Fun fact: Before I got into writing, I was a reader, and actually trained and worked as a bookseller for years! My love for the written word also kind of explains why I was especially thrilled to discover Jo Malone London’s new, limited edition scent collection, which fuses two of my greatest loves: Literature and perfume!
And yes, it’s going to get slightly bookish here on Hey Pretty today. But don’t worry, this bit of history is going to make these new scents much more interesting!
«The Bloomsbury Set» is a limited collection of five brand-new cents, inspired by the free-spirited «Bloomsbury Group». This loose collective of associated English writers, artists, intellectuals and philosphers – among them, Virgina Woolf and E.M. Forster – spent years debating (and other things) with each other between 1905 and 1918, mostly meeting up at a beautiful, sprawling country estate called Charleston in East Sussex.
The way they fought, debated and expressed their sexuality was pretty progressive for those conservative times. And incredibly creative, too!
And it was that house, their «base» with it’s umpteen drafty rooms and the somewhat wild garden, that inspired Céline Roux, Vice President of Global Fragrance Development at Jo Malone London, to create this very British collection.
It was the contrast of this group of people that – on the outside, at least – were typically «british» and quite restrained, but in reality were rather a group of individualistic, creative hedonists that tickled Celine’s fancy. And so she asked master perfumer Yann Vasnier to turn her creative vision into perfume.
Here are Céline and Yann at Charleston on on of their inspirational trips:
Celine Roux says: «The very first time I went to the house it all came alive. The colours, the textures, the smell of the paint, the light through the windows, the leather-bound books in the library – it felt frozen in time and I could imagine these intellectuals sitting there and brainstorming ideas. Everything at Charleston is painted from floor to ceiling, every table, and every lampshade. We thought it would be fun to do a collection about the different moments throughout the day. Fragrance is meant to be fun and emotional after all!»
For Yann, the initial visit was a bit more visceral:
«I didn’t know what to expect from this house and garden in the middle of the English countryside but I fell in love with it. I clearly remember a beautiful table painted with water lilies that looked almost like camouflage print, and the smells of clay and dust and ceramic in the air. When we walked around the garden I was so captivated by the plants and flowers – in fact I remember sending a list to my brother who’s a landscape gardener so he could explain a little more about some of them.
When I was there I made a storyline in my head from morning to afternoon to evening, so the five fragrances have a natural evolution. Having read a few books about the Bloomsbury set, I particularly loved the juxtaposition of domesticity and simplicity with this hugely intellectual environment. It was definitely a cool project to work on.»
And when you see these images of Charleston, you can probably understand how quickly one could fall under its spell…
And now, to the five scents of The Bloomsbury Set collection – a limited edition launched in February 2017 worldwide, that are just as creative and colorful as the people and era that inspired them!
All five colognes were released only as 30 ml bottles (priced at 72 Swiss Francs each):
Wow, this one’s pretty sexy! Fresh manadrine orange meets herby, manly sage… with a bit of beeswax and pipe tobacco thrown in. This is what an attractive older Professor of literature would smell like, I imagine…
Warm and sensual, with notes of Whiskey, rose, cedarwood and a «fascinating accord of oiled wooden floors». A lovely, very masculine scent that manages to feel surprising, thanks to the rose!
Oh, those crazy Bloomsbury intellectuals! This one’s definitely toeing the line with Absinth (notes of aniseed), aromatic artemisia, iris root and leather. Exciting and slightly taboo!
If you love the intense, almost obscene and slightly decaying scent of Hyacinths, then this one’s for you. Personally, I find it a bit too intense for my liking, but Celine Roux puts it best, saying: «A blue hyacinth smells so naturally floral and fresh that each time we added a twist it broke the beauty of the flower. It’s what we call a solifloral, a singular note that’s only combined with green and earthy notes to evoke how it grows in nature.»
And the last of the bunch:
Yann Vasnier on his creation: «Even though this is fresh and light, there’s still something really sensual about it. There’s a little white musk and jasmine extract that makes it a bit erotic and generous, just on the edge of ripe, but not too heavy or dirty. To have that sense of ‘garden’ and freshness, I used a green sap note that cuts the heaviness and give it a crisp bite.»
Steffi’s take? Super-feminine, gentle and soft, but still quite green and fresh.
THE HEY PRETTY TAKE:
To be honest, this whole post was just one big excuse to share these gorgeous visuals of Charleston House. I WANT TO MOVE IN THERE IMMEDIATELY. But the scents are beautiful, too… and I really appreciate the fact that Jo Malone really left their safe zone and went on an adventure with them, commercially speaking. The Bloomsbury Set is absolutely NOT a safe bet with tons of agreeable, bestseller scents… but all the more daring and beautiful.
These are incredible, wild creations that will spark conversations with anyone wearing them.
And I’m left with a weird yearning to be living life as a bisexual, highly intelligent and crazy-passionate artist with her own country estate in rural England.
Oh, did I just say that out loud?
Have a great Thursday, dear reader. Be creative! Be audacious! Be… well, try not to spend the entire day in your pjs on the sofa, okay?
The Bloomsbury Set by Jo Malone London was released worldwide as a limited edition with five 30 ml perfumes. Available in Switzerland at Globus Geneva, Globus Lucerne und at Jelmoli Zürich.