Let’s talk Juliette Has a Gun. This is a brand that sits at the intersection of mainstream and niche, with a novel olfactory output that is luxurious yet accessible, presented at a relatively reasonable price point (in niche terms, let’s be real). The brand, which was started by Romano Ricci, Nina Ricci’s great-grandson, launched in 2006 and has since unleashed a number of rebellious perfume characters that don’t take themselves too seriously. Scents like Miss Charming, with her innocent smile of strawberries and rose, and Lady Vengeance with her velvet claws painted in a deep shade of red, each showcased Juliette as a brand with a punky attitude and a unique approach to perfume. Juliette Has a Gun is an irreverent brand that may not take itself too seriously, but certainly is serious when it comes to perfumery.
I’ll admit that some of the more recent launches from Juliette Has a Gun have been a bit lacklustre. They’re always pleasant and wearable, but scents like Vanilla Vibes, Lipstick Fever (all lippie, no ‘fever’, that one) and Not a Perfume Superdose haven’t, in my opinion, lived up to the excitement of the brand’s earlier scents. It seems like they’ve moved away from creating distinct olfactory characters to something more straightforward – the quality is still there, but the playfulness isn’t as vivid. Anyway, that said, I am always keen to see what Juliette is up to and always happy to get involved with whatever mischief she may have got herself into.
With that in mind, Juliette’s latest, the intriguingly named ‘Musc Invisible‘, caught my eye. Described as “a soft, warm and cosy composition, as comfortable and unfussy as your favourite pair of jeans”, Musc Invisible showcases Juliette at her most casual. She’s taken off her heels and replaced that killer red lip with a ballerina pink gloss, thrown on a super fashionable street look and is off to take a number of posed pictures for the gram, boyfriend in tow (someone’s gotta take the shot, right?) This is Juliette dressed down but is it interesting? You’ll have to read on to find out!
Warning: I will be saying the word “vibe” an annoying amount of times in this review…
Vanilla Vibes is the lastest launch from punky French niche brand Juliette Has a Gun. I am a self-confessed Juliette fan – I think what they do is accessible, high quality and whilst they sometimes miss the mark (Not a Perfume, Anyway) they often make interesting, wearable work that offers something different (Sunny Side Up, Gentlewoman, Lady Vengeance). Vanilla Vibes is filed neatly into the interesting camp – a fresh, mineral take on vanilla that is inspired by festivals in the desert,
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.
“I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.”
Every now and then I like to revisit a perfume that I’ve not smelled in a long time. I find that one’s tastes can change dramatically over time, especially as the nose becomes educated more and more. I often find that fragrances I have dismissed previously leave a completely different impression when sniffed many years later. I’ve even owned bottles of perfumes and swapped them away because they weren’t ‘me’. But as I change, what I enjoy as a fragrances changes also. In certain cases I simply think that my nose wasn’t ready to appreciate what a fragrance has to offer.
So as part of my regular Candy Crush series (where I showcase scented things that are my latest obsession) I’m going to include the occasional fragrance that I’ve recently revisited and I’m crushing over. My tastes change so much over time and something I’d written off as ‘not for me’ years ago can be my latest obsession. My nose just wasn’t ready but now it is. So this week’s Candy Crush is just that: a perfume I’d previously ignored but I have found new love for. Enter Miss Charming by Juliette Has a Gun.
Personally I’m a ‘poached atop a slice of avocado toast’ kind-of-a-guy, but then again I am a millennial so what else would you expect? It seems that Juliette Has a Gun likes their eggs served with a generous helping of sandalwood and a side of sass, because that’s exactly what the brand’s exciting new fragrance ‘Sunny Side Up‘ offers up. Juliette Has a Gun has always been a cheeky house, but they’ve really outdone themselves with this latest launch, creating a fragrance bottle that gives a birds eye view of a fried egg, sunny side up. Genius.
