“Everyone’s skin chemistry is different, it’s important to see how the perfume develops on you” – Q&A Angela Flanders London

With its classic East-End shop-front and lavish interior, it’s hard to believe that Angela Flanders Perfumery was ever meant to be anything but the beautiful fragrance shop it is now; not least because of its location on Columbia Road Flower market no less. Yet this classic London shop started off as something quite different and it’s owner, a then fifty-something furniture designer, was totally self-taught in the ways of perfume.

We spoke to her daughter Kate, to find out how her mother began her business and all about the ways of fragrance.

Tell us, when did Angela Flanders London open and how did it all begin?

My mother, Angela Flanders started the business in 1985 when she found a perfect Victorian shop on Columbia Road, the now famous East End flower market. She loved the energy of the street and the beauty of all the flowers that filled the street with their colour and perfume on a Sunday morning. She did not intend to open a perfumery – she had taken on the shop to use as a studio for her painted furniture, but to add something small she created a range of potpourri, and so her journey began and the rest, as they say, is history.

Was Angela always interested in creating beautiful scents?

Having grown up in a large country house, Angela had always been involved in the seasons and the creation of home produce. Preserves made from the garden, herbs and flowers which were cut and dried for later in the year, and making potpourri from garden flowers that were gathered in the summer and dried to be used to perfume the house throughout the winter.

Angela Flanders London

Can you tell us a little about your products: what kinds of ingredients do you use, and do you create your fragrances on site?

All our products are handmade in our own studio. Angela created all the perfumes over the past 30 years. We now have 40 different perfumes in the collection available as eau de parfum, eau de toilette, shower gels, body lotions and bath silks. We hand pour our famous candles which contain a very high percentage of fragrance, and stay true to our early days with original home products including French anti-moth herbs and our lavender and chamomile sleep spray.

What are your tips for selecting one’s own signature scent?

Identifying what type of notes you like is a good start: do you prefer fresh and green, or sharp and citrusy notes? Do you prefer a deeper exotic oriental or a sophisticated white floral? Try to limit one session to a maximum of about four different perfumes, and once you have one or two that you like, do try it on the skin; everyone’s skin chemistry is different and it’s important to see how the perfume develops on you. Buying a tester or a smaller bottle size the first time is also a good tip. Once you know you have found your signature fragrance then a larger size is usually better value.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to select a fragrance as a gift for someone else?

We find that our trilogy perfume sets make an ideal gift, as they contain three different perfumes. Perfumed candles, body lotions and shower gels are also a lovely fragrance gift to give and receive; as they are the little luxuries we often don’t treat ourselves to.

When someone visits an Angela Flanders London store, how do you suggest they try a fragrance to see if it’s right for them?

Once we have identified the bouquet of fragrances that suit you, we would always recommend that you try a couple of different perfumes on the skin and see how they open out and develop. The best way is to spray a little on the skin and give it time to dry out, do not rub the skin together, let the perfume gently warm up and open out to offer up its complexity. We use a lot of natural ingredients, which open out slowly in a fragrance. First, you will experience the top notes, followed by the heart notes in the fragrance with the base notes adding depth and stability. It’s important to give all these elements time to develop before making a final selection.

Which is your personal favourite fragrance?

My personal favourite is Precious One, which Angela made for my fashion boutique Precious in 2012. We had such an amazing reaction to it that we entered it for the Fragrance Foundation Awards, and we were both so honoured and proud to be awarded the FiFi (equivalent of the perfume Oscars) for Best New Independent Fragrance for Precious One in 2012, against some very respected competitors.

You can head over to this week’s giveaway to win your very own triology box set of Angela’s amazing fragrances.

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