7/16/13

Jubilation XXV (Amouage)



Myrrh is interesting. It has a sharp and bitterly-astringent side, and also a sweetly-resinous side, making its integration in perfume both easy and tricky. It's a fairly uncomplicated endeavor to use myrrh as a central note in a composition, as its cheery anisic characteristics cooperate well with many other resins and woods, like opopanax, elemi, cedar, etc. Opopanax shares myrrh's spiced sweetness, while elemi accents its piney-evergreen qualities, and woods like cedar and birch bring out its woody-ambery side. On some weird, clinically theoretical level it should be hard to pull off using myrrh in perfume without eliciting associations with antiseptic alcohols, as it's the primary scent and flavor in many antiseptics and mouthwashes (the original Listerine, for example), but when you consider that Myrrh smells good, it isn't surprising to find that it has been used successfully.

Jubilation XXV is a myrrh perfume, and a very good one. It has one of the richest fruity-resinous top notes I've ever encountered, loaded with blackberry, mandarin, opopanax, oud, and myrrh, myrrh, and more myrrh. The effect is syrupy, spicy, fresh, sweet, and very dense, but somehow coherent, especially when the incense begins to well up from the heart. There's the rosy sweetness of guaiac wood, an oozing honey accord, and a few other excellent materials jumbled into the mix, all working together to frame the myrrh. The last time I met a myrrh note this strong, I was wearing Eau Sauvage Parfum. It's hard to know when myrrh is appropriate, because in winter it dries out and smells smokier and thinner than it should, while summer over-amplifies its fuzzier and sweeter qualities, and I'm not ready to endorse Jubiliation XXV as a summer fragrance. I do think it smells good (possibly best) in cooler, damper air. Try it in the autumn to see if it feels right.

Would I ever wear this fragrance? Actually, no. I appreciate its structure, its focus, and its execution, but find its notes too dense for my taste. In heat it takes on a Yankee Candle effect, and is almost nauseating. Bay and cedar notes sustain a pleasant period in Jubilation's evolution, but it's not enough to convince me that $300+ is a fair price. Why is it that when I abandoned Creed to explore other niche brands, I began experiencing saccharine Yankee Candle notes? Bond no.9 and Amouage are offenders, with a few chemically-sweet "fresh" accords that seem destined for overpriced wax. When family members smelled Jubilation, they said things like, "It's kind of generic," and "It's harsh." One person said, "It smells like a cleaner" (had to be the myrrh). So it's not a hit with your average nose, either. This is not a compliment-getter on me. Disappointing.

I still think it's a good fragrance, and wouldn't be surprised if people in Europe and the Middle East think it smells nice. Perfumes that are both deeply resinous and fruity-fresh are pretty rare, and when a good one comes around you have to take serious stock of what you're smelling - vegetal hydrocarbon secretions that serve in nature to repel, rather than attract. Human nature diverges from animal tendencies in finding these materials attractive, but if we think wearing them enhances our own attractiveness, we may have missed the plot. Jubilation smells good, but doesn't smell good on me, and therefore remains a quality perfume that I tried and passed on. Even Amouage can't win 'em all, but good show nevertheless, and bravo Bertrand Duchaufour.







4 comments:

  1. Bryan:

    Have you smelled Eau d'Iparie by L'Occitane? It's another myrrh-centric fragrance. Like you I find myrrh interesting but wearing it is another thing. It's very dense and sits inert on my skin (in the few frags that I've tried).

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    1. Actually never even heard of Eau d'Iparie, thanks for pointing that one out. L'Occitane is a brand I've had very little exposure to, for reasons that are hard to explain. I see the store all the time but always get distracted and forget to go in. The one time I did, I remember going through their range of soaps and playing a guessing game with the SA as to which soap smelled like what without looking at the name - again, no idea why.

      I think there's a subtle touch of Myrrh in Coty's version of Lagerfeld Classic (Cologne) that actually works for me, although with the opoponax it gets rather stinky in the far drydown. At least it evolves. everything else, as you've mentioned, fails to make Myrrh move on skin. Not sure if this is for everyone or just us!

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  2. Bryan - next time please spend some more time at L'Occitane. I really like their frags - Eaux Des Baux, Vetyver. Also - their Verbena scents are very good.

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    1. Will do! I've heard Eaux Des Baux is their classic. I did like their Vetiver.

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