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Beauty
August 02, 2017

Jo Malone London Leads Your Senses On An Olfactory Tour

Text by Aparrna Gupta

A walk in the meadow, an emotion, a special memory, a place or an ingredient – any of these can spark a fragrance….

A perfume without a story is missing the ingredient that makes it memorable. “It’s like making a piece of art without knowing why you’ve done it,” believes Celine Roux, fragrance director, Jo Malone London Creative Studio. She draws inspiration from London, where she lives and keeps her eyes open and her nose busy, constantly exploring her senses.

Her favourite story is that of Blackberry & Bay, that’s reminiscent of her childhood holidays spent picking berries with friends and family.

“Jo Malone London, true to its roots, combines timeless elegance with a touch of quirkiness. That’s what makes our brand different. It is typically British and eccentric yet sophisticated,” she adds, while explaining that the creation of perfume is an organic process for them. “I don’t give PowerPoint briefs. What I do, every single time, is take the perfumer through the brand’s immersive journey by visiting the English gardens,” she says. Or it could be exploring a mood. She once briefed the perfumer to create a scent that captured the emotions of a girl in a sexy trench coat waiting in the rain to meet her lover in the middle of the night. The result was the Black Cedarwood & Juniper cologne, seductive with the carnal touch of cumin and chilli leaves; dense with cedar wood and moss.

All Jo Malone London’s fragrances are unisex and designed to be layered. “It is what we call fragrance combining. That’s why we have a very simple formula, but ‘simple’ doesn’t mean easy. We prefer to be pure and not have a lot of ingredients. For example a typical fragrance will have 150 to 200 ingredients but ours could sometimes have as few as 10. In general, what I would do is put my fragrance of the day, say Peony & Pink Suede, on my bare skin after a shower. And when I put my clothes on, I’d just spray on a little bit of another fragrance. So here it would be great to spritz some Lime, Basil & Mandarin to freshen up and add a little bit of a twist,” she elaborates. Refreshing citrus, light floral, earthy woods, heady oriental and sensual musk are the building blocks of a well-stocked fragrance collection  which, when mixed and matched can create a unique scent for every mood.

Unlike other brands, their fragrances have such simple names that Roux jokes about the copywriter not having much to do, as most often the working title is what ends up on the bottle.

On the topic of that particular cologne, when it was created 20 years ago, Jo Malone London spoke of freshness and clarity when all other brands were more into heady and opulent. It was a breakthrough in the industry as the use of basil was daring. Always on the lookout for new and unique scents, the brand’s creative team explored the Indian flower markets. “Marigold is such a find. It doesn’t have much of a natural scent but it’s the most impactful floral fragrance. Last year I made an interesting discovery: neem, which smells bitter, is very cool in a perfume. Sometimes if it’s a bit too sweet or creamy, a bit of bitterness balances the composition. I learnt that neem has a lot of medicinal value, so I want to incorporate it somewhere. Who knows, it could be a key ingredient of our next scent!”

How does one know which fragrance holds the key to the heart? “I think you have to try it on your skin and just sleep with it. Because it is something that is instinctive; much like the way you react to visuals and sound, you react to smell too, and it makes you feel good,” states Roux. There is no right or wrong, because each heart is unique.

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