If on the previous post I talked about the opportunity of a hand and arm massage being rather uncommon to encounter in a perfume boutique, it is with regularity that one encounters the practice at another bastion of British skinscentsa-experience, that of Jo Malone. That’s only to be expected of course from someone who began as a facialist working with her hands, mixing to the degree that seemed right to her, as well as coming from a lineage in the profession. And up until the acquisition of the firm by Estee Lauder, Jo herself was seen at the boutiques getting involved in the process.
Today only the flagship store is controlled by Jo, per info divulged by the manager.The rest of the boutiques are controlled by the Lauder Group, remaining nevertheless totally respective to Jo’ vision for the line.
What is most pleasing about the Jo Malone boutiques is the presentation and stylish interiors. The walls are painted in ivory reflecting the shade of the luxurious boxes and thick paper bags, etched in black, with grosgrain black ribbon to match. It just looks the opposite of ostentatious; it’s really stylish, unaffected, old money style yet with a certain modern worldliness about it that other brands aiming at such miss. I can see a young at heart, busy and self-fulfilled, about town woman carrying the little tote bags filled with gifts for family, the glorious candles for the home (which burn exceptionally well and do scent the whole house) and a couple of bath and body products for herself. The lotions do lend a new meaning to the notion of self-pampering, they’re so velvety soft.
The shelves in the stores are spacious and inviting, beckoning you to lean closer and smell the testers with the lovely scents. There is an apothecary style of presentation, done however in light and bright hues that give off the modern edge I mentioned.
Going into the cornucopia of scents comprising the line, one is spoilt for choice, as there is apparently something for everyone. The notion of combining scents to produce a third, personal one is at the core of the brand and it is something that allows individualism to an extent, always a good thing in my books.
The one basic gripe I often hear about Jo Malone scents is that they are not very lasting and that this is due to them being “colognes”. With that in mind I tackled the manager with a direct approach aimed at producing the “deer caught in the headlights” effect which might have made me persona non grata in the store had the British good manners not surfaced and a smart managing direction not prevailed. No, my question was not rude or impertinent, it seemed. This was often voiced and they had a perfectly valid explanation. The fragrances in the Jo Malone line are really of eau de toilette (and in some cases even eau de parfum) strength, however the eau de cologne tag was chosen to denote that the products are really meant to be shared, being unisex, so as not to alienate the male customer venturing into the store. Phrased like that it does make sense, although I have to admit that the lasting power is greatly dependent on the specific fragrance chosen, as some seem to go on for hours, while others vanish in a “puff the magic dragon” instant.
As the whole line is available where I live quite easily I wasn’t temped into actual purchases, so the whole purpose of the exercise was to really get the feel of the shop, talk to the manager and get info for our readers concerning aspects of the brand. To the interests of the latter issue I tentatively asked what the bestsellers are. The artsy types go for Pomegranate Noir, I was told, with its deep and brocade-like tapestry of rich hues and sweet and sour fruits, while the more traditional women go for Red Roses.
Contrasted to my local boutique bestsellers, which the manager had revealed to be Orange Blossom and Honeysuckle & Jasmine (those are both very likeable and suited to warmer temperatures), I saw that there is substance to the notion of choices based on climate. However Pomegranate Noir is the perennial favourite for the winter season.
Men often go for the traditional Amber and Lavender and Vetyver. I think although the former is rather mainstream and not very exciting, it does blend pleasing sides of both notes. Vetyver I found not to my liking, I’m sad to report. Rather discordant.
From the choices before me I really appreciated again the slight spiciness of Vintage Gardenia, which makes it unique in the universe of gardenias, even if not as realistically accurate as the one by Yves Rocher or the new Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estee Lauder. Blue agave and cacao is slightly salty and has a rather bitter edge that is very welcome in the heat.
One thing I came across that you won’t be coaxed into relying solely on the recommendations of the catalogue or the site is the marvelous combination of the woodiness of masculine 154 cologne and Red Roses: the effect is vaguely reminiscent of Voleur de Roses by L’artisan, with a different enough tonality to it, that is more sandalwood rich but with the earthy touch of vetiver instead of patchouli. Neat!
Next post will offer a glimpse of greatness...
Pics courtesy of Jo Malone site