It can be difficult to have a recognizable surname and yet forge your own path, especially when you choose to work in the same field. It is why since 2006 when Romano Ricci started his own fragrance line called Juliette Has a Gun it took some time for him to create his own brand DNA. By 2015 that aesthetic has been refined and perfected. I think it is an important component of success to create a recognizable brand identity in the ever more crowded niche perfume sector.
M. Ricci has always presented his fragrances as chapters in a story following his contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Juliette. In this fragrant story Juliette has never been demure about inserting herself into the action and shunting Romeo, or anyone else for that matter, to the stage apron. Assertiveness in a heroine is often confused with masculinity. For this thirteenth chapter of Juliette’s story, Gentlewoman, she has embraced the characterization and re-cast herself as the “neo-dandy”. What would a neo dandy wear? Why a neo-cologne of course.
Gentlewoman is M. Ricci’s exploration of that most classical of perfume architectures, eau de cologne. Like his Juliette it is also a modern re-telling of something deemed classical. It also takes eau de cologne and makes it softer around its more traditional spine. There has always been a visual component to M. Ricci’s releases. For Gentlewoman he chose photographer Sonia Sieff to lend some pictures of this thirteenth version of Juliette. The three I’ve chosen to illustrate this show her as she slowly transforms from tuxedoed neo-dandy into seductress. Gentlewoman also does the same kind of deconstruction from classically appointed to musky enticement.
Gentlewoman opens on the typical eau de cologne ingredients of bergamot, petitgrain and neroli. There are many colognes which start this way but in the case of Gentlewoman I think the neroli is a little more opaque which forms a less percussive cologne opening than is expected. The person in the tuxedo looks like a woman, is she? The heart of this is where the lavender which often makes up the heart of a cologne is now surrounded by different choices. For Gentlewoman it is the twin choices of coumarin and almond which turn this cologne onto a different path. The almond provides a slightly sweet nutty quality. The coumarin adds a slightly sweet hay-like quality. Together the subtle sweetness over the more substantial nutty and hay qualities is really enticing. Again as in the top notes orange blossom is added to soften the potential rough edges. This is when the bow tie is loosed. The jacket thrown over the top of a chair. Juliette looks appraisingly at you, are you game? The base notes answer that question with a mix of three synthetic musks: ambroxan, muscenone, and ambretolide. Together these form that very sexy skin accord with a bead of sweat rolling tantalizingly down it. Juliette has made her choice clear and you will be forever lost to her charms.
Gentlewoman has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage. This might be a modern eau de cologne but it definitely is at a much higher oil concentration than the typical eau de cologne and as a result lasts much longer.
M. Ricci has continued to evolve his brand while staying true to his titular heroine. Gentlewoman takes her into a new place; one which any lover of cologne should enter.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by the US distributor Europerfumes.
All photographs, except package shot, are copyright Sonia Sieff for Juliette Has a Gun.