April, 2010

Apr 10

A personal ‘Perfume Portrait’ by Ormonde Jayne – I’m in heaven!

Ormonde Jayne.jpg

I am a born-again perfume wearer. Before Monday morning I was one of those girls who would change their scent every season. I’d visit the big brands to choose a fragrance for summer and a fragrance for winter. I never put much thought into it. I just sprayed and dashed out of the house. But the more time I spend in London (and I think eight years now is enough to make this statement), the more I notice that scent is extremely important and should be as well planned as the outfit you walk out of the house in every morning. 

After spending several years closer to people on the tube than to most of my best friends, I can most definitely tell you what fragrances I like and dislike. I made mental notes as I went about my day on what I thought was a beautiful fragrance and what was hideous. I didn’t really ever consider they might be useful one day. Not until this week, at least.  
A few weeks ago I received an email from Ormonde Jayne, announcing its new “Perfume Portrait” service launching at Harrods (and also available in its shop in the Royal Arcade). Of course I had heard of Ormonde Jayne before. The name is legendary – which is saying quite a lot since the company isn’t even that old! The founder doesn’t even look like she is out of her thirties and she already counts Yasmin Le Bon, Elton John, Will Smith, Bryan Ferry, Goldie Hawn and Ashley Jensen as loyal clients. 
Ormonde Jayne Outside.jpg
As I approached the shop, in the Royal Arcade just off Old Bond Street, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was entering a parallel universe. I was taken out of my own world and thrust into one that centred on one’s sense of smell. Nothing could be wrong with the world when you are in the Ormonde Jayne shop. How could there be anything wrong in a place that smells this amazing? 
Linda Pilkington.jpg
I was greeted by the queen of the kingdom, Linda Pilkington. This gorgeous, petite woman would change so much for me in a matter of moments. Linda sat me down and asked me all sorts of questions about myself. She wrote notes and checked boxes. The great scent master was working her magic and breaking into my very soul to find the perfume that would match me perfectly. Then came the drawer. Linda had me smell around 30 raw ingredients kept in little gold and ceramic jars to get an idea of what would make up my signature scent. 
“The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the aromas themselves, but of the experiences and emotions associated with them,” Linda explained. As I took in each smell I could feel myself smiling or frowning and Linda was certainly paying attention. There was no hiding my likes and dislikes from the expert.  
After we had been through all the jars of ingredients, Linda stepped away and returned with two beautiful bottles of perfume. I know you can’t judge a scent by its container, but I had a good feeling here. I wasn’t disappointed. Linda sprayed one scent on my right arm and the other on my left. We chatted as the scents settled. I was then asked to smell each arm to see what I thought. I loved them both! This is a woman that knows exactly what she is doing. At the risk of sounding totally cheesy, she made my scent dreams come true! 
Ormonde Jayne Inside.jpg
I walked away with a scent I could call my own and I found myself walking a little taller and more confidently as I stepped out of the shop. I was even pleased at being made to squeeze into the tube as I could tell several individuals around me were taking deep breaths in from their nostrils. 
Oh, and I didn’t mention one of the best parts about the whole process. The store also starts a file on you, so if you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, your loved ones can just step into the store and Linda can help them pick something perfect out for you. She’ll know if you’re a bath or shower girl. She’ll know if you enjoy your nights with scented candles (as I do and absolutely adore its candles). She’ll even be able to tell your gift giver whether or not you prefer travel-sized or full-sized items. Is that customer service or what?
I’m a convert. I have a signature scent and I’m not turning back. It’s gorgeous, fresh and all mine! And the greatest part was coming home and having my boyfriend declare, “You smell absolutely amazing.”
(Note: Thanks to Nina Saville for the gorgeous pic of Linda!)

Apr 10

London’s luxury lady: Charlotte Semler of Charlotte & Co

Charlotte.JPGLast week we were invited to attend the preview for the Charlotte & Co Autumn Winter 2010 Collection. Anyone who loves comfort, cashmere and the country would consider this a golden ticket as company founder Charlotte Semler is a legend in luxury!

Envious of her talent in creating luxury goods that every woman wants, we wanted to dig a little deeper with Charlotte.

