Juliette Has a Gun launch Into the Void – let's get deeper… our exclusive interview with Romano Ricci

Into the Void is the latest addition to the Luxury Collection of the ever-quirkily named and uniquely inspired Juliette Has a Gun – scented brainchild of self-taught perfumer Romano Ricci (great-grandson of the iconic Nina Ricci) and now at the helm of one of the original ‘niche’ houses that changed the face of the fragrance world.
Humorously titled they may be, but these are wonderfully wearable perfumes that invite you to explore all sorts of character facets…
Launching exclusively in Harrods, the intriguing Into the Void is… ‘Inspired by space, black holes, gravity and forces beyond our control, it is a perfume of dark energy.’
‘The harmony opens with an ultra woody cocktail, essence of guaiac wood, papyrus, cedar, norlimbanol, ambroxan, patchouli, to name but a few. Partly eclipsed behind this devastating veil, the black orchid absolute is yet vital to the balance blending with the Tonka bean and an infusion of liquorice, all its sensuality is brought forth into the composition. A cosmic fluid with golden reflections. Once released it hangs in the air like star dust in space, diffusing its gravitational power, invisible and yet so ravishing…’
Ravishing is the word. This is a deeply intense swirl of vivacious smokiness that beguiled us from the second we sprayed. We were lucky enough to be invited to the press launch, and there we caught up with the flamboyant Romano Ricci himself – firstly to ask about Into the Void, and then to plunge deeper…
Romano Ricci: ‘We call them ‘black holes’ and ‘dark matter’ because we are the ones in the dark, not knowing much about them, grasping for information. It’s all so elusive, but we can feel the effects of these forces, we can see them, but we don’t know exactly how to define them. I’m just fascinated with these mysterious things, and that’s why I wanted to use that inspiration for Into the Void. It’s something that lurks deep within us all… wanting to know more.’
Tell us about your first smell memory?
‘I guess it was really one of Nina Ricci’s creations, which my grandfather wore. I’m not sure if it was a fragrance called Phileas, or my Grandfather wearing Signore Ricci – his house was full of the stuff, the soap the shower gel, the whole collection. It’s smelled really good, but I guess it can’t have been a best seller. It’s discontinued now. But I loved the smell of it.’
When did you first become interested in working in the perfume industry?
‘Actually, I swore, myself that I would not go into perfumery, seeing the disaster it can make of family relationships – my father and grandfather were always shouting at each other! When you mix business and family it can be very dangerous, I think… But then the more I escaped it, the stronger it came back. The harder you try to get away the more violently you’re attracted to the thing you run away from, sometimes.’
What’s your favourite (and worst!) thing to smell right now?
‘It depends entirely on the time. If you’re asking me right now, the best at the moment, I’m very much into tuberose. I used to be a lot about Chypre, patchouli, then musk, transparency and now I’m so into tuberose. The three last luxury collections are about tuberose, the white flowers in Gentlewoman I adored… As for the worst, I really hate the smell of grapefruit. I think it’s just terrible, to me grapefruit essence smells like sweat.’
juliette-has-a-gun-gentlewoman-eau-de-parfum-for-women___2Is there one fragrance you wish you had created?
‘I have one fragrance I really love and keep coming back to. The original Narcisso Rodriguez, the first one. I have a weakness for it. It’s one of the very rare interesting mainstream compositions.’
It’s the 10th Anniversary of Juliette Has a Gun, what has changed in the perfume world since then…?
‘A lot. The whole world in fact. When I first started there were maybe four or five niche brands or in total ten brands that could be considered niche. Now there are, what, hundreds, even thousands? It’s incredible. I’m always looking at how we can expand but stay true to ourselves. It’s exciting. Challenging, exhausting… but it makes us stay on our toes. It means now that we employ a number of people and are larger than I thought we’d be, really – I think it’s a real challenge to be in charge of so many people, not only working for yourself. But it’s a challenge that drives me, too.
We have a humour about us at Juliette Has a Gun. I hate that seriousness of people who lack humour in this industry, it’s so boring! Perfume should express your personality, and hopefully the people who wear ours have a real fun side to them!’

Photo by stylepocketbook.com

How many perfumes do you work on at any one time?
‘I find it’s usually good to work on two, side by side, which is also how we tend to release them. Because if you get too much into something you can lose perspective, wheras if you switch from one to another, you gain perspective on both. Your inner critic is the engine of the creation.’
Does your nose ever switch off?
‘No no, it’s always there. You know when I’m in the lab, I’m like a child in a toyroom. What’s next?! What can I do with this?’
When you’re creating a fragrance, how do you go about it? Do you use a mood board?
‘No it’s all about the smell, I don’t use visual stimulants for inspiration, it’s always the smell, and I know exactly how I want it to be, it’s just about getting there. There’s fifty ingredients I love the most, and I know very well how they combine, but I discover new ones all the time. It took me fifteen years to reach the stage where I just knew how the differing combinations would smell in my head, it takes time, but then the fun begins…
How can each of us go about improving our sense of smell?
‘It’s a lot about training. Even I re-smell all the ingredients all the time. And still I cannot tell you exactly if you make me smell a fragrance, what are all the ingredients in here? I’ll know some of them, but not all. You know, people should go and buy fifteen, twenty raw ingredients and just smell, smell, smell. Memorise them. Once it’s locked into your head it stays, but you can’t rush it, there’s no shortcut. It’s all about the training. Composing is another matter altogether, of course, but you can train yourself to memorise them at least.’
Juliette Has a Gun Into the Void £200 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale