You know that old saying: “April showers bring May flowers”? Well, we had a few days of April showers, but now that it’s early May, I can see that they mostly ended up washing away the dogwood and azalea blooms that were going to town a few weeks ago.
Not a whole lot seems to be blooming in my yard now, but I still had a hankering for some new spring scents. Now I don’t often make it a priority to sniff the newest Jo Malone scents, but I made an exception for the London Rain series, which seeks to fragrantly re-create the various kinds of rain that the city might get in a typical day.
London will always hold a special place in my heart. I took my wonderful mother-in-law to London back in 2002 (a place she’d wanted to visit all her life), and we arrived on May Day. Ironically, during our weeklong stay we felt not one drop of rain. On the one hand, we were most fortunate, but on the other, I felt a tiny stab of disappointment that I missed experiencing the rain-soaked side of the city, which seems as if it would have a beauty all its own (although not so much after days and days of it, as I’m sure those of you who reside across the Pond can attest).
Another aspect that intrigued me about the London Rain collection, other than it seemed a little edgy for Jo Malone, was the Rain & Angelica fragrance. I think I was secretly hoping for a grown-up rendition of the Love’s Rain scent from back in the ‘70s, which always seemed one of the hardest ones to find, especially later on. I started out way back then, like some of you, with the Love’s Baby Soft cologne. However, after years of baby-sitting and dealing with little ones’ behinds, the powdery goodness of that scent lost a bit of its appeal, as you might imagine.
But back to the present. Jo Malone’s creation is quite nice, with its refreshing, watery accord opening (seemingly lacking the “ugh” aspect of aquatic notes that puts off many perfumistas), and joined later by a twist of lime and the soft green of angelica, to bring an earthier aspect, such as damp leaves and stems. Alas, something put me off a little in the latter stages, perhaps the lime in tandem with the vetiver, as that doesn’t always agree with my skin. Still, it conjures a refreshing stroll in the rain without getting soaked, and did somewhat fill my longing for Love’s Rain.
Jasmine & White Mint we’ve met before. It’s a nice staple that’s been around a while, so it was probably a no-brainer to include it in this quartet. A soft jasmine, paired with mint – I can see this being refreshing when the dial on the spring-o-meter starts moving quickly from balmy to muggy, which is already starting to occur here in the South. I’ve read that this scent may have been tweaked, so I decided to check it out. After testing the newly released version and original side-by-side, I thought they were nearly identical, although it did seem that the new one amps up the jasmine a bit so it holds its own a little better with the mint.
As its name would imply, Black Cedarwood & Juniper, is the darkest of these, and the one that leans most masculine, but I’d happily wear it on a chilly day. Thanks to perfumer Christine Nagel’s deft touch, this scent balances the dark with a hint of muted silvery light, perhaps from a solitary streetlamp? It lingers in the shadows but still evokes raindrops splashing urban pavement and history-laden cobblestones. This will likely please those who prefer their woods low-key with just a hint of spice and mystery. I was a bit hesitant when I saw cumin listed in the notes, but it was subtle enough not to be a deal-breaker for me. Methinks the chili leaves might tamp down its pungency. (BTW, is this use of cumin a first for JM? I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of it in the line.)
Last, but not least, I tried the Wisteria & Violet, which wound up being my favorite –- a definite surprise as violets are not usually my cup of tea. Fresh, floral and dewy, and opening with a hint of water lily, W&V put me in mind of a morning stroll down a London street; one lined with elegant houses surrounded by an array of blooms, peeking out from gardens, draped over walls, entwining in fences and the like. This most floral of the London Rain series may be the one that fits most naturally under the traditional Jo Malone umbrella.
All in all, I think they did quite a nice job in their quest to romanticize the raindrops of London. And the scents aside — oh, the bottles! These lovelies reside in beautiful, heavy, color-drenched glass sprays with an ombre effect that had my mouth watering. These go for $120 each for 3.4 ounces/100 mls., and although that’s a bargain these days, I do wish they offered a 1.7-ounce/50 ml. size. Or even better, petite sprays, such as those used for the tea collection from a few years ago.
Have you tried any of the London Rain scents? What are your favorite fragrances for early May, or your favorite Jo Malones?