Escape to Tropicana, Mona di Orio Jabu

I’ve been interested in perfume since my teen years but I’ve been really devoting my time to this passion for the last 10-12 years which doesn’t seem like a lot considering the long history of perfumery. I just can’t think of the number of how many great fragrances turned into white crows before I was born or before I jumped down the proverbial rabbit hole. In current day there are many brands that I didn’t know when they were in full glory, when they were in the center of attention. I didn’t know Maison Mona di Orio with Mona as the captain of her brand. But I’m glad that Jeroen Oude Sogtoen keeps her legacy alive, letting people to get aknowledged with her style.

Subtle breeze scented with orange soothes the senses and lets your mind wind down. Jabu begins in a very tranquil & peaceful manner. The fruity smell of orange, despite being present, feels distant and kind of muted. It’s not an impression of holding orange half in your hand and squeezing it, but more like catching a whiff of it that was carried by the wind from the nearby grove. Intrigued by this smell you follow the trail and few minutes later you find yourself surrounded by lush green trees. Rustle of their leaves is almost like the bees buzz. Their verdant, slightly succulent & dusty scent fills your nose and tops the orange note which gradually fades away in the background.

Jabu is a complex perfume and just a little bit later it made me start wondering if I actually smelled petitgrain & orange earlier or if I was tricked by own imagination. When ylang ylang joins the composition I almost forget about what happened earlier. The perfume becomes more dense, overflowing with richly creamy scent of ylang. Its floral aspects are blended with a lot of milkiness. I also seem to recognize a luminous & sweet, honeyed facet, although it’s not mentioned officially in the notes. Honey note has a hint of something dirty in the back. Ylang ylang accord is very realistic and transports you to some tropical place where you could have summer holidays of a lifetime.

As hours pass the perfume continues to evolve, making Mona di Orio Jabu even more intricate. Exotic character of ylang ylang carries on for hours on my skin but in the meantime the fragrance gains more assets. Tropical flowery tones gradually transform into oriental woody concoction. The lead is taken by amyris – its smooth woodiness is a bit like sandalwood due to some creamy facets. Additionally amyris has a fine, powdery finish which often may create an impression of the orris root. On the other hand gaiac wood makes this part of Jabu more substantive and even slightly dark, almost resinous. Vetiver introduces a bit of dried, grassy freshness to this wooden melange.

For a great part of the day Jabu is a play between ylang ylang and these woody notes. But at some point amyris and gaiac wood become more blurry as if they were trying to form an alloy. Then the perfume seamlessly transitions towards the base notes. Bright and resinous ambergris adds density to the scent, and while it smells balsamic it also has a faint feel of something salted & marine to it. It makes Jabu feel sultry and sensual. In case of this perfume the plum is smoked so it adds almost an incense-like vibe. Aromatic tonka bean that smells creamy, balmy, sweet & spicy at the same time, completes the dreamy, imagery painted by this unusual fragrance. Would you escape to Tropicana?

Jabu by Mona di Orio is a very original fragrance with an intricate structure – the essences are woven together in a special way that probably cannot be encountered in other fragrances that came after it. When I first smelled this fragrance I immediately though that it’s a great alternative to a typical summer choice of a perfume. I usually reach for citrus and there’s nothing wrong about it. Should you be in a different mood to wear something summery yet interesting, Jabu might be of your interest. The perfume was first released in 2009, then discontinued after Mona’s sudden passing. Since last year Jabu and 3 other scents are back, in 10 ml format as part of the Discovery Set.

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12 thoughts on “Escape to Tropicana, Mona di Orio Jabu

  1. I love ylang-ylang in perfumes…this sounds interesting. Great review.

  2. hajusuuri says:

    Sounds very nice. It’s probably a cultural thing — when I saw “Tropicana”, I immediately thought of frozen orange juice, widely popular way back when fresh squeezed was out of some families’ budget.

  3. Undina says:

    Out of all MdO perfumes that I tried, I loved (and bought) Vanille, and I thought that Amber was nice, but it wasn’t special enough to justify a full bottle (I wouldn’t mind to get a travel bottle of it). All other perfumes that I tried didn’t work for me – that’s why at some point I stopped even trying them. But still, I’m glad that her work is being continued, and that fans of the brand are able to buy their favorite perfumes.

    • lucasai says:

      I haven’t really tried many of the older ones and I am not even sure if I tried MdO Vanille. If you loved it then it must be something more than just a sweet vanilla perfume. You could get a travel set of Amber and split it if you wanted.
      I also liked Violette Fumee.
      That surely is important point, to be able to continue to buy perfume they like

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