French niche line Juliette Has A Gun recently launched Gentlewoman, a new fragrance inspired by traditional Eau de Cologne, "a masculine fragrance dedicated to women." It features notes of neroli, orange blossom, almond, bergamot, petitgrain and musky woods, and the brand's founder, Romano Ricci, has said, "With Gentlewoman, I wanted to give women a dash of dandy. Modern, daring, I envy her freedom, her taste, her look."
This is a brand that has never quite "clicked" for me, and there's a lot about this fragrance that doesn't appeal to me at first glance: the image of a faux-surly teen model reprising the classic photos of Yves Saint Laurent's "le smoking" suits, the thread-worn praise of the "modern" woman, the mix of citrus and gourmand notes. Weirdly, I ended up liking Gentlewoman.
This fragrance starts off with a wave of bitter, woody citrus — the petitgrain — and it does seem very much like a traditional Eau de Cologne. Then things get more interesting. Something soapy-clean emerges after the top notes fade, and that worried me for a second (I'm not necessarily a fan of shower-fresh scents), but it's not the whole story. Gentlewoman evolves into a push-and-pull of crisp, green citrus (lime?) with soft, fuzzy almond. It's a nice balance of coolness and warmth, and the almond even has a few moments when it verges on marzipan until the tart citrus pulls it back. Gentlewoman doesn't diffuse as far or fast as I expected; in fact, it had very good staying power for a cologne-inspired fragrance.
I tested Gentlewoman several times over the past week: on a cool, grey day, on a sunny day, and on a day when I was suffering from a head-cold and didn't know whether I could even stand wearing perfume. I found Gentlewoman easy to enjoy in all these situations. It doesn't have the subtle genius of Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver, but it's comfortable without being boring. (And it might not be louche enough to feel like a slinky women's-cut tuxedo, but it could be a well-made grey wool jacket or pencil skirt.) Even if you don't care for any of the other Juliette fragrances, you may want to give this one a try.
Juliette Has A Gun Gentlewoman is available in 50 ($100) and 100 ml ($135) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for Juliette Has A Gun under Perfume Houses.