I'm going to start this by saying that I don't have a lot of love for Juliette Has a Gun fragrances. It's nothing personal....there is no long-standing grudge per say, they never have done anything to hurt me (except try to charge a lot of money for a diluted aromachemical, but they're not the first nor will they be the last). I've just always found their scents to be a little.......meh. I've tried......I wore a Romantina sample for three days. I bought a bottle of Lady Vengeance extreme unsniffed (let's just say that she did have vengeance on my arm...not for me). I've gone through various samples and none have made it past a couple of hours without me washing it off and saying 'next'! Now, if you love Juliette Has a Gun and it works magic with you, then please, keep wearing their fragrances! But for my own personal use? No, it's just not happening for whatever reason.
That being said, I got a little excited when I saw they had two new(ish) fragrances with notes I could get behind. I decided to try Oil Fiction because traditionally the notes have all been ones that I have an affinity for......bergamot, amber, tuberose, ylang ylang,
iris, saffron (SAFFRON!!! yessssss), labdanum, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood, and papyrus oil? Yes please!
And also because it was created with an "Arabian Nights" theme in mind. No oud? Great. I'm definitely on the ragged edge of being sick of oud and I need a break from it.
I tried it first thing in the morning when my nose couldn't be distracted or misguided by anything else like coffee or six year olds.
I do get the bergamot and some florals and a mild tinge of dust (not bad dust but good dust...patchouli dust.). The bergamot fades out within 5 minutes, while the floral and amber notes fuse into a steady state and start to fall into position. I'm struck by the fact this this smell somewhat familiar to me. So far, it's definitely the best first impression I've had from a JHAG scent, but I'm not immediately in the throes of a great big crush......it's just like the fragrance is someone I've made eye contact with (OK, you're there....I see you and acknowledge you). It is somewhat pretty, but like a male model pretty......one step away from feminine, but not unabashedly so. There's tuberose here, and it is not yelling at me. The tuberose is of the mild rubbery variety and sweetened by the ylang. The iris and saffron serve as chaperones to the other sweet notes that are involved in some sort of fragrance samba on my arm. They're wearing a little bit of suntan lotion and have clearly been flirting with each other all day, and are now working all their best moves to try to get to know each other, but the iris and saffron keep laying a soft hand on their shoulder saying 'take it down, buddy'. And like any dance, every so often one of them sits to the side while everyone else is still working it on the floor. Halfway through this, some notes start jarring for position and decide to have a dance-off. It gets a little aggressive and patchouli and labdanum start throwing their muscle around. The florals decide that things are getting a little out of control, so as they get either tired or lucky, they leave and the bouncers take over. In the end I'm hanging with the heavy duty diehards.......sweetened woodsy patchouli/vanilla and a great big dose of ambroxan, which disappoints me. I feel like in this composition they've decided to use ambroxan to stand in for oud and it comes across as masculine and a little grating.
After wearing this for awhile I realized what it reminds me of.......my
bottle of Humiecki and Graf Clemency. This is a slightly sweeter, like
a winter version of that scent (if you read my review on that one, it's like that cold mom, but this is her husband and he's happily drunk and trying to hug everyone). This fragrance is long lasting. All of it finally recedes into the background with a steady hum of ambroxan powering through for hours. If the first two stages lasted longer it would be a more satisfying experience but in the end that final note just drowns everything out and makes me absolutely certain that I could get much better fragrances for 285.00. I do get a mildly Middle Eastern style from this but sadly it doesn't do anything for me. I think it would smell better on a man once it gets past the florals, and maybe that would be the element that I feel like this scent is missing.
So as with any perfume, here's the big question.....do I like it and would I buy it? Yes, I do like it....but it's not love, and I find the copy from the Juliette Has A Gun website to be quite ambitious. Is this really highly sought after? I don't know, it's months later and the limited edition bottles seem to be available at a few online fragrance retailers. Original? Nah. A 'royal elixir' with a 'wild nature'....really? No. Sophisticated and elegant yet also wild and animal? OK, come on..... With all those opposing characteristics I guess they've hit the nail on the head. It's an expensive 'meh'. Pretty, but to me, not worth the price tag.