Born into the world of high fashion and perfumery (his great -grandmother was couturier Nina Ricci, his grandfather Roberto created the iconic scent L’Air du Temps in 1948) Romano Ricci has made it his aim to live his own life and to leave his own mark. The easy route would have been to establish himself and progress through the family business. Instead Romano chose to race cars. Only latterly have fine scents delivered their siren’s call and brought him back to his family’s roots.
“At the age of ten my grandfather taught me how to recognize different parts of a scent”, Ricci recalls, “I can remember being very proud of what my grandfather had done, and what he taught me has never left me”.
Today, nearly six years after launching Juliette Has A Gun, his own line of perfume, Ricci is established around the world and finds Kuwait his biggest market in the Arabian Gulf. He’s just launched his seventh perfume - Vengeance Extreme - with the tag-lines such as ‘She likes to flirt with the words and the boundaries. Expect to be surprised’.
As is so often with the case with the second-and third-generation of a successful dynasty, the family name can sometimes give mixed blessings rather than a blissful singular advantage. Romano’s way to deal with it? “I divorced them!” he says, perhaps only partly in jest. He acknowledges his early years of growing up in the Ricci household gave him an inevitable advantage in the business; he wonders whether perfume isn’t now somehow part of his family’s DNA; and he is candid in regard to how this name opened doors and bestowed credibility on him from the beginning. Yet Juliette Has A Gun is a unique expression of the individuality of Romano rather than a continuation of the familial line of Ricci.
He is clearly a man very comfortable within his own skin, in his own world, and in his own business. “I don’t feel any extra pressure for me to succeed or to do one thing with perfumes and not another”, he says. “If that pressure is there I don’t feel it. I think I would have felt pressure if I’d decided to produce a product for Nina Ricci, but because these are mine I can freely do what I do. There is no-one to judge me, no-one to say this cannot be done by a Ricci”.
He feels that Juliette Has A Gun is a good expression of himself, even if not literal - this is, after all, a women’s perfume line we are talking about here. But it is within the paradox within Juliette that he sees himself.
“Here we’ve got a Shakespearean heroine, and also she’s a lady with a gun. Two opposite sides of the same person,” he says. “On one side the educated and intellectual, the other side is independent and determined to have fun. I see both those sides fighting within me”.
The importance of scent is engrained deep within Ricci, and he is clearly passionate in this regard. “Scent is so important. It can tell us so much; it can remind us of so much. Many of our links to the past are through scents even if we sometimes forget that these are the roots for many of our memories”.
He’s worked hard within Juliette Has A Gun to deliver distinctive scents - none of which are light, but all of which are distinctive. His belief is that there’s no point in a woman wearing a scent unless it can be smelled.
Vengeance Extreme, his latest addition, has been created as a chypre fragrance (one with citrus top-notes, floral middle, and a base from oak or musk) which draws its intensity from an unusual dosage of patchouli, Bulgarian rose, and vanilla.
Romano Ricci was inspired to create Vengeance Extreme by impulsive and passionate women. He insists that the scent, and the line Juliette Has A Gun, regardless of their overt demonstration of women’s strength, are not ‘feminist’ perfumes but instead are created by him to honour women and to make the wearer comfortable within who she is.
Juliette Has A Gun is available in Kuwait from Tanagra stores.
First Published in Men's Passion issue #35 November 2011