Thank you to the lovely and kind Iris at Saks Fifth Avenue at Biltmore Shopping Center, I was able to test and sample the fragrances of this collection long before their release. The two fragrances will be released as limited editions in May and they are based upon the centuries-old, very refined art of Kōdō, the Japanese incense ceremony. The first of the two is Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, meant for day wear and "designed to energize the body." The second is Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, to set a sensual, mellow mood for night.
Lotus Blossom & Water Lily contains a well-rounded combination of notes, including grapefruit, mandarin, freesia, honeysuckle, incense, amber and guaiac wood, among others including the title notes. I have discovered that any fragrance containing either mandarin or guaiac wood is likely to inspire a double take on my part ... or make that double sniff. But this luscious, uplifting, and most certainly "energizing" fragrance has struck my fancy so much that I have nearly used up my samples. (I typically sample a fragrance a few times for a review and then either give the vial away or stash it for future use. Not with this one.) The Kōdō ceremonies are hallmarked as being extremely refined, precise and requiring 30 years of study to perfect. Lotus Blossom & Water Lily possesses a similar refined quality, as if the perfumer desired to perfect each aspect of the scent. It melds adjectives such as "fresh," "sweet" and "spicy" into one and when I wear it people ask, "What is that? It smells so good!" A fresh, energizing beginning leads to the sumptuous yet light floral heart, all the while faintly underscored by a spicy, resinous, and reverberating base - squeaky clean with a dirty twist. I adore the fact that most of its bouquet is a soft floral, not in the least bit cloying and fresh as a cool breeze. In fact, I have found that Jo Malone is able to create fragrances in the "fresh" category unlike no other house and I love them for it. Here in the desert the quality is elusive.
As an interesting side note, I was drawn to investigate the significance of lotus blossom. In researching Tantra, an ancient tradition in which the lotus blossom is revered, I found this on a Tantra website:
In tantric art the lotus is a symbol of the expanding consciousness, which ultimately raises the aspirant from the dark depths of ignorance to the radiant heights of inner awakening. Because of its smooth and oily surface the lotus is not affected by the water in which it grows. Hence just as the lotus plant grows in the 'darkness of mud' and gradually blossoms out to the surface of water, unsullied by the mud and water which nourishes it, so the inner-self transcends beyond its own material limits, uncorrupted and untarnished by illusion and ignorance.
If you have ever attended a yoga class, you have undoubtedly experienced references to tantra, the chakras, mandalas and the like. With this idea in mind, I move to the next fragrance.
Dark Amber & Ginger Lily amps up the sex appeal considerably, with an ambery although mostly woodsy composition delicately sweetened with ginger and lily. Dark Amber & Ginger Lily contains water lily (as in the previous) with the provocative addition of night blooming jasmine, leather, pink pepper, amber, incense and sandalwood. In the Kōdō tradition, participants "listen" to the incense by properly holding and sniffing it through a Kōdō cup. In "listening" to this fragrance I hear deep, resonating Tantric chants, not the watered down Western idea of Tantra (typically referring to sex), but the ancient conscious-expanding form of the tradition. The chant focuses on the Sacral Chakra, the source of life and creativity. It is deep and resinous, at times honey sweet and always calming and profound. Enlightenment feels within reach with this audible, delectable scent.
Best of all, these profound and meaningful fragrances can easily be layered, as all of the scents of Jo Malone, to create a scent all your own. I may just have to temporarily relieve myself of my savings plan to invest in these two impeccable scents while they are available.
The Jo Malone Kohdo Wood Collection will be availabe in 30mL and 100mL cologne and matching bath oils and candles at your local Jo Malone counter in May.
Images: Genji-Plum courtesy of japanese-incense; lotus blossom courtesy of hongkongdailyphoto; "Enlightenment" courtesy of eso-garden