There is perhaps no perfume brand which has thrived by keeping it simple more than Jo Malone. The names themselves tend to advertise the ingredients front and center. The Cologne Intense Collection within the brand has taken that concept a step further. The Cologne Intense releases tend to be comprised of more precious raw materials. The newest Cologne Intense, Orris & Sandalwood, is perhaps the best example of what this line within the line can achieve.
The Cologne Intense Collection has asked the perfumer chosen to take those notes on the label and present them in a pure almost unaltered way. This collection has been so successful because even though the perfumers adhere to that the choice of the minimal complementary notes can change the perception you might have based on the names. For Orris & Sandalwood perfumer Pierre Negrin made a couple of interesting choices when it came to orris and sandalwood. Orris is most known for being powdery but I like it best when the rootiness of the rhizome is allowed to be more prominent. With sandalwood there has always been this mania for having a Mysore-like sandalwood. I’ve actually come to enjoy the sustainably farmed versions which have become more common over the past few years. The source of the sandalwood used here isn’t named but I am guessing it is one of these newer versions because it has the austere slightly sweet woodiness I associate with those sources. By making the right choice of notes to partner the orris and sandalwood M. Negrin achieves something different from what you might be expecting.
When I read orris on the label I expect that to be the first thing I smell. M. Negrin thinks differently and violet is what first appears in Orris & Sandalwood. I think that choice is made so the violet can get ahead of the orris making sure it attenuates the powdery qualities. It is definitely the right choice because the orris when it does arrive is rich, opulent and definitely not powdery. The sandalwood if left alone could have provided a woody framing of the rooty orris. M. Negrin didn’t just want the sandalwood to be the delineating ingredient he wanted to warm things up. To achieve that effect a healthy dose of amber transforms the sandalwood into something much suppler. It is a really neat trick which comes together with the orris and violet to provide a fantastic synergy of iris roots drying in the sunshine.
Orris & Sandalwood has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Orris & Sandalwood is so rich that while wearing it I had to keep reminding myself this was a Jo Malone release. It carries the simplicity of the brand aesthetic with the luxury of the ingredients being allowed to shine in unique ways. If you are a fan of orris and/or sandalwood Orris & Sandalwood is a simple tale told well.
Dsiclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jo Malone.