Jo Malone Rain and Angelica : Perfume Review

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The smell of sun-dried linens is one of those scents that invariably make me feel like all is well in the world. At the root of it is a childhood recollection of my grandmother’s linens (the memory conveniently blots out the less romantic realities of doing laundry by hand in a house with no running water). The aroma of starched fabric heated in the sun is so comforting that I look to the perfume bottle to satisfy this craving. An unexpected addition to my “sun and summer” fragrances has become Jo Malone Rain and Angelica, a recent debut from the brand specializing in simple, easy-to-wear scents.

jo-malone-rain-angelica

There is no reason to expect that something called Rain and Angelica (an unsubtle nod to Frédéric Malle ‘s rain drenched angelicas, Angéliques Sous la Pluie) would smell of sun warmed sheets or even anything summery. When I checked the list of notes well after trying and wearing the perfume for several days, I was surprised to find little resemblance between the cold, aquatic elements on paper and the warm, soft perfume on my skin.

Rain and Angelica is one of those skin loving perfumes that don’t stand well on blotters. From the first sniff, you notice the sun-dried linen impression (on paper, it’s merely flat and green). The silvery flash of metallic citrus and watery notes adds a light, fizzy touch and then you’re draped in flowers. They remain in soft focus and abstract, but what initially feels like rough linen is made less sharp and cold by iris and jasmine.

All of this is enough to suggest the smell of sun-dried sheets, but the best part of Rain and Angelica is its warm, languid drydown. That’s the summer part of my original fantasy. It’s like a cross between the freshness of L’Artisan L’Été en Douce and the creamy amber of Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess, but in Jo Malone’s clean and airy style. Angelica root is naturally musky, and this nuance, together with subtle vanilla notes, is amplified in Rain and Angelica. From the sun-dried sheets, Rain and Angelica takes me to a beach, and I smell warm sand and the remnants of sun lotion on my arms.

I already wrote about my frustration with Jo Malone’s prices in my review of Tuberose Angelica, and Rain and Angelica doesn’t entirely merit its high price tag either. It’s well-crafted, but you have probably smelled something like it before. But in contrast to many colognes, it has plenty of presence and enough personality. It hits the right summery note for me, and I like its insouciant character.

The main drawback of Rain and Angelica is not the price, however. It’s its limited edition status. Once the summer is over, it will be gone for good. So, if you have other suggestions for perfumes that smell like sun-dried linen, I’d love to hear them.

Jo Malone Rain and Angelica includes notes of lime, rain note, pink pepper, aldehydes, iris, rose, angelica root, vetiver, and amber. Limited Edition. 100ml/$120

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48 Comments

  • rainboweyes: The smell of sun-dried linens is one of my favourite scents too. To me, the perfume which perfectly evokes this impresion is IUNX Eau Blanche. Unfortunately it’s one of the most fleeting scents I know :( June 5, 2014 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I remember Eau Blanche too, and I also remember that it didn’t last at all. I could have bathed in it, but after 10 minutes nothing remained. Oh well, I still liked it very much as I did the whole IUNX store. There is still a smaller outfit selling these perfumes, but it doesn’t have the concept of the original intact. June 5, 2014 at 9:53am Reply

  • Jenna: I saw it at the boutique, and assumed that it was too watery and didn’t try it. I don’t like anything too acquatic. But after reading your review I want to smell it. June 5, 2014 at 7:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I was surprised to see that it behaved very differently from what I was expecting. It has some watery notes, but it doesn’t smell sharp or ozonic. Worth trying, even though it’s a limited edition. June 5, 2014 at 9:54am Reply

  • Eric: Do you think it’s suitable for men? I also like the smell of sun-dried linens but what I tried so far claiming to be it makes me think … of fabric softener. Except for L’Artisan Extrait de Songe and it was discontinued. June 5, 2014 at 8:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I think so. There is nothing specifically gendered about it, and it can work for both men and women.

