Navigations Through Scent – Molton Brown Lijiang and Iunu Perfume Reviews + Sample Giveaway

Navigations Through Scent

“A brief history of perfume, told through five distinct fragrances. From lost worlds, along ancient silk and spice routes to a brave new world.” [1]

We’ve seen it many times before, a mainstream house releasing a series of fragrances based around a single concept. Sometimes it works really well (see Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére line or Chanel’s Les Exclusifs) and sometimes it fails epically (see Dolce & Gabanna’s Anthology line).

Usually lines launched with multiple fragrances are a bit hit and miss, they tend to have one or two ‘greats’, more than a couple of average ones and a their fair share of clangers. So it is with trepidation that I approach any new ‘collection’.

I am very familiar with Molton Brown’s line of shower gels, hand creams, hand washes and body products (which I think are generally very good btw) but I have to admit that I’m not overly familiar with their stand-alone fragrances, so this collection could go either way for me.

The Scents

The navigations through scent series is “a brief history of perfume, told through five distinct fragrances. From lost worlds, along ancient silk and spice routes to a brave new world” [1]

As mentioned above, there are five fragrances in the Navigations Through Scent series; Iunu (London via Egypt), Lijiang (London via China), Singosari (London via Indonesia), Apuldre (London via Kent) and Rogart (London via Canada). This is a review of just two fragrances from the collection – Lijiang and Iunu.

Via China


The Notes

Top: Pink Berries and Vegetal Notes
Heart: Osmanthus Absolute and White Tea
Base: White Musk and Vetiver [2]

How Does it Smell?

Lijiang smells exactly how you would expect an osmanthus and white tea scent to smell. It starts out very dewy and floral. I don’t detect any of the pink berries but I do get a lot of the ‘vegetal’ notes, however I wouldn’t necessarily call them vegetal, they aren’t as green, I would say they were more mineralic.

As Lijiang settles it becomes lighter and fresher, the mineralic notes intensify and the musk comes along to round things off nicely. If there is any vetiver then it’s doing a very good job of hiding itself, every now and then I get a tiny flash of something a little rooty, but that’s the extent of it.

My problem with Lijiang is that it just feels a bit obvious, as if they thought ‘Right, what’s evocative of China? Osmanthus and Tea? That’ll do!’ That wouldn’t have been a problem for me if they had done something interesting with the notes, but Lijiang is a heck of a lot like most osmanthus fragrances out there and it certainly doesn’t fit the bill as being ‘distinctive’.

All of that said, it does smell nice and if you’re not familiar with osmanthus then I think Lijiang would be a good starting point, it’s pretty, light and although I find it underwhelming it doesn’t smell bad.

Via Egypt


The Notes

Top: Ginger Oil and Elemi Oil
Heart: Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang and Black Pepper
Base: Patchouli Oil and Oakmoss [3]

How Does it Smell? 

If I were to sum up Iunu in a nutshell I would call it ‘A Diet M7’. It is impossible to smell Iunu and not think of YSL’s absolutely fantastic M7. Where M7 is a heady woody oriental, Iunu is a lighter, spicy woody oriental without any of the oud or vanilla, hence it being a ‘diet’ version.

Iunu starts with lots of pepper and ginger, there is a good mix of spice and woods to keep my interest. The elemi adds a lime facet that stops the opening from being just spice and woods.

The florals are pretty subtle, they don’t really come through too much, mainly because the patchouli in the base is so strong. I think they’ve achieved the right balance with the florals, I wouldn’t want too much jasmine or ylang ylang to barge in and take over, as they so often can do.

Iunu is pretty linear, it starts out spicy but warms up with the patchouli and woods pretty quickly. Oakmoss is listed in the base and I wish I could smell it, a nice dose of moss would round things off nicely and would have been a nice surprising addition to the base, alas it wasn’t to be.

I like Iunu, it’s much more interesting than Lijiang and whilst I don’t think I’ll be running to my nearest Molton Brown store/concession to buy a bottle, it has piqued my interest in the other three fragrances in the line, lets hope they are as good!


All fragrances in the Navigations Through Scent series are available in 50ml Eau de Toilette for £65.

The Sample Giveaway has closed.



This review is based on samples of Lijiang and Iunu obtained through the Molton Brown Facebook page.

[1], [2] & [3]

Image 1

Image 2

Images 3 & 4