I joined the ranks of The Foxley Docket in March 2015, a young and aspiring journalist who hadn’t had a chance to spread his wings and fly in the editorial game. I’d been there a month, and the question was posed, “Do you want to interview Richard E Grant?”
“The actor?” I replied, taken aback. As a film enthusiast, the name instantly held a level of merit which filled me with both excitement and nerves. Needless to say, I leapt at the chance. I read everything I could about the man himself and the night before, studied ‘Withnail and I’ to really get a feel for my adversary.
I arrived at Selfridges Exchange Square to meet Richard, suited and booted and clued up on a Saturday morning. The reveal was almost game show-esque in nature, being led around a corner to a small booth to meet the British icon, who greeted me in a radiant manner, dressed in the sharpest Union Jack-et I’d ever seen. It was certainly an experience I’ll never forget. Fast forward almost a year and a half, and the opportunity presented itself again, this time to discuss Richard’s latest offering to the fragrance industry, ‘Jack: PICCADILLY ‘69’
THE FOXLEY DOCKET (TFD): Jack: Piccadilly ’69 is the follow up fragrance to 2015’s Covent Garden. How was Covent Garden received, and how did this shape your expectations for Piccadilly ’69?
RICHARD E GRANT (REG): The novelty factor of launching JACK meant that it received a lot of press attention, so I knew that a second scent would not garner the same level of interest. However, sales have been strong and that is the best barometer that the JACK brand has fulfilled expectations.
TFD: PICCADILLY ’69 received its official launch on September 20th at Liberty in London, where the original Jack perfume was launched. Was there any sentimentality behind this choice of venue, almost returning to your roots for your third fragrance?
REG: Liberty took the leap of faith by launching JACK in 2014 and their support and sales team have been incredible. When the head of Liberty, Ed Burstell, first sniffed a tester of PICCADILLY ’69, he declared ‘It’s utterly addictive and your best fragrance yet’. So it was a slam dunk to launch at Liberty again. Everything with Liberty is personal, which is precisely how our business operates. No Middlemen!
TFD: How was the launch? Was PICCADILLY ’69 met with any particularly memorable responses?
REG: Our first review was in The Foxley Docket and hugely appreciated! What more could I ask for?!
TFD: Last time we spoke, you described yourself as being ‘intensely patriotic’, which is evident through the brand’s name and faded Union Jack decorated bag in which the bottle arrives. In the spirit of this, ‘PICCADILLY ‘69’ is a very specific location and year. Can you tell us a bit about the name? What sentimental value does this time and place hold to you?
REG: The first time I emerged from Piccadilly tube station at the age of 12 in 1969, fresh from Swaziland, on a Spring visit with my parents, the fountain steps were people-crammed with hippies and the smell of Patchouli oil proved indelible. I went to see HAIR the musical, which featured full frontal nudity, and also saw people in see though clothing in Soho, so sex was evident everywhere! So the scent is an homage to that potent experience!
TFD: When taking the first steps towards ‘PICCADILLY ‘69’, what vision did you have in mind for the fragrance? What have you done differently which sets it apart from Covent Garden?
REG: More than anything, I wanted to create a scent that was as close to ‘sex in a bottle’ as I was able to conjure up. 1969 was the year in which I learned how to French kiss, I learnt the sexual significance of the number 69 and it was also the year that I attempted to make perfume out of gardenia and rose petals boiled up in sealed jam jars, to impress an American girl I had a huge crush on. As with the first two scents, I have created a fragrance that is autobiographical and intended to be unisex.
TFD: Something that stands out and is quite unconventional about PICCADILLY ’69 is the presence of petrol, a somewhat unusual ingredient in a fragrance. Can you tell us a bit about this? What made it a relevant aspect of the perfume?
REG: I have always loved the smell of petrol, and as Piccadilly Circus is the traffic hub of the West End, it’s an intrinsic and invisible part of experiencing this iconic landmark. So it struck me as a good note to experiment with and include in the mix.
TFD: You appeared in some episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ earlier this year; can you tell us a bit about this experience? How did it feel to be a part of arguably one of the biggest drama series in the world at the moment?
REG: I’ve avidly watched the series since it began, so to be asked to play a cameo role in a few episodes was irresistible. An enormous amount of money is spent on each episode and everything is on such an epic scale, that it felt like a big budget movie.
TFD: You recently finished working on an upcoming, as of yet untitled Wolverine project, due out in 2017. There have been heavy rumours circulating in regards to your role, but how much can you tell us about the film? How was the experience of joining the Marvel universe, working alongside actors such as Hugh Jackman? What can we expect from your presence in the film?
REG: I play a scientist who believes himself to be fully in control of all his faculties, although other people might have a different opinion! More than that I cannot reveal for fear of losing my limbs! Hugh Jackman is everything you’d expect him to be – a true gentleman – generous, funny, staggeringly disciplined, with biceps thicker than my thighs, and a great sense of camaraderie with the cast and crew. He also declared that JACKwas a great fragrance!
TFD: Anything you’d like to add?
REG: Having been ‘led’ by my nose all my life, it’s the realisation of a lifelong dream to have created the JACKbrand, which has survived and thrived beyond all expectations. My mentor Anya Hindmarch (a British fashion designer) advised me that ‘passion is everything’ and I am indebted to her for her faith and belief.
Find out about Jack Piccadilly ’69 at: