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Monday, October 16, 2006

Perfume Review: Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao

I believe in skin chemistry. I also believe that for whatever reason, with some perfume lines, my skin chemistry practically always works wonderfully well, while with others it either clashes in the most unpleasant manner or simply refuses to cooperate making scents sit on my skin without much development and much depth. Jo Malone is one of my “lucky” perfume houses. Out of her twenty or so fragrances, I wouldn’t like to own and wear maybe one or two and that is a reflection on my tastes rather then the quality of the scents themselves. In short, Malone’s fragrances and I usually “click”. I was very pleased to find out that the new Jo Malone cologne, Blue Agava & Cacao, continues the happy tendency.

Blue Agava & Cacao has notes of grapefruit, cardamom, lime, red berry, agava flower, orchid, geranium, salt, white lily, vetiver, cinnamon, cocoa, musk and vanilla. It was “inspired by the artistry of flamenco” and is described as an “impassioned” scent. For all I know, on other people, it is one hot Latin number. On me, it is a soothing comfort scent. To me, “comfort scents” -very roughly! - fall into two categories, snuggly/gourmand and meditative/serene. The former category would include scents like Ambre Narguile, Flowerbomb Extreme, L de Lempicka, the latter, Angelique Incense, Passage d’Enfer, Piper Nigrum, Miyako. Blue Agava & Cacao has the best of both worlds, combining the gourmand warmth with the cool tranquility.

The fragrance has a very appealing, subtle, “green” candied quality. It is, however, never too sweet and never too obviously “foody”. The citruses, the spices, the juicy greenness of agava, the coldness of lily balance the sweetness and the "gourmandness". The cocoa, which, I must admit, is not one of my favorite notes, is always present, but rather than being a very prominent player in the composition, it serves as a warm, velvety background. It is there to compliment the subtly edible feel of the top notes and to enrich and add depth to the green, cool, delicately floral heart. The cocoa note is especially attractive in the base, where, combined with the green earthiness of vetiver and musk, it acquires a strange, almost-animalic quality that makes me think of Parfumerie Generale’s animalic/gourmand Musc Maori. I love the juxtaposition of the fluffy, almost edible and the dry, green and earthy. I love the understated, elegant feel of the composition. In short, I am enamoured with Blue Agava & Cacao.

Blue Agava & Cacao is going to be officially launched in November, and will be sold at Jo Malone Shops,,, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks. I believe it is already available to preview at some selected stores. It retails for $50.00-$90.00.

The image is from


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehehe...couldn't help posting this question ;-)
What conclusions may we draw: A scent is on other people a really, heavy hot Latin number but on you it is a soothing comfort scent. How come?

1:08 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, the notes wouldn't move me, but the description does. I like all the scents in your 2nd comfort category (and, of course, the extraordinary AN in the first), so this has possiblities. But now for the big question--how long does it last? Many Jo Malones are oh-so-fleeting on me.

7:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds you of Musc Maori???!!!!!As someone who already owns and loves that incredible fragrance, would one need to own this? I have always wanted to pick out a Jo Malone for myself but I have never found one that I like enough, or like at all for that matter. And seeing she put this in the Floral family of scents doesn't give me much hope either??!!

7:31 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I hadn't seen the list of notes before, and like Judith, they don't inspire confidence, but I do love your description of it. Sound like a must try for sure.

7:55 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I'm at the opposite end of the JM spectrum -- with the exception of uber-sweet French Lime Blossom, I wouldn't wear any of them. (Actually, there's a cologne that's rather nice, but fleeting.) You, however, ONCE AGAIN, have compelled me to sniff it. Sigh. PS sniffing Pom Noir sprayed on me would put you off perfume forever.

8:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

:-) I don't know if it is a hot Latin number on others. I haven't smelled anyone wearing it :-) I just assume that it might be. The Malone people describe it as an "impassioned" scent...which couldn't be further away from my impression, but I love it neveretheless.

8:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Here is the thing. Malones last on me quite well. Some of them, like Pom Noir, last from here to eternity, rivalling even the KM Loukhoum The Terrible. Blue Agava isn't quite as tenacious, but it lasted well, maybe 5-6 hours, on me.

8:46 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review! I smelled this one at the JM shop the other day and was surprised of the similarities with Lolita Lempicka "L".
And a little rant OT here: as a spanish person I found very puzzling when companies mixed up southamerican culture (tequila, cacao) with spanish culture (flamenco) and make it all look the same thing... ole?

8:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Anonymous,
Whatever you do, please don't buy Blue Agava unsniffed based on what I said about Musc Maori :-) There was just one moment there, when I smelled a lot of cacao and a lot of musk, when I thought...Musc Maori? Otherwise the two are very different scents.

8:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The notes really are not much help here. But it is worth a try and I think that you would at least *like* it.

8:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Welcome back, I missed you! How was the trip???

8:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can sort of see what you mean about L de Lempicka, although that one is much, much sweeter and has much more citrus, but there is some similarity there.

