Each year, Jo Malone London presents us with a limited edition collection of five or so scents on a particular theme. In the past we’ve been treated to afternoon tea with beautiful delicacies such as Grapefruit & Assam and Sweet Milk, not to mention the gorgeous London Rain collection which included the amorphous Rain & Angelica, which is one of their most unique fragrances to date. It’s always exciting to see what the brand will do next and where the eccentrically British streak will take them. This time their quirky sensibility sees them walking children in nature, specifically in their very own herb garden.
The Herb Garden collection consists of five fragrances, each of which pairs two notes found within your typical British garden, all served in the traditionally eccentric style of the house. Each scent was created by the perfumer Anne Flipo (L’Artisan Perfumer’s La Chasse Aux Papillons and Chloé Love Story) in her first collaboration with Jo Malone London. Each fragrance is billed as presenting freshness with a distinct personality, evoking the wildness of the herb garden. On a side note, completely irrelevant to the scents, can we just give a big bravo and round of applause to Jo Malone London for utilising the ever so fabulous older model in the campaign image above? More of this please, perfume industry! Anyway, back to the scents themselves…
“A day in the herb garden. A quirky tapestry of fragrant foliage, entwined with flowers and fruit. Satisfying stems of fresh English lavender. Overflowing pots of spicy nasturtium and leafy clover. Lemon thyme crushed in soil-covered hands. And cool earth encasing ripening carrots and fennel. The aromatic artistry of herbs; verdant, crisp, juicy and sweet. A captivating and delectable collection.”
– Jo Malone London
Nasturtium & Clover
Perfumer Anne Flipo’s description of this scent is perfect: “like a carpet of colour; green, yellow and orange”. Nasturtium & Clover is a multi-faceted and textured affair that has a wonderfully alive sense of greenery and foliage to it. There’s a strong element of peppery rocket, especially in the opening, which is suitably full of bite and bitterness. Vetiver adds earthy warmth underneath whilst lemon brings a touch of sparkle in the opening, making for a full-on experience. Nasturtium & Clover is fresh and green, and instantly recognisable as something one would find nestled in the quiet corner of a British herb garden. Job done there, I think!
Sorrel & Lemon Thyme
Sorrel isn’t well known for being particularly fragrant but it does have an energising taste, with its acidic tang being a good addition to any salad. To get to grips with the material, perfumer Anne Flipo decided to give it a taste, describing it as a “tonic”. The scent she has created is exactly that: a fizzy lemon tonic with a sparkling citrus aria up top. Sorrel & Lemon Thyme uses fizzy orange to give it that effervescent edge, whilst the lemon provides an acidity that is perfectly in balance with the sorrel. This is one of my favourites from the collection, simply because it’s so zingy and refreshing one cannot help but want to give it a big old swig, no matter how inadvisable that would be.
Wild Strawberry & Parsley
The idea with this fragrance was to combine the strawberry note with an ingredient that one is not used to smelling in perfumery, and that note is parsley. This is the fruitiest one of the bunch and is therefore, the most accessible. Strawberry notes in perfumery are often used as low grade chemical weapons, generally emitting a cloud of choke-inducing syrupy sweetness that results in all oxygen being burned away in a pink cloud. Wild Strawberry & Parsley does not follow this trope (Anne Flipo wanted to make something “more chic & elegant”), instead presenting a soft, fuzzy strawberry note that appears to be seen through a 1970s movie filter. It’s sweet, yes, but delicately so, with a touch of dew for good measure. The parsley adds just a touch of sharpness, like a dry jagged edge of that familiarly earthy, yet spiky aroma, whilst tomato leaf gives a sense of energy. It’s all very soft and understated, in the Jo Malone London way, but very pretty.
Carrot Blossom & Fennel
According to Céline Roux, Executive Director, Global Product Development at Jo Malone London, carrot blossom is a note that the brand have wanted to play with for quite some time and it is with The Herb Collection that they finally get their wish! Anne Flipo describes the fragrance as “carrots cooked in a little bit of sugar not carrots in the earth” and that pretty much sums this one up for me. This is a slightly sweet interpretation of carrot with a fresh, anise-like fennel vibe which gives it a dark and almost oily feel. There’s also a floral touch but nothing really works together boldly enough to make Carrot Blossom & Fennel particularly memorable, leaving it the weakest link in an otherwise intriguing collection.
Lavender & Coriander
I love a lavender so this one had a lot to live up to. It’s described as the most dramatic fragrance within the collection and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as saying it provides drama, it does offer up a bold lavender note in all its glory. Let’s face it, lavender is not a trendy note and often when people try it they will remark on how it reminds them of their Grandmother (never a bad thing if you ask me, my Grandmother is a tour de force) so it’s nice to see it in a mainstream collection that is open to all ages and tastes. The lavender here is a headspace interpretation of British lavender. It’s very herbaceous with only a touch of caramelised sugar in the background – in fact, it’s quite powdery and at times has a peppery-juniper nuance that gives it a little sparkly kick. As for the coriander, well the part it plays here is relatively subtle, adding just an underlying warmth that has a element of sourness to it. Personally, I think this is a good thing because coriander has the capacity to dominate, whether it be in flavour or odour, so a more subtle approach is definitely for the best (see Fils de Dieu by Etat Libre d’Orange if you want full-on coriander). So does this meet my expectations as a lavender? Why certainly, as a wearable everyday lav, it’s pretty damn good.
The Herb Garden Collection consists of five fragrances, each of which is available in 30ml Cologne for £44.
Samples and quotes via Jo Malone London. Image 1 via Jo Malone London. Image 2 my own.