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I do a lot of walking throughout the year. There’s something restorative about simply putting one foot in front of the other in the great outdoors that just helps keep the mind healthy. My favourite time of year to walk is autumn, especially in the woods. I love the way the leaves carpet the ground in their patchwork colours – the way they rustle mischeviously underfoot, moving in a tide of oranges, reds and browns. I love the way the air smells cold, and of smoke. I love the trees and their peeling barks, and the way they stand so silently like stoic totems. A walk in the woods during autumn is a really evocative adventure and it seems as if Jo Malone London think so too!

Jo Malone London is spoiling us this year. Instead of just one new addition to their collection, they’re giving us two! This little capsule collection is called The English Oak and includes two fragrances (English Oak & Hazelnut and English Oak & Redcurrant) that showcase a unique and exclusive roasted oak absolute that is sourced from “washed wood chips [which] are roasted at high temperatures, yielding up a rich, deep and smoky-sweet absolute”. Both scents were created by perfumer Yann Vasnier, who previously created the brand’s Bloomsbury Set collection. The idea is to present a different kind of wood in fragrance – forget your sandalwoods and your cedar woods, this is the noble and wise old oak, and it lends itself to perfumery in two very intriguing ways.

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Star Magnolia by Jo Malone London

Magnolia, much like Mimosa, is a floral note not commonly used in perfumery. Sure, there are magnolia scents out there but for every one magnolia there is a thousand tuberoses, a million orange blossoms and a billion jasmines, give or take a few. The strange thing about this is the fact that magnolias smell bloody fantastic, more so than many other white flowers. They’re an easy breezy white flower with wonderful citrus accents and a whole heap of headiness. So yes, we need more magnolia please.

Always ones to answer my cries of fragrant pain, Jo Malone London have just launched a limited edition fragrance called Star Magnolia. Woohoo! Bathed in white, the bottle comes complete a soft collar of white floral petals in an unusual display of exuberance from a brand that is so normally classic and paired back. They describe Star Magnolia as being flirtatious and what could be more apt than a flirtatious floral for spring? Nothing! Let’s sniff…

Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense
Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense

I do love tuberose, it’s true, but it often feels that all of the great tuberoses have already been well and truly done. After all, it’s pretty difficult to best the likes of Fracas, Carnal Flower, Tubereuse Criminelle and Beyond Love now, isn’t it? But every now and then a new tuberose will come along that brings something new to the table, something that isn’t photorealistic, venomous, raucous or all of the above – something that is the antithesis of all of these truly wonderful things.

The thing is, tuberose can be rather demanding (it is reportedly known to corrupt virgins, you know) and it has a tendency to dominate every molecule of air it comes into contact with, so one can be found craving the beauty of tuberose but with a little less of the baggage. Enter Tuberose Angelica by Jo Malone London, an everyday sort of tuberose that is high on prettiness and low of drama. Created by perfumer Marie Salamagne (who also made the brand’s tremendous Mimosa & Cardamom), Tuberose Angelica is part of the Cologne Intense collection, but despite its dark, brooding packaging, it has one heck of a sunny disposition!

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The Rare Teas Collection by Jo Malone London

As I sit and write this review I am sipping on a hot cup of Earl Grey. Why? Well, for a start I am British so it comes with the territory and secondly, I also like a brew when writing to help get those creative juices flowing, but the main reason is because we are hear to talk about tea, tea and more tea! So in keeping with our subject matter I am drinking my favourite beverage. It’s a hard life, isn’t it?

Jo Malone London also seems to be inspired by the world of tea because they’ve recently launched the ‘Rare Teas Collection’ – a series of fragrances that infuse “straight from the leaf into refined fragrances” teas that are “too precious to drink”. This is a different collection for Jo Malone London because, for the first time, it sees the fragrances packaged in an entirely new bottle, specifically a whopping 175ml column topped by a sumptuous round pebble. The teas this collection celebrates are “revered” and “refined”, and their presentation is most certainly in keeping with these themes.