      By the way, L’Artisan’s L’Ete en Douce is supposed to be Extrait de Songe. I haven’t compared them side by side, so maybe they’ve tweaked the perfume after reissuing it. June 5, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

  • sara: sounds very nice. i like jo malone’s lime blossom and basil and also english pear and freesia. not too complicated, good for daytime. June 5, 2014 at 8:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Many of their perfumes are definitely easy to wear and nice, but with the recent price increases, I find it more and more difficult to justify the $100+ price tags. Rain and Angelica was, on the other hand, an instant attraction for me, and if they had a smaller bottle, I would have bought it. June 5, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

      • N.: I have bought a couple 30 mL bottles from JM, but I can’t bring myself to pay what they want for the larger bottles. I like JM candles too, but find it is the same thing. The Lavender & Lovage candle from the Just Like Sunday candle collection has a wonderful description on the website, “Crisp, white sheets.” But, I can’t bring myself to part with the sixty five dollars it costs. If you find a great clean linen scent, please share. I haven’t so far. I used to like Philosphy Pure Grace, which was like clothes out of the dryer scent to me, but it seems more artificial smelling anymore. Maybe it is just me. June 5, 2014 at 7:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: I used to love their Orange Blossom candle, but I also can’t bring myself to spend that much. It’s not that it’s a bad candle, but it doesn’t seem worth the higher price. At that point, I might as well splurge on something really special like Mariage Freres or Annick Goutal candles.

          I have a Pure Grace sample that I really like, but I’m afraid that it’s already a couple of years old. With everything reformulated frequently, it’s hard to keep abreast of it all. June 5, 2014 at 7:21pm Reply

  • Mary R: My picks for their summery feel are Annick Goutal Duel and L’Eau de L’Artisan. I tried a few Jo Malones but nothing seemed worth the price. June 5, 2014 at 9:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve been meaning to revisit L’Eau de L’Artisan for a while. It sounds perfect for the summer. June 5, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

      • Alessandra: Me too! It’ll be either that or l’été en douce up next for me, although maybe something by Nicolai would be a great idea, as well :) June 5, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

        • Victoria: Maybe, Nicolai’s Cologne Sologne or L’Eau d’Ete? I need to revisit them. June 5, 2014 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Mary R: No, I lied. I just remembered that I bought a bottle of Blackberry & Bay! June 5, 2014 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a good one! I also have a small bottle and I’m enjoying it. June 5, 2014 at 9:58am Reply

  • Ann: Have you tried the new Silk Blossom? I checked if you’ve reviewed, but I couldn’t find anything. June 5, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t yet, but I’m curious, especially after a review by Jessica over at Now Smell This. June 5, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

      • Ann: Thank you, Victoria. I love Jessica’s reviews, how did I missed that one. June 5, 2014 at 10:12am Reply

        • Victoria: I do too, and her review of Silk Blossom was great. June 5, 2014 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you for the interesting and honest review. I love the smell of sun-dried linens. It’s so wonderful to think that I can smell sunshine. :-) I tested quite a few of Jo Malone fragrances but something in them just doesn’t agree with me. A lot of them smell ‘watery’ to me. So far, the only one I liked was Orange Blossoms.

    How interesting that this perfume changes a lot when tested on skin! Since I only get to test perfumes in town 2-3 times a month, I try to sample as many as I can. I can’t possibly try everything on my skin so I test perfumes on paper first and if I think it’s really worth trying, only then I’ll try it on my skin. Maybe, I’m missing a lot of potentially nice perfumes this way? BTW, the bottle in the picture reminds me of the Hermes garden series. June 5, 2014 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Some perfumes definitely need skin, but a good perfume should also smell great on the blotter. Rain and Angelica gets there in the end, but it develops much more slowly on paper. On skin, it feels fuller, more 3D somehow.

      You’re right about the similarity to the Hermes bottles! I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but Rain and Angelica was created by Christine Nagel, the perfumer who is now working for Hermes. Since this fragrance must have been developed well before her Hermes tenure, it’s probably just a way for JM to distinguish their limited edition collection. June 5, 2014 at 1:09pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Oh, I didn’t know that it was created by Christine Nagel. I just found it amusing that the bottle looked like the jardin series and the name immediately reminded me of Angéliques Sous la Pluie by JCE. A few days ago, I read this joint interview of Nagel and Ellena and enjoyed it very much: http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/05/hermss-new-perfumers-on-luxury-bloggers.html. I post the link in case if you or the others haven’t read it yet. June 6, 2014 at 6:38am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! I like when he says “I’m not a lollipop.” :) June 6, 2014 at 10:27am Reply

