t mean somebody is going to buy anything, if anything it could be the reverse. I think that people will only buy and invest in something if they like it.

You are filming at the moment, how on earth do you find the time?
I don’t sleep very much at the moment!

JACK Covent Garden is available exclusively at Selfridges, £95.00 per 100ml.


Most Read