Tag Archives: Jo Loves

The IScentYouADay Guide to Fragrant Gift Buying

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On the subject of gift shopping, I often hear people say to me (and it’s usually to me as I’m a perfume blogger), “She wants perfume but I don’t know what she likes ” or “she fancies a change.”

Many partners either try and guess what their beloved will like- “it’s in a square sort of bottle”- or just buy Chanel No 5 because its the most famous one.  Coupled with this is the fact that perfume is often thought of by many as a luxury that smacks of self indulgence when buying it for yourself, hence the thousands of people who ask for it for Christmas or birthdays.

So what do you buy for someone who wants perfume but is saying “surprise me”?

The best idea is,of course, a Discovery Set.

Discovery Sets often, but not always, consist of a set of samples and a voucher for a full price bottle. They are a great way of experimenting and finding new things you like and new things you don’t.

Here’s my round up of the best fragrance Discovery Boxes in the UK (in my opinion). I won’t sell you short, I’d be happy to get any of these myself (hint, hint) Are you reading this darling? No, he’s looking at cars on his phone. Never mind, I’ll email him the link. 

1 Jo Loves

Jo Malone found the lure of the fragrant world was calling her back  after the sale of Jo Malone the brand and she began again as Jo Loves. I recommend just about all of them. I was kindly sent a sample set early in my blogging days and the quality was just wonderful. As far as gift buying goes, Jo Loves offers two great sets. The Fragrance Discovery Gift Experience consists of nine miniatures and a 50ml full bottle of your choice to follow at £95, or nine miniatures and a bigger 100ml bottle for £135. You’ll be spoilt for choice. Jo Loves fragrances are mouthwatering and irresistible.

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2. 4160 Tuesdays

There all sorts of goodies over at 4160- samples, handbag sizes, try’n’buy sample and full bottle sets. You name it, Sarah McCartney has something for all budgets and tastes. Dip your toe in, I dare you! Where do I start? Well there’s the taster boxes at £35 for ten minis, or the Taster Box Plus Bottle Later for £100, or for £125 a whole day’s workshop with Sarah including food, chocolate and lots of sniffage and mixing. Or for under £20, you can buy an array of minis and testers in order to find your 4160 groove.  Check out the site shop right here. Incidentally, this article was written on Black Friday which is being called Hot Pink Friday over at 4160 Tuesdays. How refreshing!

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4. The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes

Perfume Society Discovery Boxes are my passion. I have them all. I swoon when a new one comes out and have set world speed records in buying them. I receive the newsletter that alerts VIP members that a new Box is available, and I’ve ordered it and paid for it before I’ve finished reading it. The Discovery Boxes contain around ten perfume samples, often very hard to get on the High Street, along with a postcard containing discussion notes about each scent, and usually a couple of non perfume goodies such as nail polish or skin treats. The boxes are between £10 and £15 to VIP members and a few pounds more for non members. They make a great introduction to fragrance and are the cutest gifts ever in their little white boxes

In fact VIP Membership (£25 a year) can lead to free or subsidized perfume hobnobbing evenings at launches and events around the country, not to mention a free Discovery Box. I reckon a membership and Discovery Box would make a great gift. Check out the Perfume Society Shop Here.

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5. The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Boxes.

Each box Includes a set of samples and generous discount vouchers off full size bottles- often ten pounds off, but more usually five. Boxes are dispatched quarterly and cost £5 each. A year’s worth of boxes  at just £20 would make a lovely gift for all seasons. When the site has stopped crashing because of Black Friday, I’ll post the link.

The Fragrance Shop
The Fragrance Shop

6. Pell Wall Perfumes Discovery Box

For £49 you get no less than nine 10ml fragrances from perfumer Chris Bartlett at Pell Wall perfumes. Made in Shropshire, Pell Wall is an eclectic mix of good quality perfume with excellent longevity and lovely Jeeves and Wooster style packaging. Chris is a jolly nice chap too. You can get them from the website. I particularly recommend Pretty in Pink and Deep Purple.

