Image: Mary McCartney
December 12 2012
My morning begins over breakfast with a friend at Ottolenghi. This is the perfect way to start any day. I have a “morning pot” with muesli, fruit and yoghurt and a decaff cappuccino.
I reach my lab in Notting Hill by 9.30am, where I prepare my surroundings and put on my favourite music. Currently it’s With the Artists by Rhythm & Sound. It’s house/reggae music and I find it really helps to set the tone of my day.
I have a while on my own when I first set foot in the lab. It is a tranquil place that is so lovely to work in. I take some time to sit and evaluate all my trials from the previous week, together with the projects I’m currently doing. This can range from my bespoke and private-client work to my ideas for Miller Harris. I always have several projects on the go, as they feed each other. It is great to work on lots of formulations at the same time as, if I get frustrated or stuck on one, I can move on to another and simply revisit it at a later point.
I’m feeling very inspired at the moment by everyday tastes and smells, so I’ve been looking in detail at different apple notes. I’m fascinated by exploring sour tones and fusing that with ideas linked to the palate. My current project is a very clean and fruity fragrance with apple and vetiver, and I’m exploring all the tastes that go with it.
Later I sit down with Caroline, my lovely lab assistant, to discuss the formulations we’ve been creating for private clients, and we go over them in detail. It is a crucial exercise, so we can evaluate the work we have done and discuss how we can improve.
At lunchtime I have a quick wander around Westbourne Grove, popping into a few shops to get some ideas for Christmas gifts, before I return to Ottolenghi to grab my favourite rice salad. Then it is time to meet my designer. I think it is so important to invite people with whom I work very closely into the lab, so that they can see how I operate and get a feel for me in my natural surroundings. I hope that it will inspire them and give them an insight into my world. We sit down over a cup of tea to discuss new packaging ideas for the brand.
Afterwards I nip out to a beautiful boutique, Petit Aimé, on Ledbury Road to pick up Christmas decorations for my son Henri, so we can start decorating the house. I love the two girls who run the shop and try to support it as much as I can. It’s then time to come back to the store, where I bump into a few customers who are coming in for their Christmas shopping.
I always leave the lab in such a hurry, as the day seems to go so quickly. It’s time for me to pick up Henri from school and go home, where he helps me cook his tea. He is obsessed with mashed potato, and currently eats it with chicken and broccoli every night. We spend a quiet evening putting up some of the decorations together.
I love to light candles, especially at this time of year. It’s so magical set against the ice outside. It does, of course, have to be the right smell. At the moment I’m obsessed with Bois d’épicerie, a new candle from our Miller Harris home range. I love the warmth that emanates from the petitgrain and spice, fused with cedar and pine needle. It really gets us in the festive spirit.