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.
I don’t understand Juliette Has a Gun. They started out as a rebellious niche brand boasting a number of intriguing fragrances evoking the spirit of fierce women with daring characters (scents such as Calamity J and Lady Vengeance) – all at designer prices. But with the brand’s most recent launches it seems that Juliette has lost her nerve and decided to throw away the pistol that made her so spunky and dangerous.
This decline in boldness can be seen in the increasing lack of ingenuity in scents such as Mad Madame (a collage of just about every scent in the line) and Not a Perfume (at least they got the name right with this one), both of which felt very safe and not in keeping with the punky spirit of the brand. An over reliance on ambroxan has also ensured that these new offerings are all very similar in both odour and style.
The brand’s latest fragrance ‘Anyway‘ runs very much along the same lines as its recent stable mates and presents an airy, relaxed style of perfume that tries its absolute best not to offend or make an impression. The brand proclaim it to be a “simple and original formula” boasting “only fifteen ingredients” – a fragrance that has been designed to be a signature scent and anything but “anonymous”.
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.
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”  Oh and it is “entirely allergen free”  too…
…You may not be able to see it dear reader, but my right eyebrow just met my hairline.
Juliette Has a Gun is the spunky niche brand from Romano Ricci – great grandson of Nina Ricci. The name is taken from Shakespeare’s most famous heroin and the gun that she brandishes is a metaphor for her perfume, which she uses as her weapon of seduction. Juliette Has a Gun has a kick-ass attitude, she’s a gal with tons of moxie and takes no prisoners.
There are currently 8 perfumes in the line, well 7 if you you decide not to count ‘Not a Perfume’, which I’m not, because it isn’t a perfume and it gets on my nerves. Anyways, Romantina was released last year and is Juliette Has a Gun’s latest perfume. With Romantina, Ricci adds something new to the line – its very first white floral, that at first seems quite out of place amongst the mixed bag of misfit characters that hang around with Juliette and her Gun.
Romantina (I love that name) is described as “an ode to insouciance”  and is based on a modern love story. Like the other perfumes in the line, Romantina has a strong character, but rather than being a bad-ass bitch, it exudes a confident innocence that if fallen for, can prove much more deadly. When I received my sample set I immediately reached for Romantina, I am a white floral lover after all, and whilst it may be an ode to insouciance, my feelings for it certainly aren’t indifferent.