Jo Malone Wins Me Over

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.

image: jomalone.com

 

76 Comments
Matt December 18, 2008

Hmm.... I just found this archinve list, so Im a little tardy, but couldnt resist tossing a few cents in. ;-) For some reason quite a few of the JM scents are total knockouts on me... true, there are a few that fade in about 15 minutes (nutmeg and ginger) and a few I'd just never attempt (Im a guy... super fruity florals just dont cut it). Pom. Noir will last on me all day, mellowing out into a wonderfully spicy temple incense/frankincense/pepper blend that gets a whole host of admiring sniffs from people I end up around ;-) Black Vetyver Cafe also has extreme lasting power on my bod... and layers beautifully with the pomegranate. Easy for me to go too far with that combo though, a little of each and I'll be all set but any more than that and I can be, well, easily found by anyone with a nose at all. The Kohdo fragrances also hit my skin nicely... though the lighter of the two does, after a very short time, start coming across as a light and lovely bug repellant. The Dark Amber is astounding, creamy, golden... another scent that will cause people to walk up to me and dreamily ask what Im wearing (the only other scent to really do that for me is the limited edition orange Alien... this past summer that became almost all I wore and all around me people just kept walking up to me to smell me. A little strange, but also rather calming for the ego. ;-)

Victoria May 2, 2008

March, I was running by the counter at BG the other day and sniffed these. Usually, I avoid Jo Malone, but the name caught my eye. These are probably the first JM fragrances I liked, and I will return to resample them. Honestly, I cannot imagine JM soliflores or any other light florals without some musk. They would vanish within seconds.

Cheezwiz May 1, 2008

I think I must try the Lotus Blossom. It initially didn't sound all that interesting to me, but everyone who has reviewed it went in with the same assumption and wound up liking it. I have two of her other scents - orange blossom & lemon verbena, which I liked when I bought them, but have since moved on to other lines (Annick Goutal's orange blossom is fab!)

Prince Barry April 30, 2008

I found tha Dark Amber and Ginger Lily was a huge disapointment. On me, it was far from dark and the Kyara wasn't even there. I am a collector of fine Japanese incense and I know the smell of Kyara very well.

Robin April 30, 2008

Ok, you really *did* surprise me -- I would not have thought you'd like the White Jasmine & Mint. It's awfully clean for me, so hey, it must be really awfully clean for you? I've been meaning to write an article on "perfumes i like that are out of character" -- think this is one of those for you, no?

Vasily April 30, 2008

I've tried I think four JMs. Black Vetyver Cafe and Blue Agave & Cacao were good enough to rate a place on my second string list (might buy a decant some day). The others ... ho hum. I have tried layering these two together, and they're great that way; BVC is also great layered with MPG Santal Noble. But all the JM's I've tried were at best mediocre in the longevity department ... and it seemed the ones I liked least were the ones with the best longevity & sillage. For coffee, I still prefer Ava Luxe's Cafe Noir to anything else I've tried regardless of price.

Patty April 30, 2008

BVC is one of my stapes, as is the blue agava and cacao. loving both of the Kohdo things. While JM doesn't do it for me overall, I do find her things really easy to wear on days when you just can't figure out what else really works.

Flor April 30, 2008

I have only heard good things about these and your review confirms it. I have got to try them. Unfortunately I'll have to wait until August/September when I visit. I have added them to my "must try" list. I'm going to have so much fun!!

marina April 30, 2008

You missed the end of the world. It came when Robin and I started liking the same scents :-) After being EFTs forever. But I think we are drifting apart i our tastes, so the end of the world might be reversible. Oh wait, now it's your newly-found Malone love...OK, well Apocalypses it is then.

kathleen April 30, 2008

I tried both of the fragrances from the Kohdo Wood collection, naturally I couldn't smell a thing. I usually need 2 tries before I smell anything. I'll pick them up again today and see... I like the Black Vetyver Cafe layered over the Vintage Gardenia body creme. Gives it a little depth and lasts longer than the usual 10 minutes that I get from most scents.

