Much like fashion, the trends of perfumery are cicular and what is in favour now, is likely to be garbage tomorrow. This is the nature of trends – we overdose on the good stuff for a period of time until we get sick of it and something else comes along, and perfume is no different. Just look at the 1980s, when syrupy atom bomb florals existed to; a) be so distinct that one knew what they were smelling a mile away; and b) to terrify the masses. Of course, those scents are as on trend today as leg warmers and zoot suits are, which is to say that they’re not. Heck, one can even look at the ’90s, with its sterile repentance of calone and white musk and see how those things too, are no longer ‘in’. It all comes in to fashion, goes out and then comes back in again in a never ending cycle.
Of course, some trends stick about and the lucky ones take their place in the hall of fame as an entirely brand new genre that constantly develops without falling out of favour. Oud is one such trend – a style that has stuck around for so long now, and in so many guises, that it’s arguably the newest olfactory family. A perfumery trend that has not stood the test of time however, is green. Green was massive in the ’70s and ’80s but fell quickly out of favour. Why? Well, these perfumes have a tendency to be harsh and bossy, rubbing people up the wrong way with sharp edges. Also, as lovely as plants and grasses are, who really wants to smell like them? Exactly. But, as we’ve established, all trends make a comeback and right now we’re seeing a verdant renaissance of green scents both in mainstream and niche perfumery: the new green.
Personally, green has always been the toughest of fragrance families to get on with. There’s just something so standoffish about green scents – something so impersonal and too redolent of nature that puts me off. I admire abstraction in my scents and too often, green fragrances are either too rooted in nature or are simply too harsh. But I’m an evolved perfume sniffer, I can appreciate beauty even in those places where I feel as if I’m likely not to find it. So I’ve put together a list of six green fragrances that actually tickle my fancy. These scents also represent the modern revival of green, which all kicked off with Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled in 2010. So, Dear Reader, you won’t find your CHANEL Nº19 here nor your Vent Vert, but you will discover six modern green fragrances that will completely destroy that old idiom that says it’s not that easy being green. In fact, for these six scents, to be such a thing is really rather marvellous.
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.”
As of today, there are just under two calendar weeks until Christmas day! If, like me, you have neglected your Christmas shopping entirely up to this point, or if you simply have a few tricky gifts left to buy, you will more than likely be scouring the blogs for some gift inspiration in the form of fragrance gift guides. These pieces can be pretty helpful in guiding us to some special presents for those special people in our lives, so this year I’m bringing you two gift guides; a luxury fragrance guide in my Escentual column and today, this very guide that you’re reading right now!
This year I wanted to do a little something different with my Christmas Gift Guide. Instead of picking out scents for him and for her, or for mums and dads, or even personality types, I just wanted to gather together a selection of beautiful things that smell great. So that’s exactly what this gift guide is – a collection of fragrant things that are just gorgeous and will make wonderful gifts for those people in your life that like smelly things. They range from fragrances to shower gels, shimmering powders and candles, and whilst they may vary in their style, they all share one thing in common: they are drop dead gorgeous in every way!
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!
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of Jo Malone London. To me, they do what they do very well and what they do is create easy wearing fragrances that feel comfortable both on the skin and in the home. Sure, they’re not pushing the known boundaries of olfaction, but they often add a contemporary and eccentric twist to their fragrances, taking the familiar and making it novel. Most importantly though, Jo Malone London fragrances tick the box that should be first and foremost on every perfume lover’s priority list: they smell good.
Seeing as I enjoy the brand so much, it’s understandable that it was with both excitement and trepidation that I uncorked my sample of JML’s latest scent ‘Basil & Neroli‘. Why? Well, they’ve been on a bit of winning streak lately. Last year’s Mimosa & Cardamom was a triumph – one that has crept its way into my top ten fragrances of all time (quite an accolade, if I do say so myself), not to mention the fact their recent additions to the Cologne Intense series, specifically Incense & Cedrat and Orris & Sandalwood, have also been exceptionally good, and quite unique. So yes, I wondered whether Basil & Neroli would be the one to break this streak or whether it would be yet another success. You’ll have to read on to find out the answer…
Basil & Neroli was created by perfumer Anne Flipo, the nose behind L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse Aux Papillons and Jo Malone London’s Herb Garden Collection. She describes the fragrance as “a fresh, sophisticated, sensual floral with green facets” adding that it is “stunning in its simplicity”. The brand however, calls it a “London lark”, positioning Basil & Neroli as something much more fun, playful and quintessentially British. Whether it be refined or rowdy, what’s for sure is that Basil & Neroli is a fragrance created in the Jo Malone London school of thinking, meaning that it serves up an unusual twist on two familiar ingredients, juxtaposing the savoury & the sweet, and the green & the white.
Maybe it’s because I’m British and I simply have no choice, but I love the rain. My favourite moments are those cold nights when one is all tucked up in bed as the rain and wind lashes against the house. Not to mention warm summer days peppered by hot showers of rain that bring a welcome breeze through open doors and windows. These rainy moments are some of my absolute favourites and we haven’t even discussed the smell! The odour of rain is mineral, but it’s also an atmospheric adaptor that relies heavily on the landscape around it. Summer rain on hot tarmac smells different from muddy winter downpours, and so on. The one constant however, is the fact that rain always smells and more importantly, feels beautiful.
In this piece I’ve selected five fragrances inspired by the opening of the Heavens, which we’ve certainly seen a lot of in the UK over the last few weeks. They range from the grey nimbus clouds that precede and promise rain through to storms in the summer and the city, all the way to the odours left by the rain as it moves on. Each and everyone presents a different idea of deluge and downpour, crafting through olfaction, the spirit of nature’s temperamental emotions. So prepare yourself for precipitation and a veritable storm of scented rain!
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.