If it didn’t work the first time…

I read that this perfume was about to be released. I’m a little surprised to see it on the counter already, but since it’s there, of course I want to try it. I do not expect much but, against all odds, I still have a faint hope that it will be good…

“It’s a great new perfume featuring … “<here goes a list of notes> – announces an SA materializing at my side, –“It’s not available yet, you know. It’ll release next month. But I can pre-order it for you…”

I’ve heard a variation of this line a dozen of times. And every time I feel baffled: why?!! Why would I possibly want to pre-order the scent that I just smelled for the first time? It’s not something exclusive or limited. They do not offer any type of deal or a discount. So why to pre-order now if in a couple of weeks it’ll be in all the stores for me to buy on the spot or to spray in abundance and think until the next holidays if I want it?

My standard reply usually is: “I’ll think about it, but meanwhile could I get a sample of this great new perfume?” Not a single time I left without it.

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli is a typical Jo Malone perfume: it’s not unpleasant, not complicated, and becomes a skin scent within a couple of hours, leaving you free to choose whatever you want to wear next. I think it’s rather appealing for the opening five minutes: it’s juicy, moderately sweet and very uplifting. But then it gets just flat on my skin.

While Basil & Neroli still might be considered a unisex perfume, at least initially it is more feminine then Jo Malone’s staple and “a modern classic” (even if they say so themselves) Lime Basil & Mandarin, which is strange, if you think about it: shouldn’t the fruit (mandarin) be sweater than blossom oil? But 30-40 minutes into the development I’m not sure I can really tell them apart unless I smell them side by side.

Speaking of Lime Basil & Mandarin, being a Jo Malone fan, for years I tried that perfume again and again hoping I’d change my mind but kept on strongly disliking it – until I got Lime Basil & Mandarin soap as a part of a GWP. I simply love it! The combination that felt too masculine as perfume is just perfect for daily washing rituals. A couple of months ago I got anxious that there would be soon just a sliver left from my current then bar of LB&M – and hurried up to buy a replacement bar. Today I’m still using that first bar, and from the way it looks, there is another month or two in it. So if you were to wait for one of the brand site’s good deals, which happen from time to time (like 3 samples or, even better, a 9 ml travel bottle with any purchase), with free S&H that soap might be the best $20 spent.

Rusty and Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Soap

As for Basil & Neroli, I can’t think of a reason to even try it – unless you’re looking for a citrus piece for your perfume wardrobe, or find yourself in a store or an airport’s Duty Free with absolutely nothing else interesting to test.


Image: my own


24 thoughts on “If it didn’t work the first time…

  1. I’ve noticed that pre-ordering is a big thing these days. A couple of writers I know did big pushes to get you to pre-order not just one, but multiple copies of their forthcoming books. I know that is very different to perfume where you want time to test it out but it seems getting the pre-orders lined up is a big deal. Perhaps people like to feel they’ll be the first to have something, like the latest iPhone. Or maybe it’s just to whip up excitement? No idea.

    Anyway, I’m sure I’d prefer the LB&M soap too. Wasn’t fussed about Basil & Neroil because like Vanessa, I tend to avoid basil in perfumes. It never smells good to me in fragrance the way the herb does.


    • I understand that about books: those are sold on the author’s name, topic or similarly empirical reasons. So it’s very logical that one might be expecting the first opportunity to start consuming something that by definition is unknown until you get it and … consume. With phones and other gadgets it’s also understandable: people know that they want those, they saw them in the news, on websites, etc., so they want to get that new and “cool” thing as soon as possible, to be the first to brag about it.

      We, perfume enthusiasts, also sometimes play these games: who’ll test and review newly released perfume first. But usually we’re not trying to be the ones who buy those first.


  2. Undina – You are obviously not a pre-order kind of gal. But there are many….and I know some, who just can’t stand to wait and if they pre-order, the day it launches, it should be in their hands. When it comes to perfume, perfumistas can be children without any patience. I swear that one day I am going to have to come out for a visit with Rusty….yes, I has me bewitched!


  3. I’m like this with Jo MAlone. A few of their older ones work on me, but so many of their limited editions just fade away within thirty minutes This one doesn’t sound very exciting, I must admit.


    • I stopped even trying their limited “blossoms”: not a single one from those that I tried was significant enough to remember or had a staying power for longer than 15-20 minutes on my skin. But I have at least 10 perfumes from the line that I still enjoy wearing.


  4. It does not sound very tempting, Undina. Neroli with Basil, all these name are so much alike one is bound to buy the wrong one. I am not a Jo Malone fan (never give them much thought to be honest) but this soap bar sounds quite tempting! Love Rusty on your pic.

    As for the pre ordering I agree why would you do this, if you do not get something extra? I do pre order books from time to time this way though if they come with tempting gifts.


