If you’ve sat staring longingly out of the window — wishing you could be somewhere far, far away — we feel you. Self-isolation and social distancing have given a new meaning to the term ‘wanderlust’, and it’s safe to say that 2020 hasn’t quite gone to plan when it comes to ticking off that travel list…
But what if we told you that you could transport yourself to an exotic land in a matter of minutes, all thanks to a bottle of perfume? Our sense of smell has the power to change our mood, evoke memories, and whisk us off to far-off lands with just a whiff, all thanks to it being a whopping 10,000 times more sensitive than our other senses. Even better? Jo Malone London has just gone and launched its new ‘Lost In Wonder’ collection, created specifically to take us on a journey to a magical, mythical garden full of fragrant flowers, powerful plants, and unique ingredients aplenty.
So if travel bans have ruined your holiday plans and you’re longing for an escape, join us on an olfactory adventure as Savoir Flair‘s Beauty Editor-at-Large speaks exclusively to Jo Malone London’s Head of Global Education Chris Wyatt about the magical new collection and the power of perfume during a pandemic.
View this post on Instagram
What inspired the ‘Lost In Wonder’ collection?
Our head of fragrance development Celine Roux is inspired by many different things. It can be photographs, moods, or memories. It can be people or places. But she really does draw on this creativity to capture the most wonderfully inspiring stories through the medium of scent.
For ‘Lost In Wonder’, we take a journey to mythical and fabled places throughout the story. The initial inspiration actually came when Celine visited an incredible exhibition that showcased depictions of ancient fabled gardens through history, which is a really nice synergy for the brand because we’re so inspired by nature and gardens. But this story takes us deep into the depths of history. It really brought the idea of fantasy and faraway lands and reminded Celine of the mythical Hanging Gardens.
According to legend, there was a mighty king who planted a lush hillside garden filled with greenery, fruits, trees, flowers, and streams – created out of the love for his beloved Queen who missed her homeland. It was the romance and the picturesque abundance of this tale that Celine felt could be transformed into Jo Malone London fragrances, with a modern twist. She really wanted to capture the fresh, heady, spicy aromas that may have mingled throughout the air along the garden’s shaded walkways, and the fruits and the flowers that grew beneath them.
How do you immerse the perfumers in the story?
We work with many perfumers, and for this story, we decided to work with two – Sophie Labbe, who we’ve worked with previously, and Alexis Dadier – which is a new partnership for us. Not just because they’re super passionate and talented, but because they really understand the Jo Malone London ethos of creating scent.
When we work with a perfumer, we like to immerse them fully in the story we’re trying to tell. We really take them to the source of the story, but for this collection, it was a bit more difficult as we’re talking about a time way back in history! So, Celine decided to take a trip with Alexis and Sophie to the iconic British Museum in London. They were very lucky and got to see a rarely shown stone carving that depicts what these mythical gardens may have looked like.
They also met with an archaeology professor from Oxford University who specializes in ancient botanical history. This professor confirmed that the types of plants that may have been growing in the geographical location of the Hanging Gardens when they would have been at their most vibrant would be things like fruit-giving bushes, vines bursting with grapes, floating flowers, luscious greenery, and long slender trees growing along these beautiful flowing streams. So, we know that the ingredient palette we chose to work with was truly authentic.
The scents really allow you to feel as though you’ve traveled to mythical places, to ancient cultures, and to faraway lands, which is especially important at the moment.
Speaking of ingredients, which ones were so important for this collection?
Celine was drawn to particular types of ingredients, such as hand-picked figs, and things that the king may have eaten at breakfast. Or the lotus flower, which may have been used to scent receptions in the garden. The gardens themselves would have been filled with huge, statuesque trees, such as the Cypress tree. We knew that this experience in the British Museum was truly a defining moment in the development of these scents, and we wanted to ensure that the fragrances themselves translated the greenness of these luscious gardens and really captured the story.
We have two fragrances in the ‘Lost In Wonder’ collection, and that was very important. When we looked deeper into the history of the mythical Hanging Gardens, we saw that there were so many luscious ingredients we could work with, so we wanted to create two fragrances to tell the story. The scents really allow you to feel as though you’ve traveled to mythical places, to ancient cultures, and to faraway lands, which is especially important at the moment as we can’t travel. So, we invite you to travel through the medium of scent. Creating that olfactive interpretation of historic overseas legends really allows you that wanderlust.
Tell us more about ‘Cypress & Grapevine’.
