x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The sweet smell of success

q&a Fans of the perfumery Ormonde Jayne need no longer hop on a plane to London. We spoke with Linda Pilkington, the "nose" behind the brand, about her decision to open for business in the UAE.

Linda Pilkington at the Dubai branch of Ormonde Jayne at Boutique 1 in Jumeirah Beach Residence.
Linda Pilkington at the Dubai branch of Ormonde Jayne at Boutique 1 in Jumeirah Beach Residence.

Fans of the perfumery Ormonde Jayne need no longer hop on a plane to London to obtain their favourite scents. The company has launched a branch in Dubai's Boutique 1 at Jumeirah Beach Residence. We spoke with Linda Pilkington, founder of Ormonde Jayne and the "nose" behind the brand's exquisite collection of designer perfumes, about her decision to open for business in the UAE.

One of my clients at Ormonde Jayne in London was pestering me for about two years to open a store in Dubai and when she wants something, it's a bit difficult to say no. She insisted that Dubai would be my natural market because the flowers I use would endear me to the local market - the black iris is the national flower of Jordan, the ta'if rose is from Saudi Arabia, and my gentleman's perfume has oud in it, which is a popular local scent. Eventually, I said: "OK, you win. I'll come to Dubai." She negotiated with Boutique 1 on my behalf and here I am!

I started collecting perfume bottles when I was very young. It was my grown-up treasure on my dressing table. It was only after I had quite a few bottles that someone asked me if I was going to be a perfumer. It was one of those things that doesn't really enter your head, but it was a nice thought and something I wanted to pursue. I started buying books on how to make scented candles and it became my hobby and obsession. That's where it all started.

I was in business for quite a while before I could find my own style. It isn't something you brainstorm around the table - you don't sit there thinking: "What could I do that would be different?" Things just happen naturally. I had a client who wanted me to recreate an already existing perfume, but I convinced her that if she gave me a chance, I could find a different flower, something more unusual, something more exotic that other people weren't using. While I was busy explaining this to her, I realised that this was something I could do for Ormonde Jayne. If I could just find something more exotic, I could differentiate myself from a market where everyone is using limes, lavenders, sandalwood and jasmine. I think people like the idea that there's something else available more than your typical perfumes.

Mainly from travelling. I go on the road actively seeking out flowers. I start off going through books looking for flowers, resins and tree woods. When I come across a few I like, I have to make sure they are available in an oil. Once you've tracked down a grower, they send you some samples and then off you go. You often end up in the middle of nowhere, in a place with no hotels, but then when you wake up in the morning, you look at all the oils, you get to meet the growers and the flower-pickers, and it's fantastic.

I am a foodie. I'm guilty. I'm always cooking and marinating. If you think of a perfume such as Ormonde Jayne's Champaca, it has basmati rice and tea in it. I suppose I added those because the champaca flower is from India, and when you go to India everybody is always cooking rice and drinking tea. In Saudi Arabia, there are dates all over. So with Ta'if, I added date oil because it seemed to be part of the natural environment of that particular plant.

I don't have a favourite. If I'm going on holiday somewhere really hot, like Oman, I wear my Osmanthus because it's very biting and citrusy. If I were going to a perfume conference with other perfumers, I would probably wear something more artistic to try and impress them, show them my repertoire and let them see what I'm capable of. If I'm with my husband, I wear Ta'if because men seem to love the smell of the ta'if rose. I somehow end up using all of my perfumes.