Design and fashion collaborations come and go, some bizarre, some sellouts and some that fizzle into nothing. The latest of note is between Jo Malone and the late interior decorator and designer David Hicks. This seems a surprising pairing. David Hicks patterns are best known for their vibrant often clashing colourful geometry while new partner-in-crime Jo Malone is infamous for understated packaging.
In one of his nine design books, David Hicks wrote; ‘My greatest contribution as an interior designer has been to show people how to use bold colour mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms and how to mix old with new.’ Hicks made carpets for Windsor Castle, decorated the Prince of Wales’ first apartment at Buckingham Palace and the yacht belonging to the King of Saudi Arabia. His commissions were as varied as they were exciting; among them the interior of a BMW, a pair of scarlet-heeled men’s evening shoes, the Okura Hotel in Tokyo and even his own coffin. David died in 1998 yet his designs continue to thrive under the creative guidance of his son Ashley who creates fabric, carpet, tiles and now Jo Malone candles adapted from, or inspired by, original David Hicks designs.
Like his father used to, Ashley scents his rooms making this candle collaboration a natural step. ‘It’s nice to engage all the senses although lick-able wallpaper and edible cushions might be a step too far,' says Ashley. 'I always used to use Indian joss sticks (a habit of my father’s back in the Seventies) which I used to buy in bulk on work trips to India.’
Inspiration for the three geometric Jo Malone candles - called Hicksonian, Riviera and Herbert's Carnation - came from family memories and Ashley's father's archives. Fans of David Hicks will recognize the Hicksonian logo (four H’s joined together) that adorns the Red Roses candle. ‘He used it everywhere, in emulation of his father-in-law who had an M of B cypher (for Mountbatten of Burma) on everything, including his servants’ livery,’ recalls Ashley. ‘As a child, I slept in sheets printed with this Hicksonian pattern; more recently, I made my dining room floor tiles in it.’ It felt natural to reinterpret the pattern onto a candle. ‘The faded pink colour was taken from my father’s country drawing room which he’d fill with the scent of freshly cut roses all summer long – perfect for the Red Roses scented candle.’ Ashley burns his Hicksonian candle in his dining room alongside some hellebores, a single iris and a lump of mica tiled with the same design. He says of the look, ‘I love putting single flowers in tiny containers, especially on my black dining table, where the colours really show.’
Memories of the Mediterranean motivated the thinking behind his second candle Riviera; ‘The bold geometric design of Riviera was originally inspired by the roof tiles of the 14th century Hospice de Beaune in Burgundy that we used to visit every summer en route to our house on the Riviera.’ Says Ashley, who thought it an obvious match to the zingy, fresh smell of Jo Malone’s Lime, basil and mandarin fragrance. ‘Two Riviera candles scent my hall at home, their angular green lines work well with my Mask steel console, surrounded by orange plastic, and a pottery Ganesh – God of good luck – to look after my house.’
The third candle Herbert’s Carnation is named after Ashley’s grandfather (and David’s father) Herbert Hicks. ‘He was a City of London stockbroker. Living in Essex, he caught the train every morning with a freshly picked carnation in his buttonhole; an elegant Victorian gent,’ remembers Ashley. The result is a deep and intense geo-floral pattern paired with the rich plum Pomegranate Noir fragrance. ‘The velvety reds of carnation perfectly suit the musky scent of Pomegranate Noir. The reds come from my father’s library, where he stretched red silk velvet from an old evening dress over the chimneybreast.’ At home, Ashley positions the red Herbert’s Carnation next to a couple of old, green glass buoys, his childhood drawing of a sunset from their Bahamian beach house and his daughter’s pottery boat.
The Jo Malone/ David Hicks collaboration was an inspired decision. Marrying a brand so synonymous with discreet packaging with a designer celebrated for vibrant colours has refreshed the public's interest. Just don't tell Ashley that his candles are on trend. ‘If I spot a trend, I’m determined to avoid it,' he insists. 'I think a room wants to look as good now as it will in thirty years time, or would have thirty years ago. And if it’s (ghastly expression) on-trend, it’s highly unlikely to do either.’