Positioning Sunny Side Up as a “happy therapy”, Juliette Has a Gun’s nose and founder Romano Ricci has set out to create something that “inspires happy and positive feelings”. The scent and its visuals take on a pop art feel, with the sunny theme of bright yellow running throughout. It plays on the idea of hot days on the beach where the sun is blazing so much it’s possible to fry eggs on the skin and the playfulness of the visuals (where the sun and model’s breasts are replaced with fried eggs) alludes to the care free spirit of this happy little perfume. To create the fragrance, Ricci started with the star material of sandalwood, which he paired with musks, jasmine and a coconut milk to accentuate the sandalwood’s “unctuous tonalities”. Intrigued yet?
Juliette Has a Gun is an excellent example of how a niche brand should operate. The fragrances, for the most part, are interesting and well-composed, not to mention the fact that they are affordable and served with a generous helping of wit! The brand’s Luxury Collection however, is somewhat more serious but what it lacks in humour, it certainly makes up for in quality. The three fragrances in the collection range each present the note of tuberose in an unusual way, ranging from transparent orientalism to ’80s decadence and modern austerity. Click here to head over to Escentual to read my full review of the Luxury Collection.
As you can probably tell by looking at the photographs in this post, I had quite a bit of fun putting this review together, and fun certainly seems to be a central theme at the heart of the fragrance in question. To me, perfume is not something to be taken too seriously it is, after all, a frivolity – a consumer product to be enjoyed. Some brands get this and Juliette Has a Gun is definitely one fragrance house that certainly knows how to have fun with fragrance. Their collection is served with tongue firmly pressed in cheek and they set out to make fabulous fragrance, yes, but also scents that are for vibrant and complex characters. You’ll either get them or you won’t.
MMMM… is the latest launch from Juliette Has a Gun and, as the name suggests, it’s a delectable gourmand of scent, or as the brand calls it “a zero calorie treat”! This is Juliette Has a Gun and brand creator Romano Ricci really having fun. With MMMM… they have brought us a fragrance that is to be enjoyed guilt-free and in excess, for yourself and for those around you. MMMM… is a gourmand that is vivid and a little bit ridiculous but also hugely luxurious. To me, it feels like the kind of thing you could pick up in Ladurée or Pierre Hermé – a couture treat to be enjoyed with an Ispahan and a steaming hot cup of Marie Antoinette tea. MMMM…
Addiction. That’s the inspiration between Juliette Has a Gun’s latest fragrance ‘White Spirit‘. The fragrance is dangerous, Romano Ricci (the man behind Juliette) says, further stating that a failure to respect the prescribed dosage may lead to the wearer never being able to do without it. That dose, by the way is “one or two drops delicately placed in the hollow of your neck”. Well, I threw caution to the wind and took five sprays to the chest on my first wearing, and I have survived to tell the tale. Although, that said, I have worn it a number of times since, so maybe I haven’t quite escaped the White Spirit’s dark passenger entirely.
What about the scent though? What’s it all about? Well, White Spirit is a melange of flowers and in true Juliette Has a Gun style, an array of aroma chemicals. Romano Ricci describes it as “a contrast between minimalism and poison […] the virginal white flower versus the explosive woody dry accord” defining it as “an unlikely cocktail, yet resolutely addictive”. The presentation is one of the brand’s finest examples, showcasing a white capped bottle filled with a milky juice that appears as a substance to be applied with caution. As always, it’s all served with a sense of irony and tongue pressed firmly in cheek, after all, that’s the ‘Juliette’ way.
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.
I realise that I’ve been a harsh critic of niche brand, Juliette Has a Gun of late, but it really comes from a place of love. Launches such as Not a Perfume and Anyway were irksome to me because I knew that the brand could do better. The Romano Ricci-helmed house started out punky and fun with affordable, yet well-executed scents such as Lady Vengeance and Calamity J, so gimmicky cop outs such as the aforementioned Not a Perfume and Anyway felt like a miss-step. Well, I am pleased to say that the spirit of Juliette Has a Gun is still alive and kicking, and her gun remains fully loaded with live ammo in the two fragrances within the brand’s luxury collection; Oil Fiction and Moon Dance – the subjects of today’s review en bref.