    • I did pre-order book a couple of times: I knew that I wanted them, so I bought them and forgot until they came. But perfumes…

      I should write a post about one of those Jo Malones that I like – to balance the negative impact :) But yes, the soap is very pleasant. And you can actually smell it at a store: it smells strong enough through the packaging to get an idea.


  5. Pre-ordering is a very strange practice indeed, and I was left pretty unmoved by this latest JM soon-to-be-a-release for the reason Tara mentions. Basil the plant in a mozzarella and tomato salad – now that is a totally different animal, though I am still not sure I would want the smell of the fresh thing in a perfume either. I feel the same about tomato leaf perfumes – what was that famous one by CB I hate Perfume that was based all around that plant? Keep herbs and veg for culinary purposes I say.

    That said, I would be up for trying the LB&M soap, as it seems to be a case apart!


    • What I like about this perfume (and the soap) is that I do not smell/recognize basil in it – otherwise I would have liked it even less: for me basil is strictly food and nothing else. Tomato leaves are different though: probably because I do not eat tomato leaves ;)


  6. I think all that pre-ordering hype (outside of phones and bags) started with limited edition cosmetics or being the first to have the new season’s colour range. I have seen people privately selling the LEs when they disappear — I suspect they bought more than one just for that purpose.
    Too weird to do that with perfume — unless someone is a “line” buyer and wants to have “all the pretty bottles in a row.” For someone who actually wants to choose a perfume by smell….
    As for Jo Malones I have a couple of samples somewhere, some Grapefruit passed on by sister
    and the many borrowed spritzes of Orange Blossom when I was staying with her. All nice, would wear them if they fell in my lap.
    Often when $$ are short I buy a shower gel or soap to bask in the loveliness for at least a short time.


    • I love Jo Malone’s shower gels as well! I might write about one of them eventually.

      People do buy limited editions … everything to re-sell it later. I remember satisfaction I felt when The Lipstick Queen continued producing Hello, Sailor lipstick after it disappeared for a while and could be found on eBay for $40-50 (with MSRP $25).

      Do you have Jo Malone counter near to where you live?


      • I would have felt very smug about the lipstick.
        And yes, I have easy access to a number of Jo Malone counters. I hadn’t thought about their soaps or shower gels. But I do kick myself for not having bought off Craigslist a set of bath oils. Then I immediately feel better when I think of how those dollars are put to better use buying something I love. :-)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It looks like Rusty approves Lime Blossom and Mandarin soap! I’m behind in sniffing the JMs so when I was at Saks this past Wednesday for retail therapy, I decided to smell through the Tea series and Basil & Neroli. None remotely interested me so I moved on.

    I think the only perfume I pre-ordered ( as contrasted with the concept of buying a ginormous sample) was for TF Noir Pour Femme. There was an unfounded rumor that the 30 mLs are available only for a limited time so I jumped on the bandwagon. Oh wait, there was another one — Tauer Lonesome Rider because the pre-order lrice was half of its regular price. If I think hard enough, I can probably list a few more pre-orders….but since it’s a holiday weekend, I won’t think too hard!


    • Pre-orders when GWP or discounts are involved make total sense. Special case of 30 ml bottle is probably also a justified case. But with just regular perfumes…

      Retail therapy… I think I work too hard, I need some. I’ll probably start online… :)


  8. Ha – I had similar feelings about Lime Basil and Mandarin too..Then I got the tiny shower gel (i think) as a gwp and really enjoyed it..or maybe it was some other scent? Anyway it was one of those Jo Malones that are not too sweet and not my fave in perfume format but really enjoyable as a shower gel..:)


  9. Well here is a perfect opportunity for companies to come up with an incentive! Perhaps they look at folks willingness to pre-order after a single sniff as a sort of barometer as to how the perfume will do? I dunno. It is odd, for sure.
    I love soap, especially in a bar, I’ll keep my eyes open for that one. If Rusty doesn’t nab them all…


    • Even though Rusty was sniffing it very attentively, soon after that picture had been taken, he lost interest and returned to his usual important activities (sleeping, foraging for food, etc.) – so the rest of them are all yours!


  10. Pre-ordering has never made any sense to me.

    But the Jo Malone soaps are really good and I often think better than the perfumes. The red Roses was so nice I just wallowed in it. Now I must look into the others.
    Also has anyone else noticed that the Jo Loves line appears to be on Net a Porter these days? I thought no US sales?


    • I didn’t know about Jo Loves on Net a Porter but the brand’s site started shipping to the U.S. A while ago (though it costs 25 pounds).
      I need to try JM’s Red Roses soap: my main complaint about that perfume was that it was too … soap-y on my skin :)


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