Niche brand Juliette Has a Gun seems to be spoiling us with a bevy of launches this summer. We get not one, but two pillar fragrances from the house and style-wise these launches play to two completely different styles, with both opting to defy conventions in different ways. That said, they both sit comfortably into Juliette’s ever-growing oeuvre, which is a distinct mix of the oriental and strong, and the musky with intent. They make for an interesting mix, that’s for sure.
First up we have Gentlewoman, a fragrance inspired by a traditional eau de cologne but given a feminine twist. Of Gentlewoman, brand creator Romano Ricci said he wanted to “give women a dash of dandy”, creating a ‘gentlewoman’s code’ outlining a “citrus woody musky” fragrance that according to the brand, possesses, amongst other things, dandyism, impertinence, audacity, look and freedom. The result is a modern eau de cologne that strips away the gender barriers, favouring androgyny over tired notions of what is appropriate for men, women and anyone that identifies as in-between.
We also have Another Oud. That’s to say that the name of the fragrance is in fact, ‘Another Oud’, not that the launch is another oud fragrance, which it is, actually – an oud, that is. To clarify, this is another oud fragrance cheekily entitled ‘Another Oud’, which is all a bit of a riot if you ask me. Juliette Has a Gun say that this is actually “just the opposite” of a traditional oud fragrance and is, “Version 2.0.” as they quite nifty describe it. You’ve got to give credit to a house that says what we’re all thinking and does so deliberately in order to inspire curiosity. What’s more, this particular oud is actually rather sniff-worthy, and not just because of the name.
Top: Neroli Essence, Bitter Orange Petitgrain Essence and Calabrian Bergamot Essence
Heart: Almond Essence, Coumarin, Orange Blossom Absolute and Lavender Essence
Base: Ambroxan and Musks (Muscenone and Abretolide)
How Does it Smell?
As a regular dabbler in olfactory gender-bending, I must admit that the concept behind Gentlewoman pleases me. The idea of a masculine fragrance re-imagined for a feminine audience as an attempt to create the perfumed equivalent of a borrowed cotton work shirt, isn’t exactly a new one, but it’s definitely something that should be encouraged. In short, anything that inspires people to step away from their boxes and outside of their comfort zones is good in my book.
So how does Gentlewoman fare as a feminine cologne? Well, the opening is distinctly eau de cologne-like, sparkling with bergamot and petitgrain, but more heavily focusing on neroli. In fact, there is so much soapy neroli in the opening that it almost knocks your socks clean off in the first few minutes, gushing forth with a blinding whiteout of clean summer freshness that gives the impression of vast sheets of linen blowing softly in the wind. So far, so good.
As things start to get going, Gentlewoman unfurls a distinct orange blossom facet. Initially, the effect is still very much ‘traditional eau de cologne’, but with time one starts to notice the feminine edge that is the real crux of the fragrance. The orange blossom is sweet, with an unusual, and subtle marzipan edge. More importantly though, it is powdery in a soft and delicate way, linking itself quite strongly to a signature style of feminine perfumery, albeit in a very modern manner.
The base is all about musk and orange blossom. As it dries down, Gentlewoman returns to that whiteout effect of the opening however, the result is less blinding and more comforting. After a full day’s wear, one is left sitting in a haze of white musk and orange blossom that is super clean and almost conservative. This stage takes the wearer full circle into unisex territory, and with the decidedly feminine heart, the masculine edge seems to be rather stealthy (i.e. lost in transit somewhere).
Gentlewoman does the masculine as feminine thing quite well, although it could be entirely unisex in truth, and it would have been intriguing to see a stronger masculine half. Some sharpness wouldn’t go amiss, and would have been a nice nod to the finely-tailored cut of the YSL-esque jackets (as identified by Robin @ Now Smell This) in the ad images. I’d also say that once it gets going, Gentlewoman is a bit one note and the unrelenting cleanliness feels a bit sterile after a while. That said, I do think that it will be a very satisfying fragrance to wear on a warm summer day when a simple eau de cologne may just seem a little passé. After all, Juliette has never been one to conform. Not for the most part, Anyway.
Top: Bergamot and Raspberry
Heart: Oud Wood and Norlimbanol
Base: Musks and Ambroxan
How Does it Smell?
With Another Oud, Juliette Has a Gun puts tongue firmly in cheek and says what we’re all thinking about the industry’s obsession with oud, namely “enough already!”. Of course, there is a certain degree of irony in this statement, because the fragrance that bears this name is most definitely an oud, or at least, it is what one expects of an oud fragrance, and for that reason I must say, nicely played, Juliette, nicely played.
Another Oud is Juliette’s second oud (the first being Midnight Oud), and whilst its name suggests that this will be more of the same, the two fragrances are in fact, very different. Another Oud shows a softer side to the world of oud, which is usually represented by blaring compositions of rose and medicinal woods that feel so far removed from nature and the Orient they try to express, that they all blur into one after a while. So yes, this is, as it says on the bottle, ‘another oud’, but it is one that most definitely stands out from the crowd.
In the opening, Another Oud is sweet and spicy. It’s not sticky or abrasive at all and the impression is of a gentle melange of raspberry, saffron and black pepper. The heart boasts an oud note that many will find familiar, but what sets this apart from the hoi polloi is its soft, velvety texture. The oud feels cushiony and cuddly, but it does so in a relatively paired back and quite manner, which is odd for this style of fragrance, as with so many ours on the market, many feel that they simply need to rely on volume to outdo the others. Another Oud does not feel the need to compete in this noise race.
Much like Gentlewoman, Another Oud isn’t a hugely complex piece of work that changes from one second to the next – it is relatively linear. As it dries down it does become more resinous and maintains a steady trajectory into plushness. Tiny rosy inflections pop up here and there, playing nicely into both the sweet and spicy facets, and keeping things faithful to the oud tradition. The base itself is a musky sort-of-amber that is really quite subtle, and levels things out as the fragrance seeps slowly into the skin.
Another Oud is very nicely done. I have found myself reaching for it on a regular basis, mainly because it is neither quiet nor loud and works nicely on those warm days when one wants something with a bit more oomph than a refreshing cologne or floral. It also has that wonderful ability to disappear and reappear periodically throughout the day and has on many occasions made me stop and say “what smells so good?” (it’s me, of course – it’s always me…) So is Another Oud just another oud? Well yes, it is indeed an oud amongst many others, but it is not one to be groaned at – in fact, it could even encourage the biggest of oud-cynics to potentially crack a smile.
Gentlewoman is available now in 50ml (£75) and 100ml (£95) Eau de Parfum. Another Oud is currently exclusive to Harrods available in 100ml (£110) Eau de Parfum and launches nationwide in October 2015.
Sample, image 1, notes and quotes via Juliette Has a Gun. Images 2 and 3 my own.