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Jo Loves Red Truffle 21

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Jo Loves is the bijoux fragrance house founded by Jo Malone MBE of Jo Malone cologne fame. After selling Jo Malone to Estee Lauder, Jo attempted to retire but was drawn back to her passion for fragrance. Jo Loves is the result and the range consists of high quality scents inspired by memories that are dear to Jo, as the name suggests.  I have reviewed many of the scents on this blog and I give the brand a resounding thumbs up. Jo gets her inspirations from such eclectic moments as cocktails in New York (A Shot of Mango), her first job in a florists ( No 42 The Flower Shop-divine!) and now, the delicate aroma of truffle shavings in a restaurant. Red Truffle 21 is the result and I have a sample in my possession.

Red Truffle 21 opens with lemony bitter pine which is almost immediately toned down into a warm but tangy accord. There is an interesting combination of sharp cedar, fig, lemon and earth going on which is so addictive I don’t think there’s a cure.

www.Melissas.com
www.Melissas.com

In parts it reminds me a little of Tauer Pentachord Verdant, but with more citrus and less wet forest floor. The truffle hosts the party but doesn’t outshine the guests, and there is a suggestion of delicate mustiness in the background that never tips into mouldy territory. In this context, the mushroom is earthy and ripe, and the cedar is a superb foil for this.  Think damp vetiver, in a  good way.  Where the sharp, almost bitter cedar meets the earthiness of the ceps, you get Red Truffle 21.

Red Truffle 21 is perfectly unisex so if you can’t justify this indulgence buy it for your partner and steal it. This tip is one I often trot out in my attempts to be a devilish enabler.

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You can buy Red Truffle 21 from the Jo Loves website. Whilst you’re there, check out the Fragrance Discovery Gift Experience for £95 where you can buy 9 samples then choose a full size bottle of your favourite.

IScentYouADay: The Journey Will Continue

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On January 2nd 2013 I decided to start a blog that reviewed a perfume a day for a year.  My dear friend LisaWordbird kindly brought me half a house full of samples and full bottles that made me faint with a thud.  Bringing me round with a whiff off Muscs Koublai Khan, she explained I could borrow and write about anything I needed. Without her, my blog would have been about ten times harder and I would not have been able to write about any of the amazing gems she has let me borrow.

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However, at the risk of sounding like I am explaining that the dog ate my homework, I must confess that I have not managed to write 365 reviews.  I did manage to post 310 blog posts however, so I hope you will forgive me.  I should point out at this point that the missing blogs would have occurred during 14 weeks of school holidays, two weeks away from my trusty  computer, two children’s ear infections and viruses, my own sinus infection which rendered my nose useless and  four nights when I had to hand sew a snowflake costume (the result was more Liberace than snowflake, but my son didn’t mind). Blogs would have been even fewer had the ever patient Mr IScent not been an IT professional who has fixed my glitches in exchange for kisses and hot food.

I have found that blogging about perfume not only gives me the headspace that I need when Imageraising a seven year old and a four year old, but it has taken me to another world where I have encountered many fascinating and kind people from around the globe. I cannot stop now.  It’s addictive.

However it was the rather marvellous Perfumed Dandy  who came up with the idea of writing about 1001 scents.  I am therefore adopting this wonderful idea which also, hopefully, gets me off the hook for not quite reaching my 365 in a year target.

So here you are: IScentYouADay: 1001 days of perfume.

Do you like it?

The Without Whom bit:

I could not have done this without the comments, encouragement and shared anecdotes from my followers on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.For everyone who stops by or has a quick read, you have my deep appreciation.

To LisaWordbird, the most selfless fellow fragrance freak I have ever ever met. Her generosity has no limits, and her knowledge has been invaluable. My eyes have been truly opened and my nose has been taken to places I could never have imagined. Thank you.

To the lovely companies who have been kind enough to supply me with samples: Miller Harris, Jo Loves, the Fragrance Shop, LUSH, Yves Rocher and dear, kind Andy Tauer.  None of them have paid me for my opnions, and I should imagine Lush wishes they had paid me to shut up at times. I thank them all.

And finally thank you to the Perfumed Dandy who helped me with the idea of how I could continue seamlessly. My warm thanks to you dear Dandy.

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Jo Loves A Shot Of Muguet and Cedar

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 This is the last of the Jo Loves trio of new releases.  As with the previous two, I only have a sealed blotter i.e a blotting strip in its own cellophane casing.  I therefore cannot tell you about longevity or how this is on skin, but it’s worth reviewing anyway, since Jo Loves is a small brand and  a new launch is a big deal. It’s not as if they will be releasing weekly flankers like so many other fragrance houses today.

