Sophia Fannon-Howell’s Deco London launches next month. She has translated her appreciation for history and fragrance into a well-rounded collection of perfumes, three feminine and three masculine eau de parfums developed in collaboration with Robertet. I’ve spent the past few weeks getting to know the scents a bit better.
The three masculine fragrances are Earnest, Lawrence and Quentin. Lawrence is a lavender based scent that will make you toss any preconceptions you may have about lavender aside. The fragrance opens with a berry-scented squeeze of cassis before leading on to a deep, earthy lavender accented with subtle floral notes that bring a rich texture to the blend. Lawrence was a pleasure to wear, although my favorite was Quentin.
Quentin starts out gently aromatic with a sparkling of bergamot followed by a cool geranium note mixed with warm, clove-like facets of carnation. The base of the fragrance is an achingly suave blend of patchouli, vetiver and moss with just a crack of leather to keep a girl on her toes.
Personally, I found Earnest a bit too masculine for my tastes. I can quite often get down with a “pour homme”, but Earnest was just a tad too much man for me. I would, however, love to smell this on someone else.
I affectionately nicknamed the feminine scents The Three Graces. There is a deft handling of ingredients and lightness of touch to all three that really allowed the quality of the construction shine through. Loretta and Constance were the two that I enjoyed the most. Loretta reminds me of a delicate apricot jam sandwiched between a blend of lush white flowers and playfully sudsy orange blossom.
Constance skirts the line between wide eyed ingenue and beguiling seductress. From first spray, the scent is a feminine, floral-laced beauty. There is a creamy, buttery quality to the initial blooms that conveys an easy sensuous feel. As the perfume continues to expand, Constance gives me the impression of pollen-laden petals unconscious of their own irresistible allure. A persistently sweet facet of jasmine blended with a sprinkling of powder blends into the musky base with just enough projection to entice.
Sophia also very kindly agreed to answer some questions I had about Deco London…
Can you tell me about your background and what lead you to launching Deco London?
I am a Geologist by training. I studied Geology at University and history at college. I am fascinated by history, all things old and vintage. I have been in love with fragrance from an early age, but I never dreamt I would ever own a fragrance brand.
In 2004 I started learning about skincare product formulation, natural ingredients and essential oils, and created products in my kitchen. I began blending essential oils for the natural products I was creating, for their therapeutic benefit and their fragrance. After creating a range of natural facial skincare products with a vintage design, I began selling them online in 2011.
Unfortunately, I found it was very hard to be noticed in the very busy facial skincare market place, which is now overrun by companies with ‘natural’ offerings. I also learnt that most people tend to buy products based on the smell, regardless of the quality of the ingredients. This led me to thinking more about fragrance and how I could create complex, vintage fragrances for my skincare products. Whilst I knew a lot about fragrance and naturals, I was not a perfumer, so I sought help from some of the best experts in the business. Through talking to them, I began to understand what was possible and the idea of Deco London the fragrance house was born.
Do you have a particular design ethos that you like to incorporate into your products? What do you feel sets Deco London apart?
To create the Deco London perfumes, I took influence from the perfume trends of the 1920s. The 1920s were exciting times for perfumery. This was the era when the first synthetics were being invented and incorporated into fragrances, and when perfumers were creating new types of perfumes, such as chypre and oriental scents. I incorporate a high proportion of high quality naturals into my fragrances as well as using synthetic aroma chemicals. I want them to smell classic in their complexity and construction, but also affect a feeling of nostalgia in the wearer. The quality of the ingredients is important to me.
We have taken key elements of 1920s classic perfumery and created a range of modern perfumes that compliment each other, which I don’t think anyone else is doing. We have also spent a lot of time investing in creativity and design. The visual design elements are also important to me.
What are some of your favorite perfumes?
I love chypres and florals, especially rose fragrances, but most of all I am a vintage fragrance girl! I collect vintage fragrances, and I enjoy wearing them. My signature fragrance has always been No5 by Chanel. I am not keen on the modern version, so I buy vintage, preferably dating from before 1995. I love Guerlain, especially L’Heure Bleu, Vol de Nuit and Mitsouko. I also adore Coty’s Chypre. More modern fragrances I love are; For Her by Narcisso Rodriguez, Angels of Florence by Santa Maria Novella and I recently discovered Tobacco Rose by Papillon Artisan Perfumes, which is on my to buy list. There are so many that I love I couldn’t possibly list them all. I just love perfume!
The fragrances can be pre-ordered in the UK through the Deco London website, and will be available in the States at Indigo Perfumery. 2ml sample sets are also able to be purchased for just £10.00 each.