Fragrance Combining: That “A-ha!” moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make “scents”

by Paris B on · 42 comments

in Fragrance,Product Reviews

Have you ever wondered “I like this scent but I wish it could be a bit more floral” and thought about layering one scent over another? For many standalone perfumes, this doesn’t work very well (I’ve tried with varying degrees of disaster) but I learnt (by accident) about a brand that does encourage this fragrance combining and this brand is Jo Malone.

jo malone sampler box Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

Its another one of those brands that I picked up on through reading blogs. Bloggers just don’t know how much of an enabler they are but the fact is, its so easy to get sucked in sometimes that its scary. Is it any wonder that brands now turn to to bloggers to build hype? icon razz Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents (This isn’t a brand built hype by the way – I wish it was then I could tell you it was gifted, but its not icon razz Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents )

Jo Malone – a fragrance brand I’d come across over and over in the past few years and my interest was piqued. The first time I managed to take a sniff was at the store in Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. I couldn’t quite understand what the SA was saying so I spritz on some scents to try, smiled politely and left. I like to let scents develop directly on my skin before deciding if I want to buy a fragrance, so I rarely, if ever, buy a perfume outright. I decided I wasn’t quite taken by the scents.

The next time I sniffed it was in a store in Hong Kong. This time, there was no SA so I didn’t know what I was doing. So again, I left empty handed. And then, on my flight back from Hong Kong, while flipping through the duty free shopping booklet, my eye fell on this set – the Jo Malone Fragrance Combining Set. It was rather pricey, I remember – something like US$95 or thereabouts but I’d get 6 mini bottles of fragrance in a box. I thought it was a good way to sample the brand.

Lest you think you have to jet set off to the unknown to take a whiff of Jo Malone scents, take heart. Jo Malone now has a store at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (Fashion Avenue) icon wink Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents I then learnt when I opened the box, what I found unique in Jo Malone scents – they are made to be combined and layered so you can create your signature scent. A bespoke scent, as it were. What fun! icon biggrin Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents Have you tried this and do you have a favourite Jo Malone scent or combination?

Incidentally, there is a new limited edition range called “Sugar & Spice” of which I have some pictures below. I’ll tell you a little about them too.

Here’s what I learnt when I opened the box.

jo malone card Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

There was a card explaining the process and art of fragrance combining for which Jo Malone is famous for. This allows you to create the sort of scent you prefer to smell on your skin. Do you prefer something light and fruity in the day? Something warmer and more musky for the evening? Do you want something that smells fresh yet complex, something sweet?

jo malone sampler2 Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

I quickly learnt that I lean very strongly towards warm, musky, spicy scents with a hint of freshness or floral note. These sort of strong scents aren’t for everyone as most will consider them too strong or too masculine, but they work for me. Perfume is such a personal thing, don’t you agree? So often, we smell something that smells amazing on someone else and then when we spritz it on our skin, it smells like washing detergent.

I once spritzed on a lovely fresh grapefruit scent on my skin that smelt juicy, sweet and bitter with the tangy note of a freshly peeled grapefruit. An hour later, I smelled like I’d fallen into a vat of horse pee. I kid you not. It just turned into the eye watering smell of ammonia and I had to bear that in the confines of an aircraft. Here’s a tip: Do not spritz an unknown fragrance before you board the plane. You can risk smelling like a toilet icon razz Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

jo malone sampler Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

The Fragrance Combining Set has 6 colognes in it with the fresh scents and deeper scents evenly mixed. The fresh scents are Grapefruit, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Orange Blossom; while the deeper stronger scents are Amber & Lavender, Pomegranate Noir and Blue Agava & Cacao.

I quickly found myself liking the scent of Pomegranate Noir and Amber & Lavender a lot. I can quite easily wear both these scents on their own. I’m crap at describing scents, but both these scents have a spicy and musky note to them. To me, they smell rather masculine and I like that. It smells warm and comforting.

From the lighter scents, I lean towards Lime Basil & Mandarin which is a zesty citrus but not too light. Grapefruit too falls under the citrus category and the scent is very light, tempered by a sweetness and a touch of bitterness. I don’t quite like it on myself but on my skin, it works well layered over Pomegranate Noir. The scent then takes on a sweeter, more fruity note.

