If you click on “Philosophy” on the website of niche perfumery Ormonde Jayne you will find the following quote: “Our aim is to be at the cutting edge of creativity, defying convention in the world of scent”. It is a grand claim but one to which the company has certainly remained true in the exquisite makeover of their central London boutique. Basenotes were delighted to receive an invitation to visit the store and meet the founder of Ormonde Jayne, Linda Pilkington, and colleague, Sarah Ehrlich.
It is impossible to walk at anything other than a languid stroll along London’s Bond Street for fear of missing any of the delights that the perfectly arranged windows offer. By the time you reach The Royal Arcade the visual gluttony in which you have wallowed will have you feeling a little over-indulged, and it is at this point that you should turn into the arcade and make you way almost to the far end. On the right hand side, you will find the optical equivalent of a citrus-sharp palette cleanser to cut zestily through the highly decorated pomp.
Behind the glass frontage of Ormonde Jayne’s boutique the radiant mandarin packaging stands in sharp contrast against the high shine black shelving, illuminated by the understated and elegant lighting. As you cast your eyes over the graceful display, antique gold wall coverings are reflected back at you from the mirrored wall. The ivory stone floor and central chandelier are enough to prevent the black and deep bronze geometric design of the displays from being overpowering and dark, and the whole space is calm and intimate.
The service desk is set to one side, unobtrusive and unintimidating, where the smiling Elle, an Ormonde Jayne new-recruit, is eminently approachable. Behind Elle the original staircase of this Grade II listed building wends it way up to the office space and has been decorated in the same glossy black theme, again complimented with the exotic mandarin, this time in the shape of a leather border. A single black counter runs from the centre of the window to the middle of the floor and upon it is a simple arrangement of fragrance and scent strips.
Feeling like Alice gazing at a cake inscribed with the words “Eat Me”, I am very excited when first Sarah, and then Linda begin offering to spray some of the black sample strips with the contents of the enticing bottles. Waves of tropical flowers, ancient herbs and little-used oils are released into the air. The smell is quite simply hypnotic and with the combination of the stunning interior design, the champagne and Belgian chocolates (fresh from Brussels that day) our senses are one by one indulged and satisfied.
Having appeased our olfactory curiosity and taken in our surroundings, we begin to talk to the women responsible for it all, Linda Pilkington. Petite and elegant, she perches in front of us on a stool. As she begins to speak, one can start to appreciate that her passion is not merely for the creation of fine fragrance but for the whole experience from creator to consumer. Her hands, adorned with a huge black ring that could have been hewn straight from the wall of her salon, move energetically back and forth to place extra emphasis on her enthusiastic conversation. The enthusiasm never falters, whether she is speaking about her perfumes, her candles or her customers.
Linda is particularly animated when we come to discuss her latest creation: Orris Noir. A dark oriental, the fragrance is spicy at the top with discernable pink pepper and coriander seed, giving it a hint of Asia. The bergamot lingers longest of the top notes, giving way to the middle notes of iris, sambac absolute, pimento berries and bay. Finally the smell of centuries-old churches, balmy destinations on the world’s spice routes and an almost festive feeling are left on the skin as the fragrance settles down into the base notes of incense, myrrh, patchouli, Chinese cedar and gaiac. It is most certainly the inclusion of incense and myrrh at the base of the fragrance that conjures up images of ancient rituals and religious ceremonies, or monasteries resonant with song rising up out of a misty dawn.
Such a fragrance deserves to be packaged in nothing short of a treasure chest and the hand-crafted box that contains Orris Noir does not disappoint. From the tactile paper surrounding the box to the small collar of bronze ribbon encircling the neck of the bottle, Linda has been involved in every part of the design, sending the box to be remade time and again until just right. The bottle disappears into the box, keeping the precious juice out of the light and heat. Open the box and the attention to detail is superb, from the soft, black, velvety surround to the fine satin-shiny black ribbon on either side, to the flash of mandarin that lines the very bottom, reflecting up through the glass with an amber glow.
As we are preparing to leave Linda sums up her customer service ethos. “There is a tiny Indian man that visits the shop. He regularly comes in to smell the Champaca because it reminds him of home. I always spray it on him and we have a chat. He is such a lovely man. I think that that is how customer service should be. No matter who they are you should treat all of your customers like A-list celebrities.”
In Bond Street this is a rare and wonderful thing to behold – this is an area of London in which even an “A-list celebrity” has been known to feel inferior. Ormonde Jayne is a place wherein we can all experience the warmth of feeling like a valued customer whilst lavishing ourselves with some of the most exotic fragrances on the market.
Ormonde Jayne Perfumery
12 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4SL.
Tel: +44 207 499 1100 / Fax: +44 207 499 9911