Jo Malone Wild Bluebell : Perfume Review

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Bluebell

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

In the past, it was more common for functional products to imitate luxurious fine fragrances. That is why there were hair sprays scented with something like Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, car fresheners redolent of Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, and bathroom cleaners strongly reminiscent of Lancôme Trésor. Today, I am much more likely to find resemblance to functional products in fine fragrances, thanks to the fashion for clean, simple scents and the cheapening of luxury perfume overall. My latest encounter of such a hybrid is Jo Malone Wild Bluebell. It is a bright, lily of the valley dominated floral that I can envision far easier as a shampoo or fabric softener rather than a fine fragrance.

For all of their exquisite loveliness, English bluebells have a rich, heady fragrance that combines the green freshness of lily of the valley with a spicy bite of gingerbread with the voluptuousness of white rose. Wild Bluebell mostly hits the sharp floral notes. The lily of the valley, jasmine and rose form the main impression, with clove adding a characteristic bluebell or hyacinth warmth. The almond sweetness of heliotropine becomes obvious as the fragrance dries down, while layers of soft musk set against the floral accords make for an expected finish.

Unlike Penhaligon’s Bluebell, Jo Malone’s version is sweeter and fruitier. Although I am not at all a fan of Penhaligon’s take on bluebells, wearing Wild Bluebell made me appreciate the former’s green and earthy character, which at least captures in part the scent of real flowers. Jo Malone’s fragrance has the strident brashness of many modern florals. Considering that lily of the valley notes are used heavily by the functional products industry, the associations could not be less fortuitous. I suppose that if one likes smelling like clean laundry, Wild Bluebell will be a good choice. On further reflection,  if that were the case, I would rather buy a bottle of Frebreeze, which is nicely scented with rose and lily of the valley and costs only $6.

As an interesting aside, I would like to mention that as part of its Wild Bluebell launch, Jo Malone has made a donation to the Woodland Trust, a conservation charity that protects the UK’s woodland heritage. English bluebell, which inspired the fragrance, is on a protected plants list, and it is illegal to harvest their bulbs and seeds for commercial purposes. In fact, if you are a gardener in the UK and are trying to create your own field of fragrant bluebells, be sure to buy bulbs of Hyacinthoides non-scripta. There are many hybrids and foreign varieties of bluebells such as unscented Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthiodes hispanica) that hybridize the native species, a current main concern to conservationists of the local flora.

Jo Malone Wild Bluebell Cologne includes notes of clove, jasmine, bluebell, lily of valley, persimmon, eglantine, white amber, and musk. It is sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom. Wild Bluebell is available in the following sizes: 30 ml ($55) and 100 ml ($110.)

Sample: my own acquisition

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19 Comments

  • sariah: I haven’t tried this yet, but was surprised how function product smelling the Chanel 19 Poudre is. It smells like iris dryer sheets to me. September 28, 2011 at 7:47am Reply

  • lily: 19 poudre was the same for me Sariah. Pretty opening, then collapsed into generic, musky, abstract floral drier sheet nothingness without so much as a whimper. Wore Futur the next day and was reminded of how fabulous a proper green floral can be 🙂 September 28, 2011 at 8:37am Reply

  • Victoria: I also found it really pallid and lacking a character.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile September 28, 2011 at 9:22am Reply

  • Victoria: I was also disappointed. Bland, bland, bland…
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile September 28, 2011 at 9:25am Reply

  • Suzanna: Third thumbs down for the No. 19 Poudre, and, based on a brief encounter with the Malone in the local Saks, thumbs down there as well.

    This blurring of line between fine and functional is such an interesting topic, Victoria, that I wish you’d cover it in more detail. Or it would make a terrific magazine piece. September 28, 2011 at 9:31am Reply

  • Victoria: Did you see my post here "Luxury vs Function"? I wrote it earlier this year. Or are you thinking of a topic more along the lines of my intro to this review?
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile September 28, 2011 at 9:34am Reply

  • Raluca: I find all Jo Malone fragrances to be too lout. Somehow I like them but then I don’t. Wish I udnerstood why I feel that way. I bought French Lime Blossom once but didn’t buy it again. September 28, 2011 at 12:16pm Reply

  • k-scott: Hi Victoria~ like you, I found Bluebell to be strident. The topnotes smelled like banana laffy taffy to me, and the underlying generic LOTV was unappealing. Pass! September 28, 2011 at 1:17pm Reply

  • k-scott: Hi Victoria~ like you, I found Bluebell to be strident. The topnotes smelled like banana laffy taffy to me, and the underlying generic LOTV was unappealing. Pass! September 28, 2011 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Vijaya: I think it identical to Gap Heaven sold some 13 years ago. That bottle was $30bucks for 100 ml. September 28, 2011 at 4:29pm Reply

  • Vijaya: And some dishwashing liquid some 5 years later, Ajax or Dawn smelled very similar to Gap Heaven September 28, 2011 at 4:34pm Reply

  • annemariec: The only JM I’ve really tried is White Jasmine & Mint, and I had the same reaction as you – I liked it, and then I didn’t, and I wasn’t sure why. It just seemed fade to boring. September 28, 2011 at 6:32pm Reply

  • marika: I just read your article “Luxury vs Function”and really enjoyed it. I am so happy that you are providing such thoughtful and informed pieces. I am learning a lot from you. September 28, 2011 at 9:01pm Reply

  • Charlene: So, if the JM and Penhaglion’s bluebell fragrances are dire, are there any good bluebell scents? I’ve never smelled English bluebells but from your description, they sound lovely! September 29, 2011 at 12:35am Reply

  • Cynthia: This is strange that some of you found it strident, because I smelled…Nothing! Nothing at all. I sprayed and sprayed again, much to the irritation of the JM saleslady, but I never could really smell anything. October 4, 2011 at 9:16pm Reply

  • astrorainfall @ beauty box: I have heard raves about Jo Malone’s Wild Bluebell but was disappointed by its quiet nature on my skin…It seems I’m not alone in this… October 10, 2011 at 10:54am Reply

  • Geri Natural Skin: Thank you for the review. I have heard mix reviews about jo malone products. I may have to pass on this one. December 31, 2011 at 1:16am Reply

  • Ekaterina: I know nothing about English bluebells but choosing fragrances at Jo Malone stand in Selfridges I tried all of them literally having spent almost 30-40 minutes and probably have driven sales persons crazy )) I’ve chosen Orange Bloosom which seems to be many people’s favourite and Wild Bluebell because it reminded me of my secret meadow back home in russian countryside. But as a lot of you mentioned it wears like it’s nothing sprayed on.. I love to sniff the bottle but don’t like to actually use it on me. August 11, 2012 at 10:12pm Reply

  • Rita: I LOVE Wild Bluebell. It is my signature scent for the spring. May 13, 2016 at 1:30pm Reply

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