Skins, one of my favorite stores here in the Netherlands recently held a beautiful launch for Jabu and Mona herself was present. Unfortunately, due to an incredibly busy schedule I was unable to attend, but as soon as I found some free time last week I popped by the store and together with my purchases I also received a sample of this fabulous new perfume.
Jabu means “Joy” in Zulu, and the perfume itself is dedicated to Orange Babies, the target group of the homonymous charitable foundation that helps HIV infected pregnant women in Africa and their babies as well as supporting HIV infected or otherwise affected by the disease children of Africa. Consciously thinking about this target group might bring somberness to our heart, but the perfume’s message is one of spirited optimism: the joy and the laughter of these children finally getting help.
As with all of Mona di Orio’s perfumes, a spritz on the blotter only tells half of the picture: the fragrance needs to be applied on the skin in order to show its true colors. A discreet sniff of the bottle’s stopper was enough for me to know that I’d like it, but didn’t prepare me for the fact that I’d love it. Smelling the stopper I got the impression that this would be a summery perfume, as all I could smell was a gorgeously frothy orange blossom scent. On the skin however, this develops into a supremely warm scent, absolutely fitting for winter and for special occasion summer evening-wear. But I’ve held you in suspense for far too long; let’s get right down to it and explore this beauty.
Jabu opens with the bittersweet, herbaceous, woody accent of petitgrain. Slowly, the woody-citrus freshness of petitgrain dissolves into the mounting sweetness of full, creamy orange blossom. The meeting of the two is incredibly uplifting, having an almost ‘sunshine’ effect on the senses with their jubilant character. The ylang ylang employed here is almost disturbingly oily at first, but soon calms, adding the most gorgeous exotic accent. This exuberant, fervently exotic side is further explored with the addition of monoi-tiare, which underscores the creamy lusciousness. The subtle coconut hint of monoi adds to the ‘texture’ of the fragrance, lending it an almost 'chewy' appeal. After this sumptuous extravagance, Jabu takes a surprising turn; slowly, the scent begins to quiet down, enfolding the wearer with a honeyed, serene sweetness. The buttery softness of sandalwood begins to emerge, mingling with a soft rose scent and the overall sweetness of the scent is cut slightly at the edges as the bitter-sweet scent of myrrh blooms. Together with another resin (the balsamic-vanillic Benzoin Siam - already very effusive almost from the beginning) and sweet tonka bean, these heavier base notes now firmly ground Jabu in the realm of the orientals. The impression is rounded off with gorgeous ambergris (as with Chamarre, the ambergris here is excellent and beautifully prominent) and deep, dark (albeit not dirty) musk.
Jabu is a chunky and powerful floral-oriental, a perfume you can truly sink your teeth in. Its femininity is all grown up and mindful of 80’s power-dressing. In fact, there is one perfume that Jabu clearly reminds me of, a perfume released at the end of the decade, but still thoroughly impregnated with the effusive, baroque style of 80’s florals and orientals. That perfume is Lacroix’s C’est la Vie. It’s been many, many years since I last saw C’est la Vie on a shelf, but the moment I smelled Jabu on my skin, the thought of it popped into my mind. A check for C’est la Vie’s notes revealed that my olfactory memory was very accurate indeed: featuring orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, amber, Benzoin Siam, musk and vanilla, C’est la Vie reads like Jabu's predecessor. Having said that, Jabu does bear Mona di Orio’s signature and once you smell it, you will definitely have no trouble recognizing it as one of her creations. Still the two are strikingly close in feel and scent and I hope that this comparison helps you get a clearer picture of what Jabu smells like - especially important since many will have to purchase online due to the lack of brick-and-mortar distributors. If you like Lacroix’s powerhouse gem, you’ll be sure to love this one, which appeals with modernized sophistication and updated, soft voluptuousness and projection.
Importantly, I have to mention that Jabu is not only dedicated to Orange Babies, but also supports the foundation with donating proceeds. I am not sure what percentage of the profits goes to the charity when you buy Jabu in other parts of the world, but currently, if you buy Jabu at Skins, a whopping 100% of the proceeds go to the foundation! For those of you not living here in the Netherlands, you can also purchase from Skin’s webshop by clicking here. The language can be switched to English by clicking on “selecteer taal” and Skins will ship internationally. (Editor’s Note: Fragrance Bouquet is NOT affiliated with Skins, but loves the shop and wishes to support the charity.) If you wish to know more about the Orange Babies foundation, you can reach their website by clicking here.
Images: www.monadiorio.com, www.sxc.hu, www.mes-parfums.com