Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jo Malone: A Gift I Can Afford To Give But Can't Afford To Keep

So, I don't know about you, but I can't - on my publishing salary, at least - afford to burn a £40 candle. That, to me, is like the equivalent of taking two £20 notes and burning them with a cigarette lighter. It might not be as fragrant, but it's basically the same thing.

Whenever I walk into a home that has Diptyque candles, I feel an irrational surge of rage and/or jealousy, that someone has the disposable income to burn a £40 candle, because, you know, I'd love my one-bedroom flat to smell like Baies or Jonquille as much as the next girl, but, in reality, I'm just lucky if it doesn't smell like rotten meat if I've left my trash for too long.

Anyway, Jo Malone is one such brand that makes me seethe and swoon at the same time. My mom has a 9-year-old piano student who uses Jo Malone shower gel (sorry, I believe the correct terminology according to the Jo Malone website is "body wash") and apparently taught my mom how to "layer" her perfume. THE GIRL IS NINE, PEOPLE. NINE. What will she be bathing in when she's 37? Beluga caviar?

But I digress. Last Christmas, I bought my mom a set of Jo Malone colognes, knowing how much she coveted the stuff. It felt quite liberating to march into the standalone store in Covent Garden, point to the item I wanted, and have it prettily wrapped (complete with scented tissue paper, natch) - all for someone else I loved, not me. Because, you see, if I was buying it for myself, I'd hem and haw for about 9 months (which, yes, I realize is the time it takes to cook a baby in the proverbial oven), pick up a bottle at Selfridges and put it down, do several "drive-bys" of the store itself ("drive-bys" occur when you swan past a shop without actually going in, all while giving it the eye), and eventually never buy it.

So, you know, I give my mom these colognes, she's overjoyed, uses them, etc. and then casually, casually mentions to me one day that her little precious student wears Orange Blossom, and that the mini collection I gave her doesn't have Orange Blossom. Okay. So I set out to buy my mom the Orange Blossom body creme and cologne at the store, but guess what? Said body creme and cologne cost £50 and £39 respectively. 'Wowza', I said to myself. I know these are luxury items, but ... wowza.

BUT THEN: fate intervened and I had to take a flight through Heathrow Terminal 5! Hallelujah! I could once again, march in, point at the items I wanted, and have them prettily wrapped - all for a major discount! Huzzah! And how smug did I feel carrying that fragrant bag reeking of Nutmeg & Ginger on my transatlantic flight? S-M-U-G. By the end, all I had to do to mask my nasty plane smell, was rub a piece of tissue paper on my wrist and, voila, I was scent-ified!

It was all the more satisfying to hand it over to my mom on the other end of the flight. "Here's the Orange Blossom you always wanted," I said, thrusting it into her hands breathlessly. "There's a 175 ml body creme in there and a cologne too," I said smugly. "See what your student makes of that! AND," I started shouting. "IF SHE BUYS HER PRODUCTS AT NORDSTROM, I BET YOU THEY'RE NOT BOXED IN JO MALONE BOXES! AND GIFT BAGS! LIKE YOURS!"

That's when my mom brought out the Jo Malone gift bag I had given to her last Christmas. She had left it to display on the living room table and the sun caused it to fade so badly that the whole bag had turned white, with the "Jo Malone" logo barely visible. She keeps each individual cologne in the original gift box they came in and barely uses them, except to admire.

Bless her heart. She deserves it all. And more.

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