BEHIND THE BRAND: JO MALONE LONDON

We explore how the esteemed fragrance house encapsulates British creativity and charisma in its imaginative scents

14 December, 2020

Scent has the power to transport us to a very specific place and time with an intensity that none of the other senses possess. Whether it’s a faint whiff of chalk taking us back to our primary school classroom, or a drop of coconut-rich sun cream that suddenly transports us to a hot summer’s day on the beach — scent, nostalgia and emotion are intrinsically intertwined.

Capturing emotion and character — rather than simply producing a pleasant scent — is both the incentive and challenge for all perfumers. When it launched in the early 1990s, Jo Malone London was something of a revolution in the burgeoning home fragrance industry, and remains one of the country’s biggest success stories. Its signature luxury scented candles, room sprays and bath & beauty products have achieved near-iconic status.

Like all good brands, Jo Malone London’s products have expanded and diversified over the years, but what defines them — aside from the classic cream and black packaging — is the overarching theme of Britishness in every scent.

‘Since its inception, Jo Malone London has become a name internationally synonymous with all that is most coveted in British style,’ says Jo Malone London’s fragrance and lifestyle expert Emma South. ‘We orchestrate a world of bespoke luxury and fragrance that is immersed in modern British culture… Jo Malone London is timeless and elegant, but everything we create is always infused with a charming dash of wit and whimsy.’

The Britishness of Jo Malone London isn’t just a concept or marketing ploy, it’s an integral part of the company’s process. ‘Working with local British craftsmen, the Jo Malone London candle-making process begins in the English countryside, on the estate of Lord Cowdray, in a converted dairy,’ explains South. ‘Creating a candle can require two years of creative planning and development, involving intensive testing and blending. As many as 16 pairs of hands will play a role in the handmade creation of each candle.’

But what exactly is the olfactory essence of Britain? For Jo Malone London, the answer lies in the great British countryside — from rolling hills to rugged coastlines. Fresh and often unexpected natural notes such as bluebells, King William pears, oak trees, and lavender make up the brand’s bestselling fragrances. The award-winning Poppy & Barley Cologne conjures up mental images of an English meadow in full bloom, while the modern classic Lime Basil & Mandarin range — which made its debut in 1999 — brings an unexpected twist to peppery basil and white thyme with the scent of limes wafting ‘on a Caribbean breeze’.

‘By curating collaborations between world-renowned master perfumers and London’s leading creative talent, we are enduringly at the forefront of perfumery,’ says South.

For years, legendary perfumer Christine Nagel was the ‘nose’ behind many of the brand’s bestsellers, including the more exotic Oud & Bergamot and Amber & Patchouli scents, the aforementioned English Pear & Freesia and the limited-edition Rain & Angelica, which Nagel created to evoke dew thawing on Hampstead Heath.

These kinds of moments are at the heart of each product. The idiosyncratic new Townhouse Collection, featuring six ceramic candles, captures unusual home essences directly inspired by the brand’s central London HQ. From the glowing embers of a roaring fireplace in the living room to green tomatoes heated by the afternoon sun in the greenhouse. Even the new seasonal fragrances go beyond generic pine and cinnamon to evoke the spirit of the 1920s, inspired by partying till dawn, juniper-soaked martinis and the witty prose of Noël Coward.  

Jo Malone London is a brand famous for its ‘unique fragrance portfolio,’ says South. ‘Having rewritten the rules of perfumery by mixing unexpected combinations of ingredients and providing elegant yet playful concepts where scent is used, we are known for pushing the boundaries of fragrance development.’

Discover Jo Malone London’s unique and evocative fragrances for yourself with a visit to its The Royal Exchange boutique, situated on Threadneedle Street.

For Christmas gift guides, festive giveaways and seasonal activities, explore The Royal Exchange’s guide to Christmas: Seek And Ye Shall Find