Some recent Jo Malone releases have been very exciting (Star Magnolia, anyone) but apparently they are still capable of duds. I hate to be very blunt about it, too, but maybe because I really like the brand and am very upset when they disappoint me. I even like a lot of the work of its nose, Yann Vasnier so that may be making me doubly upset.
English Oak and Red Currant is from their English Oak Collection – which is a unique wood, sweeter and deeper than sandalwood and cedar wood. They promised this would have a ‘roasted’ quality, and of course I imagined smoky, sultry. But what I get is just generic wood that quickly disappears. I barely get the fleeting red currant. Quite quickly I get the base – a generic synthetic wood thing. That’s all. It’s nice and pleasant, but I really loathed it. As much as I want to be a completist for the brand (It is much represented in my wardrobe) this is a big big skip for me.
(Addendum: I had the same perfume on my scarf and it bloomed beautifully: the red currant is sweet and spicy at the same time, and the wood gave it a nice balance. So really,, it’s my skin.)
A lot of recent winners from Jo Malone have been winners. I am tempted to say that ‘Whiskey and Cedarwood’ from this Spring’s The Bloomsbury Set is a fine addition to that list. This limited edition collection is inspired by the artists from the Bloomsbury set who lived in Sussex. Look at the wonderful art-insufed bottle on the left – it is intoxicating and alluring. I mean, I would buy this if only for that. What is most amazing for me is how this scent is so discordant from the Jo Malone aesthetic – it’s not light, airy, or floral. I don’t even know if it would even work as a layering piece, but then again I am not one to layer.Signed by Yann Vasnier, this would not be out of place in Tom Ford’s Private Collection, or Armani Privé. It skews masculine, for sure, but probably would work wonders with women. The whiskey starts out on top, and it’s gloriously boozy, like a trip to a man’s saloon. The woods give it depth, and it comes across as very dry. There’s something here – the ‘floorwax’ accord – that makes it not as dark, and that is what is most appealing for me – it gives it just that slight touch of Jo Malone. My only complaint – and it is a big one – is its longevity. An hour in, it has become so faint I can barely smell it, and even the spritz on my scarf is tepid. I find that true with some Jo Malone scents, and unfortunately applies here. But this is a fine and unique perfume.
I met a friend for drinks the other night, and as soon as I smelled him I knew that what he was wearing was Jo Malone Basil and Neroli. Well, firstly I know that he loves Jo Malone, so hat was my first clue. But Basil & Neroli smells exactly like what you think it would smell like – which is, basil and neroli.
So the next day, of course, I went and tried on the sample I have had for a while now. I had been saving it for the perfect day, and I thought why not today? It opens with that burst of basil and neroli – the neroli here is cold and juicy, there’s just a right amount of lemony goodness in here. The basil smells just like te herb. I have never been a particular big fan of basil, the smell, the spice, and even the perfume note, but here I didn’t mind it. This perfume is instantly wearable, as I think most Jo Malone fragrances are, and I bet it is selling well. If you are looking for a crowd pleaser, look no further. And if Tom Ford Neroli Portofino is too expensive for you, this is a great alternative.
But wuth that being said, it’s still too summary for a cold night, which it was the other night when my friend was wearing this. It’s too cologne-y, for me, on a cold winter night, since the basil isn’t as heavy a spice enough. I will get this at some point as a great addition to my Jo Maloen collection, but I will wait till the weather gets warmer.
For the holiday season, Jo Malone is releasing a limited edition scent called Orange Bitters. I thought Orange Bitters was a cookie, but I realized it was a cocktail, and my heart started to flutter. (From Wikipedia: Orange bitters is a cocktail flavoring made from the peels of Seville oranges, cardamom, caraway seed, coriander and burnt sugar in an alcohol base) First, I love boozy scents, and also the idea of it sounds very un-Jo Malone like. I have been for the most part impressed with their latest releases. And to top it all off, look at this beautiful beautiful bottle – festive, art-deco ish, elegant. This smelled like a winner, well, metaphorically.
