Angela’s first successful career was as a television costume designer, actually, after studying fashion at Manchester College of Art. She then worked as an interior designer – but it was writing a book, Aromatics, published by Mitchell Beazley in 1995, which set Angela Flanders on the path for a second career. Utterly fascinated by the history of perfume (and in particular the writings of a 19th Century perfumer), Angela began to work with fine personal fragrance – creating scents from her imagination and inspiration, the spark perhaps a particular ingredient (rare or new), a story, or an emotion…
She’d opened a store in the heart of the bustling Columbia Road market in 1982, selling (as she put it) ‘all manner of bric a brad I’d painted and cleaned up to sell.’ The enchanting store – designed to be the perfect restoration of a Victorian shop – featured bowls of sweet-scented pot pourri. When the woman who’d been making the pot pourri turned down Angela’s request for a ‘seasonal’ version, ‘I thought, right, no problem, I’ll just do it myself,’ says Angela. Customers loved the spice-and-orange blend – and before long, were asking her to create fragrances. And so she began gathering rare and exotic materials – and the Angela Flanders perfume collection was born.
Fragrances include the elegant classic chypre Caspian, which opens with marine notes, and reveals its warmth through oak moss, vetiver, amber and musk. Bois de Seville is infused with the spices Angela loves to work with: a soaring overture of orange, rose and bergamot, warmed at its heart by cinnamon, black pepper and spices, with long-lasting elements of rare woods and balsams, purring underneath. Or there’s Parisienne: sophisticated and elegant, speaking of ‘assignations at dusk and walks by the Seine,’ as Angela puts it, leaving a trail of roses, powdery musks and gentle hints of vanilla.
For many years, Angela Flanders was a well-kept secret to those-in-the-fragrant-know, with customers seeking out the store. Then in 2006/7, Angela Flanders Figue Noire was nominated for a FiFi Award, for its swirl of woodsmoke, leather and sweetness. She is, Angela explains, ‘fascinated by rich, deep and mysterious perfumes.’ Ambre Noire (seen here) followed, in 2008: deep golden in colour, mysterious and exotic, it’s described by perfume expert James Craven as ‘excellent on a man, but irresistible on a woman, enticingly exotic, very adult – and not a toy!’
The original perfumery was awarded The London Magazine’s Great Little Shop Award in 2010, and a second store opened (see it here) in Artillery Passage, in September 2012. That was a great year for Angela Flanders, in every way: her fragrance Precious One won the Fragrance Foundation FiFi Award for Best New Independent Fragrance.
It was created for her daughter Kate Evans’s Precious boutique (also nearby in Spitalfields), and . As she told the author of Cult Fragrances, Tessa Williams, at the awards ceremony, ‘I could see all these faces looking at me, thinking “Angela who?”‘ Well, they know who she is now – and so do increasing numbers of people seeking out interesting, individual – but always gorgeous – scents. Precious One has become a bestseller with both men and women: rich, intense, a chypre with velvety, mossy aspects and a beautifully resinous finale.
We love award-winning blogger Persolaise‘s description of Angela ‘Age is a state of mind, right? And the hearts of Flanders’s best perfumes beat with more energy than the vital signs of the pre-fashionistas queueing for Marni’s H&M collection.’ Angela still describes herself as ‘a designer’ – but instead of designing fragrances, she says, she designs scent that emanates by the skin. ‘A golden flask of joy, a little bit of magic in a bottle’, as the website puts it – and that, of course, is what we long for, in a perfume.
And as Tessa Williams comments: when people walk into an Angela Flanders shop, ‘They know they have found something really special…’
We suggest you follow in their footsteps.
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