Linda Pilkington opened her boutique, Ormonde Jayne, in November of 2002. According to Linda, the Evening Standard ran a half page story and the day after she opened there was a queue around the block. At the time she had only one fragrance, Ormonde; she has since added 6 more: Champaca, Frangipani, Tolu, Sampaquita, Osmanthus, and an Ormonde version for men. Oops...make that 7 more: I left out Ta'if!
I ordered a set of samples from Ormonde Jayne in December of 2003, and the line quickly became one of my favorites. Sincere thanks to Linda for participating in this interview, which was conducted by email.
What was your career before you became a perfumer?
Before I became a perfumer, I worked for a Japanese Agrichemical Company in London called Nihon Noyaku.
I know from your website that you got your start in the perfume business when you were asked to create a scented candle for another company. Can you tell me if you have any formal training in perfumery, or did you learn on your own?
I have been collecting perfume and essences from all around the world since I was 14 years old. I do have a huge collection of vintage bottles and perfumes. I have actually kept every single bottle of perfume I have ever worn. As a young lady, I would describe myself as a craftswoman. Not only formulating perfume, but I also grew plants from seed and made the best yummiest chocolates in the world. As you so rightly mention, I was asked to create a scented candle for Chanel and it went from there. The person who asked me is a long standing friend of 25 years, we used to live near in other in Africa. I have since been on a more formal path, benefiting from one to one tuition…but you can’t beat experience and practise.
Linda, one of the things that draws me to your line is that your perfumes seem so completely different from other fragrances on the market. You use some unusual fragrance notes as well -- I am thinking particularly of the basmati rice in Champaca and the black hemlock in Ormonde. Can you comment on what you think makes your fragrances different and unusual?
What makes Ormonde Jayne perfumes different … it’s my approach. I look for flowers, resins, woods that no one else has thought of using, hence the Champaca, Sampaquita and Ta’if etc. Every one has sandalwood or cedar, but no one has a perfume from black hemlock. Of course all the sourced ingredients have to have an extraordinary beauty.
How do I put it all together, well it’s quite simple really. For example the Champaca is a flower from India, it only seems logical and natural to team it up with basmati rice and tea. The Ta’if is a rose from Saudi Arabia. Dates and orange blossom are the natural harmony. So there you have it, that’s my secret.
Which of your own creations are you most proud of, and why?
All my perfumes are absolutely stunning. For creativity it has to be Ormonde + Champaca. For pure beauty you can’t beat Sampaquita and Frangipani Absolute. For the hottest days in summer, only Osmanthus will do. And for sexy nights, romantic dinners and parties, you can’t leave home without wearing Tolu or Ta’if.
Are there any particular smells that attract you? Any that repel you?
I am attracted to gourmand smells, for instance, the smell of basmati rice make me feel calm, secure and homely. Having said that, if I smell any food that is going off or is off, I vomit instantly! (Sorry about that, but you did ask).
Can you tell me what perfumes you enjoyed using before you created your own line?
I rather enjoyed perfumes from the house of Guerlain as a general rule, I think I have worn them all at some point. Also Chanel, I was big on Cristalle every summer.
At this time Linda's fragrances are only available through the Ormonde Jayne boutique at 28 Old Bond Street in the Royal Arcade, London, or through the Ormonde Jayne website.
Tomorrow: Ormonde Jayne Champaca