  • Ruth: I always think of Annick Goutal’s Eau du Ciel as reminiscent of sun dried linens, but I admit that I haven’t smelled it since the late ’80s when it was introduced so it might be different now. June 5, 2014 at 10:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I read that it might be discontinued, which is a shame. Eau du Ciel is another one of my sun-dried linens perfumes, but I keep forgetting about it. Thank you for reminding me about it. June 5, 2014 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Lucas: I love your comparison to sun-dried linens Victoria! I don’t get along well with Jo Malone scents, most of those that I tried turn flat and quite synthetic on my skin just a few minutes after applying. Rain and Angelica sounds try-worthy though I will probably not try, no JM stockist in the neighborhood. June 5, 2014 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: They’re just too expensive for what they are, so I generally don’t feel tempted by the collection. On the other hand, they have a few really good daytime fragrances and their colognes can be unexpected. Blackberry & Bay is one of my favorites, for instance. June 5, 2014 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’m not sure I’ve ever actually smelled sun-dried linens! My mother always just used a drier. :) But, as you know, I love White Linen…I wore it yesterday afternoon, in fact. June 5, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Back then I didn’t do the laundry myself, but I can tell you that my grandmothers, my mom and aunt dreamed of having a machine that would take care of it. But it’s easy to romanticize the past. :) These days, we do have a washer, but no dryer, so my grandmother has to hang up to dry on the clothesline. At least, the machine takes care of the rest. June 5, 2014 at 1:19pm Reply

  • Marianna: Dear Victoria, this is my first comment, but I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and ok, I decided to join in the fun. Your reviews and articles helped me figure out what I liked and find two lovely perfumes. I now wear Kenzo Amour and Hermes Hiris and own a fat bag of samples. I haven’t tried any Jo Malone perfumes, only wanted to comment that I like how you point out the pros and cons in your reviews. It helps newbies like me. June 5, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your kind words, Marianna. Welcome, and please feel free to join in anytime. :) There are so many knowledgeable and very nice people who comment, so if you have any questions, you can be sure that someone will help.

      Amour and Hiris are beautiful perfumes! I wear Hiris often myself, and in fact, I was wearing over the weekend. It’s a light perfume, but surprisingly, one of my most complimented fragrances. Well, it also makes me feel very good when I wear it. :) June 5, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Ann: Hi Victoria,

    You know, one fragrance that reminds me, mostly in the dry down, of the scent of sheets drying on the line is SSS’s Champagne de Bois. It has that sunny feel, plus the woodsy herby scents of the outdoors. It has the smell of linen still warm from the sun. June 5, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, I’m about to dig through my sample box to find Champagne de Bois. Your description is so tempting. June 5, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Kate: I agree with you about the pricing, especially for a perfume with moderate to poor longevity. It strikes me as cynical to use a certain brand cachet in this way, which, as a consumer, is a big turnoff.

    I enjoyed your review very much, as usual, especially your evocative descriptions of your associations with this scent! Not crazy about aquatic notes myself, so probably won’t rush out to get it (my purse will thank me). Speaking of limited editions, I recently purchased a bottle of Guerlain’s Terracotta Le Parfum for quite a reasonable price, unsniffed, and love it. I’m wondering if you’ve encountered this, Victoria? Would be curious to know what your opinion is :) June 5, 2014 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: With so many boutiques opening everywhere, Jo Malone seems like it’s pricing itself into the luxury category deliberately. In the end, there are alternatives. I like their Orange Blossom, but at that price, I might as well go for something either more interesting or less expensive (or both!)

      I’ve sniffed Le Parfum briefly on paper, and it’s like smelling the beach, suntan lotion included. Fun! But I need to try it thoroughly still. June 5, 2014 at 1:24pm Reply

