Stellar Qualities

The magnolia has quite the pedigree. Yet most aristocrats would agree that even they can’t trace their families back as far as 20 million years, let alone have the fossils to prove it. Magnolias have been around so long, they even pre-date bees. It was beetles that pollinated them. They’re anything if not resourceful.

Like most patrician families, the magnolia has endless cousins – in excess of 200. The smallest amongst them is the Star Magnolia. Small, but hardy, this particular branch of the magnolia dynasty blossoms around March, usually while it’s still bitterly cold, venturing forth nonetheless as a defiant messenger that spring is on the way.

The magnolia has always been an esteemed resident of Asia. Its bark has been used in medicine said to help balance a person’s ‘chi’ or life force, while in the ‘Hanakotoba’ (the ancient art of flower meanings) the magnolia means ‘sublime’. It has always carried this symbolism with it, encouraging love-struck Victorians to send it as signs of their enduring love to the objects of their affection.

In hanakotoba
(the art of flower meanings)
the magnolia means ‘sublime’

From its fuzzy grey buds come large, star-shaped petals. Mostly white, but with a tendency to drift into pink, they are delicately fragranced with a light, almost citrusy scent. This particular variety was first discovered by the Swedish naturalist, Carl Peter Thunberg in the late 1700s and there followed a great deal of disagreement about what this breed should be named. After much back and forth – three centuries worth, in fact – it wasn’t until 1998 that the name Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) was settled upon.

In a role that befits a star of the orient, Star Magnolia is the leading lady in our new Hair Mist. Directly inspired by the glorious magnolia trees that blossom so delicately and peacefully in the midst of Shanghai’s urban busyness, this is the essence of a bright March morning in this great city’s parks. Blended with ginger, lemon and dewy shiso leaf, it settles like a delicate, sparkling veil that brings the added bonus of high-shine with it. Radiant, gleaming and bright and heralding the start of warmer days to come.

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