An Olfactory Picture of Mango: Jacomo #09

By Suzanne Keller

Recently I’ve been sampling the Jacomo Paris trio of fragrances launched earlier this
year as part of its “Jacomo Art Collection” series, which seeks to unite the world of visual design with the art of perfumery. Each fragrance is inspired by a different artist/illustrator, and while all three are very well done (and very affordable), the one that most tickled my fancy—Jacomo #09—is probably the one that would least appeal to serious perfumistas. But why should that stop me? Jacomo #09 eau de parfum draws its inspiration from Swedish illustrator Stina Persson’s watercolor sketch of high-heel shoes and textured stockings. The Jacomo press materials assert that #09 mirrors the “curvaceous and sensual, yet surprisingly soft” nature of Persson’s work, and while this statement rings true (especially the part about it being soft), you can ignore the company’s other description, pegging #09 as a fragrance for a “flamboyant” woman.

Just as Persson’s sketch seems to be a study of small patterns and shapes that playfully
combine in such a way as to express a larger emotion, Jacomo #09 strikes me as a fragrant study of the many delicate facets that illuminate its star note: mango. Can any other fruit match the delightfully complex aromas of the mango?  In Mango Summers: Short Stories from the Key West Authors’ Coöp, writer Margit Bisztray’s story, “Leaf Woman,” finds its emotional pivot on a whiff of the mango’s intricate perfume. Her main character, a young woman who has moved to Key West to experience the laid-back island lifestyle of her imaginings, only to find herself feeling harried from juggling two hectic yet menial jobs in the service industry, finally gets a day off to relax. While attempting to quietly read the newspapers on her porch, she is interrupted by a stream of unexpected visitors who pass by her yard, including an old man on a bicycle who lobs a mango into her hands:

“She catches it, stunned. He turns in the middle of the street and throws another into her lap. Then, he bikes away. She holds a mango to her nose. It smells like pine needles and canned, Mandarin oranges. It smells like bee pollen,” Bisztray writes. And further in the story, another character describes the mangoes as smelling like honeysuckle and apricots.

All of these descriptions could aptly be applied to Jacomo #09—a beautiful and gently nectarous scent that is the fruit version of a soliflore. Those who bristle at the notion of a fruity perfume will likely hear these words and ask Why?, to which I can only answer, Why not? I can’t see any philosophical difference in having a rose or lily soliflore, versus a mango soliflore, in one’s fragrance wardrobe, as all three possess a similar sweetness. Because Jacomo #09 accentuates the citrusy facets of mango in its top notes stage, and because the fragrance is rendered in such soft tones (though one wouldn’t think so according to the notes, which are listed as lemon zest, orange pulp, pink peppercorns, praline accord, mango, cinnamon, sandalwood and vanilla), it is actually no more sweet than many other soliflores (including the Serge Lutens lily scent, Un Lys).

There’s a gauzy quality to Jacomo #09 that I’d venture to say comes from a goodly dose of white musk, and it works beautifully here: Jacomo #09 is as breezy as a pair of white fishnet stockings, but the tropical associations of its mango note is recommendation enough for losing one’s stockings and shoes and tying on a pareo instead.

It’s the kind of fragrance that makes one dream of exotic island getaways and that effortless style of island living in which a pretty perfume is one of the few adornments one needs. Jacomo #09 eau de parfum can be purchased from the Jacomo Paris website, the Henri Bendel boutique in New York, as well as from the C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries website, where a 1.7 oz bottle is $69, while a 3.4 oz bottle is $89.

Photo of model Lakshmi Menon from Vogue India, May 2009
Stina Persson watercolor sketch for Jacomo Art Collection
Special thanks to Aimee Majoros

Suzanne Keller is the owner of Eiderdown Press and has her own fragrance blog called Suzanne’s Perfume Journal.  Eiderdown Press is publisher of books along with the publication of Free Spirits, a coffee-table book celebrating the community of artists and other creative types in Suzanne Keller's community.  Her Top 10 Favorite Fragrances: Amouage Jubilation 25, Robert Piquet Fracas, Hermes 24 Faubourg, Caron Tabac Blonde, Chanel Coromandel, Chanel No. 22, Parfums DelRae Amoureuse, Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu, and Serge Lutens Chergui.  Eiderdown Press and Suzanne’s Perfume Journal