When Jo Malone London launched a five-piece limited edition fragrance collection titled English Fields last year, a particular scent stood out: the floral, fruity, yet musky Poppy and Barley. Spurred by its popularity, the brand singled the cologne out for a grand relaunch this season, making it a permanent offering in its current offering of fragrances.
Designed by the British perfumer, Mathilde Bijaoui, the Poppy and Barley cologne was inspired by the quintessentially British flower, poppies, dancing and blooming in the fields. While poppies are conventionally known for their red petals, they actually do come in a rainbow of “pastel-soft kaleidoscopic colours” in England, says Chris Wyatt, the executive director of global education at Jo Malone London.
It looks pretty, but poppies aren’t actual ingredients in the universe of perfumery — that’s to say, when you pluck a blooming poppy and take a sniff of it up close, you’ll be able to pick up a faint scent. Yet, the petals are so thin and delicate that perfumers aren’t able to extract oils from them for use in fragrances. “Many delicate flowers are like that — the lily of the valley, bluebells,” Wyatt explains.
Instead, a poppy’s scent has to be recreated from other ingredients in a complex blend. “Just like a chef would do to create a dish… we do the same with ingredients in fragrance, ” he continues.
What’s In The Bottle?
So, how does the Poppy and Barley smell like? It’s cotton-soft, colourful, powdery, inviting with a sharp blackcurrant note at the top. The base note is barley, which balances the florals and fruity notes with a “woody, earthy undertone,” describes Wyatt.
The perfumer Bijaoui wanted to capture the carefree and untroubled feeling one gets from standing in the midst of a dancing poppy field. She started working on this in the summer of 2016. She took three years to refine the scent, source the finest ingredients from all over the world to complement her scent.
“This fragrance just makes me smile. It’s such a bright character, it really does make me smile,” Wyatt laughs. Compared to all other Jo Malone London fragrances, he thinks that it’s different in terms of its wood and powder notes. “I think this has a very unique woody floral scent.”
According to Wyatt, everyone smells in colours, and images. Every fragrances invokes a different mood in you. So, in choosing a fragrance, you’d want to invest a few minutes at the stores or beauty halls — spray the fragrance over your hands, allow it to dry, close your eyes, and feel.
So, I recruited three women to join me in this blind test of the Poppy and Barley:
Caroline Suganda, Editor
In colour… It’s a dark colour — a sexy maroon or burgundy, like red wines. I’m guessing the bottle of this fragrance must be dark and transparent?
In visuals… I see a girl who is not overly feminine. She likes to drink and is with her friends in a bar having a chill night out. This reminds me of the Manhattan at Regent Singapore. She’s not afraid of a classic drink like an Old Fashioned.
In mood… What does it make me feel? I feel like I won’t wear this in the day but in the evenings. I’d like to think that day fragrances are light, floral, and breezy. And this fragrance aren’t those things. I’ll wear this out on a date night.
Verdict… Makes me want to go out with my friends.
Michelle Kok, Social Media Specialist
In colour… A pastel, sunshine, flowery yellow.
In visuals… It’s a walk in a very quiet garden that nobody else is in but me. There are flowers — but not a lot. They are not super clichéd flowers like roses. Okay, I don’t know much about flowers. But they are neither cute nor dramatic flowers.
In mood… It’s an uplifting and feels a bit romantic — feels like I’m going on a first date. You’ll wear this when you want others to feel like you’re an approachable person.
Verdict… A feminine yet not overtly sweet scent that reflects a morning walk in a garden. A fragrance made for women who are tired of conventional floral scents.
Guan Tan, Associate Beauty Editor
In colour… Definitely a beautifully soft pastel lilac or baby blue — like those pretty pastel-coloured ultra-soft towels for children.
In visuals… It makes me feel like I’m lying on a bed of ultra-soft cotton — isn’t that everybody’s dream? You’re comfortable but, you know, not lethargic nor sleepy.
In mood… It actually smells so comforting that I’d prefer to have this in the form of a candle for home. Like, I’d want to wind down in the evening to this scent. It feels very grounding and lifts my mind off things.
Verdict… If you like your fragrance to quieten your mind or if you like to feel composed and collected, this is the scent for you.
Currently using… Maison Christian Dior’s Sakura. I only ever use one scent at a time.
Khaw Xinlin, Blogger
In colour… It is a soft, pastel millennial pink. It’s a sweet pink that it isn’t overly feminine nor pubescent.
In visuals… A quiet floral garden in London with sprawling fields of lilac baby’s breath. Oh, and the sun’s gently shining on my face.
In mood… It’s that kind of scent that immediately calms my mind down when I find myself starting to fluster — helping me to focus.
Verdict… An intricate creation.
Currently using… I haven’t been wearing much fragrances this year because it has been difficult to find one that suits both my moods and dressing. These days, I tend to go for linen sprays — I spritz them all over my clothes. So, linen sprays from Innisfree have been my go-to!
Jo Malone London’s Poppy and Barley is now available in-stores at ION Orchard, B2-32.