Lipstick scents: the alluring history of the perfume pout

Lipstick scents have always been a huge part of cosmetics’ glamorous allure – from the boudoir to the boardroom and beyond – but now you can also wear va-va-voom versions of the pucker-up in perfumed form…

With so many of us masked-up to the eyballs (literally), unless you find your perfect bullet-proof formula, an actual lip colour sadly seems more unneccessary for the time being. Fear not: fragrances that smell exactly like the most glamorous kind of vintage lipsticks are out there, and there’s something about that so-distinctive smell that really does give the same feeling of a vixenish vermillion or scarlet slick of courage.



I got that red lip classic thing that you like,’ Taylor Swift sings. But have you ever wondered exactly why so many classic lipsticks smell the same? ‘In France, until the Revolution, people of the court would spritz their wigs with a blend of crushed iris roots and rice powder. This “iris-y” sillage remained,’ Juliet Has a Gun tells us – diving deep into the history of scented lipsticks to celebrate the launch of their Lipstick Fever fragrance (read on for our review…)

‘Violet made its appearance later, at the end of the 19th century, in the first solid sticks, but became the norm in the 1920s when lipsticks were flavored with a violet candy aroma, which was fashionable at the time. As lipsticks came in contact with the mouth, the beauty houses tended to perfume them with comestible ingredients. And the harmonies of iris, violet and raspberry have the advantage of being rather lovely when you run your tongue over your lips…’



There’s no doubt about it – the lipstick is a powerful symbol of self expression, celebrating the strength of femininity – and the scent of a lipstick only adds to its charms. We’re reminded of special occasions, of borrowing our mother’s lipsticks as a child, and reaching into a handbag to swipe on a bit of spirit-lifting colour when you’re feeling anxious. So if you’re missing a slick of courage, why not dress yourself in these fabulously lipstick-inspired scents…?



Juliet Has a Gun Lipstick Fever Oh this is joyous! ‘Iris, Violet absolute and Raspberry. Enhanced with woody notes (Patchouli, Cedarwood) to give it a little refinement and to echo the leather of the handbag so often inseparable from it,’ they say. We say: contemporary gourmands just got all the more desirable. Its wonderfully frivolous to wear, a scented accessory to twirl through the streets in!
£85 for 50ml eau de parfum



Cartier Basier Fou ‘Mischievous and feminine soliflor whose delicious accents evoke the aroma of kisses with lipstick,’ Baiser Fou is developed by the in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent, who chose the flower of orchid as the main ingredient. Playfully charming but exuding a gamine chicness nonetheless, this one’s a kiss-chase in a bottle.
£76 for 50ml eau de parfum



Guerlain French Kiss We’re invited to succumb, with this scent, to ‘the charms of French Kiss, a glossy floral that celebrates the French art of kissing with a sexy rose, litchi and raspberry accord.’ The boudoir-inspired bottle echoes the scent itself – the kind of ultra refined va-va-voom only the French can do. Find yourself a chaise lounge, don your prettiest peignoir!
£185 for 75ml eau de parfum



Histoire de Parfums 1889 Inspired by the luscious red lips of Moulin Rouge dancers, this shamelessly naughty scent evokes layers of frilly petticoats and a Carmine smile. Swirls of sugar melt in Absinthe, a sprinkle of cinnamon amidst a plumptious booziness calms to a warm-skin snuggle of soft musk and something vaguely pain-au-chocolat-ish in the base.
From €38 for 15ml eau de parfum



Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose Ralf Schwieger’s Hollywood glamor, ‘Lipstick Rose smiles at you, like a dash of lipstick with its rose and violet-flavoured candy scent.’ Grapefruit sparkles up the fragrance’s central rose note, while musk and vanilla, with a hint of vetiver and amber, smoothly drapes the base. Flirtatiously fabulous, it feels grown up yet prone to giggles.
£180 for 100ml eau de parfum



Estée Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge A pout-laden provocative contrast of distinctively different accords – rich roses drizzled by ripe fruits, with a seductive velvet creme. Its an intriguing kiss of a scent to seduce every day, described as ‘a true innovation in fragrance design, as complex and fascinating as the woman who inspires it.’
From £52 for 30ml eau de parfum


By Suzy Nightingale

Juliette Has a Gun founder, Romano Ricci, reveals his five favourite smells…

Romano Ricci – founder of niche perfume house Juliette Has a Gun – was born to be creative, with roots in both fashion (his great grandmother was renowned couturier Nina Ricci) and perfumery (his grandfather Robert created the famous L’air du temps); but though grateful to his heritage, Romano was driven to make a name for himself and learn the basics for himself rather than resting on his laurels and hoping the prestige of the family name would carry him through.

Romano became an apprentice in the perfumery world, studying for four years and learning from the greatest noses, eventually persuading Francis Kurkdjian – a master of perfumery – to allow him to work with him. Juliette Has a Gun say: ‘In the creator’s mind, 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, the “Gun” essentially symbolizes the liberation of women towards men…and sometimes with an aftertaste of revenge…’

Wryly humorous names like Another Oud, Mad Madame, Not a Perfume and Anyway, along with intriguing blends of notes are the hallmark of Juliette Has a Gun – a house that pays no regard to the traditional way of doing things just for the sake of it, but creating some truly great perfumes that have been blowing the socks off press and public alike since their launch in 2006.

And we are thrilled to now stock the JHAG Discovery Kit in our shop – filled with EIGHT NICHE FRAGRANCES, including a 4ml Not A Perfume, so you can explore layering all of these wonderful fragrances at your leisure (and pleasure). We think this kit creates a WONDERFUL GIFT and is perfect for when you are on the go. All yours to explore and treasure for only £25.


But before we wonder what your favourite smells of their Discovery Kit will be, we caught up with the stylish maverick Romano, and once cornered, got him to reveal the smells he just cannot do without in his life. What, we wondered, makes his nostrils quiver with delight?

Romano Ricci: My five favourite smells…

1. Tomato leaves ‘There is something about it. Without any explanation, I am just totally attracted and addicted to this poisoning green smell…’

2. Cetalox ‘This is one of my favorite ingredients, I even created a fragrance [NB: it’s called Not a Perfume] made 100% of it. I love the fact that some people can smell it and others cannot. It is the beauty of this pure ingredient.’

3. Castor Oil Plant ‘It reminds me my passion – car racing. Whenever I enter the garage of my racing team, I smell this odour which immediately puts me in a racing mood.’

4. Lavender ‘As a child we used to spend our vacations in our summer house in Grasse. It was called “la Renardiere”  and I loved it very much. It was surrounded by lavender fields. You could smell it all over the place. I should mention, though, that I kind of had a bad experience with the bees! So, it has a bad side to it too…’

5. Play-Doh ‘I used to love the smell of it as a child and still do, I am deeply jealous of perfumers like Demeter for instance, who created a fragrance around it!’

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!’

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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