You’re Right, It’s Not – Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume Perfume Review

It may not be a perfume but I'm sure that it's not safe to drink...

It may not be a perfume but I’m pretty sure that it’s not safe to drink…

I like Juliette Has a Gun. They have succeeded in producing relatively artistic fragrances with good quality ingredients at an affordable price (lets face it £59 for 50ml is practically free by today’s niche standards) and they straddle the line between designer and niche fragrances quite happily. For these reasons I find it utterly baffling that they would decide to launch something as naff as Not a Perfume.

In 2010 the man behind Juliette Has a Gun (Romano Ricci) made the bold decision to shake things up with the brand by following the Escentric Molecules school of thought and create a non-fragrance containing only one aroma compound, and as the name suggests Not a Perfume is, well, not a perfume.

Ricci opted to use the rich, ambery ingredient Cetalox, or Ambroxan as it is sometimes known, for Not a Perfume, stating that: “usually used in perfumery as a back note, I have decided for once that it would play the lead role…because it is one of my favourite ingredients…the result is minalimst, elegant, pure” [1] Oh and it is “entirely allergen free” [2] too…

…You may not be able to see it dear reader, but my right eyebrow just met my hairline.

Not a Perfume

Well, it looks like a perfume, but does it smell like a perfume?

The Notes


How Does it Smell?

Not a Perfume starts strong, sharp and diffusive. There is an extended presence of crisp alcohol over the woody warmth that makes up the heart of the cetalox. It is relatively diffusive & airy in the opening and has a weird nose-tickling quality that almost makes one sneeze.

The main structure of Not a Perfume is a deep amber, but it focuses solely on the resinous part of amber and lacks the soft, creamy vanilla of the classic (and best) ambers. This dry attempt at amber may work well as a supporting act but in isolation it leaves one crying out for something plush and cosy to fluff it out. To put it simply – it’s a bit dull.

There are a few quirky facets lurking inside this non-perfume. For the first half an hour or so there is a strong, sour odour reminiscent of human breath. It teeters on the edge of becoming unpleasant but never quite makes it, thankfully. There is also a weird, hot quality to it that makes one think of the smell of dust on a burning lightbulb but the effect is, sadly in this case, fleeting. We shouldn’t be surprised though, the fun stuff really is reserved for proper perfumes.

As expected Not a Perfume is relatively linear and it doesn’t really go anywhere. It also lacks any discernible texture and feels unfinished, as if it’s not quite enough that it smells nice, it needs the complexity and attention to detail of a real perfume to be considered as something worthwhile. But one must not forget that Not a Perfume isn’t trying to be a perfume…

Not a Perfume is far from unpleasant, in fact I would go as far as saying that is is quite a nice fragrance to smell, and whilst it may only include one ingredient it does showcase a variety of scented facets that just goes to show the complexity of the material. That said I can’t help but feel that shoving one ingredient in some alcohol and selling it for £59 is cheating.

The gimmick is lost on me I admit, but I stand by the fact that I can’t see the point of Not a Perfume and I can’t help but wonder why anyone would pay any attention to it when there are a number of other, much more interesting REAL perfumes in the Juliette Has a Gun line.

My advice? Pick up a bottle of Calamity J instead.


Not a Perfume is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum with prices ranging from £59-£79.


Image 1 Image 2 [1] & [2]


41 thoughts on “You’re Right, It’s Not – Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume Perfume Review

  1. Yep, couldn’t agree more ! ~ (And this coming from a total “amber-whore” such as myself.) 😉 …
    And yes, of course, I adore Calamity J. (Whose gorgeous base was my sole reason for exploring NaP, in the hopes of even more of it’s deliciousness.)

    BUT, … there is one thing that confuses me no end though, about these ‘not-a-fumes’ : If Escentric Molecules’ ‘Molecule 02’ is, as ‘Not a Perfume’, supposed to be only Ambroxan and nothing but – why exactly don’t they actually smell exactly the same as one another ?? (As I presumed they would. … To my nose at least they are enough confusingly different to make me wonder (???)

    Surely ‘Ambroxans’ from different manufacturers should still smell relatively the same, not ?? Either that or someone is not telling as absolutely everything that goes into these ‘not-a-frags’ ….

    • You would think wouldn’t you? But we can never trust brands when they say x, y and z (or in the case of these non perfumes, just x) is in a perfume. The copy is there just to sell the scent and half of the notes probably aren’t there.

