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The celebrated British couture designer on buying and wrapping gifts, and the magic of spending Christmas in the city

What epitomises Christmas in London for you?


I am a huge fan of Christmas windows in London and I think, as a city, we do it the best – gorgeously decorative, original and full of transportable Christmas charm.


What’s your earliest Christmas memory?


I remember being pulled around on a wooden sledge as a child. I saw a picture of it recently and was amazed by how small it was – at the time it seemed enormous.


What smells and tastes do you associate with the festive period?


Cedar, orange and mint chocolate, all mixed with the smell of a log fire (especially when I am away from London).


Do you prefer Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or a chocolate yule log?


I love a yule log! The more it looks like a branch, the better – plenty of flaky chocolate with a marzipan robin and an edible holly on top!


What’s on your Christmas list to give and/or to receive from The Royal Exchange?


I live very close to The Royal Exchange and will be buying quite a few gifts from the area. I’m thinking of gifting scents from Jo Malone London, grooming products from Bamford and, of course, an array of gifts from Aspinal of London, all of which will be personalised – I think the travel wallets make a great gift. Top of my list to receive is Aspinal’s new London Travel Bag, an oversized black croc weekend bag, plus a pair of slippers from Church’s and hopefully a camera from Leica.


What’s your Christmas gift-wrapping style?


I go simple but personal. I like to wrap presents using brown parcel paper, tied with a pink grosgrain ribbon then personalised with a sketch for each person.


Do you have any special, unique or unconventional Christmas traditions?


If in London I love to walk in St James’s Park on Christmas morning. It’s always peaceful and quiet, and the wildfowl and squirrels are very excited to see you!


Do you own a Christmas jumper?


I have a favourite Christmas jumper that was a gift from Ralph Lauren a couple of years ago. It has a bear in black-tie holding a martini and is made out of the softest cashmere.


What’s your favourite Christmas film?


It has to be It’s a Wonderful Life.


Do you have a favourite Christmas song?


It’s not specifically a Christmas song but I like to listen to The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams on Christmas morning before I descend to Wham! and the other classics.


What signifies the start of the festive season for you?


My birthday is on 14 December, so once that’s out of the way I immediately feel Christmassy!


What do you think is the best way to help others at Christmas?


Simple things like telephone calls and visits are a good way of looking out for others. I also do some work with Shelter at Christmas, who I think do really great work all year round, but especially at Christmas time, when lots of people really struggle.

Giles Deacon is a British womenswear designer who launched his first couture collection in 2016. He is also design director of Aspinal of London