Anyone keeping an eye out for alarming signs indicating the coming of the End Times need look no further than my recent infatuation with some Jo Malone scents. I gave up on Jo Malone quite awhile ago, not too far into my fragrance addiction – somewhere after French Nectarine, Verbena & Lime. Or maybe it was Orange Blossom, Basil & Lavender. I forget. An “edgy” JM scent like Pomegranate Noir was notable to me solely for its stubborn refusal to leave my skin no matter how much I scrubbed.
Then I smelled the new Jo Malone Kohdo Wood Collection at the Sniffa. The Collection contains two fragrances: Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, and Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, and I was stunned to find myself falling for Dark Amber & Ginger Lily. It´s a heavy amber, a Jo Malone, an allegedly limited edition – three strikes against it. I meant to buy some, forgot, and last week I found myself wandering over to Bloomie´s for a new pair of yoga pants and another sniff, because I couldn´t put it out of my mind.
Dark Amber & Ginger Lily is the night-time “sensual” scent of the pair, and features cardamom, pink pepper (which is in everything now, did they pass some law requiring it? not that I’m complaining), ginger, night blooming jasmine, orchid, water lily, rose, black amber, white pepperwood, leather, patchouli, sandalwood and Kyara incense accord. The JM boutique Sales Associate was at lunch when I stopped by, and I was amused at the very nice Chanel SA´s insistence on the “nighttime-only” appropriateness of the Dark Amber – it was pretty clear she thought the circumstances under which you´d want to wear something like that were severely limited. I know some of you have already fallen in love with it. The time of year for its launch seems wrong (it strikes me as a fall scent) but it is a wonderfully smooth, seamless mélange of amber, intense dark florals and woods, creamy, and in my opinion quite a departure from what I have smelled from the line. The incense and spices are strongest at the opening — the incense is lovely in both scents, but I feel obligated to point out that if you’re interested solely because of the incense, this would probably disappoint. I’d describe it as amber/woody with an incense twist. I get more woody incense right at the tail end of the day, after the florals depart. There is a faint odd note like tanning oil or milky coconut that drifts in and out for the first hour before disappearing. I can´t pick out any of the notes listed, and it doesn´t go through a ton of development – it´s warm and rich, and I can´t think of anything else quite like it. If it were a color, it would be a deep red. Contrary to the Chanel SA’s opinion I can see wearing this a lot — it’s sultry by JM standards, I guess, but Poison or Fracas it is not. Having said that, it’s got some decent sillage and might not be the best choice for close quarters at work, particularly if your cube-mate’s idea of heaven is a light citrus cologne.
The Lotus Blossom & Water Lily is the “energizing daytime” scent and includes aquatic notes (horrors!), grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin, lotus blossom, freesia, honeysuckle, water lily, jasmine, incense, amber, sandalwood, musk, aloeswood and guaiac wood. I knew I was buying the Dark Amber but tried on the Lotus Blossom to confirm my lack of interest, and I realized … well, there might be more to the Lotus Blossom than I thought. I put it on the way I hear a normal person wears perfume (squirt on my cleavage, one on the wrists) and went off for my yoga pants and further consideration. Fifteen minutes later I decided I needed a bottle of the Lotus Blossom as well. The citrus comes on fairly strong in the first few minutes, more grapefruit than mandarin, but then it settles into a mildly sweet, watery floral, with a enough of the woods and incense to move it in a more unisex direction and keep it interesting to me. (The aquatic bit isn’t “fresh,” that ironically-named deal-killer that smells sour, like a basket of dirty laundry.) For a relatively light scent it is tenacious – I can smell it on my clothing the following day – and it has the interesting ability to disappear and then suddenly halo around me. I think this would make an excellent, inoffensive work scent. Having discovered its tenacity on fabric, I sprayed my sheets one evening and enjoyed that as well. At $95 for 100ml, it doesn’t fill me with guilt, but you can get 30ml for $50, and anything for $50 is, essentially, free and thus doesn’t count against my perfume budget.
I have many, many scents for cooler weather, but comparatively few I want to smell in a Washington summer. In general, most florals, by the time they reach an appropriate level of lightness for the D.C. heat and humidity, are no longer interesting to me. This leaves a plethora of citrus and tea scents, many of which by definition don´t have huge lasting power. Lotus Blossom is a nice change of pace. This is one of those scents I would love some additional feedback on – I find myself quite hopelessly in its thrall, while at the same time suspecting that it is the perfume equivalent of 7-Up. By the way, they smell delicious layered.
Since I´d clearly lost my mind, and the exceedingly well-trained Jo Malone SA showed back up, I decided to sample some others. Having politely turned down most of the citrus-y JM standards, I accepted a paper strip with White Jasmine & Mint on it – and was, again, smitten. The sharp, sparkling wetness of the mint against the intense, creamy sweetness of a clean jasmine was such a perfect combination I wondered how nobody had tried it before. In The Guide, Tania Sanchez gives it three stars and calls it “an optimistic but crude cologne” (an assessment I agree with, by the way; I have a lot of three-star scents I love) and says is has been done before – and better – in L´Artisan´s The Pour Une Ete. I don´t have a sample here to smell, but my recollection was that the L’Artisan was more about the tea, and less minty. Also, Tania says JM “tries to make everything last longer by throwing in a tenacious musk” which is “vigorous but unnecessary.” To which I respond, and that´s part of what I love about it – L´Artisan lasts about 20 minutes on me. White Jasmine & Mint eventually collapses in on itself and loses its mint after an hour, and then it´s kind of flat. You can´t keep reapplying or you´ll kill yourself eventually with the jasmine. Nonetheless, I see at least a decant in my future.
The Jo Malones are all about layering. I like to layer, but am (perversely) annoyed by a house that deliberately encourages me to do that – shouldn´t their fragrances be good enough to stand alone? They´re just trying to sell more product! This thinking makes no sense, I realize. Anyway, the SA talked about layering the lighter/sweeter scents with some of the scents on the darker end of the spectrum, and if you haven´t tried it already, let me heartily recommend their Wild Fig & Cassis layered with the Black Vetyver Café, which – what kind of idiot am I?!? How have I missed that one? I´ll need some of that this fall, although I’ll test drive it first — tons of complaints about lasting power on Black Vetyver. How’s it work for you? On the other hand, Robin says the Kohdo Wood ones don’t last that long on her either. I must have some sort of freaky, molecular-vacuum-lock skin; I may complain all the time, but it’s seldom about lasting power. All of these lasted a full day (on in the morning; still there at bedtime) on me, and I could still smell them if I sniffed for them in the a.m.
For another take on the scents, please see Robin’s review from yesterday on Now Smell This.