Walking by the Jo Malone store near my office recently, I spotted a window ad for The Bloomsbury Set LE bottles (30ml each). They sounded intriguing – I’ve read about those delightful, deviant characters and I remember, years ago, drooling over images of Charleston House with its fabulous paint, textiles and general décor.
So I popped in.
The cheerful SA couldn’t tell me squat about the scents’ inspiration or the Bloomsbury history, and I doubt she could have placed Vanessa Bell (Kristen Bell’s cousin, maybe?) Whatever, some googling tells me the scents were done by Yann Vasnier.
Leather and Artemisia – “The striking green facets of anise-tinged absinthe blend with aromatic artemisia, soft orriswood and the deep richness of leather enhanced by the amber woody notes of Cypriol.” I wanted this to be fantastic; it was satisfactory. Starts off delightfully herbaceous/aromatic, but dries down to a fairly conventional soft leather-woods.
Tobacco and Mandarin – “Mandarin and herbaceous sage sweetened with the warm elegance of beeswax and sweet pipe tobacco.” A creamy, honeyed orange (more Dreamsicle than fruit) and tobacco, a bit on the sweet side.
Garden Lilies – “the scent of dawn at the lily pond captured with effervescent water lilies, dewy green sap and lush ylang ylang enhanced with white musk and a wisp of vanilla.” A green/aquatic I can’t bring myself to spray.
Whisky and Cedarwood – “An enigmatic blend of fine whisky and opulent roses edged with spicy pimento, warm cedarwood and an intriguing accord of waxy wooden floors.” Doesn’t that sound delightfully oddball? It starts off promisingly – a little boozy, a little peppery – and dries down into a perfectly pleasant woods.
Blue Hyacinth – the inspiration for this review. The SA kept pushing this, “it’s so pretty!” And I knew it’d smell like Glade air freshener and have the half life of plutonium and I didn’t want it anywhere near me. I like the smell of hyacinth but (like stargazer lilies) a little goes a loooong way, and you may start to hate it hours or days before it decides to clear off. Anyhow, what the heck, sprayed on a paper strip and then on me. HAHAHAHAHA holy guacamole this thing is OFF THE CHAIN. Now this is something you don’t smell every day. An extremely realistic take on hyacinth – I actually went out and picked a couple for comparison – right through the slightly buttery undertone. Have you always wanted a hyacinth fragrance? I haven’t, because I think smelling this regularly would give me a migraine, but it is gorgeous. Please don’t wear it to the office. (I accidentally got some on my sweater sleeve at lunch hour and ended up removing the sweater and bagging it, after some co-worker side-eye; I wear all kinds of odd things to work, but not with this kind of sillage.)
Taken as a group, these are a pretty tame representation for a pretty wild group of people. Feel free to name anything Bloomsbury-related you’ve enjoyed, in the comments (mine: The World As I Found It, by Bruce Duffy. Also images of Charleston, which I hope someday to visit.)