Anyone who has smelled fragrances from Malone's earlier brand--scents like Grapefruit or Nutmeg & Ginger--will find that same kinds of adjectives apply to this new line: simple, direct, pure, clean. And while Jo Loves is not yet available in Bloomingdales or Saks or Nieman Marcus--unlike the suddenly ubiquitous Jo Malone Ltd--I had a very easy time requesting samples of this new line via the world wide interwebs. On a gloomy, winter day, I received a small black envelope containing generous samples of Pomelo, A Shot of Thai Lime Over Mango, and Mango Nectar.
The flavor of ripe mangoes has always been one of my favorites. In the summer months, I love to make coconut sticky rice and mango. I love mango smoothies and mango sorbet and strips of dried mango (otherwise known as mango jerky). And, of course, I love mango cut into chunks or cubes or oddly angled shapes. Or just nibbled from that great teardrop shape of a white pit.
So, it probably comes as no surprise that the great winner of the three samples was Mango Nectar. Although summer is still many months away, I predict that Mango Nectar by Jo Loves will be the olfactory accompaniment for my June, July, and August 2013. Let's call it my summer smelltrack (that's right, people, the perfumista's soundtrack has now been given a new name).
When I was working on my fifth book manuscript, The Arranged Marriage, I spent a lot of time thinking about my mother's upbringing in Honduras. In trying to explain what it was like to grow up Jewish in Latin America, my mother would often speak about the things her parents her parents missed. Her mother and father had immigrated to San Pedro Sula in the late 1930s, having fled Germany and having been unable to settle in the United States (thanks to the "Jewish quotas"). Apparently, my grandmother or my Oma often craved apples, simple red and green apples. Although she was surrounded by an Eden of delicious tropical fruits---guavas and mangoes and passionfruit--she wanted the apples of her German childhood.
When I sniff Mango Nectar, I get a similar story: the scent of that mango seems so real, so romantic as to almost exist as juice in the mouth. Yes, there are white flowers here as well (jasmine) and musk beneath the petals, but the nectar of the mango is just so very convincing and delicious. Claude McKay's poem expresses the same kind of longing--not for European apples but for tropical fruits like mangoes--that my grandmother felt all those years in Honduras. The poem goes perfectly with Mango Nectar:
The Tropics in New York
By Claude McKay
Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,
Set in the window, bringing memories
Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies
In benediction over nun-like hills.
My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old, familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.