So here’s a little biographical information to start with:

After reading PPE at Oxford, Charlotte’s first job was a two-year stint as a corporate finance analyst in the City. In 1994 she joined Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising as a strategic planner and three years later she moved to Lowe Howard Spink as strategic planning director on the Tesco account. 
In 2000 she co-founded Myla and spent the next five years as creative director and joint CEO. During this time Myla grew to produce an annual turnover of £4 milion with 12 outlets in three countries. 

Charlotte left Myla and London in 2005 to spend time with her twins and turn a run-down stone house in the Cotswolds into a family home. A year later she set up Charlotte & Co and she now combines designing homewear and running a business with her passion for cooking for her family.

Now with the facts out of the way, let’s take time to get to know her on a more personal level…

Charlotte Sempler.jpg

So let’s start with the basics, Charlotte. How did you find yourself in a business that allows you to surround yourself with cashmere and silks at every turn?
When I left Myla I had a six-month break and moved to Gloucestershire full-time. I was really supposed to be ‘retiring’ to the country to spend time with my toddler twins but I was just rubbish at not working. I ended up spending far too much time designing silk and cashmere curtains for our house! So I decided to set up Charlotte & Co. The idea was really simple: I wanted to carry on designing clothes but I also wanted to do something different to Myla, something more in tune with the life I am now living. So designing ‘luxury home clothes’ was a natural progression. I am working with luxury natural silk, cashmere and cotton fabrics that have always inspired me and creating the kind of clothes that you need to live a home-based life in style. Three years on, the Charlotte & Co range has grown from mainly nighties and pyjamas to include outerwear like stylish cashmere tracksuits, fur-trimmed gilets and even the occasional dress. It’s all about being comfortable but with the luxury of the best natural fabrics and a sprinkling of style.

Were you stuck in a world of stilettos and ready to get out and into cashmere pjs and slippers?

YES! Completely – I just craved a change of pace, you know… life needs to keep moving on to be interesting. I’d done the whole ‘London/NY queen of the sexy knickers’ thing and was ready for kids, comfort, cooking and herbaceous borders. And I really believe that there is a large chunk of personal truth in all design: in the end you are really designing for yourself and your worldview. Charlotte & Co is a reflection of my current life and how I feel about it. I’m really happy in my own skin and loving the life I’m living. I’d like to think that the collection shows that comfort and joy.

What was your very first piece for Charlotte & Co?
Classic silk satin PJs and the cashmere dressing gown.

Besides the Charlotte & Co pieces in your closet, what are your other designer favourites?
I love Nicole Farhi because she is so grounded in nature and natural fibres. I love Ralph Lauren because I’m just a sucker for that whole preppy East Coast thing. I love the imaginary world that is RL, the fusion of country style and Upper East Side chic. I love John Galliano, he has such a fabulous feel for cut and drape.
Your underwear – is it designed with the thoughts of appearing underneath a Ralph Lauren Sheath or a Dolce & Gabbana corset dress?
No, the inspiration is more about luxury and wearability. Lots of my underwear is about adding comfort to your outerwear. For instance: in winter I do silk/wool mix jersey ‘innermost layers’ – so camisoles, polo necks, long johns and t-shirts. These elegant pieces slip comfortably under your favourite designer clothes but keep you warm (so even in the Cotswolds I can wear my daily uniform of Joseph/DKNY slip dresses and still be perfectly warm and comfy). Similarly in summer we do pure silk slips and camis that are ideal under slightly-too-sheer dresses and tops. You know… those garments that you buy and then realise that you are not actually sure how to wear because they are too see-through.

As your line is all about relaxation and comfort, what are your everyday comforts? And when you need to break away to relax, where do you go or what do you do outside your everyday living?
When I need a break I head to our family place in the heart of Majorca. It’s in the middle of mountains and olive groves. The light and the air is unbelievable and the local markets are a real source of inspiration.
We had a look at the Charlotte & Co website and picked out a few pieces we felt would appeal to Hellomagazine.com readers best. When the Autumn Winter 2010 line is up and live we’ll have a quick run through and report back to you all!
Charlotteco.JPGFor more fashion news visit www.fashionfoiegras.com

Featuring WPMU Bloglist Widget by YD WordPress Developer