Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt (2014) {Perfume Review & Musings}


The latest Wood Sage and Sea Salt by Jo Malone is a delicate marine landscape bordering on the ethereal except for fleshier parts of round, citrusy vanilla adding a discreet gourmand tonality to the scent, like a tea-time break in the afternoon...

The sea motif is one expressed by drift woods beaten by the elements, retaining traces of tempests, air, wind, and salt.

If the rendering of ozone in a perfume can feel particularly heavy almost on a molecular level, this marine opus by perfumer Christine Nagel plays with poetical half-nuances and atmopsheric misty walks by the seaside, rather than trumpet it is vacationing on a world-renowned beach 5000 thousand miles away.

This is a sea-redolent perfume, which is the anti-beach perfume clad in all of its usual ostentation of suntan, coconut envy and sand as luxurious as mink. Wait, that perfume does not exist, but you know what we mean.

Instead, Wood Sage & Sea Salt whispers to the point of silence; It feels angelically quiet to the ear, thanks in part to the olfactory subtlety of ambrette seeds which can smell like the scent of skin at its most angelic and ideal.

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This is the scent of someone who lives by the seaside and not just teleport her or him there in imagination, or export themselves for a time during the summer. It is a habitual marine perfume, a fall season marine perfume when the beaches are deserted. It evokes simple village life by a sea side mostly unfrequented, except by fauna and vegetation, with the occasional errant human being come to face their thoughts, or feel the elements listening to the breaking of the waves; and then at one point, you go back home and there is Earl Grey tea, and scones, and perhaps lemon meringue.

The unadvertised gourmand nuance can become quite pronounced once it settles on your skin. It reminds you more and more irresistibly over time of a former popular, cult fragrance called Garçon Manqué by Des Filles à la Vanille. Apart from that, we agree with the nose's assessment that her new composition is "different". The edible note was added no doubt to make more palatable a refined interpretation of the marine accord, at the risk of contradicting itself.

Christine Nagel said that,

"For me this fragrance is different. The sea air mixes with salty spray and the mineral texture of sand and rock. Like the scent of driftwood, it has a natural and fresh sophistication. A complex combination of wood and the sea is at its core. The feeling is of free-spirited liberty and joy."

It evokes best to this perfume wearer, the Scottish seaside. And it is not, to my mind, a particularly joyful composition unless your joys are very interiorized. On the other hand, I would accept the idea that it evokes a feeling of freedom well.

If you are looking for bracing, sporty and surf-like marine notes, go your merry way. This is the scent of skin retelling in murmurs of sea voyages preserved in the taste of salt. It is strangely understated and calm, and a perfect companion it seems, to any outdoorsy escapes, especially in the quieter fall season. It might feel too cold for winter although the tea-time conjuring tempers this sensation. Nagel incidentally recommends layering Sage Wood and Sea Salt with Peony and Blush Suede as her favorite combination.

If this composition might smell too tenuous for summer and its noisier and more boisterous atmosphere, it feels in-tune for engaging with a meditative, invigorating autumnal climate.

Fragrance notes: Ambrette Seeds, Buchu Leaves, Bergamot, Sea Salt, a Mineral Accord, Dried Fruit, Sage, Driftwood, and Guaiacwood.

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