a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR
WOOD SAGE & SEA SALT – 2014 – ♂♀
Notes: Ambrette Seed, Sea Salt, Sage, Grapefruit, Red Alga
Perfumer: Christine Nagel
Price: $120 for 100ml bottle
Last month, Jo Malone launched a new concept-driven cologne created by perfumer Christine Nagel. I must admit that the name alone piqued my curiosity. Jo Malone’s newest fragrance, Wood Sage & Sea Salt, and ad campaign, seem to be focused on escapism. The simple sensory pleasures of a leisurely stroll along a lazy English beach are in order for this fall. Is Jo Malone’s concept designed to be nothing more than a gullible city slicker’s escape? I am certainly willing to give this new Jo a go to find out.
Wood Sage & Sea Salt opens with a brightly illuminated explosion of grapefruit. This grapefruit is happy, energetically awakening the senses and saturating them in sunshine. An exceptional way to start a beach inspired fragrance. So far, so good. A lively citrus can also bring to mind sensual tropical islands, dotted with palm trees, but certainly not the pebbly, chilly beaches of England that they are trying to evoke. As the fragrance progresses, the sharp citrus note mellows and a layer of herbal sage is conjured up. This adds a pleasant sweet and savory accord, not unlike the beginning to a fantastic marinade. Wait a minute, I think my trip to the beach just got hijacked to Italy. How about some English flora like sea kale, thrift, dune helleborine, alexanders or perhaps yellow whitlow grass. I’m thinking that “Wood Thrift and Sea Salt” might have been more interesting as well as a more regionally accurate concept for this English beach inspiration. While the smell of thrift might not be as intoxicating as the smell of sage, the pretense has conceptual context. Back to the fragrance at hand. Wood Sage & Sea Salt’s heart launches with the introduction of a blonde, sun-baked driftwood vibe. This wood is desiccated, aromatic and perfect for what one might experience beachside. An enticing fruity, savory blend layered with an intensely dry wood note does create intrigue. Once a bit of surf is added with sharp sea salt, it wraps up this interesting harmony. Last but not lease, ambrette seed gives the fragrance a slightly musky note, adding a bit of nature to this otherwise unoccupied beach. Wood Sage & Sea Salt’s light aromatic nature, diffusing and clarifying, offers a nicely rounded finish.
While I really enjoyed Wood Sage & Sea Salt, I think the ad campaign’s conceptual strategy is confusing. Many people are well-read enough or, if lucky, well-traveled enough to understand the concept of the English seaside. As we all know, grapefruit nor more grows in England that mangoes grow in northern Minnesota. Jo Malone’s English beach-themed fragrance seems to be a bit of a stretch at best. Speaking of stretches, sage on the English beachside. Is this idea not just another oxymoron in Wood Sage & Sea Salt’s personality? Enough of all of this nonsense, let’s just remove the word “English” from the concept. This would make Wood Sage & Sea Salt a more generalized beach experience instead. It might give this fragrance a more universally acceptable idea for anyone who’s ever been to any beach in their life.