I’ve always been a firm believer that first and foremost, a perfume must smell good. It can come in whatever bottle it wants with any back story it fancies, but if it’s not enjoyable to wear then what’s the point? So often us consumers are courted with gimmicks – perfumes that promise us all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and whilst this allows for the art of olfaction to be pushed forward, it doesn’t necessarily result in fragrances that translate for everyday wear. It’s a balance between making artistic statements and making wearable accessories and when done right, the results are utterly magical.
One brand that perfectly fulfils the ethos of smelling good is Jo Malone London and since the brand’s inception in 1983, they have brought us a wealth of accessible colognes that above all else, smell good. Jo Malone London is a brand that celebrates the luxury of simplicity with fragrances that usually focus on the contrast and harmony of two notes but are always served with a touch of British eccentricity. The idea is that the fragrances themselves are complex enough to excite the nose when worn alone but also have enough of a paired-back simplicity to allow them to be combined with other scents in the collection (following the brand’s Fragrance Combining suggestions). With Jo Malone London one builds a wardrobe of fragrances for each occasion, layering them to unlock new and exciting facets. To put it simply: they do what they do very well.
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
Every year Jo Malone London treats us to a quirky limited edition collection that explores an intriguing aspect of perfumery. To date we’ve enjoyed an entire tea party, taken a stroll through a herb garden and rocked the ages, amongst many other things. These collections are always really fun and they’re where Jo Malone London really stretches its olfactory legs, almost as if they get to test out their crazier ideas in these low-risk limited editions.
This year Jo Malone London brings us English Fields, a collection of five fragrances inspired by, and evocative of, cereals and grains. Created by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui, who says that “to have cereals and grains as the main focus is a first” for her and that this is “somewhere in perfumery [she] has never been before“, English Fields is a celebration of a savoury style of gourmand that is not usually explored within perfumery. Across these five fragrances, Jo Malone London gets bready, grainy and a little bit yeasty, presenting new and intriguing facets, all housed within the most handsome pastel shaded bottles dipped in matt, concrete-esque paint.
Let’s sniff through this quirky little collection…
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.”