As spring erupts all around us, Jo Malone London are as ever bang on-trend with their latest Wild Flowers & Weeds quintet, the latest limited editions – inspired, this time, by quintessentially British plants which don’t often enjoy a place in the sun, fragrance-wise.
For this collection, Jo Malone London Fragrance Director Céline Roux enlisted two Givaudan star perfumers to work alongside each other: seen above, Yann Vasnier (who also created 2018’s Bloomsbury-inspired collection), and – making her debut for Jo Malone London – Brit-born, Paris resident Louise Turner.
What did you want to capture in this collection?
Céline: Our Brit collection is always an opportunity for us to explore new olfactive territories. For this one it was the idea of wild flowers – not the typical wild flowers you find in a field like a daisy or a daffodil, but flowers that are almost not really flowers but weeds. What I love about wild flowers and weeds is that the nature takes over, with no rhyme or reason – and makes things unexpectedly beautiful. You often find these types of flowers next to canals. So we went on an adventure! In Britain especially, a lot of people have memories of going on barge holidays, and the boats themselves are really special and unique. The boats also helped us when creating the scents – they are often decorated with flowers and herbs, and you have the woodburner inside the boat. Those were key points we wanted to capture in the collection.
Did you look to anything in particular for inspiration?
Céline: One sunny April afternoon back in 2017 we went on a trip along a canal with the perfumers, the fragrance house and some of the Jo Malone London team to immerse ourselves in the inspiration. We were mesmerised by the grace of the weeping willow, gently draping into the water. After exploring the canal by boat, we moored up to see what we might discover along the banks. There we uncovered wild and wonderful weeds, plants and flowers – from delicate white flowers of hemlock to the jagged edges of the stinging nettle leaves. I had found a book of photos called Along the Hackney Canal by East London-based photographer Freya Najade that captures the ambience of the banks, which I sent to the perfumers as a surprise gift to inspire them. I also had a copy of The Wind in the Willows, which is such a British classic that I bought years ago.
Why did you choose to work with two perfumers for this project?
Céline: This is the first time we’ve worked with Louise Turner and it was very appealing to work with an English perfumer for this collection. I thought she would understand the inspiration better than anyone, and be inspired by her own memories of visiting canals in England when she was growing up. We’ve worked with Yann Vasnier before and he really understands the Jo Malone London signature. So it was great to combine their talents to create the collection.
How did you interpret the brief?
Yann: For me it was all about natural beauty, creating something very free-spirited, bohemian and wild. Visually, the collection represents a lot of things – a cloudy morning, the mist on the water, greens and yellows, the sun, the leaves and a bit of smoke.
Louise: I saw it as a journey. The idea of walking along a riverbank, or taking a boat down the river, and discovering things as you go along. The fragrances as snapshots of what you might find on your journey. I have fond memories from my childhood of collecting wild flowers. I really enjoyed pressing them to create homemade cards for family and friends. I particularly liked spring flowers, such as primroses, bluebells and lupins.
Were there any challenges when creating the collection?
Yann: When we were working on Willow & Amber, Celine really loved the base of the accord. It was a challenge to take that and translate it into a true Jo Malone London fragrance. I had to find the right ingredients to open it up and add structure. In the end I added citrus notes of bergamot and pink pepper to the top to bring the freshness, and woods to lift it.
What is it that is so unique about this collection?
Céline: In general, you don’t hear about ingredients like willow, lupin or wild achillea in perfumery. Hemlock is known to be poisonous and nettles can sting you. It’s the contrasts and the ingredients that make the fragrances so original.
And those fragrances…
Willow & Amber Says Céline: I loved the image of the weeping willow draped over the water, and I really wanted to capture that in the collection. It brings something a bit more sensual with the woods. The image of the tree is very appealing from an olfactive point of view, portraying sensuality, freshness and
lightness. Willow trees are always in movement, and the fragrance represents this.
Yann: The fragrance has the clarity of the woods, the twigs and leaves and it’s very close to the headspace we used. The soft woods, such as cashmere wood, bring lightness, as well as the bergamot and pink pepper.
Louise: It’s not a dark scent – it has something very fluid and transparent about it. It expresses a texture and the fluidity of the weeping willow.
Lupin & Patchouli Explains Yann: This fragrance started from a lupin accord, which was very vegetal and floral. The patchouli adds the fun – it reminds you of a walk by the water with your friends.
Céline: Lupin is the first flower we wanted to include in the collection, with its beautiful array of colours. To bring it to life I asked the perfumers to use a chypre construction, pairing it with the patchouli. The patchouli takes you on a journey down memory lane, back to the bohemian lifestyle of the 70s.
Louise: The lupin in this scent is an interpretation of its colour and its verticality. We took something visually stunning and transformed it into something olfactive.
Nettle & Wild Achillea
Céline: Nettle has such a strong sting – Louise really captured the sting of it in the scent.
Louise: It was a real challenge to take a nettle, which is so green, stingy and natural and transform it into something you could wear as a fragrance. The wild achillea balances it out, adds very clean and fresh notes. This scent really adds variety to the overall collection.
Hemlock & Bergamot
Céline: I wanted to have a powdery, floral fragrance in the collection, but with a modern twist.
Yann: We used mimosa to represent natural hemlock, which gives a really yellow, powdery scent, as well as cassie. This is complemented by the cucumber, birch leaves and the white musk.
Louise: The scent is powdery but really fresh and soft.
Cade & Cedarwood
Céline: ‘This scent captures the feeling of getting into the boat at the end of the day. When we were on our boat trip, the owner of the boat actually mentioned to me that the woodburner on board was new, and we had it on during our trip. They’re such a central part of the boat. Cade & Cedarwood adds that warmth and comfort of going inside from the cold. To enhance the woody, caramelised notes we re-used the exclusive English Oak absolu that was created for our English Oak collection in this fragrance.
Louise: Cade comes from burnt juniper wood, and is something you don’t often use in a fragrance, so it’s very original to have that in the scent. It really captures the smoky, resinous effect of the woodburner and adds warmth and sensuality.
What are your favourite fragrance combinations from this collection?
Céline: Nettle & Wild Achillea with Hemlock & Bergamot.
Yann: English Oak & Hazelnut with Willow & Amber.
Louise: Red Roses with Cade & Cedarwood.
Jo Malone London Wild Flowers & Weeds each £49 for 30ml – or buy the full collection and you can choose one of the gorgeous tins, below, to stash them in
Buy them at Jo Malone London
Written by Jo Fairley