Oolong Tea, the fragrance I was sent to review, focuses on a fermented version of the tea called ‘Fu Lian Oolong’ sourced just outside of Shanghai, China. Created by perfumer Serge Majoullier (the nose responsible for the entire collection), Oolong Tea is described as a “woody interpretation of tea, with a smoky inflection”, positioning the fragrances as something warmer, richer and a little bit darker than the usually ethereal and green takes on the note one is so used to seeing in modern perfumer. Colour me intrigued as I take another sip of Earl Grey.

Jo Malone London takes a trip to the herb garden
Jo Malone London takes a trip to the herb garden

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

Iris in Neon
Iris in Neon

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m rather fond of Jo Malone London. There is nothing more fun to me than untying the handsome black ribbon off the top of those beautiful yellow-cream boxes and pulling apart waves of tissue paper to reveal a gorgeously-scented treat for me or my home.  There’s joy in those boxes, whether it be a bottle of Cologne or Cologne Intense, a scented candle or a bath oil, or all of the above (if the box is big enough, of course). They do what they do very well and their fragrances, which are odes to perfumery’s most famous and beautiful ingredients, present traditional themes with an eccentrically British twist. They’re often fun, sometimes striking and always eminently wearable. That’s Jo Malone London.

In their Cologne Intense Collection, the brand steps away from their lighter and more ephemeral sensibilities to explore richer notes in higher concentrations. These are often more opulent and exotic fragrances that have a bit more heft to them (but not too much, mind you). This is the collection where you will find ingredients such as oud, tuberose, incense and rose, all in their full, fragrant glory, and presented in Jo Malone London’s unfussy and relatable style. In January, the brand added the next chapter to the Cologne Intense Collection and two more ingredients to their ever-expanding list of notes explored: Orris & Sandalwood.

“This scent was about framing the orris to bring out its unique duality; it is both woody and powdery, floral and deep. We did this by using other woods as well as waiting a picture of the iris flower itself.”

– Pierre Negrin

Orris & Sandalwood, the latest instalment in Jo Malone London’s exploration of intensity was created by Pierre Negrin, the perfumer behind such masterpieces as Amouage’s Interlude Man and Tom Ford’s Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Working with one of his favourite materials within the perfumer’s palette, Negrin states that he loves the complexity of orris, describing the note as a “perfume in itself” due to its varied odour profile which is “warm, sensual, feminine, masculine, violety, woody, powdery”. It’s no surprise then, that Negrin was excited to “create something new with such a classic ingredient”, and that is exactly what he managed to do. Orris & Sandalwood is billed as the next journey within the Cologne Intense Collection, one set in Tuscany during the iris harvest. It’s an exploration of perfumery’s most beautiful and expensive ingredient, all served in the contemporary manner that Jo Malone London is famous for, all with a touch of Pierre Negrin’s signature flair. It’s sounding good already, isn’t it?

Step Into New Bohemia
Step Into New Bohemia

I must admit that I have a little bit of a soft spot for Jo Malone London. In my opinion they do what they do and they do it very well, specifically, they create pleasing, low-key fragrances for scenting both people and their homes, and package them all beautifully. Jo Malone London sell a lifestyle, one that is housed within the simplicity of their structured bottles, placed carefully in gorgeous boxes and tied with beautiful bows. It’s a life that looks and smells good.

Over the last year or so, the brand has started to become a little bit bolder with their offerings. Rain & Angelica, a limited edition from their London Rain collection was weird and glassy, like crystallised drops of summer rain. There was also last year’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt, another unusual blend that was somewhere between salted caramel and sea spray. Oh and we mustn’t forget Incense & Cedrat, the latest addition to the Cologne Intense collection and an absolutely gorgeous benzoin-heavy incense that begs to be snuggled. They’ve been very busy making some intriguing scents, it must be said.

The hard work of Jo Malone London continues this autumn as September sees the launch of a brand new pillar fragrance for the brand. Focusing on the rich notes of Mimosa & Cardamom, this new launch (unsurprisingly called ‘Mimosa & Cardamom‘) created by perfume Marie Salamagne is an ode to word travel, eclectic fabrics and a mixture of cultures seen through the lens of a bohemian blend of flowers and spice. Without offering too many spoilers for the rest of the review, I will say that Mimosa & Cardamom really lives up to its inspiration and I for one think that it’s great to see such an underused yet fascinating note as mimosa being used front and centre in a mainstream fragrance. Good work, JML.