Dane April 30, 2008

Alright March, now I'm always open to new things...but Jo??? The Water Goddess of Yawnsville? I have to admit its fun to stop and smell some of her 500 bottles...sort of in the way its fun to smell cheap candles at the dollar store. I will, however, make a point of checking the two new ones out, as they sound a bit more intruiging than the usual selections. Does a Ginger Lily smell like ginger, or lily? Hmmm...:-? I have to agree about the rating for White Jasmin & Mint...I'd much rather have The Pour Un Ete, but you are correct that it does lack the mint. PS - your comment about $50 not counting towards your perfume budget cracked me up...you took the words right out of my mouth! :d

nava April 30, 2008

Good morning March, I agree these are both a departure for JM (as was Pomegranate Noir), but to my nose they both smelled nondescript and figgy. I didn't get any of the lovely notes you described from Dark Amber and Ginger Lily. It's quite possible I was suffering from schnoz fatigue when I sniffed them. Now I must re-visit... Thanks!

donanicola April 30, 2008

I tried the Dark Amber one in Harrods the other day not realising it was on early release there and there only until tomorrow. By the time I realised I really really liked it I wasn't in Harrods anymore. Never mind. I work round the corner to JM in the City so will hot foot it tomorrow to see if it makes the same impression second time around. I've been bored by JM's fragrances for some time and had a slightly snobby attitude to all the men who queued up at the store at Christmas and Valentines day ("heh L'AP is round the corner you drones - she'll like Dzing! much better! Oh you mean you don't want her smelling of cardboard? How strange")I've got my eye on the bath oil too......

Divalano April 30, 2008

I discounted JM yrs ago when as a neo-perfumista my partner in crime, S, knowing I adore tuberose flowers got me a FB of JM's Tuberose. Pure wrongness, gave it away. Then JM almost switched me with a free samp of Jasmine Mint last yr but it was late in the season, not quite hot enough & I gave that to my stepmom to freshen herself with in the hospital (& now wish I had it back thankyouverymuch Miss March). Imagine my surprise at the Sniffa when these smelled ... interesting to me. For some reason the Lotus smelled good to me. It really shouldn't, the notes are ALL wrong. They're quite right on the Amber but perversely, it wasn't calling me. So now I must go back & sample in the store. What the hey, you're right - $50 is free. Isn't it??

Elle April 30, 2008

Puts ear to ground to see if the approach of the four horsemen can be heard yet. Actually, I'm w/ you on the JMs. It's not a line I have any affection for, but this Kohdo Night has completely won me over. Does it remind you at all of SL Santal Mysore? I do get hints of that in it. I'm going to have to give the Jasmine and Mint a try. Sounds like it has real potential. I need to retry BVC. I know I liked it, but I never got a bottle. Must go figure out why not.

Judith (AKA lilybp) April 30, 2008

How did I miss these at the sniffa? The Dark Amber and Ginger Lily does sound good. But so far, the only JM I have liked is Black Vetyver Cafe, which lasts (you guessed it) under five minutes on me. So if these are similarly short-lived on Robin, I don't have much hope. Still--worth a try. Now--completely OT and boring to everyone but me, who must vent; most should just ignore. Mr. Lily's Perfume Tragedy So Mr. Lily keeps the perfume he really likes in a guest bathroom that he uses becauses I have taken over the master (no shower in his, so its OK). But company was coming so he put all the bottles (and his meds as well) in a paper bag and moved them out. And then--you guessed it--the helpful cleaning woman seems to have assumed they were junk (he DID leave them very near the recycling corner) and she threw them out! Sigh. All that remains is a lone bottle of Oud Cuir d'Arabie, which he left on the sink (fortunately, this is his favorite). But he is (surprisingly) disconsolate :(( I figure, though, that it will just help me decide on my next series of gifts for him.:) I have already sent away for LeLabo Vetiver, which fortunately comes in small sizes and therefore was the cheapest to replace--and this one will have his name on it, too. :x

chayaruchama April 30, 2008

OK, we'll check your DNA... I liked the Dark one; I think they're all pretty- They just don't all sit well on me. [But I will defend like HELL anyone's right to enjoy- Who the [email protected]#k am I, after all ?] [Oddly, I was recently asked if I wanted to 'represent' JM at Needless Markups- Which I respectfully declined. If I'm going to represent someone, I want my whole heart in it.]

