Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jo Malone: The Martha Stewart of Fragrance?

Has anyone received the Jo Malone Holiday 2008 catalog? For some time I’ve been thinking that Jo Malone’s consumer demographic must be upper middle class (and above) soccer Mom’s. When I received JM’s Holiday 2008 catalog I felt as if I were flipping through the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine or Martha’s book Entertaining. Home décor and domestic bliss are strange associations for fragrance because 99.9% of the time fragrance is marketed with sex or beauty. It’s difficult for me to recall a perfume advertisement that doesn’t allude to sex, love or the images of idealized beauties be they male or female. Jo Malone’s catalog doesn’t even depict people; all of the images are of beautiful rooms, dinner settings, fireplace mantels and marble bathrooms. I wonder what this means, if anything, about those devoted to Jo Malone fragrances?

For me, the downside of JM fragrances is their longevity. I haven’t come across a single JM fragrance that sticks around a long time. I do love the scent of several JM’s, and own many bottles, but I’m pretty disappointed when the scent disappears after 2 hours. Jo Malone isn’t as fleeting as L’Artisan, I find most JM’s last about 2 hours, maybe, just maybe, 3 hours, if I use moisturizer first and apply liberally. Aside from the longevity issue, I genuinely love Pomegranate Noir, Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, Nutmeg & Ginger, Black Vetyver Café, Red Roses, Wild Fig & Cassis and French Lime Blossom. After creating this list of JM’s that I love I realize I certainly do have a good number from this line.

Just about all JM fragrances are linear and there are several soliflores. I would describe the entire JM line as smelling pure, simple, uncomplicated, very realistic to natural aromas and clean. As I describe JM fragrances I notice a similarity with Annick Goutal. I also have a large number of Annick Goutal fragrances (even more than Jo Malone) so I would guess that those who love Goutal might also enjoy Jo Malone.

When I wear Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir during the December Holidays, I’m usually entertaining at my house, painstakingly preparing the menu and dinner place settings. When I wear French Lime Blossom during the summer, you might find me meeting my Mom for Afternoon Tea at The Four Seasons hotel. When I wear Red Roses, you might find me with my hair done (for a change!) with heels and a dress at a friends wedding. When I wear Wild Fig & Cassis you might find me having lunch at the neighbors’ house, as my neighbor introduces me to her newest grandchild.

Why am I listing typical instances of when I can be found wearing Jo Malone fragrances? I guess because these occasions seem to fit the ideal created by Jo Malone’s advertising, which very much reminds me of Martha Stewart’s imagined domestic bliss. I can’t figure out if its Jo Malone’s advertising which impacts how I feel when I wear these fragrances or if it’s the scents themselves which enhance a mood of a perfect domestic setting.

If Martha Stewart is anything like the domestic goddess I imagine her to be, I would wager she wears Jo Malone fragrances (if not, perhaps Annick Goutal).


ScentScelf said...

But that's just it, isn't it? Jo Malone appeal to a lifestyle, and offers a wardrobe of scents to coordinate with the different "styles" of your life. (Layer up for those multi-category events, simplify for a trip to the flower market, to run for milk, write a letter...)

It has always fascinated me how so many scents try to go for a specific moment (sexual/erotic being common, yes, but that moment of falling in love is another you used to see). Also, appealing to a certain type of woman (going to reach back and remember Charlie, the woman who brought home the bacon and fried it up in a pan, etc.) You could just as well end up with a wardrobe of scents trying to match moments or personalities.

So many ARE going to pick more than one personality, after all...I think the appeal of a Jo Malone approach may be that YOU control what personality/mood you create, and not the perfumer.

(It's all somewhat nebulous, I know, the idea of controlling how others will "read" our scent...but I'm talking theory and marketing at the moment.)

The fleeting factor simply allows you to reassess "who" or "where" you are throughout the day...

Tania said...

What I like about Jo Malone is the concept of layering different scents, and the combinations they suggest for it. Fun!

I must admit, I ignore the pretty domestic photos in the catalog and on the site, because unless they include one that shows a sink full of dishes waiting two days to be washed when I'm not too busy having fun, or an unmade bed, that's not my life... ;-)

I find 'Nutmeg and Ginger' lasts for ages, the rest, not so much. But that's ok, as when one wears off i can change to another, and so wear a few in one day.

Abigail said...

ScentSelf - now you have "gonna bring home the bacon (duh-nah-nah-nah) and fry it up in a pan" in my head for the day!

While JM may seem a bit boring compared with all the sexy/erotic/lovey perfume imagery I do like it. It's simple and classic and I enjoy her scents. And, perhaps you nailed it, I invent the imagery for myself when I wear JM...

Abigail said...

Hey Tania,

Yes, you're right, Nutmeg & Ginger does last well and so does Dark Amber & Ginger Lily.

The one I wish would stick around is Pomegranate Noir. I love that stuff but it doesn't stay much more than 90 minutes on me. Boo.