Every creative director would probably like to leave a lasting mark on any brand they oversee. I have creative director and brand associations which define the way I see those fragrances. One of the most recent examples has been the tenure of Celine Roux at Jo Malone. Ever since she took over the brand has been reinvigorated. If there will be a legacy of her time it might be the Absolu Series. The new Jo Malone Gardenia & Oud Absolu shows why.
Mme Roux debuted this series two years ago with Rose & White Musk Absolu and followed up last year with Violet & Amber Absolu. The press releases of those previous fragrances had a lot of babble about adding the Jo Malone freshness onto a Middle Eastern aesthetic. I never understood that. Both perfumes were more intense than the typical Jo Malone releases but that never felt region specific. There was a satisfaction to seeing Jo Malone in a deeper way.
Gardenia & Oud Absolu follows up on all of that. Except this time there is an obvious Middle Eastern connection with the presence of oud. It does feel like this is a Jo Malone via that part of the world. Mme Roux asked Sophie Labbe to be the perfumer behind Gardenia & Oud Absolu. They produced a smoky white floral fragrance.
Mme Labbe starts with the gentlest of the white flowers, orange blossom. It captivates during the early moments. Before too long the gardenia arrives. This is a much more intense floral with prominent indoles. It also shows off the green streak apparent in high concentrations of gardenia. It is that quality which makes a gardenia perfume. It gives a verve to it all. Some jasmine adds shadow and depth without taking away from the gardenia. The oud rises like wood chips from a brazier in swirls of smoky resinous woods. It catches on the petals of the fulsome gardenia finding an unusual pairing which works better than I though it might. It forms a smoky floral accord which is given a bit of expansiveness and lift by a judicious use of white musks. It keeps that central accord from becoming too claustrophobic giving it just the right amount of space for the titular notes to shine.
Gardenia & Oud Absolu has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I really enjoyed my time testing this. If you’re a man looking for a rugged floral you should give this a try. I am again inspired by the perfume being overseen by Mme Roux. Jo Malone has become one of the best perfume lines because of her. Gardenia & Oud Absolu is a good example of why.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jo Malone.