Its absolutely fascinating and I’ve tried many different combinations to produce many different scents. I even produced one that smelled like tobacco. Kid you not! It wasn’t very unpleasant but it did smell like I’d been smoking a cigar for a bit. Pomegranate Noir + Lime Basil & Mandarin on my skin smells like I’ve just taken a shower. I smell really clean! LOL!

You can go into the Jo Malone store and test it out for yourself but I warn you that it can get overwhelming very quickly. When I stepped into the store recently, I was just stunned at the variety of scents available and the almost infinite combinations you can come up with depending on what you’re looking for.

They are mostly colognes though which is usually the lightest of fragrances but I do find that the longevity is pretty good, where I can still smell it on me by the end of a work day. Just a hint but its there.

The “problem” I can forsee with a Jo Malone fragrance is that its not that easy finding your favourite or perfect scent in one go, unless you already have a firm view of what you like. If you are the “just browsing” type, you will likely never walk away with a bottle, because each scent on its own can sometimes feel a little lacking. That was my problem in the stores overseas. I did not know I could layer the scents so I’d spray this one and that one and think “Oh I like this if it could be a bit lighter” or “I like that if it could smell a little spicier”

Sometimes, you may find that it is when you layer another one on, that it develops into the scent that you are looking for and that makes it an expensive affair. Its not to say of course that you can never find a scent you like. You can. And the beauty is, you can keep adding more scents to your collection so you can keep playing around with the different combinations as you go. Its loads of fun! icon biggrin Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

jo malone sampler size Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

Each bottle in this set is really tiny though at just 9ml each but if you don’t spray too much and too often, then it can last a while as perfumes do. I’ve had this set for slightly over a year and they’re still going strong. I do use some less than others so I can forsee Pomegranate Noir running out more quickly than say, Grapefruit.

I did also discover in store that I liked Vetyver and 154, both of which are spicy, rather masculine scents. And it so happens that Jo Malone scents can be worn by men or women depending on each person’s preference.

There is also a special, limited edition Sugar & Spice range launched quite recently, that draws inspiration from English desserts. The brand, if I failed to mention earlier, is English icon smile Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

jo malone sugarspice2 Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

If you like sweet foody scents then you are in for a treat! Each one of the scents in the Sugar & Spice range smells exactly like the sweet or dessert that it was inspired by. I can tell you that it is quite uncannily similar!

jo malone sugarspice Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

The 5 scents are – Lemon Tart (a tangy lemon that smells exactly like the dessert), Redcurranct & Cream (a tangy sweet scent of berries exactly like the summer dessert), Elderflower & Gooseberry (Sweet, tangy and green smelling), Ginger Biscuit (as the name implies, a freshly baked ginger biscuit) and Bitter Orange & Chocolate (like you just walked out of chocolate factory).

I personally found these new scents much too sweet for my liking. It might perhaps also be to do with the fact that I am not much of a dessert person so I don’t particularly want to smell like one. If you do like the smell of chocolate, you have to smell Bitter Orange & Chocolate. I swear, if you spritz it on, people will wonder who in their midst is eating or carrying a box of the most delectable chocolate ever. It has to be smelt to be believed!

I tried it on in store and of course, did not like it on its own. But when layered with something spicy like 154 or Vetyver, it suddenly became palatable. The chocolate scent stopped being overwhelming and was quickly grounded by the stronger, spicier scents. I could actually like it!

jo malone pomegranate Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

Unfortunately, the Fragrance Combining Set isn’t available in store anywhere. I looked it up and it may have been a special Christmas release some time ago or it may only be found on in-flighty duty free, not even in the duty free stores. So, if you are travelling, then scan the in flight duty free booklet to see if they have it. Its a good way to introduce yourself to the brand. I think they also do some special sets throughout the year and at Christmas so that’ll be another good time to sample the wares (as I plan to do – these little bottles are too cute for words icon razz Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents )

I don’t know what’ll be my next scent. I’m thinking of 154 but I will have to sample it again in store and see how I like it. Chances are, it’d smell better layered with something else and then I’d be in trouble, wouldn’t I? icon razz Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

Are you a Jo Malone fragrance fan? Do you have a favourite combination or standalone scent?

