Perfumer Jo Malone CBE On Creating Scents, Legacy & Why AI Is Important To The Evolution Of The Fragrance Industry

By Ashleigh Cometti
Jo Malone CBE, the fragrance founder and entrepreneur.

British perfumer Jo Malone CBE speaks to Ashleigh Cometti about the innovation and intention behind her second fragrance line, Jo Loves.

Jo Malone has spent the last three decades twirling fragrance notes.

It’s all part of her process as a fragrance designer, which she likens to co-ordinating instruments in

As a conductor of sorts then, Jo’s love of fragrance stemmed from her experience working as a facial therapist in a London-based skin clinic, where she discovered her natural talent at creating scented products.

What followed was the launch of Jo’s first fragrance brand, Jo Malone London, in 1990. The business was sold to Estee Lauder Companies in 1999, however, Jo retained her role as creative director until her departure in 2006.

After a five-year hiatus, the scent maverick burst forth with her second fragrance brand, Jo Loves, in 2011 — a brand that set itself apart by bottling Jo’s own memories and experiences.

But with the advent of AI and other technological advances propelling us forward, is there room for traditional scent-making methods in the future? Jo seems to think so.

Read more about Jo’s convictions around the future of fragrance alongside details about the latest scent to be added to the range — Amber, Lime & Bergamot — below.

ASHLEIGH COMETTI: The saying goes that you shouldn’t meet your idols, but after wearing your scents for decades now I must confess you’re one of mine! Is there anyone in the fragrance industry that you look up to?

JO MALONE CBE: Thank you. I love anybody who is an artist in fragrance, but I think one of my idols has to be Coco Chanel, and the fragrances that she created in a very difficult time. And also, after watching The New Look, I am absolutely besotted by Christian Dior and how he created Miss Dior for his sister.

I’m totally inspired by the young perfumers eho are coming into our industry and really bring in a different approach.

AC: It’s been 13 years since you first launched Jo Loves, which has grown at an exponential rate to include unique fragrance offerings such as the Paintbrush. How do you ensure the brand stays true to its core identity while embracing new opportunities?

JM: It has to stay close to the creator and the heartbeat of the mother. So I am the mum of Jo Loves. I just tell true stories of my life, which ensures it stays true to my identity. I don’t look at benchmarks, marketing or trends. I just find a story in my life and decide to tell that story.

I’m embracing so many more new opportunities now that I’m living in Dubai, I’m having more conversations with people who are creative and want to create a third identity.

AC: Let’s talk about your creative process when dreaming up your next fragrance. Each Jo Loves scent feels inherently personal, with every fragrance having a story to tell. Can you share some of the stories or emotions behind your favourite Jo Loves scents, including your newest scent launching in time for Mother’s Day?

JM: Mother’s Day is always a really, really special day, I would say one of the scents that probably is really indicative of that would be White Rose & Lemon Leaves. It tells the story of me creating the Union Jack. It’s a nod to our late Queen. She was the mother of our nation.

But Amber, Lime & Bergamot is this beautiful story of the Concours d’Elégance. A beautiful evening where you feel that you can be the best of the best. The scent is warm, sexy and elegant, with notes of fresh lime, bergamot and mandarin, alongside the warmth of amber and cedarwood, with a touch of suede and patchouli.

Amber, Lime & Bergamot channels the glamour and allure of the Concours d'Elegance.
Amber, Lime & Bergamot channels the glamour and allure of the Concours d'Elegance.

AC: One of the things I love most about Jo Loves scents is its unexpected note combinations. As one of the world’s most esteemed noses, how do you approach selecting notes for a new scent to achieve balance and harmony within the fragrance?

JM: When I look at fragrance, each note and accord are, to me, words or emotions or feelings or colour. I’m able to think of a story or a person. And then I’m able to bring each one of the accords together.

I sit there and place the notes together — I twirl papers that had the notes on them to see where the holes in the fragrance are and how I can achieve it. I’m really looking to build it like a musical orchestra.

AC: Are there any trends or innovations emerging in the world of fragrance that you’re particularly interested in?

JM: Innovations? Yes. Trends? No, I don’t follow trends. I think we’re looking at a chapter in our lives with AI and tech that will deliver fragrance to us in a very, very different way. And I am very interested in that next generation of perfumers who will be delivering that.

Jo Malone draws on her own memories and experiences to inform her next Jo Loves scent.
Jo Malone draws on her own memories and experiences to inform her next Jo Loves scent.

AC: Here at Viva, we put a particular focus on brands engaging in sustainable practices. How committed is Jo Loves to utilising ethically-sourced ingredients and aligning with environmentally-friendly practices?

JM: I think sustainability is not a destination but a journey. Each business, no matter what they produce, must ask itself: “How can we do it better and more effectively?” And that is certainly one of our heartbeats at Jo Loves.

For instance, all our ribbon is now made from recycled plastic from the sea. We’re looking at refillable, reusable options. Our Paintbrush already has refills for it. I think all of us have to look at what we take from this world and what we give back to it.

AC: One of the things we’ve been talking about in the office a lot lately is AI. Do you believe AI will play a role in how fragrance evolves in the future? If so, how? And if not, why not?

JM: I do absolutely believe AI is a very, very important part of the evolution of the fragrance industry. In fact, in all industries.

But what it can’t do at the moment is think of something that has never been done. I believe when people are starting their businesses AI can be helpful at generating the press releases, marketing plans, and so on.

We’ve not used AI at Jo Loves yet, but in other projects that we’ve worked on from packaging, to marketing, to scent names and also education. I think AI will be a wonderful part of fragrance’s future. We do just have to be aware of where it’s going (or where it’s taking us). We cannot end up being lazy in our creativity. We’ve got to up our game as humans in the process.

AC: What is your hope for Viva readers when they apply a Jo Loves fragrance? Would this be to tap into their memory bank, to improve their overall wellbeing, or perhaps communicate their personal style?

JM: My hope for readers is that they become a scent artist. That they look up their body like a canvas and they paint on to that canvas with fragrance paint brushes. This way, you could smell different every single day of your life. That’s the magic and the wonder of it.

I’ve just done a wonderful event in Melbourne with 200 people getting to paint their bodies with fragrance and the wonder in the room was electric.

Top notes of juicy citrus shine in Jo Loves' newest scent, alongside warming amber, cedarwood and patchouli.
Top notes of juicy citrus shine in Jo Loves' newest scent, alongside warming amber, cedarwood and patchouli.

AC: When selecting your own scent, do you choose your fragrance based on your mood or occasion?

JM: Not necessarily. I look a lot at what I’m wearing and the whole kind of ethos of it. My signature fragrance is Jo by Jo Loves.

AC: What is your vision for the long-term legacy of Jo Loves? How do you want the brand to impact the world of fine fragrance?

JM: I set out to build Jo Loves as a global brand. It was never about creating one bottle of fragrance. My legacy will be passion, resilience and creativity not only in my brand but also in my life. I plan to travel around the world and share my story by creating that sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth scent of Jo Loves.

Jo Loves Amber, Lime & Bergamot is available in a 50ml or 100ml eau de toilette, which are priced at $194 and $274 respectively. Jo Loves is available exclusively from the Farmers Sylvia Park and Queen Street stores, or online at

Ashleigh Cometti is an Auckland-based beauty journalist with more than 12 years’ experience in the industry. After joining the Viva team in 2018 and being appointed as beauty editor in 2020, Ash has fine-tuned her skills at sniffing out new fragrance launches, discovering the next generation of talented makeup artists, and writing about all things that feed her obsession as a skincare fanatic.

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