At the end of 2014 there was bit of shuffling of chairs at a number of perfume brands. Jo Malone had used Christine Nagel as de-facto in-house nose for a few years. It wasn’t entirely exclusive but Mme Nagel was behind most of the releases I liked best. She has moved on to work at Hermes. Which left me wondering what Jo Malone would do? The answer seems to be that perfumer Marie Salamagne has stepped into the role. For about the last year she has composed five new releases for Jo Malone. The earlier release this year, Incense & Cedrat, left me wondering what Mme Salamagne would do differently as she settled in to her new role. The latest release, Mimosa & Cardamom, seems to provide the answer to this.
Over the last five years Jo Malone has diligently gone about shaking off one of the more prevalent perceptions of the brand. The concept that they were very nice but somehow lightweight in tone and projection. To a segment of consumers a brand cannot do that. What Mme Nagel brought to Jo Malone during her tenure was an intensifying of both architecture and sillage. It allowed for the brand to become much more widely admired. From my perspective I adore some of the more gentle earlier releases. There is a beauty in fragility that I think is sometimes lost. For Mimosa & Cardamom Mme Salamagne has decided that Jo Malone has successfully recaptured the perfume lover’s attentions that it can risk a return to delicacy.
Marie Salamagne (Photo: Jerome Bonnet)
Mimosa & Cardamom is like most Jo Malone perfumes with two ingredients on the label exactly what it promises. The soft pillowy floralcy of mimosa is matched with the spicy green exoticness of cardamom. These two notes float like a butterfly over everything else in the perfume.
Mme Salamagne takes the cardamom and in the top notes she shades it green with lily and violet leaves drawing that character out of it. There is a tiny bit of risk because the greener you make cardamom the closer it gets to being a bit like cumin. Mme Salamagne has a firm hand on the tiller and the early moments of Mimosa & Cardamom stay firmly in the green spiciness she desires. The mimosa comes in and it transforms the cardamom from green into something much more opaque. Mme Salamagne makes a really nice choice here as she uses heliotrope to provide a bit more foundation to the mimosa. I think without it the mimosa might have not carried the same amount of presence. Over a fair amount of hours sandalwood and tonka take the titular notes and fold them in a creamy woody hug.
Mimosa & Cardamom has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
It has taken a year for me to feel like Mme Salamagne has found the voice she will use at Jo Malone. Mimosa & Cardamom has me eagerly looking for more of the same in the future.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jo Malone.