Jo Loves offers two free samples for anyone who wishes to try their first releases. My choices were Gardenia and Pomelo. Gardenia is not bad but, let’s face it, it is very hard to create the illusion of gardenia. There is no gardenia extract so the entire smell has to be constituted with other white flowers and whatever ingredient one finds appropriate. Jo Loves Gardenia does not have the cool green aspect I was looking for but this is just my personal opinion. Pomelo however was a shock. It is the most passionate and counter-intuitive creation of Jo Malone since Pomegranate Noir. It opens with a big, fruity explosion of citrus. I do not know exactly what pomelo smells like and I had to look it up to see how it looks. Well, it is the biggest citrus fruit, it can reach the size of big melon and the opening of Pomelo certainly fits this image. It is very strong but instead of feeling volatile and citrusy it feels predominantly fruity. Imagine the sensation of biting a tart mango: it is very fragrant in a round sort of way, thick, sweet but also sour and close to the skin it has a slightly resinous note. The topnotes of pomelo is all these wonderful notes, except that the mango centre has been replaced by bergamot. Forget about summery citrus, this is neon light strength. There is also a very pronounced green bitter orange note in the mix. Like pomelo, the oversized fruit, Pomelo the fragrance is a gigantic ball of citrus glow. I very rarely get excited about citrus scents and certainly all this thick fruitiness would not be enough to impress me. It was good to get my attention but what came next was amazing. As it develops on skin its focus shifts completely. From citrus to earth. A very resinous vetiver emerges with dark intentions. It feels thick, gluey and it immediately made think of the bottle of the new Eau Sauvage Parfum. I have not smelled it yet but the vetiver in Pomelo created a synaesthetic impression of the exact black-green hue of this bottle. In fact the entire composition has the same vibe of looking through this black tinted glass. Even the citrus is tinted black. As development progresses further into the base notes the darkness materializes with a turpentine note that reminds me of Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline. Pine resin, turpentine, rubber, all mix to create this amazing base.
In my defence I have to explain that I have tried this several times because my impression is nothing like what I expected from the company release information: clean and crisp! I can get the crisp but there is nothing clean about it and I say that as a big compliment. Who needs another clean citrus? Then of course I read Jo Malone’s notes on it: “Pomelo is clean and crisp; it’s my best friend made up of memories and moments. It’s that feeling of fresh linen sheets or a glass of bubbling fizzy water with a slice of lime and lots of crushed ice. I spray Pomelo onto my skin a couple of times when I go into the office, when I’m out and about and again before lunch or cocktails. Like me, Pomelo has a masculine side to it, it’s confident and sharp.”. And this is exactly what Pomelo is. A strong masculine dark vetiver scent. I get similarities with Terre d’Hermes Eau de Parfum or to be more precise with Montale Red Vetyver but Jo Malone has done a wonderful job at making this more dark and dangerous. Bright orange citruses, dark green vetiver and shiny black resins create an amazing kaleidoscope of contradicting notes and make this one of the most versatile scents I have tried. I imagine myself reaching for this on a hot sticky summer night to experience the intensity of the citrus opening but I also see myself wearing it in the winter for the lively, dark basenotes.
A big thumbs up for Jo Malone’s new gem!
Notes from Fragrantica: grapefruit, lime aldehydes
Notes from my nose: bergamot, green bitter orange, vetiver, turpentine, pine resin
Contrary to my policy I publish my note listing interpretation in this Quick Sniff because I think the official publicity text and Fragrantica notes do not do it any justice. I agree with grapefruit and lime, after all all citruses are variations on a tune, and I do get the bright aldehydic explosion at the top but they only account for a fraction of the Pomelo experience.
Addendum: I get a bitter insence note in the very deep reydown that adds another dimension to the experience.