Who: Alison Lloyd, founder of Ally Capellino. Ally co founded Ally Capellino in 1980 with her then partner Jonathan Platt, creating leather bags and designer clothes that were worn by the cool set of the 80s and 90s. She took over full control of the business in 1999 and after restructuring, now concentrates on making beautiful, high quality leather accessories. She describes herself as ‘doing bags for a living and anything else creative the rest of the time’. We caught up with her in her beautiful London garden.
Today I’m wearing Maya Njie’s Nordic Cedar, I‘m trying to remember exactly why I liked it in the first place, I don’t know how to describe it at all, it’s quite a fresh smell, almost wintery, I suppose the cedar in it has a certain astringent quality to it, I don’t know what the elements used are, I’m not really practised enough to know that but when I smell it on my skin its not what I expect, it’s much warmer.
I found it at a shop called the Acey, which was a pop-up next to us in Calvert Avenue. They had a little range there of maybe four of the fragrances and immediately Nordic Cedar was the one I picked. Then I introduced it to a few more people to and they all went crazy for it too.
I literally can’t smell it once it’s on me, it so strange, it becomes a part of you, its so weird. I don’t mind that other people bought it too, in fact I’ve smelled Nordic Cedar on other people and liked it before I knew what it was.
Today I’ve also put some Agent Provocateur on too, the first fragrance they did, in the pink bottle, and on a hot day like today, they mix nicely because the Nordic Cedar is quite cold, and Agent Provocateur is warmer.
It’s strange because they are quite different from each other, but they are both no nonsense fragrances, even though the Agent Provocateur is a rose smell (Turkish rose), it’s quite straightforward, they are both straightforward fragrances and quite punchy but not frilly.
I think I’m quite colour-focused, if I’m wearing pink, which I am quite a lot these days, I put always the Agent Provocateur on, the Nordic Cedar hasn’t got a colour, but somehow it’s more of a trouser perfume. But neither of them are super casual, they are both a little bit serious.
My sense of smell is pretty important to me. Food always is a big thing, and both these two fragrances are a little bit foody. I liked the first Comme des Garçons fragrance, when it came out, that was a bit foody.
I love it when I can smell garden plants, everything that has a smell is such a pleasure, although I didn’t start my garden’s design from a scent point of view. Some things are stronger one year than another, this year there’s lots of fennel around, which is lovely, and I’ve got lots of mint, rosemary and sage and there’s an old rose that smells quite strong, and figs, which I find is such an elusive smell, you just catch wafts of it, you can’t go up and just sniff it. Theres a tomato plant I’ve got which doesn’t smell like I remember tomato to smell, it’s not as lovely as I remember it, so I wonder if my sense of smell has changed over the years.
Leather at the pre processing stage is the most rank smell ever, no body should be subjected to it. In the Moroccan tanneries it’s probably the worst smell I’ve ever experienced, although it is an interesting natural smell…It’s worse when they are doing white, because they have to bleach it with sulphur from pigeon shit…But it’s an effective natural process. Good processed leather smells nice, bad leather smells chemically, which I hate.
I’ve actually never worked with tanneries in Morocco because I find the leather a bit brittle for what I need, but I’ve been in tanneries in Romania, India, Italy, Spain and it’s always disgusting to smell the hide when it still has the hair on. I seem to be able to block my throat so I don’t smell while I’m there.
I’m just brilliant at being late, I always think I can do a couple more things then… I’m late! Perfume is more about if I ‘feel’ it, for example I don’t always wear make up but it’s very likely if I wear make up I’ll put on perfume too. I don’t have to have it every day. Its a bit like putting something on to feel more dressed.
Also there’s a ‘what goes with what’ feel with the perfume I spray, I do like thinking about what goes with what.
I don’t really scent my home, maybe I should scent my bedroom though, because I’ve got a lot of old shoes, but I’d rather spend the time thinking about a bunch of flowers.
I think about sustainability all the time. I thought at one time we didn’t have anything to talk about, but actually our stuff lasts a very long time, which is relevant. The leathers that we use in the main are Veg Tan leathers, tanned with vegetable matter. Margent Farm is interesting too, they’re growing hemp – they’ve already made a house out of hemp – and they’re making a bio resin which is incredibly strong that I’d love to use on our metalwork, hemp is the big thing apparently,.
I’m quite into the smell of new books and print, it’s a very dry smell and I love it.