Fashion & Style

How to Gift Fragrance According to Perfume Titan Jo Malone CBE

Gifting a fragrance, in my opinion, is tricky territory. Is it presumptuous to offer someone a scent you like and hope they’d wear it? Are you insinuating they smell bad? Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but unless it’s re-purchasing a scent someone already wears, I usually avoid it all together. This is a mistake, Jo Malone, CBE, tells me.

Malone, founder of the fragrance line Jo Loves, is synonymous with perfume (note: she is no longer associated with the brand that bears her name, “Jo Malone”). Her three-years and running partnership with Zara is available for the first time in Canada, and the collection of affordable candles and fragrances is perfectly giftable, she says. Read on for her thoughts on gifting fragrance and the best-smell items from the Zara x Jo Loves collection.

Do you think gifting fragrance is a good idea? Are there any rules around that?

Of course I think fragrances are a good gift, whether it’s a personal fragrance or a scented candle or a room spray. I don’t think there are necessarily rules. Maybe if you’re gifting a fragrance to someone, make sure you do a little bit of research. Find three fragrances that they love and you’ll see a synergy between them – maybe they love citrus or heavy florals, for example – and then buy from that fragrance family. If you don’t know them really well, try something less personal, a wonderful shower gel or body cream or a scented candle.

Vetiver Pamplemousse Candle ($29.90) and Fragrance ($49.90)

What would you gift from the Zara collection?

If you were going to give to your mother in-law something,  I’d probably do something like Waterlily Tea Dress, a clean citrus. If it was to my father-in-law, I’d probably do something like Vetiver Pamplemousse, not too cloying, not too cluttering. For a teacher, something along the lines of the Tuberose Noir, which is this beautiful single note, or something like Bohemian Bluebells, which has got a very artistic twist to it.

Do you have a preference for where candles are placed in the home?

I burn them all the time, on every floor, in every room. We did these amazing ones for Zara this year, which are double layered. It starts off with vetiver, very sort of citrusy and clean, and then suddenly you start to feel the ebony wood pushing through. It has a sort of log fire feel to it. That’s an amazing gift. I actually was burning one this morning.

Amalfi Sunray products
Zara x Jo Loves Amalfi Sunray collection, from $11.90, at

What fragrance notes do you think will be big for 2021?

A huge part of 2021 is going to be about people reclaiming life, and I think fragrances are going to go partner those memories. There will be a huge proportion of fragrances that you’ve burnt or used at home that will be a powerful memory of survival as well. We’re going to see fragrance in a very, very different form and a different language for next year.

There are certain smells actually that I’ve worked on – and there’s two in particular, which I can’t tell you the names of because they’re there still to be launched – but I will always remember the day and moment where I created them because our four walls have become our office, our school, our gym, our restaurant, our cinema – they’ve become everything. The sense of smell has so many powerful links to our memories now.