A Shot of Muguet and Cedar is a simple affair, but its simplicity is its strength.  It is a characteristic of Jo Loves scents that ingredients are never overcrowded.  It is also worth knowing that Jo Malone’s first job was in a  florist shop, and it shows.  It always interests me when florists create scent.  I feel they are perfectly placed to do so.  Luggage and pen manufacturers, not so much.

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A Shot  of Muguet and Cedar is a light, almost retro, scent that took me back to the Avon catalogues of the 70s once again.  This is no bad thing.  It’s refreshing to have Lily of The Valley celebrated again and I never get tired of any new formulation containing it.  However, if you, like me,  are mad about Muguets, then in my opinion, nothing beats Andy Tauer’s Carillon Pour Un Ange,  which is in another league, and for want of a better word “heartier” than the light whispery Jo Loves version of Lily of the Valley.

It was a clever touch to match it with Cedar.  It brings it down a peg or two like the straight man in a comedy act. This Lily of The Valley is delightfully light and green, but it would float away without just a faint rasp of serious Cedar.

Out of all three of the samples I have been kindly sent, I vote No 42 The Flowershop as my favourite, although I wouldn’t turn any of them down. Jolly Good Show all round, and it brings a little of  the perfect English Country Garden to a rather damp Autumn.

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Jo Loves…A Shot of Fresh Sweet Peas

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Jo Loveis the range created by Jo Malone the person after retiring from Jo Malone the company in 2006.  It’s a small range and I have reviewed many, actually all, of her range previously in this blog.

 Recently Jo Loves opened its first shop on Elizabeth Street in London’s poshest of posh parts, and as you can see from the photo, its looking god.

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Jo Loves has launched three new scents to coincide with the shop opening and I am lucky enough to be in receipt of some samples, albeit on sealed blotters. Humph. As a result I cannot tell you how it reacts on skin, but to be honest, I can only ever tell you how  a scent reacts on my skin. Yours may be a different story (see my review of Serge Noire!)

Today I shall be reviewing A Shot of Fresh Sweet Peas, but at some point I shall also review Muguet and Cedar and No 42 The Flowershop.

 A Shot of Fresh Sweet Peas does smell of Fresh Sweet Peas, there’s no doubt about it, however, looking at the notes on Fragrantica, there is no Sweet Pea note listed.  There are Oranges, Pear, Rose, Marigold, Ylang and Cypress. When you combine these notes, you get a pretty good Sweet Pea representation, even without the Sweet Pea.

 Fresh Sweet Peas is light and airy as a fluffy white cloud. In my mind’s eye, I see it as the perfect bridesmaid perfume. It’s too pure for a bride, who lets face it, needs to be seductive by bedtime. However, it passes the commuter test with flying colours.  If you sat on a crowded train wearing Fresh Sweet Peas, you would be surrounded by an invisible cloud of flowers and butterflies that would make everyone smile without knowing why. You know, a bit like a fabric softener advert.

 However, as pretty and dainty as this is, and it is done very well indeed, two niggling thoughts popped into my head.  One- this reminds me of some Avon bubble bath I had recently, and Two- why am I thinking of Yardley? If I’m honest, this is good if you want light and airy and inoffensive, but right now it’s too twee for me. Ask me again in Spring: my answer will be different.

 Bath and Body Works does a respectable Sweet Pea as does iconic English brand Bronnley.  That’s not to say there isn’t room for another, and this light and pure scent does indeed spread a little joy, even in cold weather. 

Jo Loves…The Summing Up and The Verdict

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I enjoyed getting to know the eight fragrances in this new collection from Jo Malone (the woman, not the brand). They are distinctive in that the number of notes in these fragrances is minimal. Some only have one. It’s about simplicity  It’s about balance. The range is varied enough to avoid being a mainstream crowd pleaser, but has enough genres to keep people interested.

