How To Master the Art of Fragrance Combining

On the hunt for Christmas gifts I popped into the Jo Malone London store in Mosman. Being a steamy Sydney afternoon, I can’t resist the store’s luxe creamy-hued allure. It’s quiet so the store manager, Sarah Louise, invites me to have a hand & arm massage and to find my own signature scent (you can actually book in for this complimentary treatment by ringing the store). After offering me a glass of champagne (Mumm & Co – no less!), she asks me if I have a favourite Jo Malone London scent I don’t quite know where to begin…

I’ve had a long-standing love affair with Jo Malone London. I first fell for Orange Blossom in my twenties – its innocent floral freshness is like slipping on a white cotton sundress - it always feels appropriate. I reach for this when I don’t know what else to wear. Later, the brand took me to London to interview their perfumer Christine Nagel, and I fell in love with her most famous concoction, English Pear & Freesia. It’s pure Sloane Street in a bottle: preppy, well-clipped but with luscious fruity overtones. The next year, I kept smelling Pomegranate Noir on all these stylish people at events, and I eventually gave in and got a bottle for myself. It didn’t disappoint. Finally, only last week I was sent the beautiful Christmas Cologne Collection to try and I discovered Blackberry & Bay – another juicy feast of a fragrance, mouth-watering and wet and totally refreshing in all this humidity. 

I give Sarah Louise a kind of abridged version of my perfume diatribe and to her credit, she doesn’t bat an eye. 

“Well you could actually combine a few of those and create your own signature scent,” she says, picking up the pomegranate noir and spraying it on a scent card.

I’d heard of the brands technique of fragrance combining but, to be honest, I was always a bit skeptical. Surely it would be too much – layering all these scents?

“My favourite combo at the moment is adding the Orange Blossom on top of the Pomegranate Noir to make it fresher,” she says, spritzing the floral scent over the top of the scent card and handing it to me. True to her word, it’s suddenly lifted. The layering of the two takes a dark, inky evening scent into playful territory. I could imagine wearing it to a Christmas party, it’s fun and frivolous but with the guts of spiced woods and pink pepper.  

“Jo Malone London fragrances are created very simply,” explains Sarah Louise. “There’s a lot of clarity in them, so compared to most other fragrances that have about 400 ingredients ours only have 100. Fragrance combining makes it more bespoke as well. You don’t have to do two fragrances, you can do a lotion and a cologne, or when you’re entertaining you can do “scent surround” by mixing room sprays and candles, so you can create a really unique space.”

We head over the table and Sarah Louise gives me a little felt bag for my rings, hands me my champagne and begins a totally luxurious hand massage with the new Wood Sage & Sea Salt Body Crème. She then spritzes Red Roses Cologne over the top, onto my forearms. 

“It adds a bit of warmth and floralness to the already woody and fresh Wood Sage & Sea Salt,” she explains as she presses it into my skin gently.  

“Don’t ever rub - when a fragrance dries, it’s meant to dry in certain layers - base note, middle note, top note. If you rub it, it doesn’t dry properly and it can alter the way a scent smells,” she adds. 

I take a whiff: it’s delicious and earthy with a totally moreish bouquet of garden roses over the top. The scent. The champagne. The cool creaminess of the store. I never want to leave. 

As I tear myself away, Sarah Louise gives me a little sample of each so I can test out my new combo at home and then shows me a brochure that suggests the perfect combinations. After a bit of playing around and research, here are a few ideas for fragrance combining:

1. CLASH YOUR CANDLES

Who says you have to stick to one scented candle? Kate Middleton reportedly had Orange Blossom and Grapefruit candles burning in Westminster Abbey at her wedding. If it’s good enough for Kate…

2. LOCK IT IN WITH LOTION

Scented body cream gives your perfume more staying power. “A cream will always anchor a scent onto the skin,” said Sarah Louise. “Skin’s dry, so when you spray something onto the skin it will just evaporate faster. If it’s going onto a nice lotioned  surface, it doesn’t evaporate as fast.” 

3. BATHING BEAUTY

For a romantic date-night combo, bathe in something woody and warm like the Wild Fig & Cassis Bath Oil and then slather a lighter floral body cream over the top. I like Nectarine Blossom & Honey. It lasts beautifully and you get whiffs of it all night long. 

4. BED TIME STORIES

Having trouble switching off at night? Try spritzing your bed linen with the lavender-spiked Lino Nel Vento Linen Spray and burning the Lavender & Lovage Candle to drift away to dreamland. 

5. FESTIVE FUN

For Christmas entertaining, Sarah Louise recommends spritzing the tablecloth Pomegranate Noir Room Spray then burning the Grapefruit Home Candle “It goes best with food and won’t interfere.” She explains. In leiu of a real Christmas Tree, you could spritz a fake one with Pine & Eucalyptus Room Spray

6. GIFT INSURANCE

Not sure what to buy a friend? The Cologne Collection offers five of the most popular scents that are designed to be combined together so you can’t get it wrong. “They’re always more than welcome to exchange it anyway.”

 

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Words and still life styling by Sigourney Cantelo.