A Moment with Maria Salamagne

Can you tell us about the brief from Jo Malone London?

The first thing that Jo Malone London showed me was some incredibly vivid orientalist paintings from the nineteenth century. They wanted to create a fragrance that captured the bohemian spirit of adventure from the Victorians, who travelled the world collecting intriguing objects, to the vibrant hedonism of the sixties to the modern day bohemian. With Jo Malone London the process is always very immersive so I looked forward to really delving into the bohemian world.

Where did you look for inspiration?

Jo Malone London took me on a journey to the home of the orientalist painter, Frederick Leighton. Leighton House is a hidden gem in Holland Park, London. It was built as an incredibly decadent showcase for his collection of more than 1,000 tiles collected in the Middle East and is filled with vibrant pattern. One of his paintings, Flaming June, was particularly inspiring. I liked the idea of travelling through the picture to discover the vivid colour, texture and atmosphere of the interiors and wanted to recreate these layers in the scent. From there we looked at places like Marrakesh and Tangiers which were bohemian havens in the sixties for people such as the Rolling Stones to literary characters like Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. We were intrigued by figures like the London fashion designer Thea Porter, the society beauty Talitha Getty and the iconic Loulou de la Falaise with her bohemian style. Jo Malone London wanted to draw on this inspiration but also bring a sense of modernity to the scent. We looked at what the bohemian spirit means today from new bohemian fashion with its eclectic prints, colourful pattern and drapery to a love of travel off the beaten track.

What do you think is special and current about the new bohemian mindset?

For me the new bohemian celebrates a state of mind without boundaries. They are free-thinkers who celebrate authenticity and intensity. A true sense of adventure is at the heart of the new bohemian spirit for me.

Mimosa & Cardamom is a floriental fragrance. How did you give it a Jo Malone London signature?

When Jo Malone London told me they wanted a floriental fragrance to capture this bohemian story I knew straight away that they would be looking for a new approach. They wanted to bring a sense of modernity to the traditional construction and to give it a twist. The classic floriental is made with florals like orange blossom, jasmine or rose. All are infused with an oriental richness and sophistication. They stand out because of their unique blend of warmth and sensuality. Jo Malone London wanted to update this idea with mimosa as the main ingredient which is innovative in itself. I was very inspired by this starting point. In fragrance history, mimosa had not been revisited for a long time so it was an intriguing challenge. I then wanted to create something bold and captivating around it. We chose the cool spice, cardamom, as it would add a new energy. I love its thrilling freshness and sparkling effect. We knew we had found an unusual yet perfect pairing; the vibration of the cardamom, an unexpected twist, with the sensual softness of mimosa. They are both radiant. Mimosa is the warm sun, cardamom the bright light.

Tell us about how you were inspired by Mimosa.

Mimosa & Cardamom is infused with sensuality and much of this comes from the mimosa itself, an unusual powdery and honeyed floral that perfectly captures the bohemian character. I had a strong memory of the mimosa flower which made it even more exciting to work with. It has always reminded me of my childhood and winter weekends spent near the coast in the South of France. It was a joy to see these blooms again when Jo Malone London took me to see the mimosa growing in the Tanneron Mountains in Provence. It was a cold February day with bright blue skies. The scent and spectacle of the fluffy yellow flowers was unbelievable, mimosa is the golden sun of winter! I took some branches back from Tanneron with me and put them in my office so every day I could be inspired by the smell of the bright yellow pompoms. I chose to use a sumptuous absolute of Mimosa from the South of France, rich with a multifaceted character to capture the beauty of these flowers.

Can you tell us more about the Mimosa absolute?

I worked with a 100% natural mimosa extract, sourced from Provence. The young branches are harvested by hand and the extraction is carried out immediately within two to three hours on fresh flowers in Grasse and Tourrettes. The flowers harvested in the Tanneron are traditionally processed: primary solvent extraction to produce the concrete, then a secondary extraction with alcohol to obtain the absolute. 1Kg of absolute is obtained with 500Kg of Mimosa. Mimosa is a symbol of elegance, simplicity, tenderness and friendship. Behind its apparent fragility, the flower captures a strong feminine energy. Mimosa absolute is the ultimate reference for green and floral, powdery long-lasting notes. A slight woody and honeyed note differentiates it from other origins.