With characteristic warmth and enthusiasm I am greeted and my children asked after. This hospitable attention to detail is something that the company has become renowned for and is at the root of the new project.
Perfume Portraits has been two years in the making and the unveiling of the project shows that Ormonde Jayne's suave signature style has been used to shape the process. Linda explains that the idea is to introduce people to the range of 12 perfumes and help to discover new favourites within it, whilst also educating them as to their olfactory preferences. She then slides open a glistening glass drawer, hidden beneath a display of scents. In the drawer are rows of exquisite bottles with ceramic stoppers, looking for all the world like something from Alice in Wonderland that might read 'Smell Me'.
Of course that is exactly what they are for and Linda holds them just beneath my nose, one after the other, making a note of my gut reaction. "The idea is not to discuss and talk about why you do or don't like something. It is simply to get your initial reaction - yes, no or maybe" So we go through a series of 21 oils such as bergamot, black hemlock, mandarin... These oils are categorised into seven families: hesperedic, light floral, intense floral, balsamic, oriental, woody and atmospheric. The company says "The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the aromas themselves, but of the experiences and emotions associated with them. Smell can evoke strong emotional reactions and this is not an invention of poets or perfumers".
My resulting favourite? Tiare.
Perfume Portraits will be available from May 2010 at Ormonde Jayne's Royal Arcade boutique and at the company's Harrods concession in the ground floor Perfume Hall. Look out for Ormonde Jayne's rebranded sample programme which will now include the complete collection, including the most recent release Tiare. The Discovery Set will be available at the end of May