Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick Sniffs: Juliette Has A Gun Lady Vengeance and Citizen Queen

Woohoo! I've confirmed the rumors of perfume on California Avenue in Palo Alto. Mahin & Co., mentioned in this post, has a small but very nice selection, including some L'Artisan Parfumeur, some Bond No. 9, a couple of Carons, and representatives of several other lines. And the staff seems both nice and knowledgeable.

Once again, I had only moments to choose what to sniff - I had not provided Himself with fair warning of perfume shopping. I've been curious about the Juliette Has A Gun line for years, so I sprayed Lady Vengeance on one arm and Citizen Queen on the other, and fled to gather impressions.

Lady Vengeance was rose.  Rose at the top, rose in the middle, rose at the bottom. The same rose. Apparently this should not be a surprise - I see in at least one review that this is linear and proud of it. I also see that I should be smelling vanilla and patchouli. Sadly, I'm not getting either of those.

More sadly, I'm not a fan of this particular kind of rose. It's high-pitched, and it's so consistent from moment to moment that I read it as synthetic, whether it is or not. It does have a strong "You wanna make something of it?" vibe, but I'm reading that as harshness and lack of subtlety, not personality. And while I realize that it's in the dark rose/rose chypre category, I'm not even getting the daring bitterness of that category. I don't respect it while I'm disliking it, the way that I usually do.

In fact, I find Lady Vengeance so harsh, so unsubtle, and so generally unlikeable that I wonder if I'm anosmic to one or more of the notes. People whose opinions I respect like this stuff, a lot, while to me the main thing that it brings to mind is inexpensive scented stationery. You know, the kind printed with roses that you got as a gift when you were twelve and dumped in a garage sale when you were sixteen? That kind. That's certainly not the don't-mess-with-me gun-toting femininity that so many people read in this fragrance.

My response to Citizen Queen is more complicated, and much more positive. It started out suspiciously floral, but already with more texture and nuance than Lady Vengeance. The flowers burned off very quickly, and I spent a couple of hours deciding whether I disliked it for the ambery notes, or liked it for the powdery iris and the "what is that?" note that kept teasing me. I had to look the fragrance up to realize that, oh, yes, it's leather. Silly me. My only defense is that the amber confused me.

Now that the amber's been quietly suppressed by iris and leather and powder and those unspecified "animalic" notes, I'm liking this. Quite a bit. But I fear that I won't be wanting to buy it, because I like it in "reminds me of" ways.

There's something in the animalic notes that reminds me of the very faint "dirty" elements of Chanel No. 5. And the iris and leather blend reminds me of Chanel Cuir de Russie. And the powdery vanillic floral that remains after the top-note florals burn off reminds me of Rochas Tocade.

I imagine that the combination of all of these elements could be a dream come true, but that's not one of my dreams. I approve of it - the notes, the vintage vibe, the complexity, the sense of quality. I would happily recommend it. This can be considered a positive review. But I, personally, will not be buying it. I'll save that money for the Cuir De Russie Fund and the ChickenFreak's Found Her Perfect Rose Fund.

Review Roundup for Lady Vengeance: Aromascope and Now Smell This and Feminine Things and Katie Puckrick and Fragrantica and Basenotes and WAFT (quick mention of both fragrances) and Polish, Platforms, Perfume.

Review Roundup for Citizen Queen: Feminine Things and Fragrance Bouquet and I Smell Therefore I Am and Fragrantica and Katie Puckrick and Basenotes and Polish, Platforms, Perfume and The Scented Salamander and Muse In Wooden Shoes.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I like Citizen queen the best of the line but also not enough to merit a bottle. Though, if I had it, I would be using it.
    "Scented stationery"? he,he Just because of that I am going to sniff Lady Vengeance again to see if I get it. :)

  2. Lovely reminder about the scented stationery - I am sure I had some of that and may well have used it to write to my plethora of penpals.
    : - )

    So here's the thing - my skin being what it is, I DO get more nuance from Lady Vengeance - I wouldn't call it dark, but I do detect a sexy undercurrent from the vanilla and patchouli. In fact it is one of my favourite rose scents and I would love to own a bottle, if it wasn't opaque and rather too like Aussie Shampoo.

  3. I have yet to smell any of the JHaG scents, except Citizen Queen - which I LOVE. LOVE X 40, as a matter of fact. It is one of my "hey bayybeee," Hot Date fragrances, quite naughty on me. I actually tested my sample at work one morning, and was appalled at how Morning After Without Shower I smelled, but intrigued too. I have a decant which is rapidly getting used up. FMK Lumiere Noire does a similar thing for me, BTW.

    I have a sample of Midnight Oud that I haven't tried, but none of the earlier scents. And Flitter's right, the bottles are so cheesy-looking.

  4. Ines, yep, it's good in many areas but it's just not bottle worthy for me. Probably not even decant worthy, except possibly for demonstrating it to Potential Perfume Freaks.

    flittersniffer, I'm sure I'd have warmer memories of the scented stationery if I ever wrote letters. :)

    Yes, I suspect that my skin eats nuance. I seem to be able to tolerate weirder scents (for example, I find Bandit and Dzing! completely nonthreatening), but to have an inability to appreciate the really subtle. Which in this case added up to seeing no subtlety at all, because the subtlety was so subtle that it was totally invisible. Or something.

    Mals, yep, I can absolutely see falling madly in love with Citizen Queen. It just didn't quite hit my senses exactly right.

    I do dislike the bottles. I'm OK with opaque bottles, but the combination of the opacity and the graphics is just sort of... I dunno. They don't make me think of perfume, they make me think of, yes, cheaper toiletries, or possibly high end car maintenance products. (Like that weird stuff that you're supposed to clean your dash with, because nothing as ordinary as a damp cloth could possibly do?)

  5. You know, now that you say scented stationery, I can see it, even though I liked Lady Vengeance.

  6. Hey, Diana! Yay! I get Not Having Delusions points?