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What are “Fragrance Tapas?” Jo Malone CBE’s Re-exploration of Perfume Led to an Indulgent Scent Menu

Jo Malone CBE. Photo by Karlo Torio

A fragrance brand concocted from treasured memories, the British perfumer tells all about her adventure into scent as she sits down with an exclusive interview with Vogue Philippines.

Going through the backstory of each Jo Loves scent (there are 20 so far), you can create a map of all the places Jo Malone CBE has been to. It’s a myriad of trips to lush gardens and seascapes in Europe, vintage cars, vibrant culinary flavors in Asia, and even a whiff of her father’s crisp white shirts—all memories transformed into scents, encapsulated in a perfume, a hand wash, a candle, or even a lotion. “I’m telling you stories of my life,” shares the 60-year-old perfumer. “Wherever I am, I am watching and I am looking.”

Photo by Karlo Torio

On her first trip to the Philippines, Malone sits down with Vogue Philippines’ beauty editor Joyce Oreña and features editor Audrey Carpio, along with Vogue correspondents Hannah, Ella, and Donny Pangilinan, sharing how she sees scents as colors, dreaming up her most fond memories into fragrances, and her Jo Loves concepts: the Fragrance Paintbrush™ and 3-course “Fragrance Tapas.”

“I’m just happy packing my case and off we go,” says Malone, revealing to the group how she’s been traveling for a month to go to different Jo Loves boutiques in Australia and Southeast Asia. “As we came in, I saw all the lanterns [at the airport]. It was all lanterns in the trees. Immediately, I could smell [it]. It was like a green hay smell. There’s a saltiness,” shares the British perfumer when Donny and Hannah ask her about her first impressions of Manila through scent.

Photo by Karlo Torio
Photo by Karlo Torio

Before ever launching what would become her second eponymous brand, Malone at a point in her life lost her sense of smell due to chemotherapy. Speaking on that experience, she recalls, “I just felt like I couldn’t be part of a global brand if I couldn’t smell. I could still create in my head but I couldn’t physically smell. And then a month after leaving, it came back very powerfully one morning.”

Malone, who doesn’t see scents as mere products, is proud of concepts she has created for Jo Loves, such as the Fragrance Paintbrush™ and the Fragrance Tapas. “One of my favorite things to do is to sit in a little bar and order myself a few plates of tapas [and] watch the world go by. When I created ‘fragrance tapas,’ it was to recreate that for your sense of smell,” says Malone on how she conceptualized her scent concept with husband and CEO of Jo Loves, Gary Wilcox over dinner. “I love things that have that quirkiness, that storytelling element to it. Everyone remembers their first kiss and so for our brand, the tapas experience is our first kiss,” she candidly shares.

Photo by Karlo Torio

The journey came full circle for Malone when she opened her first Jo Loves Fragrance Brasserie Bar located at 42 Elizabeth Street in London’s Belgravia neighborhood, the same location where she had her first job as a florist’s assistant at sixteen. The scent of tuberose, lilies, freesia, roses, and crushed green stems still lingers in her memory, and it became the starting point for her renewed olfactory exploration.

Since then, the British perfume brand has expanded its presence outside of the UK, with stores mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, including a fragrance tapas brasserie bar in their Glorietta store in Makati. This unique concept offers a multi-sensory experience divided into three courses.

In the Tagine course, a bath cologne is warmed, creating a cloud of fragrant steam to simulate the bliss of bathing. Followed by On The Rocks, a refreshing sensation of a fragranced body wash, shaken over ice and poured into a glass, with a hint of your chosen Jo Loves scent. Finally, Velouté presents a whipped and foamed lotion gently brushed onto your skin, leaving a delicate and inviting trace of fragrance.

Photo by Karlo Torio

Fragrance seekers can partake in discovering scents in various forms in the brand’s repertoire. The Pomelo, a crowd favorite among fragheads, captures attention wherever the British perfumer goes. Malone herself describes it as a scent that “causes people to stop me in the street to ask what I’m wearing.” Other favorites include Mango Thai Lime, an ode to Thailand’s delights; Amber Lime & Bergamot, reminiscent of an athletic club she visited in Fulham; Cobalt Patchouli & Cedar, symbolizing seeing big skies and big dreams after COVID-19 restrictions ended, and a nostalgic tribute to her first job, the No. 42 The Flower Shop.

With Jo Loves, Malone has not only created a successful brand but has also created a lasting legacy in the fragrance industry. One she says that she can pass on even to her grandchildren. For the British perfumer who has rebuilt herself and pushed through with her passion she says, “Creating Jo Loves allowed me to be Jo again.”

Jo Loves is located on the ground floor of Glorietta 4, Makati. For more information, visit Jo Loves’ official website

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