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Jo Malone London fragrances are offered as colognes and as such, boast a weightless, transparent signature. They are not rich, heavy and opulent scents with an endless reach – they are easy, breezy and transparent. But they are not without character – far from it, in fact, and many have become regular staples of mine (see Mimosa & Cardamom, Tuberose & Angelica, and Basil & Neroli) because they do have a distinct personality that I find really easy to wear and even easier to enjoy.

Because of their lightness and apparent simplicity, the Jo Malone London fragrances lend themselves well to layering (or ‘Fragrance Combining’ as the brand calls it) allowing one to mix and match their scent to create their own semi-bespoke signatures. With their Cologne Intense collection, Jo Malone London offers the same style of fragrance as their main range, but these fragrances have a bit more heft to them, allowing the band to explore the worlds of ouds, orientals, opulent roses, and heady florals, creating stark contrasts for their Fragrance Combining blends.

The latest fragrance to join the Cologne Intense collection is Bronze Wood & Leather. Daring to be a little bit sexier than other fragrances from Jo Malone London, Bronze Wood & Leather evokes wood warmed by the rays of the sun. It’s a smoky-delicious blend that has a darker, deeper and more daring edge. Remember what I was saying about Jo Malone London fragrances having character? Well this one is a perfect example and it shows how the brand offers lighter (the Cologne Intense fragrances are richer yes but they are hardly powerhouses) fragrances that don’t skimp on character.

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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.

New from Jo Malone London: Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense
New from Jo Malone London: Myrrh & Tonka Cologne Intense

Jo Malone London are the mixologists of the scent world. They piece together a perfumed pantry’s worth of ingredients to make intriguing compositions that we, the fragrance lovers, can mix-up and combine in any way we see fit. Within their main line, the scents are usually light, easy-to-wear little ditties that manage to be complex and intriguing without being particularly demanding, whilst their Cologne Intense collections offers up richer and more substantial compositions. Personally, I’m a big fan of the brand and I love many of their scents for their effortless wearability and one of their fragrances (Mimosa & Cardamom) is easily in my top ten of all time, so yes, Jo Malone London definitely grabs my attention whenever they launch something new.

The latest scent to come from Jo Malone London’s Cologne Intense collections is Myrrh & Tonka, an oriental composed by Mathilde Bijaoui (Etat Libre d’Orange Like This). The brand rather evocatively describes it as “a nomad song of sand and smoke-threaded twilight” which paints the image of a fragrance that appears within a rich tapestry of colours. Unlike the last Cologne Intense fragrance Orris & Sandalwood, which played with polar opposites (soft vs hard), Myrrh & Tonka celebrates the complimentary relationship between its top billing ingredients. Let’s take a sniff…

“There is an atmosphere of addiction and carnal richness to this fragrance which appeals to both men and women. At the top there is a hint of lavender and a floral note, creating a comforting and voluptuous opening. The big, rich heart and base note of myrrh is sensual. And the tonka brings generosity. It’s captivating and mesmerising.”

– Mathilde Bijaoui, Perfumer

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!

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?

Parfums Houbigant
Parfums Houbigant

Parfums Houbigant may not be as iconic a fragrance house as Guerlain, Caron or L’Artisan Parfumeur, but they have certainly earned their place as one of the greats in the annals of fragrance history. Their fragrances, even the ones from the late 1800s and early 1900s are incredibly innovative, sporting never before used materials at the time or presenting accords that were entirely unique. For my Escentual post I’ve taken a look at the history of the house in addition to reviewing their current line of fragrances. Click here to check it out.

A Trip to Oman - Incense & Cedrat Cologne Intense
A Trip to Oman – Incense & Cedrat Cologne Intense

I know it’s only March, but I’m going to go ahead and say that 2015 is turning out to be a very good year for perfume. There have been some strong launches, scent such as Annick Goutal’s  L’Ile au Thé and Jo Malone’s Birch & Black Pepper, but there’s also been some outstandingly beautiful new things, things like Lalique’s unexpectedly striking Living Lalique, and of course, Jean-Claude Ellena’s latest offering for Hermes – Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.  In a world where flankers run riot and ideas, and artistry for that matter, can seem to be in short supply at times, it is perfumes such as these that restore faith and act as reassurance that the perfume industry still has tricks up its sleeve.

One fragrance that really struck me as quite wonderful and innovative is Jo Malone’s Incense & Cedrat.  Launching in June as part of the brand’s Cologne Intense collection, this Marie Salamagne-penned fragrance centers on Omani frankincense – an ancient ingredient that filters through every aspect of life within Oman. Frankincense is burned in the country for a whole heap of reasons, whether it be to simply scent a house, ward off mosquitoes, or even as an expression of sadness. It is as vital to the Omani way of life as it is wonderful to smell, and Incense & Cedrat presents an incredibly pleasing take on the note that is entirely respectful of its importance and natural beauty.

To launch the fragrance, Jo Malone  transformed their (rather swanky) London town house into Oman for the day. Stepping over the threshold was a real experience. The air was thick with frankincense, the smoke of which permeated the plaster and thick carpet pile of this very British building, transporting one to a foreign land. Once inside, one could be forgiven for thinking they had just hot footed it off the plane straight on to the Arabian Peninsula. It was a door to another world. Thus is the theme for Incense & Cedrat – realism through a dash of perfumery magic.