On sultry summer days this year (there'll probably be around, oh, fifteen of them in Seattle if we're lucky), when someone asks me what sultry perfume I'm wearing, I'll have a hard time saying (whispering?) "Juliet." First, I don't like Shakespeare's annoying teen, the inspiration for this perfume, and secondly, Sweet Anthem Juliet,1 the fragrance, does not remind me of virginal 16th century Verona girls. As I wear Juliet, I'll be thinking of the South Pacific and Gauguin's colorful images of half-naked men and women, flowers around their necks or in their hair, lounging near the sea. I wanted to use Gauguin's painting, Jeune Homme à la Fleur to illustrate this post, but it's not in the public domain, so the tattooed guy above will have to suffice (and I don't think anyone would dare give him grief for wearing a perfume called "Juliet").
Sweet Anthem, founded by perfumer Meredith Smith,2 is an indie/artisan perfumery based in Seattle. Juliet combines many of my favorite things: jasmine (the fruity-smelling jasminum polyanthum is in full bloom at my house as I write), mango (Alfonso mangoes are in season; I must thank friends from India who introduced me to this marvel of mango-dom), and tobacco (never smoked it, but love to sniff it). Oh, and summer; Juliet smells like my favorite season.
Juliet is a powerful, creamy, "tropical" fruity-floral fragrance; a single spritz on my arm or chest produces just the right amount of sillage for me (and the scent lasts all day). When first applied, I smell a mingling of mango and jasmine/white flower notes — sometimes the mango dominates, other times jasmine comes to the fore. Juliet is sweet, but with nice "edges": a hint of greenery, a gloss of sheer tobacco, the lightest of musks. As I wear this perfume, I not only visualize Gauguin's famous subjects, but imagine myself sitting on a beach at sundown on a warm summer day, biting into a mango, crunchy seashells mixed with the salty sand beneath my feet. The moment I sniffed Juliet, I wanted to take a vacation...a quiet beach in Thailand or Mexico will do. (Juliet has the aura of an exotic fruit-and-flowers-scented suntan oil.)
Is Juliet unisex? Would most men dare to wear it?
My experience in perfumery leads me to believe women would have no trouble wearing a cologne called Anton or Peter (other Sweet Anthem perfumes); in fact, lots of women would proudly wear such scents, as they do their male partner's T-shirts and sweaters. But men don't usually borrow their girlfriend's or wife's blouses or skirts (unless they're Eddie Izzard)...so I'm betting having a perfume named after a woman cuts down on "unisex traffic" for Juliet (which is too bad).
As I waft Juliet this summer, if people ask me what I'm wearing, I'll be tempted to say Homme à la fleur...but, in order to steer business to its rightful place, Sweet Anthem, I'll gulp and say "Juliet" (and suffer the smirks, guffaws and looks of surprise). I've found I can make Juliet more butch by mixing it with strong vetiver, tobacco or sandalwood. Juliet also layers beautifully with coconut "soliflores" (though coconut does nothing to make Juliet more masculine).
Juliet is available at Sweet Anthem's website in a variety of sizes and formats: Eau de Parfum (30 ml/$48; 10 ml/$18), solid (10 ml/$12), perfume oil (10 ml/$32). For this review, I wore the Eau de Parfum.
1. Listed notes are mango, clove, pink pepper, jasmine, muskwood, tobacco.
2. I'll post a feature on the Sweet Anthem perfume shop soon.