The site officially suggests three combinations for my small collection of Jo Malone bottles.
Wild Fig and Cassis with Black Vetyver Café: WF&C is a potent fig scent. Layered with BVC a dark element is added, the fig becomes more intense and with an added woody component. The overall effect is one of a more rustic scent than WF&C but fig is the winner in this tug of war
Pomegranate Noir with Blue Agava and Cacao: I have always believed that PN leans more masculine. Layered with BA&C it gets a floral heart. PN wins in the end but there is room in its complexity for the flowers of BA&C
Pomegranate Noir with 154: it is not a surprise that PN wins. The result of the combination is a sudden burst of fruit in the start and then a dominance of woods. This reminds me of a 80’s masculine powerhouse.
But of course no need to stop here! There are ten possible combinations for layering my five fragrances. So the fun goes on:
Blue Agava and Cacao with Black Vetyver Café: a very interesting combination. BA&C is a very feminine fragrance. The addition of a coffee note, and this superb, dark, non-gourmand coffee note in particular, surprisingly boosts the chocolate. The discrete cocoa that I have been trying to pin down suddenly appears and it is very good. The floral aspect dominates the cohabitation but overall the fragrance is less feminine, with a lovely, moderately sweet, dusty chocolate note. BA&C wins the bras de fer but it also wins a lot of complexity and a more masculine audience.
154 with Blue Agava and Cacao: another weird combination that brings out the woods in 154. I get a rough, dry cedar combining with a floral heart. The end result has a shaving cream vibe. A very masculine floral with nutty undertones.
154 with Wild Fig and Cassis: I must admit that this turned out to be a match made in heaven. The fig is big but greener than before. The lavender from 154 gets a good boost and the end result smells like a big, masculine, green fougere. Very peppery and intense. I think fig is a note very difficult to incorporate in a composition, it tends to dominate everything. The 154 and WF&C pair create a woody fig base that reminds me the base of Nimfeo Mio.
Pomegranate Noir with Black Vetyver Café: This is the biggest of surprises. PN is a very strong fragrance in my book and BVC is lighter than I would like. So imagine my surprise when BVC completely took over the opening of PN. All fruit was extinguished immediately. But what was even more surprising is that the marriage of the two gave birth to a very unusual hay/honey note. I love hay so this was a very pleasant surprise but I have to admit that this combination is not for everyone. The more it sits on the skin the calmer it gets but the hay note is very intense in the opening, what some people would call a “hamster cage” accord. A bit dirty. It reminds me in some ways of Fougere Bengale. Towards the end of the common development the fruitiness of PN takes over but it has been a wonderful journey.
Pomegranate Noir with Wild Fig and Cassis: these are two equally strong fragrances but they go well together. The fig note wins over the pomegranate and it mixes very well with the spices of PN. The end result is surprisingly balanced and could stand on its own as Figue Noir. With PN being such a longevity monster, the further along the drydown of this coexistence, the more prominent it becomes. This of course has happened with all my attempts to layer PN but it was expected. PN is a very complete, strong and lasting perfume so it is expected to take over.
154 with Black Vetyver Café: another very balanced coexistence. The surprise here is that citrus notes from both fragrances are enhanced so the opening of the combination has a lot of lemon and grapefruit, much more than each one of the two colognes separately. 154 is already a complex fragrance and although the coffee note is not entirely lost it doesn’t add a lot to the masculine character of 154. In some strange way citrus is the added benefit from this blending.
Blue Agava and Cacao with Wild Fig and Cassis: WF&C puts a harness on BA&C. The sweetness is cut down, a soft floral note is added to the bitter fig and a very interesting layering combination is born. I admit that I expected this combination to be a huge failure because both scents share nothing in common. However the sweet, powdery agave flower is happy to mingle with the green bitterness of the fig and of course cocoa is blooming too. As we move on to the drydown the composition becomes more floral but the fig is still evident. The combination of floral notes and fig is quite unique and I would like to explore this more. To spice things up even more, many hours later I could smell a sour coconut fruit accord that reminded me of Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess and Tom Ford Black Orchid at the same time.
For people who love layering Jo Malones I would suggest that they do not stop at what is suggested by the house but dare to experiment.
I always enjoy these layering experiments. I think the key is to layer fragrances from the same house. There are common traits that stem from the philosophy of the house and possibly from a common source of first ingredients. Serge Lutens fragrances also give some striking layering combinations when combined with each other. What I love is not the new fragrances that are created this way but the vast insight one can get from the way notes interact with each other.