Louise April 30, 2008

Oh, these might change my mind about the Jos. I have smelled many I like...and of course they run away from my skin almost instantly. One SA chided me when I mentioned this, telling me that the fleeting quality was intentional, since Ms. Malone wanted us to re-spray a lot, to keep things "fresh". Hmmm, $$$$? But very hard to imagine wood and amber leaving me quickly :d/

MattS April 30, 2008

Awww, none of these have managed to catch my attention, but you almost had me with the Dark Amber and Ginger Lily. Then I got to your incense disclaimer, which I almost felt was directed at me. So yeah, it'd probably disappoint. Oh well, something less to buy... BTW, what does a Southern boy who doesn't really do fresh and clean wear in the summer when it's 95 degrees and 120 percent humidity? I generally have paid no attention to what might be considered proper and have worn whatever the hell I wanted. But there are Rules? Maybe I should reevaluate? No MKK??

sallycantdance April 30, 2008

I've avoided JM ever since a salesgirl in Bath and Body Works asked me if I had a horse (Pomegranate Noir). But I'm in an amber phase at the moment, coming off an arrogant chypre phase, so I think this new JM is in order for testing. Often I feel that the JM associates are that odd mixture of condescending and desperate that always makes for a lightly unpleasant shopping experience. This has been truest at Saks, where the JM boutique atmosphere is as forbidding as the haute couture section. To that end, any objection to a proffered scent ("No thank you, I already have a number of rose scents") is met with a snort ("Of course you do"). I don't mind a pepper note so long as it isn't an independent pepper note. By way of example I will offer Mille et Une Rose, in which the pepper acts only to expand the rose, not to accent it or to compete with it. Am going to hunt this one down and probably kill something (my CC). Am hoping for a trophy in return. I'd like to praise JM for offering sensibly sized and intelligently priced fragrances, even if some of them are weak, watery, or just plain weird.

tmp00 April 30, 2008

I've liked several of these, but in the interest of not living in my car (parked in front of your house no thanks Miss Enabler) I've ignored them. I hate to write it, but to that end I will continue to. Of course if Ms Malone wants to get into skank, all bets are off...

QuinnCreative April 30, 2008

Oh, March, I'm so happy to be able to come out of the verbena and patchouli-scented closet about Jo Malone! I liked several of her fragrances, but felt like a despicable member of the common ruck, worthy only of scorn and to be spritzed with Red. Yes, some of the body creams are waaaay too linear, but Fig leaf and Cassis is lovely, and Mint and Jasmine is the only jasmine I can stand to wear. [Hangs head, shrugs, scuffs shoe on gravel.] I find absolutely no resemblance whatsoever between The Pour en Ete and Jasmine and Mint, but I am not a polished nose assigning stars with a deliberate flip of the wrist, either. Malone has some lovely room scents that I used to cut the DC humidity and the feeling I was living in a dog's mouth. Now that I live in the desert, I use the body lotions as blenders and find the scents lasting enough even for today's first 100-degree blast. (heh, heh, with 3 percent humidity.)

minette April 30, 2008

only because it is you will i stop by and try these. but i can't guarantee i'll dig them, as the rest of the line has left me cold, even the "darker" ones. i have a friend who lives up your way who is a total jm-head... i'll have to send her the link to your review so she can see that someone has a little love for her fave. the pour un ete is jasmine/tea to me, and totally delicious. have you tried ysl in love again jasmin etoile? it is one of my favorite summer scents - jasmine/citrus and i think a little tea - utterly refreshing and long-lasting - and completely underrated.

violetnoir April 30, 2008

These fragrances do sound lovely, March, but since JM is far from my favorite line, I think I will hold out. Now, if I just happen to be in Saks...and I just happen to stumble across the JM line...well....;) You know what I really, really want to test? AG Musc Nomade! Hugs!