I’m not a hardcore fan per se, but I do like the concept and what’s on offer. I like the plain, simple, unisex packaging and also the creative leeway afforded to us as consumers to “create” something that smells good on us, that we like. That is what, I think, attracts me most to the brand. It sort of makes “scents” icon wink Fragrance Combining: That A ha! moment when Jo Malone fragrances start to make scents

Paris B

Jo Malone is available at their standalone store at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Prices start from RM225/30ml for the colognes. The Fragrance Combining Set featured is no longer available and was an in-flight duty free purchase on Cathay Pacific Airlines

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[ 42 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Laura March 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

Oh! I am so so excited that you decided to do a post on Jo Malone. I just recently became acquainted with the brand and was terribly curious as to what the hype was, so this was very helpful and informative! I’m kind of bummed out that the samplers are not for retail sale, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them, as finding a signature scent has been a struggle so far (everything turns sickly sweet on me!).


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I think what makes this brand “fun” is the possibility of actually finding our signature or personal scents. I think the sampler size kits come out at certain times eg Christmas, Valentines day or maybe just randomly. I’ll be keeping an eye out for them too :)


Yue rain March 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

Wow, this is great. i always wonder what if i am smelling like a garbage truck after i layer too much of perfume since the combination is infinite?hahaha. smelling like a chocolates- i think i will bite myself later since i am weak for sweet dessert but have to control myself. My skin will break out if i eat too much of sweet food.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm

A you see, that’s why you should buy a chocolate scented perfume. That way you won’t break out ;)


Yue rain March 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

good idea ^^ . Just the thought of eating myself up is ><


lisa March 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

My favorite scent is Earl Grey and cucumber. This ‘was’ a limited edition but this year, they brought it back as a permanent item. I really hate it when fragrances i love gets discontinued. This is usually my base and i like to layer it with grapefruit or ginger and nutmeg or black cafe vetyver. I just tried out the sweets collection but none is to my liking. Too cloyingly sweet and they all smell like they can induce a headache for me.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm

That sounds like an interesting scent! I’ll be sure to take a sniff of the Earl Grey and Cucumber one. Seems to be popular! I didn’t take to any of the dessert selection too. But then I wouldn’t have either if the desserts themselves were in front of me lol!


Rainy Days & Lattes March 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I’ve been slightly afraid to take a sniff at the Jo Malone perfumes because I know I’ll fall in love with them and I still have perfumes to use up at home :p I’ve been using Chanel’s Coco for a long time. It’s about time I test out some Jo Malone’s for other occasions :P


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Haha actually I know how you feel, and that’s why I’ve stayed away from the boutique for now. Don’t want to be too tempted :P


EL March 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Love the brand!!! Have been a big fan of orange blossom for years although there are only a select few from the range that I really like and their scents can be too fleeting.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi EL, Orange Blossom sounds like a nice fresh scent. I found the heavier scents stay on longer while the light ones fade quickly as colognes do. Maybe a good thing thatbinprefer the heavier scents hehe….


Swati March 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

wow!! didn’t know such a brand also exists!! i have already tried making perfume oil using essential oils and its fun :) but, yeah, its not easy to find out what you would really like in 1 or even 10 go-s sometimes!!


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Oh cool! You’re making your own perfume? :D I Actually find it hard to decide what I like in a scent but after sniffing a few, I started realizing what scents I prefer and what gives me a headache lol


Mei Ping March 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Like you, I came across Jo Malone through reading blogs. I was so excited that the brand finally came to Malaysia but was not too happy with the pricing as Jo Malone cost cheaper in UK.
My favorite is Wild Bluebell, Vanilla & Anise and English Pear & Freesia. I’ve tried layering Wild Bluebell with Vanilla, Wild Bluebell with Red Roses.
When you purchased from the Pavilion store, please ask for samples which come in a tiny tube spray. When I purchased 1 bottle for myself, they gave out only 1 sample but when my husband went to purchase 2 bottles, they gave him 4 samples.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm

The price difference is a bit of a pain, but can’t be helped I guess, unless you had access to stock in the UK :) I’ll take a sniff at the ones you like too, because the names sound so pretty and English! Haha! Thanks for the tip about the samples. I’ll be sure to bear it in mind when I make a purchase!


