Who: Su Mason, vintage textile dealer and Romy Mason, creative and editorial director at Avenue 32. Su and Romy work and live together in a roomy London Fields flat that feels more Brooklyn than East End. It’s full of vintage textiles and garments for Su’s Friday Portobello Road stall. Romy helps out on weekend fairs and both have covetable wardrobes full of gorgeous vintage clothes.
Su: Vintage clothes have a particular smell which you get used to. Linens are always good when you wash them as they have a lovely scent.
Romy: Sometimes you have to burn candles to improve the smell…I can’t smell it because I’m so used to it but if I have my friends round they go ‘Oh gosh, that’s a distinctive smell!’ so I whip out the room spray.
Su: It took us ages to find a one we liked, in the end we went for Diptyque’s Baies. And my god daughter makes lovely scented candles, so we burn her Citronella and Lemongrass too.
Romy: We’ve always used lavender bags because it’s a lovely scent and it reminds me of when we lived in France. We get it from Provence in big bags and put it around the clothes.
Su: It’s supposed to help with the moths but I’m not sure it does.
Su: Both my grannies wore fragrance all the time, they sloshed it on. My mother had Je Reviens which I’m not sure she really liked but my father bought it for her so she wore it.
Romy: I definitely remember gran’s smell, hugely so. It was weirdly distinctive and epitomized her; Je Reviens mixed with talcum powder and hairspray. When I’m on shoots now and someone uses hairspray I immediately go back to her. After she died and I’d think about her, I’d actually get her smell again, which was weird. I remember telling mum about it and her saying ‘why hasn’t it happened to me?’
Su: I didn’t get that with my mother but after my granny died, I’d smell her and think ‘There’s granny’.
Romy: I don’t think it’s a ghost, I think it must be your brain thinking about them and the most distinctive thing comes to light just happens to be smell.
Romy: Mum had very particular smells when I was growing up, I remember 4711 so strongly. When you’re young you’re so close to your parents, when mum went out or when our babysitter was being obnoxious to me I’d run upstairs and lie on her bed and smell her pillow because I wanted her to be there.
Su: Just as Romy was born we were living in Paris and there was this little Annick Goutal shop on the left bank where I found Eau d’Hadrien, I wore it for years, it’s so unusual.
Romy: Everything about Annick Goutal was beautiful, the bottles, the labels… I loved it so much that when I was about 15 mum bought me Petite Cherie, which is the one Annick Goutal made for her daughter.
Su: I only really use Pink Vetiver body lotion from Jo Loves now, I don’t bother with scent, it takes too much time! The body lotion motivation is that it makes your skin feel better and you can smell it even at the end of the day. It’s very slightly peppery, I like to put on something that you don’t have to think about, a bit like wearing your uniform. It’s there, get on with life. I used to buy from Jo Malone from when she first opened her shop in London, I’ve stayed loyal to her at Jo Loves, I bought Romy and Chloe (Su’s other daughter) Jo Loves Shot Boxes for Christmas as the girls love experimenting.
Romy: I have Jo Loves Green Orange and Coriander, but I go through the shots and do different ones, Sweet Pea is lovely. I love the difference perfume makes but I use it sparingly, I wear it more in the daytime now than I used to. I’m quite masculine in the way I dress so I put scent on to soften everything slightly, so I’m doing the opposite to putting it on as armour! I love citrusy ones, they make you feel fresh when everything in London feels ‘heavy’. I wear my Jo Malone French Lime Blossom in July… it’s like summer. Blk Dnm was a find on a trip to New York with work, its very masculine and the company make great denim, this is their first scent.