Autumn in MNL: Jo Malone's fall scents, and an interview with Debbie Wild

Fragrances are more than just accessories. A good scent is a work of art. It undergoes the long, tedious process of making art - from the inspiration, to the skill required to make that vision a reality, up to the statement that it makes about the world. That’s why brands like Jo Malone are sought after and even copied by others. It's not about being trendy or cool; for Jo Malone, it's about creating a piece of art that tells a beautiful story.


Based on the noble and iconic English Oak, there are two new scents to experience this fall season: English Oak & Redcurrant and English Oak & Hazelnut! Hazelnut is spicy and woody while Redcurrant has a rounder and juicier character. These are now available at boutiques here in the Philippines. I've been using them for a few months now and I love how the scents perfectly capture that nostalgic autumn mood! Woody scents are mysterious and sensuous at the same time. I have cedar, sandalwood, even oud scents in my collection, but it's my first time to try English oak. My nose adores its masculine yet soft notes.

Lucky for me, I got to interview Jo Malone Lifestyle Director Debbie Wild while she was here in Manila. I was honored to be invited to sit down with her to talk about the fall collection of Jo Malone. She's a gifted storyteller and I learned so much in just fifteen minutes of listening to her! In this interview, we talk about fragrance combining, being "scent blind", and the important of having a "scent library".

How do you choose the fragrance that you would wear for the day? What’s your current fragrance combination?

It depends where I am in the world. It depends on what I’m doing because fragrance combining is brilliant for suiting your lifestyle. When I’m coming to Asia, it’s always boiling hot, so fragrance for me is important to put on as nearest to my skin as possible. It’s a good tip! So I put on Grapefruit Body Cream this morning, and then my English Oak & Hazelnut on top of my Grapefruit. And then I spray my English Oak & Redcurrant just as a highlight! I style myself a little bit like when I style myself in a beautiful outfit. It’s like accessorizing - that’s how we use fragrance combining.

When the sun goes down in a hot country, I like me a notion of Mimosa & Cardamom which is a little more beguiling, lovely if I’m going out to a cocktail dinner. We use such fresh mimosa, then we spice it with the cardamom and this is wonderful with English Oak & Hazelnut. It’s perfect for a beguiling evening look.

If I’m going to a freezing country, then I want something like Myrrh & Tonka, which feels like I’m being wrapped in a soft cashmere sweater. When I put it on, my kids want to cuddle me! It feels like I’m being wrapped in a beautiful powdery, sensuous scent so I love that in a cold country.


I love that concept. I’m familiar with fragrance combining, but I’ve never considered it as a mix of different textures, for different climates, and one’s mood. 

It affects how you feel about that moment or that day. You might be going to a celebratory christening or wedding and you think, “Why, I might create something new today, something that reminds me of this lovely day.”

That’s true! Scent is so connected to memory. 

It does! It goes through your limbic system and it immediately makes you think of a time, a moment, a place, or creates a new memory. It’s so powerful, what it can do for you and others around you.

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What is the story behind the new English Oak scents?

It’s the scent of the Sherwood Forest. It’s the home of the noble english oak. English oak is the symbol of Brittany other than the rose, so it’s what we built our cities, ships, cathedrals off. It’s part of our history. Celine Rouz had this idea of making a forest or English note, and Yanne Vasnier came to her with this beautiful accord. But within a three-year period, they decided to make a collection. So she took Yanne to the Sherwood Forest. When you go to there, it’s full of verdant moss, and wonderful oak leaves. The thing you can smell clearly is the wood chips - the oak that has fallen - and you can smell that with the green hazelnut and acorns. So [Celine] wanted to put that together.

It has this fairytale, whimsical feel. Something quite beguiling, like when knights had their duels and the merry men - they say - hid in the knotty oak trees. So they were really inspired to create this roasted oak absolute accord which has been unique to us for five years.

Which Jo Malone colognes best combine with these new scents?

The Hazelnut is perfect with Basil & Neroli. It works with the perkiness of basil and that effervescent orange neroli which we love. The Redcurrant is best with Blackberry & Bay because it’s got vetiver in it, and it’s got a crunchy green bay leaf which is quite herbaceous. When you combine it, it’s warm and woody. They’re beautiful together!

Fragrance combining is such a wonderful idea!

So many of our consumers come to us with just one fragrance for the rest of their lives. So we love to educate them, to inspire them to have fun. You can still wear the fragrance that you love, but it’s like reading your favorite book again and again - you love it, but reading it everyday, you’ll get tired of it. If you wear the same fragrance everyday, you’ll get smell blind very quickly.

Product photography by Samantha Gonzales

Product photography by Samantha Gonzales

Smell blind. That’s the first time I’ve heard of that phrase.

That means you can’t smell it anymore, so therefore you put more on. If somebody’s standing next to you they’ll be like, “Whoa, that’s so strong!”, but you don’t sense it. So if you wear a wardrobe of fragrances, you mix and match everyday, your nose gets more sophisticated.

What is one thing you wished people knew about fragrances?

You don’t have to have one scent for your entire life. You can mix it up and be liberated. The first rule in fragrance combining is that there is no rule. You play, you have fun, and be open. You might not like it today but it adds to your scent library. It’s like wine - you don’t like it at first, but then you get used to it and become more discerning.

Product photography by Samantha Gonzales

Product photography by Samantha Gonzales

And that's it for my wonderful interview with Debbie! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed speaking with her. If you'd like to check out the English Oak collection, come visit Jo Malone boutiques soon. Believe me, you don't have to be into woody scents to enjoy this line!

Jo Malone is located in Greenbelt 5, S Maison, Rustan's Shangri-La, and SM Aura