Contrasts – Review: Jo Loves Gardenia

What I enjoy most about perfume is the fact that it is possible to love complete opposites.

It is not only possible but also allowed to adore a perfume like Vero Kern’s Onda one day and go for something completely different like Jo Loves Gardenia the next.

Onda is probably the most difficult perfume I own, one that has not many fans, but those who love it, do so with a passion. Those who don’t, hate it with equal fervor.

Gardenia is the Anti-Onda in every respect, light-hearted, pretty, tender, sweet, it smells good to almost anyone I assume, but you know what? I drained my sample in three days and am seriously contemplating a bottle (actually, were it not so hard to get, I’d probably already have one).

People, I’m smitten with the joyous, pretty darling that is Jo Loves Gardenia.


Gardenia includes notes of Italian bergamot, gardenia leaves, ylang ylang, gardenia blossom, white narcissus, Sambac jasmine, coumarin, heliotrope and musk.

I think of Gardenia as an all-American scent, nevermind its British heritage. I see a wholesome 50ies image of a cute blonde wearing a pony-tail, white socks and a full skirt. What sounds like a horrible cliché, is not meant as such. I actually like that idea of that innocent, joyful and as-of-yet-unbent-by-life girl very much. She is not real, but she does exist in all our lives at some point, even if it is only for mere moments.

Gardenia opens with a citrus-enhanced cloud of white florals, abstract and pretty. It smells natural, no plastic detectable unlike in the discontinued overly sweet Vintage Gardenia Cologne by Jo Malone (Jo’s old company, now owned by Estée Lauder). It reminds me of Guerlain’s Cruel Gardenia and the also sadly discontinued, wonderful Yves Rocher Pur Désir de Gardènia.

I love the opening, but what really reels me in is the drydown. The white floral accord is enhanced by the creamy warmth of almondy heliotrope and buffered by a pillow of softest musk that smells comforting, without being overly clean or soapy. Gardenia lasts for at least eight hours on me and has moderate sillage.

It is a hit with my husband too, which most of the time is a pretty good measure of how most (non-perfumista) people think.

I could stare at photos like this for hours...

I could stare at photos like this for hours…

As I said above, the beauty of perfume is that you don’t have to pick sides, you don’t have to declare yourself and stick with one thing to the exclusion of others. Unlike politics, love or professional life, perfume allows you to live all aspects of your personality, no matter how diverse and contrasting and plain antagonistic they may be.

Onda today, Gardenia tomorrow, perfume is freedom on a small scale.

Availability: Jo Loves fragrances are available through their website, samples upon request. Lady Jane Grey took us on a trip to the London showroom a while back.

About Olfactoria

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40 Responses to Contrasts – Review: Jo Loves Gardenia

  1. Ines says:

    Oh, you had me laughing with the comment about your husband (being a point of measure for non-perfumistas).
    I really love Cruel Gardenia which is why I never use my decant (that probably only makes sense in my head) so I will definitely try this. 🙂

  2. Undina says:

    I liked (and used up) my sample of Jo Loves Gardenia and after my second sample is gone I’ll seriously think about buying a bottle (maybe by that time they’ll have a local distributor: I just can’t justify L20 for S&H 😦 ).
    What a beautiful review, Birgit!

  3. Tara says:

    Really lovely review. I completely agree about loving perfume because it lets us explore many different aspects of our personality. You sum it up for me so well.

    This sounds like a gardenia that even non-gardenia lovers like me should try out, as well as non-perfumistas like The Husband 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      You should try it (and you are the closest to the source after all! 😉 ), I just can’t imagine anyone disliking this perfume. Even the white-floral phobic Lady Jane Grey enjoyed it.

  4. Jordan River says:

    I could read words like yours for hours. And as for pictures that one is worth 2000 words.

  5. anatu13 says:

    Oh, you are lucky! On me it lasts 20 minutes. Is is a lovely 20 minutes, though!

  6. Lady Jane Grey says:

    B., dearest, I’ll be at Jo Loves on May 3rd – if you want a bottle pls just let me know !

  7. lucasai says:

    Jo Loves makes great perfume, I love their Green Orange & Coriander and Pomelo

    • Olfactoria says:

      I agree, I’m currently testing the range and find many to love among them.
      Pomelo is fantastic and Green Orange & Coriander smells fabulous on my husband.

  8. Sandra says:

    Oh this sounds just lovely. Gardenia is such a lovely flower. Thank you for the beautiful review.

  9. ringthing says:

    Perfume as freedom, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s like music; you can listen to Debussy or Led Zeppelin, whenever you want, choosing your mood or enhancing it. I’ll spend some time today contemplating freedom.

    Oh, and the gardenia sounds beautiful 🙂 That photo is amazing!

  10. Suzanne says:

    There are definitely days when one wants to feel like an innocent and carefree girl with a ponytail (especially if she’s outside and the sun is bouncing off of that ponytail … and a cute boy is walking her home from school). 🙂 Naturally, I haven’t smelled this but I’m glad you have, as your review has me smiling and in a good mood! Thanks for the lift, Birgit!

  11. Civava says:

    Sometimes we just need something so undemanding like this. It is good to have one like this always at hand. Not that I know the perfume, but I have picked the feeling from your lovely description.

  12. cookie queen says:

    I am guessing there is no patchouli in this
    fragrance?? Seriously …… brilliant writing.
    Perfume for every character that we are. Love
    it. xxx

  13. Vanessa says:

    Ooh, I haven’t tried any of this line but am very tempted by your rapturous review – with a Dr O endorsement no less. I am always on the look out for a pretty white floral and gardenia is a favourite note – and a tricky one to get right. I completely share your take on Vintage Gardenia, an early albatross that I managed to swap on MUA. I may have even referred to it as a ‘wasp trap’.

    I must catch up with some serious sniffing if and when I make it to London some time! This is firmly on the list, thanks to you.

  14. I’m looking forward to discovering Jo Malone’s new range. I haven’t been enthusiastic about anything the Jo Malone brand has done for a couple of years now, so hopefully the real Jo Malone will take me back a time when I was crazy about Nutmeg & Ginger.

  15. This sounds 100% like a Neil work scent for me. I have never been convinced by a Jo Malone scent, but will have to check this out. Lovely review.

  16. Dionne says:

    I’ve got a friend who loves the smell of gardenias, and we’ve been exploring the note. I’ll definitely add this to the list. (Is it just me, or have several gardenia perfumes debuted in the last little while?)

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