Yeah, I don't quite get where they were going with their tequila-flamenco description :-)

8:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am very glad to hear that! I am not alone. Well, actually, I believe Ina likes it too. I've been wearing it all weekend, addicting, as you say. Must be all that tequila :-)

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

Oh the torture! Both you and Ina reviewed this so well, and it's not available anywhere. I must have some! *Pouts and stamps foot* Doggone that Jo Malone. Is it November yet?

10:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

:-D November is almost here. I think some Saks and/or NM stores might have this already.

10:24 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, that plant in the picture you posted? Do you remember having it at home growing up? We always had one. That's the kind of greenness I get from Blue Agava & Cacao. I fell in love with it upon first sniff (WUFS). :)

10:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

We hardly ever had plants at home. Both my mum and I have...what's they call it, black thumb or something? We are unlucky with plants. It's enough for me to look at one to make it whither and die :-)
It looks like aloe, no?

10:50 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Ina, Columbina

That's an agave plant. Agave Americana, to be exact. They are all over out here in the southwest, can grow to be 7 feet high and are practically unkillable.

My best friend is into the Jo Malones, and I have ceded them to her, since she loves them so. But this one I may have to try and keep for myself.

11:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Just reminded me of what *I think* is aloe plant. I am so not a gardener, it is shameful :-)

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, it's (A) a cousin of Aloe and (b) not like you have a lot of 7 foot desert cacti where you live.

12:33 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, they are already selling it at my local NM. Got a sample but haven't tried it yet -- hopeful, although I dont' think the JM line agrees with me quite as much as it does with you -- figures!

12:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Great news! I wonder why it's not on JM site yet nor on Gloss. Tsk. I am very much looking forward to reading about your impressions of BA&C.

12:41 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't think any of her scents are groundbreakingly original. I just find them lovely and extremely pleasurable.

12:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I wish I lived where 7 foot cacti grow. The cold climate disagrees with me. Autumn is depressive. In winter I fall into a sort of a coma :-) I've got to move.

12:51 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

It was AMAZING. Really. I could have spent a month there, happily, but I'd come home weighing 350 lbs. and have to buy an extra seat on the plane. I'm blogging about it tomorrow.

The fact that someone compared this JM to L makes me want to try it even more. My guess is you thought L was wretched. ;-)

2:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Can't wait to hear about your trip!

I ADORE L de Lempicka. Have worn it non-stop all spring and summer :-D

3:07 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

"L"?!??! Not LL, but the Little Mermaid one?


Huh. I am loving it. P sent me her bottle in loving hatred (hating love?) Her loss, my gain. I think it's wonderful.

4:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

L!!! NOT LL, which I hate with all my heart. Don't you read my blog, March? JUST JOKING!
No, I adore L.

4:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Sigh* MUST you create more lemmings, M? I had quickly dismissed the news of this scent (partly for fear that another lemming would be born) because of the cocoa note. Now you say it only serves to provide a "warm, velvety background". But, but...that sounds...good.

*slinks off to grumble some more about lemming creators*

6:03 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Move to LA! We have 10 days of Autumn in about February, when it pours. Then pretty much nothing but warm sunshine and low humidity, and those wonderful Chandleresque Santa Ana's... I think one of my most treasured memories is driving on Mulholland with the top down with that warm, jasmine scented wind roaring.

(returning to our regularly scheduled blog comments.....)

6:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*evil cackle*
My work here is done.

M, I am not a fan of cacao, but it doesn't bnother me here at al, in fact, I enjoy it.

6:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...



6:11 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first blog I've come accross in a while that is not Greek but simple english simple to understand. Of course the language of Perfume is simpler than the langugae of Greek that is being used in so many blogs like those that use rectangular vertical strips and ununderstandable english world combined in a sentence that is hrder to understand than the greek Language

6:31 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

So you don't want me to send you my jumbo bottle of Etro Anice?

heh heh heh

I am only surprised b/c I thought L would be too sweet for you. I am still not entirely sure what's in there I love so much -- it is DEFINITELY not my usual sort of thing.

6:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you :-)

6:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I would have never ever guessed you'd like L! :-)

6:50 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Ok, peeps, you're gonna hate me, but...
Meh !!!
I don't want.
Not impressed.
Pretty, but SO WHAT.
Didn't grow on me at all.
Let's agree to disgree, and kiss and make up...

P.S.- Marinushka- when you want a hot Latin number, give me a call, ok?

7:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You are so funny! :-D
Of course we can agree to disagree. It's all about skin chemistry, right?

9:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey c,
Just smelled this today on a strip and very much enjoyed it - I think!?! I really agree with V, in that it impresses me much more than the rest of the line, but it is a bit conventionally pretty. I suppose I could live with conventionally pretty sometimes, though. Damn, this may ruin my "no new bottles until Christmas" rule. In order to crush my hopes, would you please tell me that the lasting power is incredibly poor, like many other JMs?

4:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The lasting power is quite good on me, sorry :-) But then many Malones last quite well on me, so...
Nothing wrong with conventionaly PRETTY. Just conventional and not at all attractive, that would be bad :-)

4:58 PM EDT  
Blogger HeatherAnna said...

"Inspired by flamenco"??!! OMG. I tried it today for the first time at NM (before reading this review), and fell in love. Now here's the funny thing...I'm a flamenco dancer! I think I've found my performance scent...:)

11:19 PM EST  

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