Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.
That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.
“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.
Top: Rose Oxyde, Ambroxane, Blackcurrant Bud Absolute and Freesia Accord
Heart: Peony Accord, Patchouli Essence, Tuberose Absolute, Sylvester Moss and Hedione
Base: White Musk, Tolu Balm Absolute, Vanilla Absolute, Castoreum and Animalys
How Does it Smell?
Mad Madame, like a number of offerings within the Juliette Has a Gun stable, is centred around rose and as one expects the opening is centered around a big, sharp, metallic and oily rose. I find it to be quite astringent and it almost sets my teeth on edge slightly because it is almost unbearably sour for the first 10 minutes or so.
The rose does become greener with time and before you know it a big, jagged patchouli note appears, and it seems to want to ruin the party. There’s a fine line with patchouli as far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be too clean, but at the same time it shouldn’t be too large and aggressive. The patchouli in Mad Madame has an anger problem and it isn’t ready to seek any therapy.
Sitting just slightly behind all of that rose and patchouli is Romano Ricci’s signature Ambroxan, a synthetic ambergris that smells of slightly fuzzy and murky woods. In Mad Madame the ambroxan only goes to confuse the composition further, amplifying the harsh, caustic aspects and smothering the softer, more tender parts. It’s a real shame because I think if they had dialled down the ambrox and patchouli Mad Madame may have been a pretty decent rosy chypre.
It may sound a bit silly to say that Mad Madame smells like a melange of everything that Juliette Has a Gun has done before, but it’s true. You could almost say that it is a Greatest Hits that includes such famous tracks as; the powdery rose from Lady Vengeance, the spiky patchouli from Romantina and not forgetting the metric ton of ambroxan from Not a Perfume. The problem is that this melting point of past Juliette’s simply doesn’t work.
The girls in the Mad Madame ads may be asking “OMG, who is she?” but they’ve seen this particular madame before, many times in fact. One can’t help but wonder whether the brand is running out of ideas, the creativity seem a little stale with this latest release, and It would be a shame to see Juliette slip into the trap of monotony that many more mainstream brands have a habit of falling into. I shall await their next move with baited breath.
Mad Madame is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum with prices ranging from £68-£88.
PR sample. Images, notes and quotes via press release.