Although Amouage’s Jubilation 25 is technically an oriental chypre, to me it contains the full whack of the fruity chypre DNA put forth by Mitsouko. Without using oak or tree moss at all, Amouage has still managed to dress this up as a traditional fruity, mossy chypre that smells as bracingly stern as its French predecessors. The opening is bitter and smoky, owing to the massive dose of lemon, tarragon, and lemony-astringent Frankincense, but it is also quite shockingly animalic, with its audacious use of cumin to approximate the salty sweat of human skin. I find the opening quite intense and it took me a while to warm up to it.
Despite the different notes for each, I feel that the bitter, smoky opening of Jubilation 25 matches that of Mitsouko in both tone and feel. I don’t really know anything about how perfumers construct their perfumes, but how Amouage managed to arrive at that happy meeting of minds with the great Mitsouko without actually using any of the materials used in Mitsouko is amazing to me.
The salty bitterness of the incense and herbs is carried on through to the heart of the fragrance, where a huge, jammy rose suddenly blooms. There is fruit here too, an almost overripe, over-full note that smells like peaches, grapey jasmine, and plums. But the fruit and floral notes are just an accent against the real backdrop of this fragrance, which is a thick wall of smoky, bitter resins, incense, herbs, and dry, dusty cumin. Compared to Mitsouko in the mid-section, Jubilation 25 feels infinitely richer, more oriental, and more golden. It also feels tougher, more masculine, and less approachable than Mitsouko. This surprises me. This is supposedly the female of the Jubilation species. But I think it is utterly unisex, if not leaning a bit masculine.
The drydown certainly supports my theory of masculinity in this perfume – characterized by leathery labdanum, more incense, and a heap of dry woods, it is now starkly different from the softer, greener oakmoss in Mitsouko. Imagine Mitsouko and Jubilation 25 starting off as two sister stars within kissing distance of each other, and then spinning out in two completely different directions in space. Mitsouko ends in the classic whisper of moss and spiced peach, a very French, austere but soft exhalation. Jubilation 25 starts off in the same arrondissement as Mitsouko but lands in an Arabian spice market, where dry and bitter barkhour chips are being smoked over a burner.
It is a little harsh, this overload of bitter spices and resins, but at the same time, it is interesting and beautiful. How I feel about Jubilation 25 in general, though, tends to depend on how Mitsouko is treating me at any given time. Right now, in the depths of winter, Mitsouko seems to be opening up a lot more for me, so my decant of Jubilation 25 extrait tends to lie there, largely ignored for now. But once Mitsouko’s capricious pendulum swings back the other way and hits me on the ass, I will surely turn to Jubilation 25 for my chypre fix. Jubilation 25 is at least an immutable experience for me.
Jubilation 25 lands on the skin in a cloud of fruity rose, myrrh, and frankincense that harkens back to earlier Amouage fragrances like Gold and Dia. The animalic edge that characterizes Amouage Gold is present as well, but the aldehydes that dominate the earlier scent are not so conspicuous. Jubilation 25 is a brighter, clearer fragrance than many of the earlier Amouage feminine offerings, but that’s not implying that its insubstantial. It’s just not the same sort of 1,000 lb. anvil as Gold.
I do wish that Jubilation 25’s incense accord and animalic tang persisted longer, since once they fade I’m left with a less luxurious and more conventional floral oriental base with a dollop of sweet amber. The base notes are persistent and the sillage and projection are comfortable – neither intrusive nor too weak, but I don't feel that Jubilation 25's ddrydown quite measures up to the promising first half hour. A well-crafted, comfortable, and enjoyable fragrance nonetheless.
Border between Feminine and Unisex
This is classified as a woman's fragrance, but it falls on the line between woman and unisex. It is (in my opinion) a floral chypre with an opining of floral, salt, and a slight odor of sweat. It dries down to more salt and sweat, with the spicy floral and amber making an appearance. Oakmoss is barely there in the background. I couldn't pull this off, but some men could.
Pros: Rich deep complexity
Cons: the salty perspiration note is a bit strong.
It never fails to upset me when fragrances do this: they get two-thirds of the chypre structure right, from the bracing bergamot top to the perfectly judged amber middle chord, but omit--no doubt for regulatory reasons--the bitter oakmoss finale that makes chypres so distinctive and wonderful. Jubilation 25 is a textbook example of this two-thirds execution, which, even with its perfect proportions and deep meaty and peachy glow, feels frustratingly unresolved.
A classic fruity chypre dressed up in the oriental style, Jubilation 25 bears more than a passing resemblance to Dior's iconic Diorella. However, whereas Diorella possessed a light and airy feel, Jubilation 25 is dense and luxurious. Here, the basic chypre structure is rounded out by the addition of copious amounts of amber, resins, balsams, and woods, resulting in a fragrance that ultimately feels substantial, but not overdone: a modern example of 'un grand parfum français,' produced by an Omani firm.