      • Yep, … true … But it really saddens me that they are all so darned untrustworthy. (One of my major gripes with ‘fume-land’ [& advertising I suppose].

        Plus, in this case, IF they are indeed “cheating” buy adding “ghost notes” to said ‘only-x’ – it just defeats the whole purpose IMO. ~ I mean why even bother ?? – (& especially since it was so totally [& unashamedly !] plagiarised !!)

        IMO a totally unnecessary misstep for JHaG, that did little more than just stain their (pretty-good-till-then) credibility.

      • Mind you I suppose it was their way of targeting that section of the market (“our polar opposites” !) that don’t usually wear fragrances. (Ya kno, those that don’t like “perfumy” perfumes.) ~ I imagine it went down a treat with that lot …

  2. I can’t help thinking of the story the king is in his altogether. A bit of a marketing ploy me thinks aimed at those who do not usually wear perfume or just want to smell clean. It is an expensive non perfume considering the ingredients. 😉

  3. I can’t decide if I’m more annoyed with the marketing or the fact that they’re just trying too hard with this (or maybe I should say trying too little, since there is only one ingredient). I like me some resins, but I think they are better when rounded out with other ingredients.

  4. What a yawn. Sounds like that as nice as the one note is, it just doesn’t give us enough complexity. The annoyingly gimmicky name and silly ad just put the tin lid on it (as my Mum would say). You still manage to make it an entertaining read though! Hope your right eyebrow has returned to it’s normal position 🙂

  5. This one is lost on me too, very confusing, especially as I have a soft spot for this line: Lady Vengeance was my gateway rose and Midnight Oud did the same for oud. Odd…

  6. Spot on. I found it completely underwhelming. Now Calamity Jane, by contrast…. there’s an impressive perfume. It’s hard to believe they’re from the same house.

  7. Sounds dire!!
    I’m not into this single aromachemical fragrances.
    After having sniffed loadsssss of aromachemicals recently though – I wonder why they go for such boring choices.
    Now, if they picked Rose Oxide, Leaf Alcohol, or Methyl Benzoate, I’d buy it in a flash!!!

    • This is my thinking, if you’re going to do an aroma chemical, why not pick something completely off the wall? For instance Ethyl Maltol would be awesome in isolation, but no they always go for boring woody, amber things. YAWN.

      • But then it’d just be a cotton candy smell 😛 It is darn delicious though hahah.
        Yup – and Iso E Super…. oh man that’s grim.

      • In all seriousness though, I’d like to see a material such as Cashmeran in isolation. I think it would make an interesting non-perfume, although I’d still be narked it was £59…

      • Yes, something a little more classical and tasteful – even Coumarin I’d be happy to see in isolation.
        But still, Leaf Alcohol and I’d swoon – smells just like a lawnmower.
        Rose oxide smells metal and grease. Such avant-garde compositions in a single chemical, they’re fascinating! 😀
        Put one of those in a fancy bottle for £59 and I don’t think I’d moan 😛

      • I can send you a little bit if you want? Along with the leaf alcohol – the petrol smell in it is insanely good.
        And I have some methyl benzoate which is part of the narcotic sharpness in tuberose and the like – it smells like a medicinal fruit called a feijoa – beautiful 🙂

      • Yeh man I’ll send you a few goodies 🙂
        I’d send you some samples but you’ve probably tried more than me :’) I’ll try anyway – anything your interested in at the minute in particular?

  8. Still haven’t tried any of the Juliette Has a Gun frags, although I’ve heard very good things about the line. The only reason I see myself buying a sample of this is for “training the nose.” (You know, so I can show off as I nod wisely and tell non-perfumista friends “Aaah, yes, this has a large amount of Ambroxan in it.” And then they can roll their eyes at me.)

  9. I have to admit that I fell once for such “not a perfume”: I LOVE Molecule 01 and can’t do anything about it. I own a bottle and every time I smell it I think how much I love it. But that was only once. After that I usually get annoyed with not-a-perfume-s (though you should admit it’s a great play on words in this case), I-hate-perfume-s, etc. I love perfumes, I want to wear perfumes and I want to smell of perfumes and not just scents.

    • It is a good play on words, you’re right there!

      There’s no shame in liking it if you do. I have to admit that the Eccentric Molecule line, although I don’t love any of them enough to buy, do feel like they are more successfully done than Not a Perfume.

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