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Saturday, October 01, 2005

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

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Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! Reading your comment made me happy! :-)

8:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Anna, Fair and True said...

The perfume makers should send you free bottles as a thank you for all the free advertisements!

8:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Hi A! Well, I am only reviewing, not advertising...but, yeah, wouldn't it be wonderful...*sigh*

9:04 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

What an interesting comment about Jo Malone fragrances. I discovered them a couple of years ago in London and dismissed them as "too light". Your review and the link to Chandler Burr's article put them in another light (no pun intended). I have come to appreciate this dimension of weightlesness in Frédéric Malle's Lys Méditerrannée and Musc Ravageur, and I am more and more interested in contemporary perfume construction. Fortunately, Jo Malone has just opened a counter here in Paris, at Le Bon Marché. Will sniff ASAP !

5:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear C.,
I used to get rather frustrating with "magical disappearing" Jo Malone scents in the past, they were light as in short-lived. I think in Pomegranate Noir she achieved that weightlessness without making the scent disappear so fast. It does last 5-6 hours on my skin. Also, unlike for example her Orange Blossom, where the orange blossom part disappears completely before the drydown, here you can continuously smell the top "dry-fruity" notes.
Let me know what you think about it if you have a chance to smell it!

7:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

V., I am sorry about that sour note, well at least the scent was long-lasting on you as well. :-)
Have a great Sunday!

7:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Annieytown said...

Stunning review!
I think it is one of the best of her entire line. Griff and I sniffed the bottle at SAKS a few weeks ago. We were both impressed.

11:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you A!
I haven't smelled absolutely all of Malone's scents, but this is definitely the best of what I've tried. They way it developes, the fact that it lasts...wonderful scent.

11:35 AM EDT  

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