Despite having reviewed 74 fragrances so far, there are actually very few full bottles on my dressing table.  Many are samples, or borrowed, and some are my own beloveds.  I cannot see myself buying a full sized (100ml) bottle of any of the Jo Loves range, but I might consider a 30ml bottle of Pomelo or Mango Nectar.  Pomelo because although I’m sure it’s been done before, I was rather charmed by Grapefruit and Suede together.  Mango Nectar I might buy just for fun on a sunny day.  It’s not a serious perfume, I doubt you could wear it to a board meeting, (Oh go on, why not?”) but sometimes a single note done exceptionally well can have a place in any perfume wardrobe. I would also consider the Gardenia in the same way. It’s a bit like having a well cut pair of trousers in your wardrobe, plain and essential, but once you accessorise and wear them with other things, they can work much better.

It’s not clear what future Jo has in mind for these products, but a sample set would eliminate any criticism of “inaccessibility”. Currently a website and showroom by appointment is all there is.  Fans will be hoping for a franchise, I am sure. There’s the exclusivity of niche, and there is cold shouldering eager customers. It’s a fine line.

Jo Loves…Green Orange and Coriander

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This is more like it. I love the smell of fresh Coriander leaves and they are certainly discernible Jo Loves Green Orange and Coriander. It’s blatantly unisex and would smell good on either male or female. It’s a clean bathroom-y sort of smell like expensive candles or high end citrussy bath oils in a five star hotel. Again, like all fragrance in the Jo Loves range, this is quite linear. Unlike a moody, changeable Serge Lutens, for example, what you apply at breakfast is what you still smell of at lunch. Inexplicably, my first thought after spraying was of Imperial Leather soap, but then the Coriander and Orange burst in at the same time, in equal measure. To my delight, the Orange is sharp and juicy, rather than sweet and sherbety. There is a bit of Oakmoss in there to make it slightly earthy, even masculine. It’s has definite zing, but is somewhat grounded nicely by the Oakmoss. All in all, it’s good and stays good. Longevity is very impressive: around seven hours for two sprays. (I still say I can smell a faint whiff of Imperial leather though, but don’t tell anyone, it might just be me).

This is my second favourite Jo Loves fragrance after Pomelo.

Jo Loves…The Mango Collection: Barman, Make Mine a Double

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Jo Loves…A Shot of Oud Over Mango

Oud, otherwise known as Agarwood, is usually synthetically made these days, but was originally made from the Aquillaria tree, specifically, the sought after “infected” areas into which the tree has secreted protective black resin. It is a scent prized by Arabs as well as the Chinese, and is a rich, high resinous scent.

Frankly, I loathe it. As an asthmatic perfume obsessive (you don’t get many of those to the pound), I will wade through most things, but Oud and strong Vetiver repel me and make me wheeze. This is of course subjective, since Oud is going nowhere. It’s a mainstay of the fragrance industry and will be for a long time to come.  I’ll just have to put up with it.

 Jo Loves..A Shot of Oud Over Mango is exactly that. The Mango is juicy and mouthwatering and there is a shot of Oud over it. It doesn’t have to be a big shot, but I couldn’t help noticing that this little basenote of Oud has been voted the most prominent overall note in this fragrance by Fragrantica reviewers. It overwhelms everything else, including me dear reader, who had to be brought round with smelling salts. There’s no gentle way of popping just a “hint” of Oud in anything, it will always dominate, like a noisy drunken dinner guest.

The mango is good, Jo Loves does that very well, with all its juiciness captured brilliantly, but then the Oud barges in and takes over. What you have is Oud with some Mango.

What can I say? It does what it says in the tin. For Oud fans only. And there are a lot of you! Don’t take my word for it. It took my breath away.

 Jo Loves…Mango Nectar

The only fruit I like in fragrances are Citruses. I like fresh hesperides or a bitter blast of Orange. If I wanted to smell like a Mango, I would go to the Body Shop and buy some Body Butter.

However, Jo Loves…Mango Nectar has, frankly, turned  all that on its head. This is such a juicy, technicolour mango fragrance that it made my mouth water. It made me thirst for a Mango smoothie and some crushed ice, for that is exactly what it smells like.  Incredibly, it does not smell synthetic. It smells like a  barman standing next to you who has crushed a mango into a cocktail. Which is a rather twee segue into explaining how the idea came about. Jo Malone  was in a bar in New York ( the Four Seasons, if you’re planning a trip to the Big Mango, sorry Apple), when the aromas of the cocktails being merged and crushed and mixed reminded her of how a fragrance was put together.