This fragrance actually started with a fougère accord that Sophie had been working on. Celine knew that it would work wonderfully in a ‘Cologne Intense’ fragrance.
We start with Cypress – those long, statuesque trees that would have grown in the gardens. As an ingredient, it’s actually this slender, clean note that has accents of woody freshness and characteristics of pine resin. We used a natural Cypress from a sustainable ingredients supplier.
Grapevine is another beautiful note and is actually an accord using things like amber to add warmth and sensuality. It really expresses that feeling of the entwined tree trunks and fruitful leaves, and it adds this contrast to this modern fougère accord. It was deliberate to have this scent be more masculine, as there was the love of a man behind the story.
Jo Malone ‘Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense’
And what about ‘Fig & Lotus Flower’?
This is the perfect counterpart to ‘Cypress & Grapevine’. It has these beautiful accords of fig notes that are very, very soft. It has lotus flower, which is very aquatic and really helps it fit into the Jo Malone London ethos. It really captures the naturality and Britishness of the brand. If you combine the two together, they work in perfect harmony to create this story of romance, picturesque abundance, and faraway lands.
Jo Malone ‘Fig & Lotus Flower Cologne’
Jo Malone London is all about layering scents to create your own combination. What would you layer these with?
‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt’, without a doubt, is the perfect counterpart to both of these fragrances. In ‘Fig & Lotus Flower’ it softens it out slightly, in ‘Cypress & Grapevine’ it adds this beautiful freshness, so it works wonderfully well.
What’s so different about this launch?
The story behind this launch is very unique in the way that we’ve traveled to somewhere mythical and historical. We’ve done fragrances throughout history before, but we’ve never been inspired by such a particular place in so much detail. I think the fact that we’re launching a classic cologne with a cologne intense gives us a different spin and allows us to reach a much wider audience.
What is the best way to apply fragrance?
The best way is to apply it and let it sit – don’t rub it too much as you start to break it down a little. My ritual is to shower every morning using one of our body and hand washes – I’m in love with ‘Black Cedarwood & Juniper’, it’s my go-to, but I have been using the new ‘Cypress & Grapevine’ exfoliating shower gel. So, I start with a base in the shower, and then I look at the outfit I’m going to wear and pick my fragrance combination depending on that. I’m lucky enough that I’ve got a lot of fragrances to choose from!
How has it been launching this collection in the midst of a global pandemic?
I think this is the perfect time to launch new scents because fragrance allows us to travel through our memories and emotions. It’s wonderful to have those things that we can focus on, and these scents are a captivating oasis when everyone is looking for the opportunity to escape.
Does fashion influence new trends in perfumery?
To a certain extent, fashion definitely influences trends in perfumery. I hate to say it, but there’s nothing new in fashion – it’s the recycling of things that have happened before.
I’m old enough to remember 80s fashion the first time round, and 80s power fragrances – things like YSL’s ‘Opium’, ‘Obsession’ by Calvin Klein, or even fragrances like ‘Giorgio Beverly Hills’, which was a massively intense floral fragrance. When we see a resurgence of 80s fashion, fragrances like ‘Flowerbomb’ by Viktor & Rolf and ‘Peony & Blush Suede’ by Jo Malone London come out. So, there’s definitely a synergy between fashion and fragrance.
Are some notes more ‘fashionable’ than others?
Ingredients fall in and out of fashion. There’s a huge resurgence of these big, bold floral notes, like a really rich rose. It’s fun to use ingredients that are unexpected in perfumery though. If you look at ‘Cypress & Grapevine’, we’ve introduced vetiver into the fragrance, which is one of my favorite ingredients because it has this deep, smoky note. There are some really popular fig fragrances out there, but what we’ve done with ‘Fig & Grapevine’ is to reinterpret the fig to give it a soft and modern edge, and that’s the beauty of working in the way that we do.
New methodologies of creating ingredients allow us to use new ones that we’ve never used before. I can’t say too much, but wait until March 2021 and you’ll see a new way we’ve captured ingredients in a series of new fragrances…
How is the world of perfume changing with the times?
Men are experimenting with much more feminine scents, especially with younger consumers. The lines between genders are becoming a lot more fluid. There’s a lot of androgyny in fashion, and I think we’re starting to see the same in makeup and fragrance, which personally I’m really happy about because fragrance shouldn’t have any gender boundaries. If you like the way something smells, then that’s your choice to wear it.