Creating The New Cologne Intense
Céline Roux and Mathilde Bijaoui first collaborated on the captivating Myrrh & Tonka. Now, they’ve teamed up once again on the latest Cologne Intense: Jasmine Sambac & Marigold. We spoke to our Head of Fragrance Development and the Master Perfumer to discover more.
What’s the story behind the new Cologne Intense?
Céline: Jo Malone London is a quintessentially British brand, and we often draw inspiration from the country’s heritage and landscape. But once in a while, we journey to faraway lands and discover precious ingredients from around the world. Our new Cologne Intense, Jasmine Sambac & Marigold, transports you all the way to Southern India.
Take us back to the moment you came up with the idea for Jasmine Sambac & Marigold…
Céline: Jasmine is a noble ingredient in perfumery and we’ve always wanted to hero it. When we travelled to India in 2016 we discovered the jasmine sambac. It’s a truly special variety of jasmine with a spectacular scent, so we knew it was the perfect match for Jo Malone London.
What’s so unique about jasmine sambac?
Céline: It’s the queen of jasmine in India, the one people adorn their hair with and use in cultural rituals. The blossoms are picked at dawn, by women who treat the buds like precious jewels. The flowers are then transported to the market, where their arrival is so eagerly awaited. The energy there is just captivating. I loved the juxtaposition of the colourful market against the calm of the jasmine fields. In terms of scent, jasmine sambac has a very pretty, light floral feel.
Mathilde: It has hints of orange blossom and fresh honey with a dewy, natural facet that feels quite youthful. The challenge was to make this Cologne Intense smell as close to the flower as possible – but recreating the scent of nature is what I love most about my job.
Tell us a little more about your collaboration.
Céline: I wanted this scent to have an addictive quality – Mathilde really achieved that for Myrrh & Tonka, so I knew she’d do a fantastic job with this fragrance.
Mathilde: I love the brand’s ideas and inspirations, and I immediately understood what they wanted for this fragrance. When we work together, the team gives me direction but also a lot of freedom, which encourages me as a perfumer to create something truly unique.
How did you transform jasmine sambac into a Cologne Intense?
Céline: Jasmine sambac was the star, but the scent needed a ‘twist’. While in India we were blown away by the bright orange marigolds popping up everywhere in garlands and decorations. We thought it would create an interesting contrast as those flowers have such different characters.
Mathilde: The intention was to enhance the jasmine with a dewy freshness and an addictively warm base. Marigold worked perfectly as it has aromatic, fruity top notes. It’s a rather unusual ingredient in perfumery, which is very much in line with the Jo Malone London signature. For the warmer side of the fragrance I focused on honey, vanilla and a special extract of ylang ylang that enhances the jasmine’s just-picked purity.
In terms of Fragrance Combining™, which scents would you layer it with?
Céline: Myrrh & Tonka – it's divine! I know that sounds like favouritism as it’s another of Mathilde’s creations, but Jasmine Sambac & Marigold adds such a beautiful and sensual floral feel to it.
Mathilde: I pair it with Wood Sage & Sea Salt. On its own, that scent reminds me of being on the coast in Northern France. But when combined with Jasmine Sambac & Marigold, I’m suddenly transported to somewhere more exotic.