One of the best places I have ever lived in was the Bay Area in California… where it was always sunny but never too hot, cool enough to go hiking without breaking a sweat, and warm enough to dine outdoors with friends. Coming from tropical Singapore, the cool weather was a big welcome change, and it opened doors of possibilities. One of my favorite memories was going berry picking with friends in a real berry farm, not the supermarket kind. It’s all the more amusing for my friends because I’m a complete city-gal, and even the sight of ants creep me out. But it was really rather nice, walking between rows of bushes, chatting and just enjoying the sunshine. The charm of it all, was not the romanticized, sanitized notion of frolicking in movies. The real experience is colored by the smell of ripened berries in the air, the earthy ground, mossy freshness from trampled greenery, etc. The gentle buzz of the occasional visiting fly, and having real ants creep up your fingers as you try to pry the precious berries away from them. And to top it all off, having the berry burst between your fingers and staining your shirt before it ever got into a basket or my mouth.
It is this moment in time, that Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay captures so perfectly.
Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay was first introduced in 2012, and was created by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin whose green tea scents for L’Occitane I had loved in my late teens. Blackberry and Bay surprised me in an unexpected way… I was expecting citrus and sugar, something lighthearted and girlie that seemed characteristic of others in the family (Wild Bluebell comes to mind). Instead, it opens with a tart accord of crushed blackberries, not of the sweetened canned variety, but the juicy burst-onto-your-fingers sensation. There is a boldness to it, body and complexity, the way nature really is not the distilled movie versions. As it settles, the fresh green woods emerges with bay leaf and wild blossoms. What gives this scent personality is a particular dryness that comes with vetiver and cedar wood, the latter being native to Northern California where this poignant tale originated.
Sometime last Fall, I fell in love with Wood Sage and Sea Salt [reviewed here], but that scent lacked longevity. I then set off to look for something from the Jo Malone family to anchor the scent and extend the wear. It was in this spirit that I picked up Blackberry and Bay, and was mesmerized. It bears strong resemblences to, and is made more wearable than Diptyque Baies, the latter being only available as a room scent but one that I love deeply. Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay transports me back to a beautiful moment in time, and it lingers on throughout the day without losing much of its personality.
Do you have a fond summer or outdoors-y memory that you’d love to capture in a fragrance? If so, have you found that fragrance?