Fragrance

By Michelyn Camen

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Romano Ricci is one of niche fragrances’ most attractive new faces. He is the owner of Juliette Has a Gun, a brand that sounds more like the name of an alternative rock band than a perfume company. Romano is a RICCI; the grandson of perfumer Robert Ricci, and the great grandson of the fashion icon Madame Nina Ricci. Before founding his new company (which launched at Henri Bendel in 2007), Romano Ricci was a racecar driver, had a bad boy reputation as a playboy and someone who was always ready to party. Yet, he studied fragrance for over five years at an obscure company who did not recognize his last name. Now Romano is developing a master plan for his new wave brand.

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Of course we all want to know why he named his company after a gun toting woman, but I suspect she is the modern day incarnation of Shakespeare’s Juliet, who would shoot any Montague that came between her and her man.

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BN: Congratulations on the success of your two fragrances Lady Vengeance and Miss Charming. Is there any significance that your two inaugural scents are rose based?
RR: I am a lover of symbols, like my Juliette, rose is a flower you have to handle with care… or it can hurt a little…Olfcatively, it was also a flower which I thought had a good potential for expressing what I wanted to say with my fragrances.

BN: Romano growing up a Ricci. What is your first fragrance memory?
RR: Having lived a 100 meters from the Nina Ricci factory all my childhood, my first fragrance memory was a mix all the perfumes that were manufactured there! It is a very special smell…indescribable (too many notesJ), and incredibly powerful!

I have also a very strong memory about my grandfather’s perfume. I remember him, his house, his clothes smelled Signoricci. It was a sensual and masculine fragrance. To my point of view, one of the best male fragrance ever.

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BN: The large PR machines of the fragrance industry are waking up to the fact that they are not connecting with the many women and men that they are targeting. Do you see an awakening among consumers that fragrance is an Art, more than toploading and a famous face in an ad? Will consumers DEMAND quality?
RR: I think perfumery in the fifties was real perfumery, very qualitative, creative, and urbane at the same time. Today, it is a very different. It has become a gigantic business, with worldwide companies aiming for maximum profit. I am not against evolution but I have to say, it sometimes a bit sad to see great names on that kind of products. But on the other side it is good, because it leaves some room for a brand like Juliette.

BN: You were a race car driver and also someone who enjoys the night life. When did you say, “OK, now I am ready to be a serious perfumer”. What and when was the turning point?
RR: It comes very naturally when you run a company. You simply put your energy into something else.

BN: You have been in the media and you are generating plenty of buzz. Tell us something we don’t know about Romano Ricci, something we have not read elsewhere.
RR: I am not the dandy the press talks about. I am romantic and much more passionate than the image of me they portray.

BN: You must be fearless to be a race car driver. There must be something you are afraid of, what is it?
RR: I am frightened of heights. Even on chair!

BN: What can we look forward from you in 2008?
RR: The ‘third episode’ of Juliette, a little fashion collection that I am drawing with my sister, and many other ideas I want to concretize.

Juliette Has a Gun is available at Henri Bendel and at www.luckyscent.com

Originally published June 2008
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