Angela Flanders established her original perfumery in East London, in the heart of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market, in 1985. She set about to restore this perfect example of a Victorian shop. After a successful career in television costume design, she first indulged her lifelong passion for perfume by turning her skills to designing elegant Pot-Pourri, gathering rare and exotic materials, creating subtle perfumes, decorating with fragrance.
After Mitchelle Beazley published her book Aromatics in 1995, and further inspired by her fascination with the history of perfume and the beauty of natural ingredients, Angela Flanders began to work with fine personal fragrance; creating scents from her imagination and her skill as a perfumer. The translation of an idea into liquid emotion attracts all who indulge in the luxury of fine handmade fragrance – perfumes which defy classification, a golden flask of joy, a drop of magic in every bottle.
Now run by her daughter Kate, this unique perfumery has grown quietly over the years, becoming a destination for those in the know, who appreciate the art and craft of fine Artisan Perfumery.
The collection now includes over 40 individual and unique perfumes. From original favourites such as Mandarin and Mint, to more exotic blends like Figue Noire. Angela Flanders was awarded a coveted FiFi Award for Best New Independent Fragrance 2012 for Precious One, an intriguing woody chypre.
The collection of home fragrances, skin care and therapeutics are still represented in the shops, they hark back to the early days, and are in effect the DNA of the heritage of this quietly iconic English brand.
A second store located in Spitalfields opened in 2012.
Angela Flanders’ Perfumed Journey
Discover some of the highlights of Angela Flanders' career, in her own words :
The beginnings on Columbia Road…
“There is a Chinese proverb which says the journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. I wonder how many people have embarked upon that journey without even knowing it, and are well along the road before they even realize that they are travelling! With hindsight this is what happened to me, when in 1985, I took on the lease of a small shop, 94 Columbia Road….”*
Acquiring the shop next door, no 96 soon followed…
“We had to get a locksmith to let us in,” she recalls, “It was in quite a state. The roof was shot and there was a terrible smell, but it was full of all its original features and I was determined to keep as much as I could. I saw it as somewhere in need of care and attention. I fell in love with it.”**
When I first came to Columbia Road I had no intention of working with flowers, for at that time I was a decorative painter, heavily involved with the magic of paint and faux finishes….and so my journey began. I opened the shop intending to sell small antiques and decorative furnishings and to decorate the shop I dried some flowers and to make it smell good I used some traditional pot pourri. The flowers and fragrances took off in a remarkable way and soon I gave up painting to concentrate on the flowers….On a busy Sunday before Christmas I remembered the mix of pot pourri I had made and carried it into the shop. The reaction was extraordinary ! “ *
On making pot pourri, Angela’s first foray into perfume…
“It was something that just grew,” she says, “I suppose I loved doing it because I’d always enjoyed making things and transforming things. With the pot pourris I think I was enjoying conjuring up atmospheres for rooms – scents that might suggest the past or a mood. At first I’d go to Spitalfields Market and buy the odd box of flowers and I’d dry them out by hanging them all round this building. Then I went to Covent Garden and bought a few more things from a merchant and within a year the business had expanded so much that I was taking in van-loads of flower deliveries. It was then that I realised that I couldn’t take on any more furniture commissions, because this was clearly the right thing to do.”**
On finding one’s path in life…
“I’ve got this theory that if you are on the right path people help you and that certainly happened to me,” Angela confided. It was odd,” she said,“One day I was in an antiques shop and I felt myself guided, literally, to the back shelf where there was a book by a nineteenth century perfumer called Septimus Piesse. It’s mainly him holding forth on scent and his opinions and it includes some of his formulas too, one of which I have used. It has become one of my bibles.”**
On being an independent perfumer…
“I also think I’m very lucky because I don’t have to satisfy the concerns of the big companies. I can play, I can have fun and I can make very small amounts of a scent. Being tiny, you can afford to be brave! Very often perfumers are forced to work to a commercial brief and it can be difficult for them. I’m not bound by that – I can explore and I treat myself to that freedom every day. Really, I just pootle along here in Bethnal Green and it’s wonderful.”**
* from the book Aromatics, by Angela Flanders