  • AnnieA: Jo Malone is twice as nice as Bath and Body Works, but ten times the price.
    They are one reason why I get to hear non-perfume people say “I can’t tell the difference between cheap and expensive perfumes”… June 5, 2014 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I wear my Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose and receive compliments, sometimes people (if they’re perfumistas) don’t believe that it’s BBW. It’s really that good (but it figures that BBW would discontinue it.) There are many other excellent BBW perfumes, especially light florals and musky florals. If you’re into foody, gourmand vanillas, they have plenty of those, not to mention fruity-florals. At JM, you get a fancy experience and fancy packaging, but the perfumes themselves don’t always justify the high price. Of course, one could say the same thing about many other niche perfume lines, not just Jo Malone. June 5, 2014 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: Victoria, there’s a lovely scent by Carriere called simply Eau de Parfum. Beautiful, sweet – yet fresh off the line – linens. Not sure of it’s staying power; some have said it has a nice sillage, others say it’s gone way too soon. But I’ve just tried a sample from LuckyScent and I think it’s quite beautiful and understated. A perfect summer scent. June 5, 2014 at 2:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds so nice, Annette! I’ll add it to my to sample list, because I haven’t tried it, or anything else from the line. Thank you very much. June 5, 2014 at 5:16pm Reply

  • Merlin: I did try this one and like it – I think angelica is a note that I am drawn to. Also, its nice to hear it has presence and longevity. I agree that many JM perfumes lack this, but then I think (as you said two comments up) many other niche brands have the same problem! I do feel though, that ‘perfumistas’ often, unfairly, single out JM in this regard. Many L’artisans have just as short, or even shorter, a life on me (The pour un Ete?) And yet L’artisan is never criticized in as harsh a way, or as thoroughly dismissed. L’artisans are generally more complex than the one-trick type pony scents that make up much of the JM regular line but not necessarily better (in my opinion) than the Cologne Intense range. Iris & White Musk, for example, and well as Oud & Bergamot deserve more fan fare than they get. I wonder why this is? Perhaps its just the way they position themselves in the market? June 5, 2014 at 7:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a fair observation. L’Artisans were there first with the light, ethereal perfumes, and many of them charted the whole niche trend of perfumes based around single notes. So, for this reason, they might be given a slack. On the other hand, Andy gave The pour un Ete a much lower ranking (and fairly so) than I’ve given to any JMs I’ve reviewed. I also think that lately L’Artisan has become less focused, and their Explosions d’Emotions are not just overpriced, they smell like need more time to be properly finished. June 5, 2014 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Merlin: Yes, I think I remember the The TPUE review, and actually thinking it was quite brave of him since the older L’Artisans are often quite ‘hallowed’! June 5, 2014 at 8:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: You know, I really don’t share the reverence for the older perfumes just because they’ve been around for a while. There has been plenty of junk in the past too, and some of it is still around. Anyway, one should feel free to say what they think, and at least, on this blog, there are no sacred cows. Even if someone wants to say why they dislike my beloved Apres L’Ondee, I could care less. Another opinion, another perspective is always a good. June 6, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

  • Alicia: I suspect that I will never know the smell of sun dried linens. When I was a child, every summer I went to my grandmother’s villa by the sea. She had an orchard where she grew lavender among the lemon and other fruit trees, where they put the linens to dry, and where the grandchildren played. Once a week a battalion of strong young women came to make the family laundry. All linens were sprinkled with lavender water, and then stored with lavender sachets. As a result in my olfactive imagination, linen equals lavender. That might be why I was never all too fond of that E. Lauder masterpiece, “White Linen.” I bought it long ago expecting some lavender and, of course, never found it. En passant: in their bathroom my grandmother always kept a large bottle of Guerlain Eau Imperiale. I admired the glass bees, and eventually dared to put some of the cologne on my arm. It was heavenly, but by the end of breakast it was all gone. It was my first fragrance love, and also my first dispappointment. June 5, 2014 at 11:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: This sounds like something out of a 19th century novel, and I love this story! :) June 6, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

  • Annabel Farrell: I think Jo Malone scents went up steeply in price once Estee Lauder acquired the brand. Am looking forward to a visit to Jo Loves on my upcoming though brief trip to London to see if any of hers take my fancy. I used to love Jo Malone fragrances way back when she started out – especially Lime Basil and Mandarin. I do enjoy your blog by the way! June 6, 2014 at 12:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I only started exploring Jo Malone after it was acquired by Lauder (if I’m not mistaking the year), but I loved the charming and lighthearted character of her earlier perfumes. Now, the collection has changed, and while it’s not a bad thing per se (more variety, more different concepts,) the price has risen too much. You can find something better quality and more interesting at that price point. June 6, 2014 at 10:26am Reply

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