The Lightness of the Dark: Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
New Jo Malone scent is described as a fruity composition with notes of raspberry, plum and pink pepper, combined with patchouli, frankincense and spicy woods. Some of these notes sounded very appealing to me, some of them made me hesitant to try it (yes, I am referring to you, patchouli). Good news for people like me, the fruity- and /or patchouli-shy, no need to worry…Bad news…there are no bad news apart from the fact that I will need a full bottle of Pomegranate Noir and soon.
Pomegranate noir starts as a burst of a plum note on my skin. Almost instantly the notes merge to evoke what I perceive to be a dry, almost leathery scent of pomegranate skin. This is a fruity scent at this point, but in the driest, most abstract sense of the word. After a while the pepper note becomes more obvious to my nose. For those familiar with IUNX Burning Water or Comme des Garcons Harissa, this pepper kick is somewhat reminiscent of the “feel” of those two scents to me. Both of these stages are wonderful, but the third one is my favorite, this is where the promised frankincense (very light) and woods (I think it is mostly cedar, but I may be mistaken) are most prominent. Patchouli is simply absent on my skin; I am sure it plays an important role in the composition, adding the dark depth to it, but it does so very discreetly.
I love the way the fragrance keeps developing, each stage smoothly extending into the next. I also admire the fact that the top notes never disappear completely, that incredible dark, somewhat astringent, almost leathery “pomegranate skin note” is perceivable till the very end. Unlike so many other Jo Malone scents, Pomegranate Noir is long-lasting on my skin; I can still smell it six hours after application.
I cannot really compare Pomegranate Noir to any other scent out there, apart from the middle stage reminding me of Harissa and Burning Water, but even then the similarity is not so much about the notes as about a certain ethos shared by the three scents. Having said that, there is something incredibly familiar in Pomegranate Noir, especially in the drydown, a note that reminded me about happy poignant days of my past, and I don’t know what that note is. In any case, there is something in Pomegranate Noir that made me react to it in the most visceral way.
In his article, The Unbearable Lightness of Scent, Chandler Burr describes Pomegranate Noir as a massless scent and very deservedly titles Jo Malone as a queen of light. Burr perceives her new perfume to be “the scent of the darkness that inhabits the corners of paintings by the Dutch masters. Think of Rubens’s self-portrait. The rich, luscious dark that surrounds the illuminated head, the bright white collar floating in the warm blackness. Rubens’s dark is not the cold heaviness of the void. It is the deep warmth of all that is there, but is simply unseen.”
Pomegranate Noir is definitely a dark scent, however, in my opinion, this is not a deep, warm and impenetrable darkness of Rubens and Rembrandt, the dark here is weightless, transparent. Aubrey Beardlsey’s black-and-white ink drawings immediately come to my mind when I smell Pomegranate Noir. To me, this is a smell of twilight, of that place between sleep and awake, memory and oblivion, where you can still remember your dreams before they dissolve in the morning light.
Pomegranate Noir will hit the stores in October, at the moment it seems to be already available at Neiman Marcus Online, $50.00 for 30ml, $85.00 for 100ml.
* The picture of Pomegranate Noir comes from Neiman Marcus Online.
* The painting is The Woman in the Moon, 1893, by Aubrey Beardsley, Fogg Art Museum