It’s been a few years since a Jo Malone London review appeared on my blog. I admit I am guilty of letting the brand’s subtle offerings fly under my radar even though this is easy to do because of the constant stream of fragrance launches. These days, new fragrances have to scream for attention to stand out above all the noise. Still, Jo Malone London is no wallflower. The brand exudes quiet power and its well-mannered British charm has no problem attracting admirers from all over the world. Founded by beautician Jo Malone, hers was one of the early niche perfume houses that transitioned from being a small start-up, which she operated out of her own kitchen, to having boutiques all over the world after Estee Lauder Companies acquired the brand.
Last year Mimosa & Cardamom was one of six new fragrances Jo Malone London launched. Whenever I see mimosa in a perfume title I want to smell what’s going on. The yellow flowers are harvested from Sweet Acacia and they have a unique floral odour, which sits somewhere between green melon and powdery lilac. Acacias are well travelled and can be found in many parts of the world. Acacia farnesiana was introduced to Australia before European settlement and in the early 19th century, it was introduced to the South of France on hilltops overlooking the French Riviera. Grasse’s perfume industry was booming at the time and it wasn’t long before the yellow flowers found a purpose in perfumes such as Chanel No 5 and Caron’s Farnesia. The perfume industry still produces mimosa extract, but these days it seems more common for the extract to be taken from the Australian native, Acacia decurrens rather than Acacia farnesiana. A little over a decade ago, I was introduced to the flower’s appealing scent via L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Mimosa Pour Moi. Created by IFF perfumer Anne Flipo, Mimosa Pour Moi is a faithful rendition of the flower in nature. For Jo Malone London, Firmenich perfumer Marie Salamagne has interpreted the flower in a more impressionistic way by playing up the flower’s notes of spicy anise and powdery musk. The result is a glowing pastel orb of mimosa in bloom and dried spices.
Mimosa & Cardamom begins with a blanket of white Nymphaea lilies. These water-bound blooms have loose forms and it’s hard to perceive where the lilies end and other floral notes begin. If this fragrance was a pencil sketch, its wafting floral notes would be the soft shading and its green violet leaves would be the outline that gives the bouquet form and definition. Natural cardamom oil has an icy profile but here the camphor note has been turned down, which allows the top notes to be shaped by the spice’s dry, sweet and aromatic facets. Green violet leaf acts as a lever for the mimosa accord, which begins with a flash of acetone. After this momentary display of fireworks, the delicate flower reveals a hint of green melon and cucumber. Rose compliments mimosa, and the base is filled with airy white musk and milky sandalwood. Spicy cardamom, which provided freshness to the top notes, combines with heliotrope and tonka bean as part of the fragrance’s gourmand-oriental base. Oriental fragrances are often heavy, indigestible beasts. By comparison, Mimosa & Cardamom is a light, ethereal cologne with a dry-down that smells of blanched almonds, musk and talcum powder.
While some brands love to shock, everything about Jo Malone London is a soft whisper, from the brand’s pastel coloured graphic design to the fragrances themselves. There is a sense of effortlessness and simplicity about it all. Even the brand’s naming convention for fragrances is pared back and it is made to sound as though each bottle only contains two ingredients, X & Y. Mimosa & Cardamom should appeal to fans of mimosa notes in perfumery. The simplicity of the fragrance can be dressed up with other fragrances from the Jo Malone London collection. Layering has always been encouraged by the brand and it recommends pairing Mimosa & Cardamom with Wood Sage & Sea Salt to make it warmer or English Pear & Freesia to make it fresher. It’s not an obvious choice for men but I enjoy wearing it nonetheless.
Further recommendations: L’Artisan Parfumeur – Mimosa Pour Moi, Frederic Malle – Une Fleur de Cassie, Prada – Les Infusion de Prada Mimosa
Perfumer: Marie Salamagne
Release Date: 2015
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Floral Oriental