Kris March 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Ooh I love Jo Malone! Though its overly overpriced here in Singapore, it’s SGD95 here while at Heathrow Airport London it’s ard SGD60. My new found favorite Blackberry and bay (fruity) layered with Wild bluebell (light floral). I love French lime blossom on its own, smells like sundays & mom’s fresh laundry. The thing I like abt Jo Malone, every whiff seems to be able to transport me back in time, at a certain place from memories. Not as luxurious as say Chanel no5 but more personalized.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for the fragrance suggestions, Kris! Being such a novice to the brand its nice to have people show you the ropes :) pity about the prices in our part of the world, but I eyes we can’t help it unless we travel a lot to the UK which I don’t :( I love how you said that the Jo Malone fragrance brings back memories. Perfumes are so wonderful that way!


Catherine March 17, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Oh how I love love Jo Malone. First when I went into their boutique in Cannes I started ‘testing’ new perfume coz I didnt get the idea where testers are. I felt so guilty so next day I went in and I fell in looove! The simple packaging, simple scents which can be layered and these lovely lovely boxes with cute ribbons… Oh well! Orange Blossom is the perfection for me, especially combined with Blue agava and cacao. Wild Bluebell-on its own. English pear and freesia- on its own too. I also got one which I dont really like much- Nectarine… I exected ripe sweet nectarines, its too fresh for my taste. From new collection Im looooving the new Ginger Biscuit and Redcurrant&Raspberry- I need to get the second Ginger Biscuit bottle, Im afraid to use it now!! :D BTW I also love their lipbalm, it smells like vanilla and it really moisturises- I always have it in my bag.


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Ahh it sounds like Enflish Pear and Freesia and Orange Blossom gets a lot of love! I want to go smell those next and see how they fare with my fave spicy scents lol! It appears I’m the only one who likes spicy warm scents. Almost everyone has picked a floral or sweet scent for their fave! Lol thanks for the lipbalm tip, Catherine, I’ll have to take a look. I love the candles too! Omg! I forsee going broke :P


Lily March 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I’ve been reading so much about them, but haven’t had a chance to try it yet. It’s a nice concept… and I wonder if one can get addicted to mixing one’s scent. Hhmmm…


Paris B March 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Ahh the challenge of the one perfect scent! But that would be a very expensive addiction >.<


Jerine March 18, 2013 at 1:55 am

I super love the Blackberry & Bay from Jo Malone. And I was a fan even before they arrived Malaysia.

Do you know you can create your own fragrance from Jo Malone by combining the scents (not layering, they will bottle your own fragrance for you). You can download the whole menu from their website and play around with the combination in their stores. Unfortunately the service is not available here. I hope they will have it here soon because I can’t wait to be a perfumer for myself.


Paris B March 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Ah I didn’t know Jo Malone allowed you to customise your own fragrance! Thanks for sharing that info. Even if its not available here, at least its an option for someone overseas who may have access to their service – how cool would that be eh? ;)


Larie March 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

I got a mini scent once, so I have a few Jo Malone mini bottles, though I gave a few away. I can’t stand the scent of pomegranate, so Pomegranate Noir is one of the bottles I swapped away, haha! I kind of like the concept of the mix-and-match thing, but I find that I usually just wear these separately, anyway. The only one that’s really nice to layer is Vanilla Anise!


Paris B March 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I remember you had a little set like this and I thought it was this one but the composition of scents was different haha. I actually don’t know what real pomegranate smells like (I don’t like eating it :P ) so I don’t know if the Pomegranate Noir is representative of the actual fruit, but I like the depth :) It would appear I’m the only one liking the deep woody spicy scents LOL!


Ting March 18, 2013 at 11:29 am

Hahahahaha!! “You can risk smelling like a toilet”… oh dear. Jo Malone will cry if she reads that… :p

It’s a risk with this brand for me. Some is really good like the citrusy ones (except for your grapefruit experience…). Some more exotic one is too strong for hot weather like we have. Combine with sweats it will create a whole new scent. hehe


Paris B March 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

LOL!!! It wasn’t a Jo Malone scent, fortunately. But there is always that risk of overmixing right? ;) You’re right about sweat too. That’s why people in our region prefer the lighter perfumes – anything too spicy or heavy can be too overwhelming. I guess I’m the exception :P


