Entrepreneur, businesswoman and creative chameleon, all with a slick wardrobe to boot, London-based fragrance queen Jo Malone CBE is an English rose to be reckoned with
Fragrance fanatic or not, you’ve all heard the name Jo Malone. Originally a facial therapist, the 58-year-old founder and creative director of Jo Loves, who was once described as an ‘English scent maverick’, is responsible for creating some of the world’s most renowned fragrances, having fallen in love with the industry while working from her discreet skincare clinic, which she set up from her London home. Founding her first brand, Jo Malone London, in 1983 – a name which immediately conjures up the citrusy scents of lime, basil and mandarin, and luxe candles in crisp cream boxes tied with black grosgrain bows – Jo sold her eponymous label to the Estée Lauder Companies in 1999 (remaining creative director until 2006).
She tells MOJEH, “I have had many defining moments that have moulded me, challenged me, and made me who I am, but I would say starting again is my most defining moment – having the courage to stand up and redo it all.” She is, of course, talking about the launch of the Jo Loves brand in 2011, which today is a favourite among celebrities and beauty editors alike for its perfumes, scented candles and aromatic body moisturisers. Even Oprah Winfrey is a staunch advocate of everything Jo does, once offering up what the fragrance guru calls the best career advice of her life: “Oprah Winfrey once said to me, ‘Stamp your identity on everything you do and own it,’ and it has stayed with me ever since,” adds Jo. “It was amazing advice.”
Always elegant, sometimes colourful, endlessly chic – Jo Malone’s wardrobe is as classic as they come
Describe your personal style… Classic, sharp and contemporary – I love a pinstripe suit with a crisp white shirt. I love wearing colour more as I’ve gotten older too. I find I now have the confidence to go bolder and wear something unexpected.
What are your favourite wardrobe essentials? Lululemon leggings, a leather jacket, white T-shirts, and my cashmere jumper from Club Monaco that travels with me everywhere – it is years old and has holes in it, but I just love it.
Which brands do you love and why? I love Zara for the catwalk look at an affordable price; Me+Em for its great cuts, plus that chic, sporty vibe, which I love; Louise Kennedy, as it always delivers the wow factor; COS, because there’s nothing like its crisp white shirts – the cut is always spot-on and the quality is great; and finally Marks & Spencer, I have loved it all my life, and everything from its little cardigans to vintage tea dresses and seamless underwear get five stars from me.
What is the last thing you bought? Two pairs of Spanish espadrilles on sale – a beautiful butter suede pair, and a dark navy suede pair.
Which shoes are your most treasured? My navy biker boots from Donna Karan. They go with absolutely everything, apart from a bikini!
How do you dress for the different seasons? I am never cold, so I don’t love big sweaters in the winter. I will often wear cigarette pants with a white T-shirt and a leather jacket, then pop a cashmere scarf on. In the summer, I’m all about vintage tea dresses with sandals.
My London Life
Where is home to you? Chelsea, London.
Where is your favourite place in London for a good night out? The Ivy Chelsea Garden – it’s a family favourite. Sitting outside in the rose garden in summer and in front of the log fire in winter… you can’t beat it.
Which is your favourite restaurant? I have quite a few! Other than The Ivy Chelsea Garden, there’s Thomas Cubitt, Olivocarne, Manicomio and Scott’s. I love being able to walk to dinner.
Where do you go to find a moment of calm? There’s a hotel in Belgravia near the Jo Loves boutique called The Lime Hotel, and it has a wonderful orange garden at the back. I also love to spend time in museums and galleries. I will often go off by myself to think creatively.
Where was the last place you discovered? Hutong in The Shard – it was so beautiful. After being in lockdown for so long, going into an amazing space with views over London, and the most beautifully-created food, was magical.
How can you tell someone is a Londoner? I don’t think you can anymore. We all have preconceived ideas of who Londoners should be, but it is a place where creativity is welcomed and celebrated.
What do you love to do at the end of a long day? Sit in my hammock with a nice drink, having walked my dog. I then love to trot to dinner locally.
If I didn’t live in London, I could see myself… Near the ocean somewhere. I would love a house by the beach. I love water – it always makes me think creatively.