English rose: Model Karen Elson, on her favourite Jo Malone London scents
Brand new face
It’s not hard to recognise Karen Elson even in her most elaborate of editorial spreads. The fiery red hair and delicate poercelain skin are signature Elson traits that are hard for even a non-discerning eye to miss. Discovered at the age of 16, the English model rapidly rose to modelling success and by her 18th birthday, had a Steven Meisel-shot Italian Vogue cover under her belt. She soon became the muse of Vogue’s legendary creative director Grace Coddington and scored campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Prada, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Now at 37 years old, she sings, writes music and juggles mom duties all at the same time. What can't this woman do?
Adding in to her list of hyphenates is the title of Jo Malone London Girl. Joining fellow It-girl Poppy Delevingne, the Brit model is the new face of the British fragrance brand. Set to host a series of scented parties around the country, Elson speaks on her very first Jo Malone memory to her Christmas wish list this year.
What drew you to working with Jo Malone London?
I’ve been a fan of Jo Malone London for well over a decade, and I love all the fragrances so much. I jumped at the chance to work with the brand — I am an admitted scent hoarder!
What will your role entail?
I’m a Jo Malone London Girl, which means I’m going to be sharing my genuine enthusiasm for the brand with all my friends, sending them personalised gifts — lucky them! — and hosting fun scented dinners and parties. I’m very excited! It feels natural for me to talk about Jo Malone London, having loved and used the products for such a long time.
What is your first memory of fragrance?
As a child, I would go to my grandmother’s house and sneak into her bathroom and spray her perfume all over. Fragrance always held that allure for me — something secret and grown-up and comforting.
Can you remember when and how you first discovered Jo Malone London and what you liked about it?
I was staying at a hotel in Beverly Hills for work, and a friend sent over a hamper of Jo Malone London to my room. I was hooked from the start. The packaging was so elegant, simple and chic. And then the scents! To die for.
Do you have a favourite Jo Malone London scent?
If I had to pick a favourite, I would probably say Wild Bluebell. It’s so heavenly! Reminds me of springtime in England. Red Roses is another classic scent that’s just so, so good. It’s the perfect rose scent, just divine!
Do you ever combine your scents? If so, what is your favourite combination?
I do like to play with fragrance. My favourite way to combine is to use a body crème in one scent and then layer a different cologne on top. I love to use the Wood Sage & Sea Salt Body Crème, then spritz Blackberry & Bay Cologne — heaven!
Describe your personal style in three words.
Elegant, whimsical and practical (because I’m a mum).
What scents do you use at home?
For home fragrance, I’m obsessed with the Green Tomato Leaf Home Candle. It’s especially great for the kitchen — it smells really clean and fresh. Red Roses Scent Surround Diffuser is another favourite. I love it in my bedroom or living room. If I’m entertaining in the evening, I like to light some scented candles — I tend to change the scent depending on time of year — about an hour before my guests are due to arrive. It really helps set the mood.
Do you wear a particular type of scent when you’re performing?
When I’m on stage, I love to wear Velvet Rose & Oud. It’s got a sensual, sultry feel to it. I usually wear the Dry Body Oil. The scent lingers beautifully on the skin, without overwhelming.
Which fragrance gives you the happiest memories?
Wild Bluebell Cologne. It reminds me of my childhood in England, when we’d go bluebell picking in the spring.
Are there any scents that remind you of home, or take you back to your English roots?
Wood Sage & Sea Salt reminds me of the English seaside — rocky and bracing! And of course all the rose-based scents feel like home. There’s nothing more English than a rose, and I like to think I’m a bit of an English rose.
What is your bath time ritual?
To relax, nothing beats a long, deep bath using the Red Roses Bath Oil. It feels like a really special treat, especially after a long flight.
What is your go-to Jo Malone London gift? What about for a male friend or relative?
I try to make each gift feel thoughtful and personalised. There are so many lovely things to choose from, and the packaging is amazing. No wrapping at home is required. Bath oil is always a good gift for a female relative or friend. Something indulgent and pampering that one doesn’t often buy for oneself. For a man, the Lime Basil & Mandarin Shower Oil is always a big hit.
What’s on your Christmas wish list, either for yourself, or for those closest to you?
World Peace! Failing that, just quality time spent with my family and friends. The gents on my Christmas list might be lucky enough to receive the Black Cedarwood & Juniper Cologne this year. Although I would absolutely wear it myself, it has an earthy, masculine scent that on a man would just smell… ravishing!