Two years later: Mango Nectar and the Mango Collection was launched. Among the whole Mango range, of which there are three, I rate this one most of all. It’s pure, unmoving, and tenacious in its longevity. It’s a happy scent that makes you think of cold cocktails on a hot day. You can’t be wistful or sad wearing this. If you’re going to be wistful and sad, go and wear Apres L’Ondee.

 Jo Loves…A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango

I don’t know about a Shot of Lime, more like a Lime Orchard with a rogue Mango in it. The Lime is very strong, but being a fan of Citrus and of any kind of remotely Green note, I was all over this, nostrils a-flare. I was trying to like it and frankly, struggling, so I tried it on my husband.   I often try fragrance on his arm since I frequently find that a scent I dislike on me, makes a lot more sense on him, and is sometimes much better. However, this time his immediate reaction was “expensive washing up liquid”.

Now crude as that may sound, it is very important to listen to people’s immediate reactions on smelling a scent. Often they are unguarded, honest remarks that come out before the wearer has time to edit it. Often the spontaneous reaction is a truth.  He had a point, it does indeed smell like expensive washing up liquid. At first. As with fragrances, trains and a good sale, it’s often worth waiting a while.

Sadly, the Morning Fresh metaphor could not be shaken and to my nose, the Lime invaded the beautiful Mango Grove until it was almost gone. A random memory of my grandmother’s kitchen popped into my head until it dawned on me that what I was smelling was Thyme. It is apparent to me that Thyme and Lime only go well together in limericks.

I think out of the Jo Loves  Mango Collection, Mango Nectar is the best, and my favourite, followed by A Shot of Oud over Mango, not my favourite, but really good Woodiness, and lastly, A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango, trailing in third place. If this were a salad, and it certainly sounds like one, then I would order this again, but I would say “waiter, not so much lime juice, this time please, I want to taste the rest of the damned thing”.

And that, my friends is what I think of the Jo loves… Mango Collection.

Jo Loves…I Love Jo Loves Me Love

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Jo Loves… is Jo Malone in her new incarnation. Jo Malone the person left Jo Malone the brand in capable hands in 2006, and has gone it alone once again. So much for retirement! Fragrance has a strong pull and it wasn’t long before Jo found herself creating fragrance again.

 Like the beginning of so many good stories, it all began in a bar in New York…

From crushed Mangoes and Limes, Jo’s mind got working as cocktails were created and fruits crushed before her eyes (and nose). Fruit into fruit created new blends and intoxicating aromas, even before they added the vodka.

 Jo Malone the brand is often referred to as perfume for people who don’t like perfume, and many Jo Malone fragrances are based on those found in nature. Now that Jo has “gone rogue” it would seem that she has gone back to nature again, this time with fruits: fresh, citrussy, zingy fruits in many incarnations from Cocktails and Lime zest to suave, crisp Pomelo with its suede-y richness and Rosy base. But it doesn’t stop there. There is also Pink Vetiver, A Shot of Oud Over Mango,  Gardenia and Orange Tulle. Jo Loves…is exactly that: notes and fragrances that Jo is passionate about.  It is very refreshing to see a line of fragrance that is not governed by focus groups and mass markets, but geared to the taste and passion of an individual. . And the kind of creative freedom that can only be coveted.

If Niche means exclusive suppliers (in this case a website and a showroom is all) and a limited line, then this is New British Niche, and as you would expect, it’s very good. Quality is high and is reflected in the price. Good ingredients are worth paying for. The Mango scent that Jo Loves has captured is so mouthwateringly realistic that it induced a genuine craving in me for ripe mangoes.

Since the range is not cheap if you’re buying blind, it would be great if Jo Loves sold a sample or starter kit, since bottles start at £45. The website sells a collection of four 30ml scents for £120 ( see photo above). That’s a lot to spend on a blind buy. You can take my word for it, and read reviews and blogs, but until you try a scent on your own skin you cannot know if it will suit you. You can only make an educated guess. A sample kit would solve this problem, and having tried some samples myself, I can happily predict that samples kits will lead to full bottle purchases. This week I will be reviewing some of the fragrances in more detail.

I am currently wearing Mango Nectar and the temptation to lick my own wrist is almost overwhelming.

It’s only nine months to Christmas, never too soon to start a (very long) wish list…Jo Loves could be the UK’s answer to Frederic Malle and Andy Tauer.

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