Linda Pilkington: It is all about smell
Linda Pilkington childhood hobby led her to a passionate business: for 20 years her perfume house Ormonde Jayne creates an amazing range of timeless classics, both masculine and feminine – true elegance, as a testimony of Linda’s passion for scents and flavours that she picks up travelling around the world
Everything in a life of Linda Pilkington revolves around fragrances. Growing up in Israel, and admiring always elegant and well fragranced ladies, she was intrigued by floral, oriental and spicy ingredients in perfumes. When twenty years ago in London founded her perfume house Ormonde Jayne, she new exactly what she wants: create a true elegance in a small bottle. Looking for special essences she travelled the whole world and her desire to feel how man end women perceive her niche collection, led her to Croatia.
Which impression defines the smells of travel?
When you land to the new country like Morocco or Philippines, and they open the door of the airplane, you step out and this first breath of air is actually the first impression of the country. You can smell it for the first 30 seconds and after that you lose it, because it becomes normal after several breaths. When you are flying to Marrakesh or Oman, this first air is a very strong smell, and you got it back again when you arrive to the spice market.
How does Croatia smell, according to your first breath stepping out of the airplane?
When I stepped down from the plane in Split there was no smell because it was so windy, like a hurricane, with cold and quite fresh air, like a cleaning system. Actually, it was amazing because when I was walking towards the terminal, wind was invigorating and healthy.
Have you succeeded to save these first smells of places you visited, captured in a bottle of perfumes?
When Ormonde Jayne created Four Corners of the Earth collection, I was thinking about sourcing the most exotic oils in my exquisite perfume library to pay homage to different parts of world that have inspired me. Afterwards, living in London, I think that a one we captured the best is Qi, which means a breath of life. Qi rally does smell like Shanghai and Hong Kong because of all the ingredients you can smell on the market.
When you land to the new country like and they open the door of the airplane, you step out and this first breath of air is actually the first impression of the country, describes founder of perfume house Ormonde Jayne
How did you capture the smell of Saudi Arabian city Ta’if?
That was quite easy. I had an oil supplier in Saudi Arabia and I knew that once a year the king, who has a park named after him, invites the people to come and pick the Ta’if roses in baskets. Then they are gifted money from the king, because the roses have to be harvested. After that they put them to the distillery and the precious oil comes out. As a foreigner I needed to get an invitation from my supplier and upon my arrival at the airport I was picked up by the driver and a lady – my chaperon for the whole time. Of course, I knew that I needed to wear long sleeves and cover myself, but when we arrived to the hotel, my floor was ladies only, with lady guards near by the lift. That is something I’ll never forget, and the delicious dates and orange juice in my room. So Ta’if is a rose based perfume that also smells of dates and orange blossom.
What is the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Laos, north of Thailand. No hotel, no restaurants, no tourists and Lao as the only language. I’ve slept in an airplane hangar; luckily my husband was with me, so I felt safe. We were eating fruits mostly, and some noodles that people brought us. I went there during the sampaquita harvest (which is the name of national flower of the Philippines, but my lychee oil producer is from Laos) when we first produced our fruity floral perfume Sampaquita. After several days it was very nice to get back in Bangkok with the little plane. Completely dirty, we looked pretty exotic when we finally checked to the Oriental hotel.
Even when you have been in the perfumery for 20 years, you’re still learning. New ingredients come all the time and you have to learn how to handle them, said Linda Pilkington
How do you pick up the names for your perfumes?
After the ingredients. Champaca is a tiny pale orange flower (a wild magnolia) from India, Tolu is a Peruvian tree resin, Ta’if is a town set 1800 metres above the shores of Red See, overlooking the Arabian desert…
What is your favourite ingredient?
Gardenia. Not many people work with it because you can’t get it: it’s a difficult oil to come by and a volatile essence almost no one extracts, extremely rare in the perfume world. None of the perfume houses in Grasse have it on their stock list. Such a special flower with strong, brave and intense smell. I have one gardenia plant in my beautiful London garden and am thinking about having a greenhouse for this plant.
So Linda, you’re doing gardening, cooking, creating your perfumes and running the business. Even on your website there is a Gourmande Jayne part with fantastic recipes. How do you perceive the connection between food and perfumes?
Food is love. My repertoire is smaller than my husband’s but I’m good in preparing omellettes, Sunday roasts, cakes with fresh fruits and I’m very proud of my lamb tagine. I cook in a perfumer’s way. Lots of flavours! Because it is all about smell. When you discover something that is quite good, experimenting and learning is the key. Even when you have been in the perfumery for 20 years, you’re still learning. New ingredients come all the time and you have to learn how to handle them and how will they affect all the other ingredients in your perfume. The same is with cooking.
Text Dubravka Tomeković Aralica
Photos Yachts Croatia & Archive
Video Ormonde Jayne