Andy reviews Jo Loves Pomelo and also discusses why grapefruit paired with vetiver is such a successful combination (with plenty of other perfume examples).
Jo Loves is the perfume company that Jo Malone founded independently in 2011, five years after leaving the Jo Malone brand as creative director. Estée Lauder’s infamous acquisition of Jo Malone was very old news by the time I developed an interest in perfume. And yet even today, as I indulge in the original lineup’s signature creams and bath oils, I can’t help but be reminded of the difficult decisions Jo Malone must have faced, to trade authority over her brand and her name for a piece of the Lauder fortunes.
Now, as I orient myself to the pefumes from Jo Loves, Jo Malone’s newest personal business venture, I feel as though I am getting an authentic look at Jo Malone’s own creativity, as this focused collection feels personal, even autobiographical. Pomelo, the first perfume launched by Jo Loves, pleases and excites me, and is a particularly striking example of its creator’s talent and originality.
Fitting to Jo Malone’s signature fragrance style of simplicity and freshness, Jo Loves Pomelo is one of the most delightful citrus fragrances I have smelled recently. Like any good cologne, Jo Loves Pomelo provides ample refreshment, but where it really exceeds is in its intertwining of the shining citrus with a foil of earthy vetiver.
Since pomelo and grapefruit have a natural affinity to vetiver, these notes are often used together. In fragrances like Lalique Encre Noire and The Different Company Sel de Vétiver, accents of grapefruit add sparkle and zest to vetiver’s naturally saltiness. In contrast to these vetiver-dominated examples, however, Pomelo takes a decidedly different approach, emphasizing its namesake note, and using vetiver as a beguiling point of contrast to the sweetness of citrus.
This isn’t to say that the vetiver in Jo Loves Pomelo isn’t a prominent player—the variety used here is dry, peppery, and green, and it works in synergy with the pomelo to the point that I have difficulty at times smelling where the pomelo ends and the vetiver begins. In my limited experience with pomelos, they are sweeter and less acrid than grapefruits, and in that vein, Pomelo takes on the citrus notes with a sweeter, fruitier approach. Pomelo feels authentic to the fruit, and this means that it skips some of the rougher, sulfuric notes that can make grapefruit perfumes challenging.
When I first spray Pomelo, I smell a burst of sweet-tart citrus that makes my mouth water. It is the kind of uplifting scent that widens your eyes, and more importantly, makes you want to sniff a little closer. The citrus impression lasts well throughout the development, but as time goes on, the initial pale impression of dried vetiver roots comes into clearer focus. I love experiencing the transition of the fragrance from top to drydown, because even once the opening punch of citrus begins to fade, the vetiver becomes increasingly smooth and sensual. This is one fragrance you’ll want to experience on skin, because the natural saltiness of the woody basenotes seems to interact with the skin in a way that is completely lost on the blotter.
When I smell Pomelo, with its distinctive grapefruit-vetiver character, I think of the similarly suave pairing explored in Cartier Déclaration, a fragrance that paints a portrait of bitter orange and spices and surrounds it in a smooth cedarwood frame. To that end, if you’re a fan of fragrances which pair woods and citrus, an admittedly broad category, you might find Jo Loves Pomelo particularly enjoyable. Like many of these fragrances, Pomelo has good lasting power and moderate sillage, so many are likely find it quite versatile.
As one would expect of a brand created by Jo Malone, the matching body products in the Jo Loves line seem especially promising. As for Pomelo, I’ve only tried the body cream, and I found it an especially indulgent way to extend the life of the perfume or simply as a treat all of its own. I can think of few nicer ways to unwind than to massage some of this generously-scented cream into tired palms, cup under the nostrils, and inhale, for an instant, energizing boost.