This week, the idea of the Royal Warrant has captured my imagination. The queen of England or the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales issue a warrant for an item when it has been consistently used over five years, and is of high quality and distinctly British (or something like that–possibly bribes are involved, but I only know what is in that Wikipedia article). I am a raging Anglophile, especially when it comes to domestic culture and homewares, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed reading the list and ticking off my everyday dishes, Johnson Brothers, check. My Spode collection, check. My Smythson address book, check. My Pringle twinset, check. Etc, etc, etc.
I think that it would be a fun blog exercise to issue lists of one’s own Warrants–products or brands that one has returned to consistently for years and years, because they’re just so good that there’s no point in making do with substitutes. I invite you to play along if you think this sounds like fun. You could even make yourself a little heraldic Warrant graphic, if you’re handy at that sort of thing.
Here is my review of soap.
French soap doesn’t impress me. L’Occitane doesn’t lather well (actually, it lathers like olive oil soap, if you’d believe it) and their fragrances aren’t appealing.
Italian soap is okay. Its lather is decent and it usually has lovely, basic floral scents like lavender and orange blossom. Unless you’re scouring T. J. Maxx every weekend, though, it’s hard to keep yourself supplied.
English soap is the way to go. It lathers like a dream and the scents are always good. Yardley, just the kind you get at the drugstore, is a lovely soap that I’m happy to use any day. Yardley has real royal Warrants.
My favorite soap is the big store-brand bars that one gets at Liberty of London.
I bought six bars when I was in London myself, and when a friend was there six months later he bought me twelve more. I am now just about out of them. In fact (goes to bathroom cabinet and checks) I have two left. Both are in my favorite scent, Lavender & Eucalyptus. You cannot buy this soap anywhere except the Liberty store. You cannot order it from anyone but Liberty, and then they charge a horrendous shipping price that stopped even me from ordering it. I remember on my first day in London I was feeling sweaty and gritty and disgusting from being in filthy Copenhagen. I went to Liberty’s and bought that soap, and the matching bubble bath, and then went to Harrod’s and bought six white washcloths with their logo embroidered on in silver (because the flat I was in didn’t have any…), and I went back to my flat and pulled the most enormous bubble bath and washed, and washed, and washed over and over, and thought I was in heaven.
I’ve just now smelled the remaining bars of Liberty’s Lavender Eucalyptus soap, and… ohhhh my goodness. That’s exactly how soap should smell. You can’t imagine how heavenly.
Another soap that I quite like is Vinolia, a nostalgia product made by the Pears company and available through The Vermont Country Store. It’s the soap, so it advertises itself, that was in the first-class cabins on the Titanic. It is creamy and peppery, and by the time one has run through a package of three bars, one feels quite attached to it. I do recommend. Pears has real royal Warrants–that’s what the crest on the box is.
Last, the Pure & Simple Soap from Williams-Sonoma Home (formerly known as Chambers). Be wary of this stuff. The lather is distinctly second-rate, though it’s so appealing named, packaged, and advertised that one may ignore that fact. I recently bought a box of six bars of Citrus Blossom, and with two bars of Liberty, six bars of Vinolia, and three bars of Italian orange blossom in the house, am feeling distinctly “meh” about it. The fragrance tends much more towards bergamot than I had expected (I prefer neroli).
Something I need to try: the original Pears soap. Have never tried it. Know only that it’s the oldest brand (of anything!) in existence, and very very British, and available in drug stores here. So. Yeah. Some day.
Having thought about all of these soaps, and which ones I really enjoy and am likely to buy regularly in the future (and to be glad I’ve bought), I will issue two Snapdragons Warrants for Soap:
LIBERTY of LONDON, and
Pudding wants you to know that has no need for soap, and thinks that I’m very silly.