Friday, October 5, 2012

Blackberry winter in a little white church...

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay

You know what I love, dear reader?

A fancy 'do. I don't mean a fancy hairdo (though those are nice, too), I mean a fancy schmancy party. Doubly nice? Perfume release parties. Seriously. They are the height of indulgence. Nice food and drinks, nice smells, nice people -- the best of all.

Now I know that a lot of people have middling feelings about Jo Malone scents, particularly among the those who are run perfume blogs. I personally find their scent line to have a lot of scents that hit a pleasing note that isn't aggressive or hard to deal with, just pretty and fun and easy in a thoughtless way, which frankly, has been kind of nice given my stress levels of late. I have quite a few of their scents and I know my local reps at the downtown Nordstrom by name, so when they have events, I tend to get invited. I finally managed to make it to the release party for their newest fragrance, Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay. Say what you will about the fine people of Jo Malone, but know this: they do throw a pretty lovely perfume release party.

The event started with the group of attendees being provided blackberry lemonade for sipping and personal blackberry tarts in to-go boxes  and little jars of blackberry jam for us to enjoy at our leisure. We sat in a small group, talking about early remembrances of scent and our experience of the line under the coordinated prompting of the regional training specialist. We were given different scents in the line to try along with a brief description of Jo Malone's history as a company. When they finally came around to producing the scent we were there to meet, they started by passing out fresh blackberries to the crowd along with fresh bay leaves. We were asked to crush the berries on our tongue and describe the way the fruit tasted, then to tear the bay leaf, and after a few sniffs, do the same.

Then out came Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay, which Jo Malone describes the scent as follows:
Vibrant. Verdant. New Blackberry & Bay. Inspired by childhood memories of blackberry picking. A burst of deep, tart blackberry juice, blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay and brambly woods. A scent of innocence. An irresistible collection to savour.
The immediate opening of Blackberry & Bay is more bay leaf than blackberry. The immediate berry aspects coming through is the tart aspects of the berry crushed immediately on the tongue. This part of the scent is interesting. it's fresh without being too light or overly fruity like so many more mainstream scent takes would be on a similar perfume effort. Unfortunately, it doesn't stay in this tart, fresh place as long as I'd like it to. Like the real fruit, it bursts into sweet fruit, and while still slightly tart and green thanks to the bay leaf note, those aspects become side players in the scent, the kind of character actors you wish would come back to steal the story from the supposed stars.

Now don't let me undersell you on the fruity part, because it is very nice. I just wish the tart and green bits were stronger. My biggest beef with the middle to end of the scent is the musky base. It is a little distracting, like the sound of a low radio from another room. Which is too bad, because the fruit part is lovely. As fruity scents go, I can attest that it is surprisingly realistic. The scent is realistic, robust, dare I even say, supple? Go back a moment to the experiment from the experiment from the scent release event -- berry crushed on tongue while torn bay leaves waves under the nose. Honestly? Thanks to the immediate fruit-in-mouth to scent-on-arm comparison, I can tell you they did a pretty good job.

On the whole? I really like Blackberry & Bay. But more than that, I needed it. Fall is late coming here in Oregon. It's been hot, dry, and sunny for far too long for my tastes. I was out watering the lawn today, trying to keep my plants alive, and could not believe it was already October. October! It is the time of leaf peeping and corn mazes and caramel apples and carving pumpkins. It should not feel like summer as the leaves begin to change, but it does. The last golden light of summer. And while I crave a scent that says "Fall," it needs to be a whisper. It needs to evoke Fall without invoking cashmere sweaters or very hot drinks or crackling fireplaces. I needed something that said Fall in the same way that Dar Williams "End of Summer" is about both endings and transitions into something new.

So if you, like me dear reader, think the best time of year for rebirth is the season of 'death,' the moment that gold goes down to grey, then I submit Blackberry & Bay as a terrific scent for this liminal moment of transition. Me? I bought a bottle.

My frequently mentioned partner in crime, the Kate, decided on a whim to come with me to the event, and it was nice to have someone there who wasn't a 'perfume' person because it provided me some additional perspective on these events. I asked Kate to give me a little feedback on how she found the event as someone largely unfamiliar with perfume and with Jo Malone as a line. Her general response?
OMG. I'm eating a pastry that I smell like. I may not be a perfumista, but I endorse this lifestyle.
And as for you, dear reader, I have not forgotten you. I did not tell you this story of fancy food and drink and perfume to show you all I have that you cannot. Nope. I believe that good things should be shared. And while I can't make the delicious lemonade and berry tart appear at your home, I can provide a sample of Blackberry & Bay and a CD for you to enjoy.

She remembers the nights he’d come calling,
his yellow silk tie.
In love, she saw him falling for her in the fire of July.
Then one day as the nights grew longer,
blackberry winter in a little white church
stood a young pretty bride...

~ "Forever Changed," Carrie Underwood

So! Leave a comment to enter, any comment at all, and I will pick TWO WINNERS! That's right, two winners. Twice as nice.

Winners will receive a copy of my Fall 2012 Mix CD and a sample of Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay (and probably a couple of other scents). Comment by Monday, October 8, 2011, 11:59 PM PST! Open to U.S. and International readers.


Anonymous said...

Hello Diana,

They certainly *do* promote their Jo Malone perfumes well at your downtown Nordstrom - you've made me want to get some blackberries right now even though I don't really like eating fresh blackberries!

The weather is weird here at present, colder but with a huge blue sky today, so it looks like high summer but doesn't feel like it.

Take care of yourself during your Indian Summer:-)

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

lethe said...

Ooh! I love blackberries. And autumn. And music.

As a recent discoverer (is that even a word) of your blog, I'd love to be included in the draw!

lawgoddess said...

Nice to see you back! I am not that fond of blackberry scents, but would like a sample of this one! I have always wanted to try Jo Malone- her Vanilla and Anise scent sounds nice.

amyorvin said...

Thank you for the giveaway!

KathyT said...

I really like the Jo Malone line, and I've read so many positive reviews about the Blackberry and Bay one that I really feel like I need to try it. Great review!

ChickenFreak said...

No sample for me - I've got two. I had three - my experience with this perfume was with a sample that leaked on me, never a good introduction. :) I've been meaning to try it again.

I suspect that the parts that bothered you might be just to my taste. I like most fruit perfumes to show their green or bitter or sour edges - for example, fig perfumes that others find too tart, I find far too sweet, and I've never found an orange with enough bitter-peel attitude. But I like my blackberry (and peaches, for that matter) childhood-syrupy-sweet, so I'll probably approve of this one when it switches to sweet. Though it may not be sweet enough.

And while I'm often a bit disconcerted by that chewy, musky background that's sometimes behind Jo Malone's bright scents, I also miss it when it's missing - for example, I don't get it in Nectarine Blossom & Honey, and the result is that that scent is merely "pretty", to the extent that it bores me now and I may give my bottle away. Though as you note so eloquently, the seasons are changing, so maybe I'll give it one more fruity summer before I evict it.

Anonymous said...

Ooo I love blackberries, with other fruit, like peaches, and a teeny amount of cream. This one sounds very nice.

Thanks for the draw, Diana!

lafleur said...

Hello! I've never tried any Jo Malone's scent! Would love to do so!

Maureen said...

I would love to try this scent. I've never tried Jo Malone fragrances, but you made this sound delicious. It is chilly & damp here in suburban Philly, PA, so I think that this fragrance would be perfect, and cheer me up.