Jo Malone London's Bloomsbury Set Review

Jo Malone London's Bloomsbury Set Review

 Inspired by THE free-spirited artists, poets, authors and philosophers...

Jo Malone is definitely veering towards bold and fascinating territory these days. I absolutely adore their main collection, but the limited edition sets are the ones I race out to try. So when the scents from the Limited Edition Bloomsbury Set arrived in my office, I nabbed them.

Now, The Bloomsbury Set were quite the cool kids in their day. They were an English group of artists, philosophers and writers that included Virginia Wolfe and E.M. Forster.

The newest addition to Jo Malone London fragrances have been inspired by their free spirit. This collection claims to capture the ‘intoxicating scent of an unconventional lifestyle’. Wowzer. Sounds fun – especially if like me, you aspire to the artistic lifestyle but never quite had the awe-inspiring talent (or the volatile nature) to back it up.

There are FIVE SCENTS in the collection and we decided to review two of our absolute favourites. They arrived in a stunning, hand painted box (by artist Sarah Jayne Kavali) that reminds me of the rustic paintings seen on the streets of southern France, and bizarrely, the circus tents of my youth.

Jo Malone London Bloomsbury Set

Tobacco and Mandarin, the sweet smell of nostalgia

When I was a child we used to go to St Andrews in Scotland every year. Long before it was the place where Prince William and Kate Middleton met and fell in love, it was this fairy tale seaside town where all my memories are intertwined with the smell of the bohemian lifestyle. There was the warm wool of the layers we had to wear to keep out the biting wind and the sweet smell of tobacco that permeated through the wooden hallways of our elegant hotel. Then there was the scent of oranges from the women’s evening cocktails that spilled from the golden light of the hotel bar.

One whiff of Jo Malone’s Tobacco and Mandarin takes me straight back there. It’s like burying your nose into a sweater made of British childhood nostalgia.

The top notes are a burst of orange, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a fresh, zesty fruit. It is muted and somehow wooly, intertwined with that wonderful, rich tobacco note. I’m not normally a big fan of tobacco in perfume. It was originally used by perfumers who wanted to appeal to the Flappers of the 1920s - women who believed it was the ultimate sign of sophistication to smell like you had a 20 a day habit. But this is just lush.

Lasting power is decent, but true to its form, you have to get quite close to smell this one. I can imagine a rather sophisticated man wearing this on a date, along with an expensive cashmere sweater from Norway.

Jo Malone London Bloomsbury Set

Whisky and Cedarwood – men, pay attention – women will love this

I would pay my husband to wear this one. Seriously.

Whisky and Cedarwood opens with a blast of smoke-filled whisky. It puts me in mind of bonfire night, when everyone is crowded round a roaring fire, inhaling the woodsmoke and pine needles. Then you take a nip of aged whisky that warms you from the inside out.

It also puts me in mind of Donald Draper from 1950s Mad Men, but with a softer edge. More a memory of the character coming back to haunt our modern scents that seems obsessed with ‘sport cologne’ - which can easily knock you out from a mile away.  As you can probably tell, I’m a firm believer in the old adage that you should only be able to smell men’s cologne when leaning in for a hug.

But women could definitely pull off either of these scents. They’re beautifully unusual and would make any woman stand out from the crowd of sugar-laden confectionary perfumes currently out there. If you want a sophisticated whisper of a scent – man or woman – then both of these are definitely for you.


Jo Malone London's The Bloomsbury Set, available from March 2017. Each 30ml Cologne RRP $114.


- Helen Easson, Beauty Writer

Jo Malone Bloomsbury Set

Stills | Jaina Kumar, shot at the Taj Mahal Palace, India


The Bloomsbury group (artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell) and the Charleston House in East Sussex that set as an inspiration for Jo Malone London's Bloomsbury Set fragrances.






Helen Easson is a self-confessed beauty addict, with a particular weakness for beautiful perfumes. An international freelance writer and author. Helen’s debut novel, The Legend of Jack Riddle, was published by Capstone Publishing (USA) and Raintree (UK) in 2018. She is currently writing my second middle-grade fiction novel, find out more about Helen’s work here

Helen is based in Auckland, New Zealand