Perfume Review: Liquid Illusion by Juliette Has a Gun


The Luxury Collection is where rebellious niche house Juliette Has a Gun stretches its olfactory legs. Their other offerings sit comfortably between mainstream and niche – they’re made with good quality materials and bring unique twists to very accessible, affable fragrances. The Luxury Collection however, is a bit more serious and has a touch more of an abstract feel to it, bringing a strong sense of niche-ness. It’s where Juliette Has a Gun ditches the cool air and the fun names in exchange for some serious perfumery.

Liquid Illusion (good name – after all, perfume is just a liquid illusion) is the latest addition to the Luxury Collection. It takes its inspiration from heliotropin – a fragrant material that is also found in the drug ecstasy. The idea here, is to present a stimulating fragrance that pairs heliotropin with the luxurious note of iris – something as intense and electrifying as the inky-blue bottle it comes in. The result is something quite intriguing indeed.


The Notes

Top: Heliotropin
Heart: Tuberose Absolute and Iris Absolute
Base: Tonka Bean and Cetalox

How Does it Smell?

The illusion this liquid reveals to begin with is a cool and bitter almond note underpinned by a marzipan-like sweetness. It has a sharp, anise feel that is evocative of the original Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum however, the approach here is less gourmand and woody, and more twisted towards a powdery floral that is ultimately more hazy and ethereal. The other surprise is just how light this is. The jet blue bottle leads one to expect a bold, intense creation, but that is just an illusion – the reality is something much more delicate.


Iris and tuberose are used for powder and sweetness in the heart, marrying the sweet almond powder of Liquid Illusion to a subtle base of vanilla and cetalox (ambroxan) that smells breezy and clean. The development is relatively linear but Liquid Illusion moves from almond-iris to almond-vanilla, and the powder effect is dusted off as the sugar and warmth amplifies in the plusher base. The almond intensifies with each hour, slowly gnawing away at everything else until all that remains is a soft, almond glow.

Liquid Illusion is a gorgeous take on iris and heliotropin. It is cool, delicate and very easy to wear. What it is not is electrifying or ecstatic – it’s actually quite calm, evoking more a come down than a high. I feel like it lacks a bit of oomph and I guess that’s because its central materials are typically not very loud, so instead of a toxic, dangerous but maybe delightful haze, one gets a soft and comforting almond powder that is entirely benign in nature. Is it pretty? Yes. Is it ecstasy? Far from it, but who says you need to have chemical assistance to have a good time, eh?


Liquid Illusion is available from Harrods in 75ml Eau de Parfum for £200.


Sample, notes and quotes via Juliette Has a Gun. Images are my own.