Thursday 23 February 2017


One of the signs that the long, cold days of winter are about to be left behind for another year is the appearance of the Spring Collection. This has become a regular fixture from perfume companies in recent years as they grab our attention ready for the big summer release. One company that really has embraced this idea is Jo Malone. Each year their customers are treated to a new selection of fragrances that form the Brit Collection. Manufactured in a strictly limited quantity, this year's collection is called The Bloomsbury Set and it really does challenge the traditional Jo Malone style.

The Brit Collection is a limited edition set of fragrances that champion an aspect of the British culture or history. Over the years the subjects have included a traditional London Bloom, the historical Rock The Ages, and last year's inspiring Herb Garden. It was created by perfumer Anne Flipo who said that her aim was to produce something which "spoke to all the senses". She also went on to create last year's mainstream fragrance, Basil & Neroli, which again drew on those aromatic aspects.

This year Jo Malone turned their attention to a group of English intellectuals that became known as the Bloomsbury Group. They were made up of economists, writers, artists and philosophers, and they all had one foot in society and one foot well and truly outside. They defied convention and practiced an almost commune lifestyle in their Sussex house, Charleston. Now the group included Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolfe and E.M. Forster, and their combined output was staggering. So, how do you bottle the essence of this extraordinary group of people into five fragrances?

Céline Roux, Vice President of Global Fragrance Development for Jo Malone London, turned to perfumer Yann Vasnier. Originally born in Brittany, Yann studied at the ISIPCA perfume institute in Versailles before joining Quest International in 1996. When Quest was taken over by Givaudan he became Senior Perfumer at their New York offices. Best known for Tom Ford's Velvet Orchid and Marc Jacobs' Bang, Yann said that he wanted The Bloomsbury Set to show "the juxtaposition of domesticity and simplicity with this hugely intellectual environment." His style perfectly fits his niche clients, but how would he fare with Jo Malone's "shot with light" requirement?

The collection can be split into two feminine, two "masculine" and then one that stands completely alone. The floral offerings are Blue Hyacinth and Garden Lilies, and both of these will appeal to the traditional Jo Malone customer. The former uses galbanum to add to the piecing hyacinth floral whilst the latter utilises watery notes and ylang to support the central lily. Leather & Artemisia is more suede than biker blacks, but the use of earthy cypriol does add a masculine edge, whilst Tobacco & Mandarin has an androgynous mix of citrus and hay tones. Whisky & Cedarwood is the most interesting though because it encapsulates the entire collection with its mix of cognac, rose and woody aromas. This last one could almost belong to a different company, which is probably Yann's niche background showing its muscle.

It's a great collection and well worth exploring the next time you're near a Jo Malone boutique, but I wouldn't leave it too long or else you could be disappointed. The fragrances are £46 for 30ml and come in the limited edition bottles.

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