Ormonde Jayne founder Linda Pilkington: ‘I absolutely adored living in Bowdon’

Linda Pilkington

Linda Pilkington - Credit: Archant

Meet Linda Pilkington, the Cheshire woman behind the exclusive Ormonde Jayne fragrance brand

Ormonde Jane fragrance

Ormonde Jane fragrance - Credit: Archant

Who says dreams don’t come true? As a schoolgirl living in Cheshire, Linda Pilkington was driven by the desire to own an exquisitely furnished home and you could say she achieved it... in spades.

She now lives in a beautiful Nash townhouse in London’s Regent’s Park and in the interests of good taste I have to wrestle with the eye-popping cost of such a residence.

But Linda is turns out is no stereotyped steely eyed career woman all shoulder pads and gel nails. She’s petite, understated and above all fabulously fun company when I meet her in Selfridges Manchester for the northern launch of her fragrance brand Ormonde Jayne.

Prior to meeting we speak over the phone and she laughs when she recalls being ‘quite entrepreneurial’ as a schoolgirl growing up in Bowdon.

‘I always wanted a glamorous bedroom after seeing pictures of the Biba store in London, where they had all these wonderful things such as beautiful velvets and peacock feathers. And my mother said “Of course you can have one, darling, as long as you pay for it yourself”. So in that entrepreneurial spirit I grew dahlias and simply went door-to-door selling them to get the money together for this glamorous bedroom!’

Perhaps the first indication of Linda’s future career was when her mother donated a beautiful fragrance bottle to add a sophisticated flourish to the decor. Clearly the word was out and soon her mother’s friends were donating similar albeit empty, bottles for the burgeoning collection.

It was all so innocent and charming, but as Linda admits, she had been fortunate to have an ‘idyllic childhood’.

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Her father Ralph was a businessman, a German who came over to the UK as a Jewish refugee and met and married her mother, Elizabeth, a radiographer at Old Trafford General Hospital before they settled in Cheshire.

Ormonde Jane candle

Ormonde Jane candle - Credit: Archant

Linda recalls enjoying her time as a member of Altrincham’s Garrick Theatre - playing Anne Frank in one production and being a member of the Girl Guides in Hale.

‘I absolutely adored living in Bowdon. I used to go with my sisters Carol Ann, who now lives in Manchester and Michelle who now resides in Switzerland to the Bollin River and we would take a blanket and a picnic. I was young and absolutely carefree.’

Shopping trips took the family to Kendals and the hippy-ish On The Eighth Day on Oxford Road in Manchester but as she hit her teens Linda got the urge to travel, and it wasn’t just a gap year thing. She left and didn’t return to the UK for over 14 years. What she did do on her travels was collect, inspired by her friend Julia’s beautiful home designed by an architect father and furnished with superbly good taste.

‘I wanted to create a lovely home for myself so I was always collecting with no idea of what I was going to do with them.’

Linda had always made scented candles and on her return to the UK she was walking down the street in London when she bumped into a man she’d known in her teens, who remembered her entrepreneurial efforts. He worked for Chanel and for the opening of the London store he wanted scented candles. He introduced Linda to the manager who said she would take 50.’

Suddenly orders were coming in and Linda had to find a name for her company.

‘A boyfriend I was with at the time suggested it. Where I lived, there was a place called Ormonde Terrace and my name was Linda Jayne “So why not call it Ormonde Jayne?”’

She began to develop a fragrance collection but the lightbulb moment occurred when she was asked by one client to create a perfume based on her favourite Rochas fragrance, which used Tuber Rose as a base. Rather than create a copy, she began to source more unusual ingredients and this led to the uniqueness of the brand.

She now uses ingredients such as Champaca, an Indian flower with a creamy floral scent, black hemlock and osmanthus, a floral from Japan and China to create a very desirable range.

The Ormonde Jayne perfumery opened in November 30 2001 in London’s Old Bond Street and has not only been the base for an exclusive clientele but a springboard for ideas. For example, Linda was the first person to create an oud fragrance ( now widely used in the most cutting edge perfumes).

Another innovation is the Perfume Portrait, when clients can focus their mind by smelling raw individual ingredients and are guided on a sensual adventure to find their own perfect scent.

These days Linda has a dedicated team around her but she is still very much ‘hands on’ creating bespoke perfumes and working on private commissions, as well as developing a growing international distribution that is enhancing her reputation worldwide. n

For further information visit www.ormondejayne.com

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