In sharp contrast to the many girlish, sickeningly sweet perfumes which oddly seem so popular, the Jo Malone fragrance line pairs versatile nature-based scents which can be mixed and blended to create a unique fragrance. Although the line currently carries 20 different scents, there are well over three times that number including those which have been discontinued.
I first discovered Jo Malone years ago when a friend sent me a Red Roses home candle as a get-well gift. As with all Jo Malone candles, it was beautifully packaged and smelled amazing. My formerly favorite Diptyque Roses candle had finally met her match.
First, a little about the lady behind the name…Joanne Lesley Malone was born in 1963 in Bexleyheath, England. Her mother Eileen was a beautician and her father Peter was an artist. She has spoken candidly in interviews about her less-than-posh childhood growing up in government-subsidized housing.
Malone’s lifelong fascination with all things relating to fragrance was apparent from a very young age. As a child, she would make perfumes with flowers from the garden and grated Camay soap. Malone’s mother worked for a woman who owned a small skin care line marketed under the name Countess Labatti. Malone often accompanied her mother to the Countess’s apartment, which also operated as the company’s headquarters.
In an interview with Pamela Fiori of Town & Country magazine, Malone recalls: “When I was nine years old, the countess said to me, ‘I want you to make your first face mask.’ and I did, under her tutelage. She also told me, ‘Life has something very special in store for you, so if you are going to do something, do it brilliantly.'”
As Jo Malone grew older, she worked as a florist by day and a beautician who did facials by night. She met her husband Gary, a surveyor, at age 19, and he began helping her out during his time off work. Unable to afford her own business space, Malone worked out of her own apartment creating handmade scents and products..
As her business grew, she came up with the idea of giving her clients a gift as a small token of appreciation and began mixing batches of bath oil on her kitchen stove. Her Nutmeg and Ginger bath oil turned out to be a huge hit and she was bombarded with reorders. Soon people were lining up at her door and Gary was able to quit his job as a surveyor to help bottle and sell her products.
Malone was able to open her first boutique on 154 Walton Street in London which offered fragrances, skin care and home scents in 1994. In 1999, she opened her flagship boutique on London’s decorated Sloan Street.
The popularity and success of Jo Malone products was noticed by beauty giant Estee Lauder Companies.When they began making overtures, Jo was at first reluctant to give up a business she had founded in her own kitchen no matter what the price.
In 1999 Estee Lauder purchased her line for “undisclosed millions”, with Jo remaining at the company as its chairwoman and creative director. In 2006, after completing the sale of her entire brand to Estee Lauder, Malone disclosed that the time had come to finally step down. “After much soul-searching, I believe that this is a good time to make this decision as the brand is in a secure position and I have many other dreams and passions that I would like to fulfill,” she revealed.
In 20011, amid much speculation and anticipation, Jo announced a return to the fragrance industry with the formation of her new brand, Jo Loves. According to the company website, “Jo Loves bottles Jo’s undeniable desire to create beautiful and unexpected fragrances, pioneering new products and entertaining experiences.”
Jo Malone fragrances are named not imaginatively or provocatively, but rather after one or two of the ingredients used in the scent. The one exception to this is 154 Cologne which was named after the street number of the first Jo Malone Boutique in London.
The squarish apothecary-style bottles containing her tasteful and refined scents are wrapped with simple but elegant cream packaging with black grosgrain trim. Trust me, you will not want to part with the wrapping!
Jo Malone fragrances are sold as cologne as well as body and hand wash, bath oils, body and hand lotions and body creams. A 1.0 oz bottle of cologne typically costs around $65 and a 3.4 oz. bottle runs around $125. They can be purchased directly on the Jo Malone website (jomalone.com) or Amazon as well as numerous departments stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman.
So now…Drumroll…Here’s my Short List of Jo Malone best-smelling scents…
- Nectarine Blossom & Honey – Inspired by “the delicate flavor of peach sorbet”, the notes are clementine, peach, nectarine, plum, blackcurrant and honey. The top notes are sweet citrus and fruits and the dry down is a warmer honey and subtle musky smell. Not overpowering but long-lasting and smelling like summer.
