Jo Malone's secret London

Renowned for designing some of the world’s most loved fragrances, Jo Malone reveals her home comforts and favourite spaces.
Click to follow
Jo Malone is renowned for designing some of the world’s most loved fragrances. Dyslexic, she left school early with no qualifications. In love with fragrance, she started out mixing skincare and bath oils on the kitchen table at her one-bedroom Chelsea flat, before opening her first shop in 1994 in Walton Street, South Kensington, aged 31.
Malone’s business rapidly expanded and in 2008 she was awarded an MBE for services to the beauty industry. In 1999, she sold Jo Malone Ltd to Estée Lauder Companies, remaining creative director until she left in 2006.
Last year Malone reinvented her fragrance library by founding a new company, Jo Loves, opening a shop at the same address, 42 Elizabeth Street, Pimlico, where she first worked in her teens, making sandwiches. 

I live in Chelsea, in a completely white house, with my husband Gary who is also my business partner, my son Josh, and Teri, my terrier and very best friend. The house has white floorboards, white walls with no pictures, white sofas, but it’s full — of fragrance, all the time. I have a white terrace with black trellis panels and eucalyptus and olive trees. The doors are always open, so the terrace and house become one space. I love my home and don't want a holiday home because when we had one in Oxford it was like running a B&B, but we do go every year to Montana to ride horses. And when we go away for weekends here, we got to Lucknam Park, in Bath, which is like a second home. They do everything for us, we leave on the Sunday afternoon - no stress.

Jo Malone: "I'm very influenced by the Seattle glass artist, Dale Chihuly. I don’t ever want art, all I want is a piece by Dale Chihuly."

Nothing transforms a room like candlelight, and you can do it extravagantly or simply, which is why I like storm lanterns, and mirrors to reflect light. We have a lot of mirrored bathroom tiles that I bought from Homebase years ago and I lay them all the way down the dining table. We’ve got a pair of beautiful glass candelabras I bought from C Best at the Covent Garden Flower Market that sit on top, and the light reflects upwards. It’s simply beautiful. 

I’m very influenced by the Seattle glass artist, Dale Chihuly. I don’t ever want art, all I want is a piece by Dale Chihuly: that wonderful colour in a completely white house.
I first saw his work at the Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street, at a time when I had left Jo Malone and was miserable because I was stuck, I couldn’t work and I couldn’t create.
He had made an amazing glass garden that was installed in the gallery, and as I went round it, I could smell the irises, I could smell the fresh green leaves, but there wasn’t any fragrance.
It brought my creativity back to life. Since then we have visited his fantastic glass garden in Seattle.
I love a trip to Ikea. My family can’t bear me going because I always come back with more glass lanterns. Poliform in Fulham Road has fabulous Italian beds with huge headboards and Divertimenti has perfect white plates. B&B Italia in Brompton Cross has a great outdoors chair with a very high back that I’ve got my eye on for the terrace. I’ve got an amazing upholsterer called Len Carter (020 7228 6676). He does things like the banquettes in Harry’s Bar. And my architect, Martin Steele (, who designs the interiors of my shops and my home, is wonderful. I drive him mad with my palettes of white. I'm still looking for a cashmere hammock that I can scent and put on the terrace.

I love politics so it’s the Houses of Parliament. Whenever I go past, my heart skips a beat. When I hear Big Ben striking, it feels very British and I love being British.

We pack a big picnic and go to Hyde Park, by the lake, and play rounders and let the dog run around. On a Sunday we like to walk around the Serpentine and then stop and have eggs and bacon for breakfast overlooking the water.
There’s also a little stable and we ride horses around the park. I love the Ladies’ Ride, though one morning when I was trotting past the barracks all the soldiers rushed out on horseback for a practice run of Trooping the Colour and my horse went berserk, and someone shouted: “Control your horse, madam!” I was petrified.
Object of desire: a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly

Every Friday when my son was little, he would go to Eileen’s flower stall in Sloane Square with his father and buy three bunches of flowers for his teachers. Now she has moved to a little shop in Duke of York Square called Jacques Flowers. You can buy the most amazing bunches of white regale lilies, wrapped in brown paper. My other secret shop is La Picena, an Italian delicatessen in Walton Street. They make the thinnest chicken escalopes and the best fresh tomato sauce and that’s dinner done.
I love to walk around the V&A, but I go anywhere that is showing something interesting.

Earlier this year the Royal Academy had an exhibition called Sensing Spaces, which was looking at spaces with a fresh perspective. There was one room with filigree bamboo reeds suspended from the ceiling, and as you walked through the bamboo, your movement released fragrance from the reeds. Another room had a maze of high walls scented with hazelwood. It was fascinating.

I love the Wolseley, always. Sometimes we have Sunday lunch at The Thomas Cubitt, next to my shop. You get a whole roast chicken for the family and the best roast potatoes you ever tasted. Oliveto, in Elizabeth Street as well, does the most amazing pasta and Sardinian pastries.

I work with the Great Festival of Creativity, which promotes creativity and innovation in UK industries, so next month I’m off to Hong Kong with about 40 other people from different businesses and I’ll talk about creativity in fragrance. We did Istanbul in May and I had 30 seconds to make an imprint, so I handed out paintbrushes and got everyone to paint themselves with fragrance. I wanted it to feel like a first kiss. This month we are launching a very woodsy, masculine fragrance, Shards of Cedar with Red Thyme.



Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram