To unveil the new English Oak Collection, Philippine Tatler was invited to an exclusive event by Jo Malone London. We were excited to visit the brand’s head offi ce, located in a townhouse at 52 Gloucester Place, to see how they create their much loved scents. Upon arriving, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the venue was transformed into a forest by Wandjina Glasheen-Brown, VP Global Creative at Jo Malone London. It added to the experience, fully capturing the spirit of the scent. Over lunch, we were able to meet master perfumer Yann Vasnier and global head of fragrance Celine Roux, and asked them how they conceptualised the scent.
The pair first met in 2014 and held creative sessions. Vasnier showed Roux some of the accords he was working on, one of which reminded her of an English forest. A previous idea that was never pursued came back, giving birth to the new line of scents for Jo Malone. The magical and mystical Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England inspired the English Oak Collection through its association with the legend of Robin Hood. “Oak has a fairytale-like quality, which perfectly captures the magic of the English forest. Its twisting roots and branches, dating back hundreds of years, are filled with ancient tales and stories,” Roux says.
Oak moss fragrance—extracted from the moss that grows around the oak tree—is a commonly used ingredient in perfumes. But roasted oak wood, Jo Malone’s key ingredient for this collection, is not. The brand created two variants: English Oak & Hazelnut and English Oak & Redcurrant. Both use as base Roasted Oak Absolute, a note exclusive to Jo Malone. “Our Roasted Oak Absolute has a beautifully rich, smoky feel that adds real depth to a fragrance. Like any rich wood, there’s an addictive quality and sweetness to it due to its phenolic nature,” Vasnier explains. English
Oak & Hazelnut contains green hazelnut and cedarwood, which brings out the spicy and woody scent. The pair initially began with one fragrance during the process, but discovered an equally compelling scent, hence the creation of English Oak & Redcurrant. This variant, which showcases a juicier character, contains redcurrant and rose notes. English Oak’s similarity to hazelnut and redcurrant in structure helps highlight the ingredients in the fragrances, Vasnier says, thus making the combinations ideal.
The two scents from the English Oak Collection are available as cologne (100ml and 30ml) but English Oak & Redcurrant also comes as a body and hand wash (250ml), body crème (175ml), and home candle (200g). “We experimented with both scents, but found that English Oak & Redcurrant translated better into candles and bath and body,” Vasnier says. Just like other Jo Malone scents, the English Oak Collection is designed to be layered. Roux suggests English Oak & Hazelnut with Basil & Neroli for a lively, citrus fragrance, and English Oak & Redcurrant with Blackberry & Bay for a fruity combination. “The two fragrances in the English Oak Collection can also be combined together for a fresh, spicy scent highlighted by a bright and juicy twist,” Roux recommends.
The following day, we rode the iconic double decker bus to have dinner at Somerset House, accompanied by the lovely Erika Reyes, marketing executive for Jo Malone London-Philippines.
At the dinner, we got to speak more with Yann and Celine, going into detail on the scent and what’s coming up for the brand, which we are not privy to disclose for now. Over a sumptuous spread of crab salad and sea bass, the global president of Jo Malone London, Jean-Guillaume Trottier, welcomed the guests and gave a speech conveying his excitement regarding the new fragrance.
A collection takes time and plenty of work—seven years in particular for the English Oak collection—to develop. The easy camaraderie between Yann and Celine did not only produce a brand new scent for Jo Malone London followers to enjoy, but also a valuable learning experience for the perfume experts themselves.