Too bad it literally did not smell like one. It smells citrusy all right, btu it also has that sweet sugary note that I don’t like. It was pretty cold when I tried it on, and the sweetness overwhelmed everything else. The notes on the press release say ripe mandarin, but I just smell ripe sugar on me. And there’s no depth – nothing earthy, spicy, or dark to frame it. There’s supposed to be sandalwood and amber here but I don’t get them. And I was initially allured by a dry prune note (I thought, what? Luten-ish?) but I didn’t get it either. This perfume is just all kinds of wrong for my skin, and I feel disappointed because I really want that bottle incorporated in my Jo Malone collection.
I have been very happy with a lot of Jo Malone’s recent releases that I blind-bought their limited edition summer release Nashi Blossom. And I will not lie that part of the enticement for me was the beautiful bottle. I kind of regret that decision. Though I am glad that the beautiful bottle is among my cherished collection, the juice underwhelmed me.
Nashi is a name of an Asian pear, and I googled it to see what that looked like, and I remember the fruit from my childhood. I remember we would buy the fruit during Christmas time, and especially during New Year’s when we would fill our tables with round things – it symbolizes coins for good luck. I don’t remember the fruit having any kind of smell, to be honest.
What I do smell in this perfume is sugar, and lots and lots of it. The pear is that screechy artificial kind, and it’s really bothering me. To make matters worse, a rose note comes in and it’s just as fake smelling. And did I say it was sweet? the perfume reminds me of those Hi-C juice boxes that kids drink. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. On my skin, in the summer heat, the plastic smell even blooms. Not quite a scrubber, but close.
I am liking almost every new release from Jo Malone lately, and that includes their Cologne Intense release from earlier this year – Incense and Cedrat. Who would ever think that Jo Malone would ever release an incense-based scent, with the label’s aesthetic for all things flowery, light, and pretty. But Marie Salamagne, in this release, has created something pretty in incense. She almost eliminates the smoke from this, leaving us with a sweet resinous sap. It feels light – the cedar in it has a lot of lemon so it never feels bogged down as other incense-based scents tend to do. It feels easy to wear, and on hot summer days can even be…clean and refreshing. Apparently, the incense here is based on the Omani incense. I have never been to Oman, but I read that incense is a big part of their lifestyle, as they use ti for a variety of reasons. As I mentioned earlier, I am quite taken by this fragrance – it’s easy to wear and perfect for days when you want to wear something substantial without making such a big statement. It has less than normal longevity, though, which is a thing for some Jo Malone scents.
I really do like the direction Jo Malone has been taking lately with regards to their releases, under the creative direction of Celine Roux. Every single release since Christine Nagle left has appealed to me, and the scents under their Herb Garden Collection series have been no exception. The whole collection, even as an idea, is interesting to begin with, and the first one I tried, Wild Strawberry and Parsley, was an utter delight. I have been wearing it for most of the past two weeks just because it is the perfect not-quite-spring fragrance. First of all, the combo – while parsley is interesting enough, strawberry could have easily gone Bath and Body Works territory. Of course, this perfume is smarter than that – it has not really not much of both notes (on my skin, anyway) but it has a note that is very appealing to me: tomato leaf. I like it so much I had to look at what other fragrances has tomato leaf as a major note (Penhaligon’s Esprit du Roi came to mind instantly) But this tomato leaf here is paired with black currant (another favorite note) and it’s this juicy, berry accord that I can’t stop sniffing – and it makes the strawberry note not too cloying. I wish I could really get the parsley, but the herb I get is basil, and it enters about midway through. This herbaceous/sweet perfume was just so perfect last week when, here in the desert, the temperature still hasn’t boiled, but there’s sun and a little nip in the air. By this week, it is a lto warmer, and I was wearing this today, and it didn’t sour or anything. One one hand, i am glad this is only available in the cheap-ish 1 oz bottle, but I looked this morning, and I have used at least an eighth of it already. So, basically, you can never make me happy. Oh, and yes it is fleeting, as some Jo Malones can be, but I usually wear a scarf and spray it there so I get whiffs all through out the day.