The legendary Bermuda Perfumery, founded in 1928 by William Blackburn (W.B.) Smith and his daughter, Madeline Scott, has recently opened its first shop on Front Street in Hamilton. Located in Butterfield Place, this elegant perfumery is the flagship store of Lili Bermuda, owned by Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone.
The Brackstone family acquired the Bermuda Perfumery (then located in Hamilton Parish) in 2004, and moved its operations to historic Stewart Hall, St. George’s, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original Easter Lily Perfume was first produced experimentally, with the assistance of eminent French perfumers, in a small wooden building in Bailey’s Bay. Determined to preserve the traditional methods of perfume making which created the original perfume, the Brackstones retained David Bothello, the perfumery’s perfumer for 45 years, to assist and guide the staff at Lili Bermuda.
Although it has its roots in old-time Bermuda, Lili Bermuda is a thoroughly modern perfumery. The newly opened flagship store in Hamilton is designed to reflect the unique history of the business, while communicating its contemporary, cosmopolitan sophistication. Working with Ramsay-Brackstone’s vision for the new store, Michele Smith of OBM hung original photographs from the Bermuda Perfumery archives, creating murals from some of the more celebrated pictures of ladies in lily fields and gentlemen in Bermuda shorts. Smith then arranged the owner’s antiques to contrast with the sophisticated interior palette. The result is a uniquely Bermudian shopping experience. “Depicting the perfumery’s history is of the utmost importance as it is one of the few original Bermudian businesses on Front Street today. The shop’s charm and elegance take you back in time,” says Smith.
At the same time that Ramsey-Brackstone was opening her new store, she was also launching a rare perfume discovered three years ago in the bow of the Mary Celestia, which sunk off the south shore in 1864. Expert perfumers have analysed the perfume and have been able to recreate the scent with contemporary ingredients. The Bermuda Perfumery can now give visitors (and locals) an opportunity to catch a scent of Bermuda’s history – perfume lost at sea for almost 150 years!
“We’ve spent months investigating and researching, and I’m immensely proud of the body of work we’ve amassed for the global fragrance industry,” explains Ramsay-Brackstone, director of the Bermuda Perfumery. “This story is a fascinating one in so many different domains: for shipwreck divers, historians, as well as perfumers. My goal now is to allow the public to get close to this discovery – to smell the perfume, and experience its notes. I hope by sharing the story of this perfume and its intriguing mystery with the public, we can foster an appreciation and love for fragrance-making in the hearts of many people.”
Needless to say, Ramsay-Brackstone’s passion for this industry radiates through her smile and mirrors the love she has for Bermuda. She insists that Lili Bermuda be 100 percent Bermudian – made in Bermuda, by Bermudians. A legacy sure to last.
Lili Bermuda’s new flagship store opened in June in Butterfield Place, Front Street, Hamilton.