sugarspice

The only bottle of Jo Malone I have ever purchased was that of Agave and Cacao, which I purchased in Isetan, Shinjuku in 2013. Being very much into both agave nectar and cacao as foods, the title appealed to me, as did most definitely the smell of the juice. Since then I’ve gravitated to other scents in her line, but today that is not what I’m going to write about. Instead, I’ll revisit that day at the JM counter to share my experience with a limited edition set of gourmet fragrances that I’m not sure is available any more.

While I was enjoying that and other delights at her counter in the upscale Tokyo department store, I saw that she had a brand new collection called Sugar & Spice, but not on sale yet – just a tease of what would come.  The 5 scents in the collection are a rather whimsical departure from her classic image, and the playful packaging and gourmand scents inspired by delicious English desserts are indeed very appealing. The clerk boasted that Isetan was the only national distributor of the collection and that they’ll be the first to sell it.

Isetan forbids photography in inside its doors, for reasons into which I neglected to investigate, but they did give me a marketing pamphlet. I didn’t know if this was how the collection would be promoted elsewhere, but it certainly matched up to Japanese expectations of sensibilities of things British. A trendy yet prim and proper lean redhead with cuffs of made doilies was shown getting ready to dive into her sweets. She looked less into in the food than into herself – If it were me I’d be looking at the food and smiling. Japanese, like the French, don’t overindulge and take the matter of desserts, presentation and all, quite seriously.

Christine Nagel, Jo Malone’s exclusive award-winning master perfumer, decided to be a little more experimental with its creations. She came up with five scents inspired by five unique British pastries. The limited edition scents in this collection included Elderflower & Gooseberry, Bitter Orange & Chocolate, Ginger Biscuit, Lemon Tart, and Redcurrant & Cream. I took only a quick sniff of all of them, and all I can tell you is that they smelled EXACTLY as their names implied. I reckoned this collection would definitely appeal the a younger Japanese crowd, who tend to like their smells trendy, refined, sweet, and marketed as such.

The pitch:

A collection of fragrances created for moments of delicious pleasure. Inspired by delectable ingredients. Decadently tempting. Impossible to choose. Delicious to wear. Succumb to divine indulgence.

LEMON TART: The mouth-watering tang of lemon tart. Sparkling with citrus fruits and verbena, contrasted with swirls of meringue and lemon thyme. Refreshing.

REDCURRANT & CREAM: A summer pudding. Sharpe-scarlet juices of redcurrants, lush strawberries and raspberries, rippling through creamy musk.Vivacious and enticing.

ELDERFLOWER & GOOSEBERRY:  A voluptuous gooseberry fool. Crushed, summer-green gooseberries, juicy with lychee, enfolded into the soft delicacy of elderflower. Tender and feminine.

GINGER BISCUIT: Just-baked biscuit. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, melting into caramel. Butter-crumbly with roasted hazelnuts. Warmed by tonka bean and vanilla. Irresistible.

BITTER ORANGE & CHOCOLATE: The bite of bitter orange, layered with dark chocolate. Orange peel counterpoised with warm, powdery cocoa, milky coconut and coumarin. Sumptuous and addictive.

These scents all smelled pretty darned succulent. I was very impressed with the Bitter Orange & Chocolate, if only because it smelled like bitter orange and chocolate. Was it something I would wear on my person? Well despite being a scent gourmand, I’d have to say no. The exception might be if I were on a diet and needed chocolate but couldn’t have it. Then it might be the next best thing. But that’s not a likely situation for me, as I suck at diets. I would also expect others would simply think I’d simply been up to something devilishly chocolaty in the kitchen and had had a wee accident of sorts. Though I did not take the time to analyze these fragrances in detail, I think they were pretty straightforward, and overall a somewhat novel and yummy concept that might make money. But I like my gourmand scents a little more complex and not this literal, and don’t want anything cloying, which could result from any one in this collection.