Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jo Malone Master Class with David Ponce: A New Twist on the Art of Fragrance Mixing

Today, I attended an informative (and fun) master class at Neiman Marcus Tysons Galleria led by David Ponce, Jo Malone's national trainer. David was expertly assisted by James Tyree, Diana Foerster, and David McCray as we sniffed and drank our way through fragrance notes and fragrances. Yes - drank!

If you know Jo Malone, you already know that she made the art of fragrance combining come alive for customers. Wear your favorite Jo Malone scents individually or layer them to create your own custom fragrance. All of Jo Malone's fragrances are tested before introduction to ensure that they will "play well in the sandbox" with all other Jo Malone fragrances. There will be no nasty surprises when you experiment.

Today's class had a interesting twist. The team created cocktails for us using the notes from the fragrances they presented. Assisted by the store, they created three signature cocktails (without alcohol so we could all drive away safely) using blueberries, oranges, pomegranates - you name it - if it could be found in a Jo Malone fragrance, it may have been in one of our cocktails. Sniffing while sipping is a blast!

David Ponce is a fountain of knowledge. He's passionate about what he does, and it shows in his hand movements. He's in constant motion when he teaches. I took a zillion photos, trying to ensure that I had at least one that would be useable (and not too dark in store lighting). In every one, he was in motion, gesturing to speak with his whole body - throwing himself (literally) into his subject.

We talked about the new Wild Bluebell Cologne (which is selling extremely well). We smelled the individual notes (courtesy of David's traveling bag), and then we smelled Wild Bluebell. We talked about the novelty of the Wild Bluebell advertising campaign, with the fairy and white bunny, and then we looked in our goodie bags and found a white chocolate bunny. He's adorable, but I think I'm going to have to nibble at him.

I begged for a tiny sample of the bluebell note and came home with it. I need a whole bottle. It's beyond heavenly for this floral lover. He demonstrated how the character of Wild Bluebell can change by layering, emphasizing a floral surprise by combining it with White Jasmine and Mint, or fruits by combining it with Lime Basil and Mandarin. All the combinations we tried were luscious. Now that I'm home, I'm reaching for my Wild Bluebell bottle to give it another try mixed with my old standby Red Roses.

David covered so much ground in 30 minutes! Did you know that if you purchase one of Jo Malone's Fragrance Chronicles, the combinations yield 256 different scents? Can you believe it? I'm not a math whiz, but I understand how that's possible. I might be able to fix a stray ground wire in my phone's junction box (as I did this morning), but I get lost after a simple logarithmic scale.

It's no wonder that David travels around the country training industry insiders and customers alike. His own passion ignited ours, not only for Jo Malone and all of the company's stunning fragrances, but also for fragrance combining. I can't wait for his next visit.

If you ever get a chance to attend one of David's sessions, do it. I guarantee you'll have fun. He'll take great care of you and open your mind to fragrance combinations that might not have been intuitive.

I will end with breaking news. I have been bummed about the discontinuation of Jo Malone's Tuberose - one of my favorites. Apparently, there weren't enough of us purchasing it (until Tuberose lovers found out it was being discontinued, at which point there was a rush to buy). Next year, Tuberose will be relaunced in the new Cologne Intense Collection. While I have to wait until Spring 2012, the thought that it's coming back left me feeling like I could do cartwheels again. Isn't anticipation wonderful?

Photos by Best Things in Beauty


Nemo said...

Oh, Charlestongirl, I too love Tuberose! And Red Roses! And Orange Blossom (which reminds me of weddings). Glad to know Tuberose is returnng!

Charlestongirl said...

You and I love the same ones, Nemo! The return of Tuberose is very exciting to me because I've treated it like liquid gold since I learned that my current bottle was my last.

Charlestongirl said...

Sometimes, reading user manuals helps. I came home from today's class and read about taking people photos with my new camera. If I had set the portrait mode correctly, my camera would have taken much better photos today.

It's just that I hate reading manuals! Lesson learned.

lovethescents said...

I'm glad you had so much! You deserve it after the week you had.

I do like several JMs but I find it a bit unfair that they heavily market for layering which means you should be buying AT LEAST two fragrances. Can't they just come up with the good stuff on their own without having us trying to create it? I'm being naughty :-) I do like JM, just don't like the pushing of layering.

I hope I haven't offended anyone!

Mamavalveeta03 said...

Believe it or not, I've never tried any of Jo Malone's fragrances. I think I got her mixed up with that other Brit,Jo Rowling, because we have the entire Harry Potter series on our bookshelf. There are so many appealing choices, I don't really know where to begin. What do you suggest for one who loves fresh, grassy fragrances?

Anonymous said...

OMG! your JM event sounds much more interesting than mine!

have you tried wild bluebell with Black Vetyver Café Cologne or Blue Agava & Cacao Cologne? i love those combination!

Charlestongirl said...

Lovethescents, I think layering isn't intended to be confined to Jo Malone's fragrances. While the company tests its own fragrances mixed, many company reps speak lovingly about mixtures with other brands.

I've never felt pressured to buy two. The fragrances sell themselves. I do think their "simplicity" lends itself to combinations. Some fragrances have too much going on in one scent for combining.

Of course, no one is offended. We love ideas! That's why I had so much fun yesterday. David gave me some new ideas. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Mama Val,

On the Jo Malone Web site, the colognes are grouped by type, such as light florals, citrus, etc. Start there and then go to a counter and smell. Jo Malone counters are generous with samples, so you should be able to take home your favorites to try before you buy.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Nutty!

You've got me there. I've never tried those combinations. :)