Holmes & Marchant Resurrects Grossmith

Holmes & Marchant has devised the entire visual identity for the brand, from logos and colour schemes to glass bottles, lids, boxes, etching patterns and type. The agency drew on original bottle shapes, decorative designs and typefaces to produce an up-to-date image with its roots firmly in the past.

The classic English brand was originally founded in 1835 but ceased trading about 30 years ago. Simon Brooke, great-great grandson of John Grossmith, with wife Amanda, has worked with Holmes & Marchant since the beginning of the project in 2008 to devise a remastered brand that would do justice to Grossmith’s heritage.

Many aspects of the design in the launch range take their inspiration from a crystal bottle, 1,000 of which were commissioned by Grossmith in 1919 from Maison Baccarat.

These bottles were produced for Grossmith’s ‘Serie de Luxe’ range which included three of its most revered scents – the same three scents that feature in the 2009 launch range.

To celebrate the new age of Grossmith, a limited edition of these crystal bottles has been commissioned using the original moulds, with beautiful gold etching designed by Holmes & Marchant on the front of each bottle replacing the gold disc-shaped labels that featured on the 1919 editions.

The launch range for the revived brand consists of three fragrances: Hasu-no-Hana, Phul-Nana and Shem-el-Nessim. Each will be available as both perfume (100ml and 10ml) and eau de parfum (100ml and 50ml) in ‘standard’ glass bottles and special edition crystal flacons.

“The Baccarat bottles were where the project began,” said Nick Hanson, creative director at Holmes & Marchant. “It is a reverential nod to Grossmith’s heritage that we have taken the original Baccarat bottle as the basis for the new flagship range of the brand. The exquisite patterns of the new gold etching are a modern interpretation of the Victorian decoration.”

The wider brand identity also references the Grossmith story, with the logo device based on designs used on old fragrance cards and packaging of early Grossmith scents. The oval footprint of the ‘standard’ reeded glass bottles follows the shape of the original Grossmith ‘standard’ bottle.

Other aspects of the design are inspired by the Baccarat crystal bottles: each bottle has a square label with chamfered corners (technically an octagon), based on the footprint of the Baccarat bottles. The finger cap on the bottle lid also references this shape, as do the luxurious display cartons and even the blotters onto which the perfume is sprayed for customers to try in store.

“We’ve taken the personality from the early fragrances and recrafted it to create a logo and identity that can work across this range as well as for any future Grossmith launches,” adds Hanson. “It’s very Art Deco and communicates that this is a luxury, handcrafted product – reflecting in the packaging and the attention to detail that has always been a hallmark of Grossmith.”

The range primarily uses a gold, regal blue and white colour scheme – more subtle than the bright multicoloured labels of the Victorian and Edwardian originals. It is intended to reflect the opulence of the scents while allowing flexibility for future product launches. Each bottle in the perfume range will come in an elegant, luxurious-feeling white box, while the eau de parfum boxes will be a striking blue. Baccarat bottles will be sold in hand-made oak presentation cases.

Simon Brooke, managing director of Grossmith, said: “There’s no doubt that the relaunch of Grossmith was a challenging brief, with so much to take into account and a heritage that we needed both to reference and evolve. The work that Holmes & Marchant has produced is absolutely stunning and completely in keeping with the idea of remastering such a classic brand.

“I am deeply proud of my ancestors’ achievements and feel privileged that I can continue the tradition of innovation and product development. We have an extensive back catalogue and exciting plans for the future of Grossmith.”