South Woodford perfumier provides relationship advice to customers

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Irfan Ali in The Perfumery. Irfan Ali in The Perfumery.

A local perfumier whose family has been in the business for over a century believes his success comes down to a key understanding of relationships.

As Valentine’s Day looms closer, Irfan Ali’s shop, The Perfumery in George Lane, South Woodford, experiences an influx of men and women attempting to please their other halves.

But Mr Ali, 39, says it isn’t just Valentine’s Day when he is required to give out advice.

He said: “All year round I get men and women coming off the train and asking me for advice on their relationships.

“I say, “How bad is it?” and they tell me what they need. People buy perfume to say sorry, to say happy birthday – the list is endless.

“What’s great is I get just as many women coming in too and wanting their men to smell good.

"Men’s perfumes are more popular than ever.”

Mr Ali, who used to own a pharmacy in Stratford, imports oils from his family’s home country of Yemen, where his relatives have been developing new scents for more than a century.

He then decided to open the shop in South Woodford a year ago to allow his family to start importing their oils to Europe.

Customers can create their own unique scent from the oils as well as buy designer and high street brands.

He said: “A lot of people are fanatical about perfume and want to wear something striking and original.

“I have one customer who I visit and you should see the collection that she has – it’s enormous.”

Mr Ali’s most popular oil is called Black Afghan, made from pure amber.

He said: “It reminds them of going on holiday and helps them feel luxurious.

“I find that perfumes are a cheap luxury – they make people feel good and happy about themselves.

“People are looking for the bigger and better deal. People want to say they’ve spent a certain amount on something to impress others.”

The Perfumery celebrates its first anniversary today.

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6:09pm Fri 7 Feb 14

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