Amouage Jubilation 25, 2008

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(image source l’economiste maghrébin)

Perfumer Lucas Sieuzac

Jubilation 25 demonstrates the richness and evolution I associate with classical 20th century French perfumery. To call it a spicy, floral, oriental, herbal, fruity chypre would capture a lot of the ground this fragrance covers, but it doesn’t really narrow things down. Though formal and classical in style, Jubilation 25 is tough to capture in traditional nomenclature. The rose in the topnotes suggest a grand chypre, but frankincense and myrrh at the base hints at crossing the borders of cultures and perfume genres. Its expansive opening reminds me of Tauer Perfume’s Incense Rosé, but the top really just ushers in a balsamic, woody set of notes that hum like a chorus. The fruit matches the woodiness.  It’s a plummy, peachy scent with both the skin of a fruit and the ripe flesh. The ripeness has a strong ‘flavor’, but doesn’t have that feeling of turning fruit as in Rochas Femme and Dior Diorella. Like these two Edmond Rounitska classics, though, the fruit ties this scent’s upper register with its drydown.

Fruity chypre is where Jubilation 25 winds up. Moss, fruit and wood triangulate a balance that is more accurately a set of counterpoints just held in check. Everything I love about skanky fruity chypres is here, yet Jubilation 25 is distinctive. The classic ambery drydown of a chypre is inflected with frankincense, making the final hours of Jubilation 25 dry and confidently stark. This concise drydown makes me feel like the circus-like opening belonged to another fragrance entirely, but one that I’d love to try again.

Which is the the more daunting task? Managing a merger of entangled post-colonial cultures or meeting the standard set by perfumer Guy Robert at the height of his powers with Amouage’s 1983 Gold Woman? Jubilation 25 does both simultaneously. Sieuzac’s final spiking of the ball is meeting these formidable goals by creating a chypre, a form that was dying on the vine by the time Jubilation 25 was released in 2008.

A perfume that is the successor to both the Robert Woody Grand Floral and the Roudnitska Decadent Chypre? I wear Jubilation 25 to inoculate myself against my fear that contemporary perfumery, though prolific, has lost sight of ambition.

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