Learning the art of scenting from Jo Malone’s Lifestyle Director, Debbie Wild
What exactly does a Lifestyle Director do? For one, she travels the world to open new boutiques and with that, she brings with her an in-depth knowledge on Jo Malone's lifestyle concepts and helps to promote the brand's signature Fragrance Combining, Scent Surround and the Art of Gift Giving services.
Kuala Lumpur was Debbie Wild's latest stop. She was in town to give the Malaysian press a sneak preview of Jo Malone's latest collection called The English Oak. With inspiration from the English countryside, the two spellbinding scents—English Oak & Redcurrant and English Oak & Hazelnut—are a blend of juicy, fruity notes with spicy, woody notes. Debbie described the fragrances as majestic and mysterious. We caught up with the jetsetter to talk more about the art of smelling like a millionaire.
Hi Debbie! Welcome back to Malaysia. Can you tell us a bit more about your role as a Lifestyle Director?
In a nutshell, I travel the world and primarily act as the ambassador of Jo Malone. I have the lovely job of telling the story of the brand, its concept and brand pillars when we launch a new market or fragrance. I was part of the founding team, there were only 10 of us then but we've evolved. And I've launched every single country for the brand since because it's important for us to tell the story.
What is the Jo Malone story then?
Our company is built on relationship and its wonderful products that are a British heritage. So we're inspired by everything that we love about Britain – from the English garden to the music or arts – which we embed and weaved into our creations, hence every fragrance has a story and memory in a bottle. I tell that story around the world to connect with the consumers and retailers. The voice of Jo Malone is the same whether in Tokyo or Toronto or Kuala Lumpur, and you get the exact same service everywhere.
As someone who travels frequently, what excites you about visiting new places?
I find it an absolute privilege to travel for work. It's about meeting the consumers, the press and the people in that city – all these things just amaze me. I remember when were planning our launch in Japan, we were really nervous because we didn't know if the Japanese culture would take to fragrance combining or whether it would even take to fragrance at all. But we went to number 1 straight away and there was a queue outside of Mitsukoshi. There's nothing quite like the first time, so I love that. About two years ago, we launched in Kazakhstan—the furthest point in the world that I've ever been to. It was bonkers for us. Everyone went mad and for me personally, it was like we've really reached the four corners of the world.
On the subject of travel, do you see a difference in the way men and women approach a holiday fragrance?
For us as a brand, how a man smells is just as important as how a woman smells. So there are colognes designed just for men and women. But fragrance is so personal, so if both a guy and a woman were to go on a holiday, they might have two different moments they want to create.
For a more masculine scent with fresh, evocative and crisp notes, I'd probably share with them Lime, Basil & Mandarin, which is a lovely holiday fragrance be it for a man or woman actually, or Wood, Sage & Sea Salt for a citrusy note. A woman might want something like Mimosa & Cardamom, it's evocative yet slightly bohemian and eclectic. Something you'd wear after sundown for a nice meal or cocktail. So those are wonderful for holidays.
Jo Malone is famously known for its fragrance combining, how do you know what works?
The first rule of fragrance combining is that there is no rule. You play and have fun; you can mix and match. You can do all that because it's a Jo Malone trademark philosophy in the way the fragrances are designed to work beautifully together. Scent can bring you to a memory, time and place, so essentially you can have a fragrance wardrobe and you can create seasons with them. This is a wonderful way to wear your fragrance. Think "where am I going, what occasion am I wearing it for, what season is it?" The scent can really wake you up and jolt your senses; it goes into your lymphatic system and immediately has an effect on you.
How would you pair the new English Oak collection then? Any tips?
You can spray Nutmeg & Ginger, which is our very first fragrance, together with English Oak & Hazelnut, and it is divine. It smells modern and contemporary as it would any other year. For the English Oak & Redcurrant, it has a lot of Bulgarian rose in the middle, so it's very voluptuous and it's where the personality of the scent comes out, that why's Wild Bluebell mixes beautifully with the rose.
When there's a musk at the end of the fragrance, it creates what we call a silage and that means trail in French. So when somebody walks past having wearing a Jo Malone scent, you can smell that and think he or she smells great. That's a signature of Jo Malone – it's evocative and unique.
What are some of your favourite Jo Malone fragrances?
I love Amber & Lavender to make me feel rested and clean. It is also one of my very first memories of the brand. It's filled with so much love and joy and such aroma and spice as well – I really love wearing it. But equally, I like Myrrh & Tonka – it has a sort of creamy, almost vanilla flavour to it and when I wear it, my kids want to hug me all the time. Because of its creaminess, it envelops your body in a cashmere wrap.
When I clean my house, I like to burn Lavender & Lovage 'cos it smells like polished floor and it's calming. I also like to spray Lino Nel Vento around the house. Anyone who comes to visit will tell me my home smells wonderful. You can also swap with around with Wild Fig & Cassis candle or Wild Bluebell, and your home will smell like freshly mown grass or this mossy earthy scent, so you can have the outdoors indoor.
Jo Malone English Oak collection will be in store from September 2017 onwards.