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Scents and Sensibility

Perfumer Jo Malone channels cool Britannia

Author Layla Schlack Photography Courtesy of Jo Malone

Image – Courtesy of Jo Malone

DEBBIE WILD, perfumer Jo Malone’s director of fragrance and lifestyle, wants you to think of your favorite fragrance the way you would “your little black dress”-which is to say, as a starting point. “You can accessorize your main fragrance with other scents for something that’s uniquely your own,” she says. To help people go about this, Malone patented “The Art of Fragrance Combining,” an initiative complete with an interactive website that helps customers figure out which scent combinations work best.

While most perfumers want their product to be immediately recognizable, Jo Malone stresses simplicity and personalization-fitting for a company that started when a young Malone began mixing soap shavings with flowers that grew outside her English countryside home. Although the line has since been bought by Estée Lauder and Malone is no longer involved, the products remain refreshingly uncomplicated. The simple bottles adorned with black-on-ivory labels contain such elemental fragrances as Vintage Gardenia and Verbenas of Provence. “They’re very fresh and clean,” Wild says. “And they’re very English. Our new one, English Pear and Freesia, was inspired by the John Keats poem ‘Ode to Autumn.’”

This year, Jo Malone has entered its first partnership, a collaboration with another very English firm, Farrow & Ball, a paint and wallpaper company that specializes in historic colors. The two have created a limited edition line of candles. A travel set will be available internationally this month. “We’ve matched some of our scents to their colors,” Wild says. “The philosophy is decorating your home with scent. You want your home to look beautiful and smell beautiful, too.” Keats, that old lover of beauty, would approve.

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