When Penhaligon’s opened The House of Toys this Christmas, we couldn’t help but ask stop motion extraordinaires Richard Higgs and Debbie Smith to bring Mr. Penhaligon and Flappers to life.

Penhaligon’s has been having a toytastic Christmas this year. The House of Toys has been open to all playful noses, spreading joy with many a hand-crafted olfactive wonder. And in celebration of souls young at heart spritzed with a dash of mischief, we’ve teamed up with Richard Higgs and Debbie Smith to bring Mr Penhaligon and his toy friends to life.


​ Higgs and Smith are toy enthusiasts who have expertly crafted our very own Mr Penhaligon and his penguin friend, Flappers. The marvellous models, made from wood then hand-painted over three days, began life as sketches based on computed-generated images – and we think they’ve done a splendid job!


‘The original idea came from a Victorian Christmas tree decoration carved out of wood,’ explained Higgs, an aficionado of all things toys and animation. ‘We went to a wood turner, and [the toys] were turned in beech.’ And my, how we’d love to have these toys hanging on our Christmas tree – a perfectly fitting tribute to Penhaligon’s heritage, indeed. However, these wooden wonders have to serve their original purpose first...

"We had to find some way of creating a relationship between the two characters with a Christmas theme."

Making these models was only half the fun, don’t you know. Getting Mr Penhaligon to wave his perfumed hands around and Flappers’ flappers to flap was of the utmost importance – how else would they celebrate Christmas?! And, for those noses in the know, celebrations are terribly important for Penhaligon’s.

Flappers' Different Beaks

Higgs and Smith made many a version of Flappers’ beak and Mr Penhaligon’s moustache to animate the characters during the stop-motion filming. It seemed only proper that Flappers be equipped with multiple beaks – how else would he toot for such joy this festive season (not to mention, possibly smell Mr Penhaligon’s redolent concoctions)?

"Most of my ideas start with a drawing and a sketch, and the ability to articulate an idea in a drawing is the bedrock of most creative things."

And whilst these wonderful toys are a joy to look at, the real magic happens in the studio. Frame by meticulous frame, Higgs and Smith’s team shot the figures to create two rather special clips for Penhaligon’s. Shooting took up to eight hours each day, you know. Simply imagine how many cups of tea one could drink in that time?

Stop Motion Sketches

Now, as for the Christmassy clips with our toy friends... one shall simply have to wait until the Big Day arrives. Until then, follow one's nose through Penhaligon's House of Toys, and peruse our perfumed aisles for all manner of joy-filled delights!


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