Notes: neroli essence, bitter orange petitgrain essence, Calabrian bergamot essence, almond essence, coumarin, orange blossom absolute, lavender essence, ambroxan, and musks.
Gentlewoman is perfumer Romano Ricci’s call to modernize the classic Eau de Cologne formula and tailor it specifically to women. “With Gentlewoman” Ricci says, “I wanted to give women a dash of dandy.” When I think of dandyism, I think of Beau Brummel slipping on a new pair of gloves. I think of elegance, and bit of showiness, too. It’s a bit of a social performance. Fragrance can also be something of a social performance. I think we all select certain perfumes to play up or subdue different aspects of our personalities. Perhaps that makes for a good match between fragrance and the dandy lifestyle.
Gentlewoman opens in typical cologne fashion with a burst of citrus. The citrus here isn’t lemony, it’s very orange with a hint of green. This opening isn’t necessarily sparkling and pretty. It’s quite bitter at times, verging on astringent. But then it turns refreshing and juicy at other moments. This is a three-dimensional opening that keeps developing as the fragrance settles into the skin rather than flattening and fading away into the heart.
Gentlewoman begins to take on a clean, soapy feel as the orange blossom comes to the fore, while lavender also begins weaving its way through the composition, flitting in and out. It reminds me of the fancy soaps my grandmother puts out in the guest bathroom. It’s the kind of soap that’s rendered in pastel colors and is usually cut into perfect shapes, looking almost too pretty to use. The bitter aspects of the opening have settled down by this point, and Gentlewoman now gives off a wholly refreshing feel.
What Gentlewoman really needs at this point is something to anchor the fragrance, and that’s where the almond and coumarin come in. The coumarin acts as a sort of pillow to cushion the more aromatic notes. And I notice a hint of nuttiness from the almond adding a little flair as Gentlewoman gradually dries down to the musky base. I have to be honest, the musk here is rendered nicely, but there’s something about it that’s a little bit gauzy or hazy for me. It could just be my skin chemistry, but I personally would prefer something with a little more texture. The good thing is that I suspect this dry down will play very well during hot summer weather.
Overall, Gentlewoman is an intriguing take on the Eau de Cologne formula. The most thoroughly modern thing about it (and my favorite thing) is the remarkable staying power. It lasts a good 8 hours on me before fading, which is quite a bit longer than the typical cologne concentration. Clearly Romano Ricci worked a bit of perfumer magic to bolster the wear time, and I’m grateful. As I said, I think Gentlewoman is going to be fantastic for summer weather in particular. And although Monsieur Ricci composed it with women in mind, it’s perfectly wearable for anyone. All in all, Gentlewoman is one cool and collected dandy.
*This write-up is is based on a sample kindly provided for Gentlewoman’s US release.
Full bottles and samples of Juliette Has a Gun fragrances are available from Luckyscent.
The image and info on notes are from the Gentlewoman press release.