- Pomegranate Noir – Said to be inspired by a red silk dress and the intriguing nature of pomegranate, this lush, rich scent is soothing and inviting while being a tad mysterious. Jump into the juicy notes of plum, raspberry, pomegranate and watermelon before engaging in clove, pink pepper, Frankincense and Myrrh. Before you know it you’ll become immersed in the contrasting scents of rose, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, patchouli, spicy woods and musk. Step into winter with this unisex fragrance.
- Lime Basil & Mandarin – Modern and clean, vivacious and enthusiastic, this is a must try if you want a natural smelling citrus. It opens with a triumphant shout of salty lime which segues into bright, zesty mandarin and the herbal aroma of basil. The emergence of patchouli prevents it from becoming a complete basil takeover. The overall effect is uplifting, breezy and slightly effervescent.
- Mimosa & Cardamom – I think of this as a floral cologne with a wicked, spicy kick. There is a slightly quirky element to this unconventional mix of almond, honey, violet and fresh cucumber of the mimosa on the one hand blended with spicy, nutty and woody cardamom on the other. Like many of Malone’s best-sellers, this is a unisex fragrance although to me it’s on the masculine side.
- Orange Blossom – Happy top notes of citrus leaves, orange blossom, lemongrass, clementine flower, white lilac, lily-of-the-valley and waterlily transport you into an idyllic garden oasis. This slowly turns to warm undertones of vetiver and oak moss, bringing you back to reality. It’s hard not to like orange blossoms and this one is close to the real thing that you can get. A gorgeous, feminine scent that is sweet, simple and uncomplicated.
- Peony and Blush Suede – Peonies are one of my favorite flowers so no surprise that I was driven to give this a sniff. The Jo Malone website description reads, “The essence of charm. Peonies in voluptuous bloom, exquisitely fragile. Flirtatious with the juicy bite of red apple and the opulence of jasmine, rose and gillyflower. Mingling with the sensuality of soft, blush suede. Luxurious and seductive.” Best described as an animalic floral, the lighter top notes develop into something warm and more masculine as suede, patchouli and amberwood enter the picture. Definitely not just another pretty floral fragrance.
- English Pear & Freesia – Although it can be worn year-round, this one is one of my favorites for Fall. It reminds me of a brisk autumn walk before settling into boots and down jacket weather. This starts out with notes of sweet yet tangy pear and crunchy rhubarb, then skips right over the floral heart notes of wild roses and white freesias to a dry-down of patchouli and light musk. I sometimes spray this on my pillow at night to enjoy its relaxing and refreshing aroma.
- Blue Agava & Cacao – Described as “The rhythm of Latin music…sexy, edgy and persuasive. Fresh limes and zesty grapefruit dance over a heart of blue agava flower. Sea salt cuts through the primitive rawness of cacao to reveal the sensuality of vetiver, cinammon and musk.” If you are a fan of gourmand fragrances this may become your signature scent. It starts out with a loud blast of citrus, cocoa and vanilla but the spicy notes keep it from being too cloyingly sweet.
- Wood Sage & Sea Salt – With notes of ambrette seed, sea salt, sage, red algae and grapefruit, this scent was inspired by “the unique character and quality of British beaches”. This one is definitely not a tropical white floral or a coconut mango fragrance that might remind you of Hawaii or a beach vacation in the Caribbean. Imagine a bracing sea breeze on an overcast day with a storm on the way. There’s a bit of sparkling grapefruit at the beginning which eventually turns into salted woods and soft green and mineral notes. The mood it captures is lively, spirited and joyful.
Although each of the Jo Malone fragrances can be worn alone, the collection is great for layering with one or two other scents. The Jo Malone website calls this “The Art of Fragrance Combining” and will guide you through the process of creating your own bespoke scent. I personally don’t stick with one particular line when layering and have found that spritzing Peony & Blush Suede over Bottega Veneta Knot body lotion is a winning combination 🙂
That’s it for now! Thanks for dropping by and if you have a favorite Jo Malone scent or a comment about layering combos that knock your socks off I’d love to hear about them!