Uber stylist Charlotte Stockdale has just released a limited-edition home collection for Jo Malone London, for whom she is Style Editor, called ‘My Wanderlust by Charlotte Stockdale.’
Here she shares her path through fashion and scent with MiNDFOOD, while we present a gallery of her work.
You are one of the world’s most celebrated fashion stylists, what was your path?
I grew up in the English countryside with a mother who was very fashion conscious. I had no idea about fashion at the time but looking back, she lived and breathed it. She was very humble but very opinionated too and knew what she liked. She was tough but obsessive about enjoying the now. While she cared about the yesterday and the tomorrow, the now was the most important thing to her and I think that’s what fuelled her interest in fashion. I inherited this interest from her one hundred percent. I left school and tried modelling, it was a total disaster but I knew I loved images. I was so unhappy that my father sat me down and made me write a list of the things I liked and the things I didn’t, the things I was good at and the things I wasn’t. This made me realise that I was probably better suited to life behind the camera. I met a photographer and did some smaller shoots and then he introduced me to Katie Grand who was setting up a new magazine called Dazed & Confused. He gave me her number. We met for lunch, stayed on for dinner and went home at 11pm. That was the beginning of my fashion life. It was an amazing time, the mid nineties. We grew up together. I lived in Paris and worked for Dazed & Confused which was very progressive. I worked on some of my favourite ever shoots like one with the photographer Phil Poynter inspired by school and university photographs with everyone wearing the same thing. It was very different at the time. My work there then took me on to Harper’s Bazaar.
When and how did you first become interested in scent?
My first memory of scent was my mother’s. She loved it and collected the bottles. There must be at least one hundred bottles at our family home that she collected over the years. I remember holding them, particularly the ones she wore every day. I really loved the visual side of scents, the imagery and design. I didn’t wear any scent myself until I was 21 though. My best friend at the time gave me a fragrance for my 21st birthday. It had taken her a very long time to choose but she got it just right, I wore nothing else for the next six years. I think the way that she captured me so well and my life at the time stayed with me. I think it’s one of the reasons I was so excited to work with Jo Malone London and create scents myself.
How does fragrance fit into your life and how do you think it works with fashion?
I use scent in the same way as anything else that I adorn my body with. You clad yourself in things and they say something about you and whether you can see them, smell them or touch them, they are all a statement. You walk past a person in a hotel or airport and you always have a reaction if you catch their scent. It’s a similar reaction to fashion. It’s this instant, emotional response that I find interesting. To me it is like saying, ‘…this is what makes me feel good about myself and if you’re on my wavelength you’ll probably like it too.’ Whether it’s a scent, shoes or a handbag, these are all things that attract other people, whether consciously or subconsciously.
What inspires you most about scent?
For me, scent is like colour, it can make you feel good. The same is true of music too. Smells can calm you, excite you, make you feel confident or comfortable. Humans have a very emotional reaction to scent and it’s a comfort thing that you keep going back to. It reminds you of something. I love the idea of recreating a scent from nature. This is what I did with Jo Malone London with the Box Hedge Square Scent. There’s nothing happier than an English garden in the sun so we captured this smell using Headspace technology. Wood smoke, wet earth, leather. I love smells from life attached to memory, real life and history. Your happiest moments. I find scents can be instinctively health giving too. Aromatherapy is so powerful and personal. Certain smells just connect with you straight away. Your body responds to the scent and you want more of it. It can give you peace, energy or pleasure.
What is your signature scent?
I always return to the same Colognes, they just speak to me in a really fundamental and elemental way. I wear Jo Malone London’s Red Roses, Orange Blossom, French Lime Blossom, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Blackberry & Bay Colognes. I carry small bottles of them everywhere and I think Red Roses has become synonymous with me over the years for my friends and family. I have recently bought an entire collection of fragrance oils. While some are very beautiful alone like rose and neroli, others really aren’t. I combine them to try to understand what I like. Lavender, neroli and oregano. It helps me to get back to basics and discover what I really love and then go from there.
What advice would you give someone trying to find their own signature?
It’s a gut feeling. Above all, your scent should give you pleasure. When you are trying a new one, make sure you spritz it on your own skin, leave it and then re-smell to see how it unfolds and how you settle into it. For me there are no rules when choosing a scent for yourself. I hate rules. If your pleasure is in the label, then that’s fine. It could be the name or how the bottle feels in your hand. In whatever way, your scent needs to make you feel good. It’s not a competition or a judgement, it should be fun and totally about you.
How would you advise someone buying a scented gift?
I have always been incredibly nervous of giving scent as a gift. The first time I ever gave scent to anyone was in the form of candles, with Incense & Embers and Green Tomato Leaf. I think they transcend particular tastes. When choosing for someone else I always advise to smell as many scents as possible but then be brave and go with your instinct and don’t feel wounded if they don’t like it. The nicest thing about receiving scent is that it is totally expressive of the givers perception of you.
If you had to choose one, what is the most evocative scent for you?
It has to be Night Jasmine from Greece. Since I was a small child I have spent every summer in Corfu and this scent is everywhere. It’s grown on the balconies in the towns, along roadsides. It takes me back to my childhood and to a really magical place for me where I now bring my own children. This is why I used it in the Night Jasmine & Oregano Linen spray in the My Wanderlust collection. I liked the idea of the scent of holidays on your pillow.