How rare it is to find a perfume with an accurate name. Certainly, Amouage are a company that trade in opulence. But unlike their price-tier brethren (e.g. Parfums MDCI, Frederic Malle, Serge Luten‘s “cloche” series), you won’t find any stuffy elitism here. Just the loudest, most lavish party imaginable. Indeed, Jubilation XXV* makes me think of Chanel No. 5, both in richness and overall effect. Both juices conjure up a bright golden form. But while No. 5 is smooth and sculptural, Jubilation is explosive and, let’s just say it, jubilant. It’s like a lava eruption that you want to hug. Or a mosh pit (remember those??) full of golden muppets.
The opening doesn’t pop like a gunshot. Instead it loosens up and unfurls like a great street band, radiating pure energy before you even know what hit you. And Jubilation’s composer Bertrand Duchaufour (the closest thing the smell world has to a rock star) knows how to unobtrusively fill a room. It’s not a swooner, but it is a shot in the arm.
The stylized smell of what I think is supposed to be ambergris–I’ve never smelled the real stuff–comes in like a sea breeze, albeit a sea breeze carrying some notable funk. Still, it’s light and sexy. I might even say it’s suggestive more than it’s outright animalic. I for one, begin to think naughty thoughts once the dry down hits. But that might just be me.
Jubilation is generally considered an “oriental fougère” (i.e. a fougère first and an oriental second). And while it packs the requisite goods to satisfy fans of both genres, I am most drawn to the fougère components. Those of us who want the heft and expansiveness of fougères without the fuddy-duddy-dad trappings common to things like Rive Gauche Pour Homme will love Jubilation. It’s certainly not made with the young man in mind, but it’s far from reserved and straight-laced. In fact, combining fougère pleasures with the hot lashings of resins and spices begins to seem quite daring.
Still, this is a perfume built for pleasure, not for dissection. Like many of Amouage’s other offerings, it’s built to last. I can even smell it 24 on, well after a hot shower and a solid night’s sleep. Spray it on and party hard.
*I’m working with a older bottle here, which I purchased. Not sure about the actual vintage.
I’ve never known anyone who wore Chanel No. 5. My mom wore L’air du Temps. My grandmother wore Opium. Plenty of my mom’s friends wore Poison. I grew up mostly unmarked by probably the most famous fragrance of all time. That’s probably why I have no trouble wearing it. Sure, the smell of aldehydes (those soapy sparkles in the top notes) and jasmine on a 6’2″ bearded dude is a bit of a stretch. But with something this good, it’s definitely worth the gamble.
No. 5 now comes in four different concentrations: eau de toilette, eau de parfum, eau premiere, and parfum; the parfum being the closest to Ernst Beaux‘s original formula. I recently scooped a vintage bottle of Jean Patou’s Joy, which I like to think of as The Rolling Stones to No. 5’s Beatles. Both Joy and No. 5 are quite abstract, although No. 5 probably more so. But while Joy has a notable dose of civet and a crisp tang that promises danger, No. 5 is serene, demure, and utterly pleasurable.
In the past, I’ve had little use in my collection for “comforting” perfumes. Jean Claude Ellena’s Osmanthe Yunnan kicked that door open for me and it wasn’t long until I was completely under its spell. No. 5 offers a similar sense of uplift, both heartening and optimistic. It’s also devoid of the funk and filth that I usually seek out in florals (see Joy, Sarrasins, you name it). And I wasn’t sure how well that creamy pillar of refined femininity would jive with my Lebanese man funk.
Surprisingly, I found No. 5 completely wearable. Daubing a few drops on my arm from that exquisite glass stopper I fell prey to complete bliss. Never have I smelled anything so heartbreakingly beautiful. Familiarity with the excellent eau de parfum and even the peerless eau de toilette concentrations had failed to prepare me for the dizzying loveliness of the parfum. Luxury never felt this good.
The No. 5 parfum feels more complex than its siblings, the similarly luscious Bois de Iles and the strapping Cuir de Russie, all of which were composed by Ernst Beaux and debuted in the 1920s. The aldehydes in No. 5’s opening are undeniably lovely, but in the parfum they are rendered smoother and more seamless than in either the eau de toilette or eau de parfum, adding sparkle to the rest of the composition’s golden form. No. 5 is a real presence in the room, never overbearing or distracting, but fully real. I recently smelled it in passing and felt that familiar sense of comfort and delight. Some things are so beautiful that they make you feel more alive. No. 5 is one of them.