Review: Jo Malone Star Magnolia

How many notes does it take to create an exceptional fragrance? For Star Magnolia, just three.

In the decade of my being a beauty editor, I must have already smelled hundreds upon hundreds of fragrances. Needless to say, a by-product of this career is morphing into somewhat of a fussypot with scents, and I won’t hesitate to turn up my nose at anything too commercial.

Over the years, I’ve become partial to a perfume that’s transcendental. It might seem like reading too much into something normally deemed frivolous, but really, all I look for in a perfume are two things – simplicity and a good story.

And great stories make for even better perfumes.


Jo Malone’s Star Magnolia breakfast launch

If you like chypre scents (like Coco Mademoiselle), then you’re likely to fall in love with this orientally-inspired orchestration by master perfumer Anna Flipo. Think of this as an homage to Shanghai’s Yu Yuan Gardens and its flower-studded walkways and canopies, where Flipo garnered the inspiration to create this perfume. Though I don’t personally find this fragrance to be oriental, its greenness is reminiscent of a garden in a bottle.

Jo Malone’s Star Magnolia is a summer cologne worth waiting for. It’s only slated for release this May 2017, and myself (along with other media friends) were lucky to be able to experience this new offering before anyone else. It’s a limited edition too, so you may want to get your hands on a bottle as soon as it’s released.

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There’s also a limited edition hair mist to cop

Speaking of the bottle, Star Magnolia’s flacon retains the brand’s signature shape, but with special treatment. At the base of the diffuser sits layers of floral cutouts, alluding to the scent it represents being in full bloom.

Of course, its real magic is in the juice. Jean-Claude Ellena, the in-house nose and perfumer of Hermes, once told me that the simpler a fragrance is, the harder it is to orchestrate. I believe him. With just three key ingredients to toy with in the creation of Star Magnolia, balance is everything. The rest is pie.

When first sprayed on the skin, Star Magnolia’s zesty lemon opening is what stands out. After a while, a floral heart of the featured note – star magnolia – comes to the fore, before finally settling into a powdery, but not matronly, finish of sandalwood.

Little did I realise that Star Magnolia is actually quite gourmand, with subtle additional top notes of ginger and shiso leaf, a hint of orange blossom at the heart and amber accents at the base. No wonder I fell in love with it! I’m an absolute sucker for any perfume that carries ginger notes.

In terms of Star Magnolia’s wearability, its sillage is a moderate halo once settled, and lasts for pretty much the entire day. Even after putting it on in the morning, I can still smell it on my skin come evening. Though one or two sprays for a top-up if you need it to carry you into the night wouldn’t hurt.

Can you tell that I’ve been wearing it every day every since? It’s so hard for me to fall in love with a new scent (the last time I got this excited was when Diptyque launched Florabellio in 2015), and I really have with this one.

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Jo Malone Star Magnolia Cologne, RM260 (30ml) and RM510 (100ml). Jo Malone Star Magnolia Hair Mist, RM200 (50ml).

Click through for more images of my thematic breakfast with Jo Malone for Star Magnolia. It was held at The Good Co. in Bon Estates, Bangsar, and the fare, though healthy, was tops.


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