Juliette Reloads
Juliette Reloads

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.

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The Small Sniff - Scenting TV's Leading Ladies
The Small Sniff – Scenting TV’s Leading Ladies

“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”

I’d be lying if I said that the Scent a Celebrity Series wasn’t one of my favourite things to write. There’s just something about the challenge of trying to match a complex personality or character with the olfactory signature of a perfume. Sometimes the choices seem obvious or easy, but on other occasions these scented picks can range from the downright tricky to the marvellously obscure. Challenging or not, the Scent a Celebrity Series intends to be a bit of light, fragrant fun.

For this latest instalment in the series, I’m taking a look at some of television’s leading ladies. Over the last few years TV has risen to match, and even surpass the quality of film, creating a wealth of fascinating and entertaining shows for hungry eyes to feast upon. This means that we’ve also seen some exceptionally real and complex female characters on the small screen too, and that is never a bad thing. In this post you’ll find some of my favourites, along with a slew of scented companions.

The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2013: The Very Best and the Very Worst Perfumes of the Year

Can you believe that 2013 is coming to a close already? I certainly can’t! It only feels like yesterday that I was sat at my laptop, tapping away at the first reviews of the year and looking forward to the exciting new smells that next 365 days would bring. It has, all-in-all, been a very good year, with lots of interesting new perfumes launched, and on a more personal note too, as this year I took on the exciting role of Fragrance Expert for Escentual.com.

The perfumes have come thick and fast over the year, and once again the industry has seen an increase in the overall number of perfumes launched. Over the year we’ve seen our fair share of masterpieces, duds, flankers and celebrity money makers in, and as with any other year it has been a roller coaster ride of an experience sifting through just a tiny portion of what has been released.

In this post – my annual perfume awards (‘The Candies’) – I’m taking a look at my fragrant highlights of the year and those perfumes that have impressed, moved and surprised me. I’m also highlighting the specific scents that have failed to meet the mark this year and are disappointing enough to warrant naming and shaming. So sit back, don your red carpet gown (or suit), pop the champagne and enjoy The Candies 2013.

[Please also head over to my fragrant brothers and sisters who are sharing their very best perfumes of 2013; Persolaise, Olfactoria’s Travels, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Moments, Perfume Shrine, I Smell Therefore I Am, SmellyBlog and The Fragrant Man.]

What's it All About, Anyway?
What’s it All About, Anyway?

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”.

"OMG! Who is she?"
“OMG! Who is she?”

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.”

Romano Ricci

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.

It may not be a perfume but I'm sure that it's not safe to drink...
It may not be a perfume but I’m pretty sure that it’s not safe to drink…

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” [1] Oh and it is “entirely allergen free” [2] too…

…You may not be able to see it dear reader, but my right eyebrow just met my hairline.

RomantinaJuliette 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” [1] 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.