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Scents of occasion

DECO Group

If the look of these little beauties don’t do it for you, the fragrance certainly will.

They’re utterly divine. And you’ll thank me for introducing you. They’re by Deco London, a shiny new British perfume house that’s totally devoted to the revival of 1920s fragrances.

There are six fragrances, divided equally between the sexes, with gloriously flapper names like Millicent, Loretta and Constance. For the men there’s Lawrence, Ernest and Quentin. Who doesn’t love the Roaring Twenties? Those dresses, the design, the parties. And now the fragrances. *Sigh* I struggled to choose a favourite – they’re all wonderful. But if I really really had to, I’d say Constance.

At the helm of Deco London is Esher’s very own Sophia Fannon-Howell. A doctor of Geology, and entrepreneur who has set up and successfully run several businesses, including an online boutique and tech consultancy, Sophia wanted to merge he love of history, fragrance and vintage design. And so Deco London was born.

Here she shares her secrets…

DECO Sophia17011 1

Sophia Fannon-Howell

You have a history and literature degree, a doctorate in geology, you’ve set up and run several businesses, had children, and now launched six perfumes. Phew, I’m exhausted. How do you manage it all? Luckily I haven’t had to do all of those things at the same time; the education came before the children and the businesses.  I am very driven and there are lots of things that I want to do.  Life’s far too short not to give things a go, isn’t it? However, I am a mum and I manage the house and all the things that go with that, I run my fragrance brand Deco London and I also do part-time consulting for big businesses, so yes I am pretty busy.

How did Deco come about? Is it true your interest in scents started as a hobby? I have always been interested in scent and perfume, but I never considered it as a serious business proposition.  I initially developed an interest in essential oils, because of their fragrance and therapeutic properties, and natural raw ingredients. I then started formulating skincare products and creating fragrances for them. My hobby developed over a number of years into an artisan skincare business and my experiences and learnings developed during this time came together to define and then launch my fragrance brand Deco London.

Did you sneak a spray of your mum’s perfume when you were little? I’ve always had an interest in perfume. I collected scented soap when I was really young and was obsessed with scratch and sniff stickers in the early 1980s. My Mum wore perfume, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps and Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass, but only for special occasions.  I don’t recall spraying it on myself though. Whilst we weren’t a particularly perfumed house, I recall these memories very clearly so perfume played an important role in my early life.

Do your children like to try their mum’s scents? My son Mani is 9 and my daughter Cassie is 8.  I am not sure Mani is that interested in my perfume business, but Cassie certainly is.  She likes a spray of the Deco perfumes every now and again and she loves to mix up her own perfumes.

What was your first ever perfume? I think the first I bought myself must be Givenchy’s Amarige, which was actually a disaster purchase as it’s a huge floral and it made me feel ill when I wore it.

Do you have a signature scent? I am a vintage and classic fragrance girl and I love to wear lots of different perfumes. The fragrance I have worn the longest is No5 by Chanel, although I am not keen on the modern version, so I buy bottles dating from before 1995.  I love Guerlain, especially L’Heure Bleu, Vol de Nuit and Mitsouko and, of course I love to wear the Deco London scents.

It’s a silly question, I know, because obviously the Twenties was a cracking decade. But, go on, why the Twenties? Its an era of nostalgia, remembered as the Roaring Twenties – for the flappers, stunning Art Deco design and the outrageous and glamorous Bright Young Things of 1920s London who embraced a post-war hedonistic lifestyle. It’s an era very much like our own 21st Century: an era of contrasts – of wealth, glamour and celebrity, of design and creativity and of boom and bust.

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I love the names of each scent. How did you settle on those six?  I researched popular names of the decade and then picked ones I liked that would suit the perfumes.  Each perfume has a human persona so the name had to fit the personality.

Do you have plans to create a range focusing on a different era? Yes. I am fascinated by British history and I want to explore other eras through the art of scent. I am already working on my next range, which digs a little deeper into history. Watch this space!

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