Romano Ricci has perfume in his DNA. His great-grandmother was the legendary couturier Nina Ricci (read more about here here) and his grandfather Robert was creator of the equally iconic L’Air du Temps.
Although he’d grown up surrounded by fashion and fragrance, Romano Ricci set out to learn the art of fragrance creation from scratch. ‘I’m self-taught,’ he has told the encyclopaedic fragrance website Fragrantica. ‘I never went to ISIPCA (Paris’s ‘perfume school’), or any similar schools. Instead, I gained my competence through practice. I worked in perfumery for seven years before launching my own adventure. I was with France Fragrance for three years and I’ve also worked with other perfume makers such as Pierre Bourdon, Francis Kurkdjian, Isabelle Maillebiau and Philippe Romano – who all taught me a lot.’
He launched Juliette Has a Gun in December 2006: a brand devoted to women, which set out to offer a new type of elegance within the niche perfumery world. In his mind, as Romano explains, ‘The innocent Juliet of Shakespeare is transposed to the 21st Century with a gun… Metaphor for the perfume, weapon of seduction, or simple accessory of bluff. “Gun” essentially symbolises the liberation of women towards men… And sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge.’
Adds Romano, ‘For me, perfume is intimately connected with seduction, perhaps in the same way as fashion, make-up and hairstyling. It’s a way to define oneself externally. I felt, however, that there existed a more modern and more amusing way to approach these issues. That’s why you will also find humour in my work, even though the work is rigorously done.’ The debut fragrances included Miss Charming (an airy swirl of Moroccan rose, strawberry and lichi), and the darker, more mysterious Lady Vengeance, pulsing with rose, vanilla and patchouli.
Since then, Juliette Has a Gun has won the hearts of perfume-lovers around the world. And in 2011 Romano won the French Fragrance Foundation’s ‘Special Prize of the Board’, awarded to an individual who has shown special ingenuity, creativity and dedication to the industry, not only within their own brand, but the perfume industry generally.
One of the most innovative fragrances in the range is Not a Perfume, based very much on two notes usually used in the base – Ambroxan and white musk – which are instead given the ‘lead role’. Purse sprays, meanwhile, are in the form of silver ‘bullets’, perfect for slipping into the chicest handbag – and refillable with any of his fragrances. (Refills are something we’d like to see more of, in this industry.)
The latest carefree and fresh scent, Anyway, has been making waves with its advertising imagery (see the ostrich, here!) Pared down to just 15 carefully-selected ingredients, it features neroli and lime, jasmine, musk and ambrox and shareable by women and men. (In selected outlets, for now, you can encounter the special edition, va-va-voluptuous Oriental Oil Fiction, in its lacquered wooden box – a whole new departure for Juliette Has a Gun.)
In Paris, you’ll find the collection showcased in NOSE (www.nose.fr), an innovative perfumery in Paris’s 2nd arondissement which Romano co-founded. Elsewhere, track down Juliette Has a Gun in all the most intriguing perfumeries (including, unsurprisingly, London’s Les Senteurs).
Next time you’re passing, can we suggest you follow your own nose and find out why this rebellious perfumer has the scent world so excited?
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