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?
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.
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.