I’ve only been to London twice, and, if you can believe it, I escaped London downpours both times. So I can’t speak to the exact accuracy of Jo Malone’s London Rain collection. However, like any interesting fragrance, this collection is more about evoking a certain mood rather than reflecting reality.
The London Rain fragrance that immediately jumped out at me as the moodiest is Black Cedarwood & Juniper. When I say “jumped out at me” I mean that literally. The chili leaves make the opening of this fragrance a lively one and, at first spray, this sparkles on the skin. But despite the effervescent opening, this scent isn’t entirely “fresh” smelling. There’s an intriguing savory edge, which is probably due to the unique combination of cumin and chili leaves.
Black Cedarwood really comes to life once the cedar begins to peek through. I get hints of it about half an hour into wear time, and it’s like late afternoon sunlight filtering into the room through the slats of your blinds. Cedar, with its rich distinctive smell, enhances the savory atmosphere of the composition while adding some much needed dimension and depth.
You may be wondering where the rain aspect comes into play in this fragrance. I believe that’s the juniper’s job, as it has a slightly more cool and aquatic feel than the other notes at work here. This composition could easily become overheated and overstuffed with too-rich ingredients, but the juniper heart keeps everything in perfect Jo Malone order.
Still, Black Cedarwood is the least sheer of the London Rain fragrances. There’s something about this scent that feels tangible on the skin, almost edible. This is noticeable in the drydown, where the cedar is balanced out by a creaminess. But this isn’t a typically cozy, creamy vanilla dry down, as something of that intriguing edge from the opening remains.
It’s this edge that gives Black Cedarwood an urban feel and most clearly evokes nighttime London. Because this is a Jo Malone scent, the composition is never going to get too heedlessly dirty and out of control. This isn’t a messy night out. It was a classy affair that maybe got wild for a bit there, but it’s your secret to keep now that you’re home and settled into bed. In the morning, traces of smudged eyeliner will be the only hint of what might have taken place last night.
The sales rep I spoke to at Nordstrom said that Black Cedarwood has been their best-selling fragrance from the London Rain collection, and it’s easy to see why. It’s so strikingly different from the rest of the collection, you can’t help but take notice of it and appreciate it for being so unique. In the end, I found it irresistible and had to go for a full bottle.
Black Cedarwood & Juniper (along with the rest of the London Rain Collection) can be found at Jo Malone, and at retailers like Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. The London Rain Collection is limited edition and comes in the 100 mls size only.
Image and info on fragrance notes are from fragrantica.