Q&A With Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne London Perfumery
A few months ago, I was introduced to a niche perfume company based out of London called Ormonde Jayne, a house that I knew little about at the time other than a passing mention of Isfarkand. Among those deeply entrenched on sites like Fragrantica and Basenotes, Isfarkand perhaps gets more mention than any of the other 11 current scents in the collection.
My first forays were into the scents they deem as their “men’s collection”, I term I personally dislike since it presumes a certain bias about what men will and will not wear as a fragrance. I’ll pick up on that thought in a moment, but the question I immediately had was “Who is Ormonde Jayne?” As I referenced in our prior reviews, it’s not a name casually mentioned in the US other than by serious fragrance enthusiasts, so a response of “Ormonde who” isn’t an unlikely event. As it turns out, the woman behind the company is Linda Pilkington, founder and owner of the house and its London Boutiques. And after a few years of producing a segregated men’s and women’s niche line-up, it seems she’s also steered toward a more gender neutral focus as noted in conversation.
I had a chance recently to sit down for a few questions with Linda Pilkington.
Scentrist (S): Thanks for speaking with us, Ms. Pilkington. Since Ormonde Jayne is only starting to become known in the US, how would you describe the brand to those unfamiliar with the house?
Linda Pilkington (LP): Ormonde Jayne is a privately owned British perfume house based in London. We manufacture our own products in our London studio and have a few select points of sale. The philosophy is to stay true to our original plan, to source ingredients that are of the best quality and not widely used in the perfume industry.
S: You came into the perfume industry somewhat differently than other perfumers in that you were self-taught. Can you share your profession before this, and to what do you attribute your success?
LP: Before converting my hobby into a paid profession I worked all over the world in the hotel industry in which I was a shareholder of the company. During this time I learnt an awful lot and was constantly in awe of all new horizons. I love a challenge and worked extremely hard. After returning to the UK and selling my stake in the business, I started to work for a Japanese Agrochemical company, which is where I bumped into an old friend who helped and advised me to start working in beauty/fragrance as it was what made me tick. Success is about absolutely believing in what you are doing, knowing you are going to make it a success even when the chips are down. Having the heart and energy to direct the ship in the right direction and staying on course with what you believe to be right. Perfection is in my DNA and we will never cut corners and only insist on the very best we can do.
S: What advice would you give to those who are considering perfumery? What should be considered?
LP: If possible and finance permitting, take a course at The Institute in Grasse. It is 12 months, hard work, over 40 hours a week, lots of homework but at the end of it you will know if you are cut out for such a profession. You will gain a lot from it so even if you don’t pursue it into fragrance, it opens the door to many other aspects, like wine tasting, or food critics. The course expands the mind into fragrance and flavours.
LP: I do and I will when I know I can do it properly. America is massive and very important market. It has to be done with love, time and money.
S: You describe three of your twelve fragrances as men’s and nine as women’s. What are your thoughts on the trend toward a more unisex approach to fragrance marketing taken by other perfumers, and if you had to select one of your men’s/women’s scents to the opposite gender, which would you suggest?
LP: Actually we describe our fragrances as gender free and the new packaging will reflect this as we are going totally orange in 2013 for all products. We don’t want to be narrow minded and quite often we show our florals to men because it is so personal and they can make up their own minds.
S: What makes a fragrance “great” for you?
LP: When the fragrance smells great the next day, on your pillow, on your clothes, your scarf. When it dries down to the basic accord and it holds the quality of the ingredients and does not become a sweet synthetic imposter.
S: I know you enjoy pink pepper and hedione as fragrance elements. Is there a ‘core’ or ‘theme’ element with which you’d like to work but haven’t?
LP: Pink Pepper, Iso E Super, Hedione are all vital in an Ormonde Jayne perfume because of the way they perform and open the fragrance up to the different accords. I smell lots of interesting new molecules and absolutes all the time, but they would not be part of the basic accord.
S: What non-Ormonde Jayne fragrances are your favorites, and are there any specific perfumers that inspire you?
LP: As far as I am concerned, Ormonde Jayne perfumes are the best in the world- no competition. However as a young girl I enjoyed Diorella +Eau Savage mixed together, First, Madam Rochas and Crystalle.
S: What’s next for Linda Pilkington and Ormonde Jayne?
LP: We have lots of plans. We are moving into a bigger and better studio. We are launching a whole new concept – The Four Corners of the Earth; a collection of four new perfumes inspired by my travels around the globe on a quest for the finest ingredients and made in London; a city where the four corners of the earth can be found on every corner. We are hosting international parties at our Sloane Square shop. We are hoping to introduce ourselves to the American market next year, and soon it will be Christmas. Jingle Bells!
S: We definitely look forward to Four Corners and seeing more Ormonde Jayne in the US. Thanks for speaking with us.