In comic books there is a tradition of “what if?” stories. Things like what if Bruce Wayne’s parents were not killed in front of him, or at all? It is fun to consider the changes that would make. I can’t say perfumery lends itself to this except maybe one is playing out in the Zara Rain Collection.
I continue to say the best kept secret at the mall are the fragrances being sold in Zara stores. They have really been expanding their offerings over the last couple of years. Collaborating with top perfumers on their releases. One of the best of these has been the one with Jo Malone since 2019. This is the perfumer who founded the brand not the brand itself. Which brings me to the “what if?” part of things.
Ms. Malone sold what was one of the first success stories of independent perfumery to Estee Lauder in 1999. She would stay on in a creative capacity until 2006. In 2011 she would create a new independent perfume brand called Jo Loves. Zara contacted her in 2019 to create new perfumes for them. The reality is the existence of the original brand and the sequel has been a win-win for perfume lovers who enjoy the style of perfume she makes. Which is where the Rain Collection comes in. More than anything she has done previously this made me think of it as a “what if she was still the creative director at her first brand?”
One of the things which has come around again is an appreciation for transparent type of fragrance. Especially by the younger generation of consumers. The four perfumes in the Rain Collection made me think of how Ms. Malone’s initial way of making perfume is just what this perfume buyer is looking for. I’m going to do hot takes on all four.
No. 1 Rose Petal Drops– This is a crisp fruity floral of blackcurrant and rose. Around it, Ms. Malone weaves tendrils of baie rose, lychee, amber, and vanilla. The lychee is the part of this which gives the rainy quality with its humid sweetness in between the keynotes.
No. 2 Bergamot & Leather Spritz– iris infused leather has become a popular accord in perfumery. Ms. Malone’s version sandwiches it between lavender and an oud accord. The latter is tuned ideally not to overwhelm but to add subtle texture to everything.
No. 3 Citrus Meze– This is a classic citrus mixture of grapefruit and neroli. It is refreshing and floral in all the right places. What livens things up is the use of the biologically degraded version of patchouli called Akigalawood. It has all the spicy aspects of the parent material without the earthiness. Here it adds just the right amount of zest to the citrus.
No. 4 Amber & Fig Cashmere– The center here is a mixture of fig ingredients to give an accord of the green leaves and the creaminess of the fruit. Ambrox provides a dry woody counterpoint. This is really all there is to this. The best thing about it is the ambrox never takes over the whole thing. The fig pushes back from beginning to end.
If you’re starting to venture out shopping again add a stop at Zara to your list of places to check out. Inside you will find surprisingly good perfumes. And a great “what if?” story in the Rain Collection.
Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by Zara.