Becca March 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

I had actually never smelled a Jo Malone fragrance until VERY recently. I don’t know why I just never thought to stop at a counter and take a sniff. But now I really, really want to go play! The first time I ever heard about mixing fragrances was when I read about people doing it with Jo Malone fragrances. The idea is so appealing to me! I really want to try that Elderflower & Gooseberry one and especially the Earl Grey & Cucumber after Liz raved about it smelling just like earl grey! I also really like the idea of using a lighter cologne for the hot summer months. It just sounds so effortlessly chic! :P


Paris B March 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Gosh I can’t quite imagine smelling just like Earl Grey, but for some insane reason, I quite like the idea! I shall have to check it out won’t I? :D


casey23 March 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Oh as a perfume lover I was really wondering Jo Malone for a long time, without recognizing the cologne sign :) As you mentioned with only one scent, they are usually… so flat! Only nectarine blossom and honey made a stand on me but I had a similar scent and I was looking more for a floral scent but I couldn’t decide on one scent so I bought 2 in 30 ml bottles: wild bluebell and amber. I am kind of enjoying them but I believe I get tired of them easily. What I like about perfumes is that I changes its notes through time..


Paris B March 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

You noticed that too right? How they can smell a bit flat, as you put it. It’s partly why I prefer the stronger spicier scents because those seem to have more depth to me. The florals and citrus are a bit plain but maybe its just me :) I find sometimes its nice to take a break from the same scents. I guess that’s why we have many different ones don’t we? ;)


Sawpore March 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Jo Malone is definitely something I would like to try but I’ve never tried layering scents so I might end up trying one scent I like.

The mention of Vertyver reminded me of “Vetyverio” by diptyque which I bought recently. It has the warm, musky tone which might be something you can try :)


Paris B March 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Mmm I was just at a Diptyque store earlier today and I should have read your comment before I went! It sounds like a scent I’d like to sniff, thanks for the tip!


ishi March 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Ahh…they have caught up with me. I have 3 of the Jo Malones colognes; the velvet rose & oud, rose water & vanilla and nectarine blossom & honey, all procured from Suvarnabhumi airport, where my money goes to rest. Needless to say, with Jo Malones you’d be pretty smelling pretty unique.

Now that they are in KL, there is no need to be greedy and pick up 3 bottles in one go like I did…only to leave the lovely cream and black bag on the plane…..


Paris B March 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Waaaaahhhh someone on the plane must have thought it was Christmas! Sorry to hear about that awful experience. The last time I left something on the plane, it was my camera with a weeks worth of holiday photos in it. I was crushed. I’m not sure how different the prices are from Bangkok, but at least its here!


Esther March 19, 2013 at 3:33 am

The idea of fragrance combining sounds really nifty! And oh gosh, I probably should never lay my mitts on that Suger and Spice collection, lest I go around feeling hungry all day, and end up snacking more than I should.


Paris B March 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Roflol! I felt that way Esther! I sprayed on Ginger Biscuit and thought “hmm… A ginger stem biscuit about now would be nice with some tea!” And I hardly ever eat biscuits! Lol


Amanda March 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I’m so in love with Jo Malone! I just picked up the new Lemon Tart and Blackberry & Bay from Heathrow Airport yesterday. English Pear & Freesia and Nectarine Blossom & Honey are my favourites ;)


Paris B March 31, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I’ve read a lot of raves for the English Pear & Freesia one. Must check it out soon!


ceetee41 April 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I have recently become obsessed with this range of perfume. So much so that I currently have 7 types of scents on my night stand!! It can be very overwhelming choosing the right one, as you mentioned, but this is where a knowledgeable SA comes in handy. The SA at the Jo Malone counter in a nearby Mall (I’m currently in the States) was very patient with me, going through the possible combinations based on my preferred scents. And now if I want to feel energized and fresh, I just choose a combo that is zesty and fruity, if I’m feeling particularly feminine, then light florals are the order of the day. BTW my fave combo (at the moment) is red roses and English pear and freesia! :-)


Paris B April 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for sharing your fave combos! I’m going to have to go and take a sniff of them all! :)


Nora March 8, 2014 at 11:34 am

Oh Jo Malone..i love it..known it for quite a while probably 5 years ago, but only recently decided to buy the full size bottle. got myself the White Jasmine & Mint, smells divine, luxurious & sophisticated, it uplifts my mood whenever i spray it. I wouldn’t have bought it from it’s name but when i smelled it i was hooked..still am. bought it from selfridges manchester at £78. in malaysia it costs rm450.


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