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Malone meets Marthe

Published 19.07.16 · Living ·
Jo Malone

Source: ©

Here’s a brain teaser for you. What’s the connection between the legendary Mitford sisters, Jo Malone and an octogenarian producing handmade wallpaper in a Chiswick garden shed?

OK, this may be a little tortured – not to say contorted - but bear with me!

Printmaker, Marthe Armitage, started producing her scenic wallpapers in the 1950s and, more seriously, when she got her first proofing press, in the 1960s. However, it wasn’t until a chance meeting, in 2004, with Georgina Hamilton and Robert Weston, of historic-wallpaper company Hamilton Weston, that her business really took off. Marthe explained that though she knew of them, she just thought, “Oh, they won’t be interested!”

On the contrary, Hamilton Weston started to sell Marthe’s designs, and amongst a select band of enamoured, high profile celebrities, was one Stella Tennant, granddaughter of Deborah Mitford, one of the famed sisters, and later Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.

Stella had Marthe’s wallpaper in her house, which is where interior designer and writer, Rita Konig, first encountered them. Adoring the handmade quality and ‘un-muddled’ simplicity of the designs, Rita became a champion of Marthe’s work and, through her, it came to the attention of Jo Malone’s design team.

At the time, the Jo Malone brand was looking for yet another creative, who could capture its English heritage, for a limited-edition collection; and Marthe’s work was naturally suited to their aesthetic.

Henry James once said that ‘summer afternoon’ were “the two most beautiful words in the English language”. It was this quote, which inspired the design ‘Summer Afternoon’, built around a summer’s day game of croquet; and includes motifs such as foxes, birds and the statuary lions, along with references to ingredients from Jo Malone London scents, such as fig trees, pear blossom, tomato plants, roses and a beekeeper surrounded by bees.

These new drawer liners, soap boxes, wrapped candles and delicately embossed bottles of bath oil, offer a marvellous opportunity to bring Marthe Armitage artwork into your home.

Marthe says, “I suppose it’s a bit in the past”, due to the nostalgic quality of the pattern, “because I’m a bit in the past”, she adds. Fortunately for Marthe – and for us – “a bit in the past” is bang on current trend, with the recent upsurge in the desire for nostalgic products, with an artisanal touch.

You can find the entire Jo Malone and Marthe Armitage limited edition collection here - link.

Thanks for reading, Jackie.

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