Suzanne's Perfume Journal

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Juliet eau de parfum can be purchased from Juliet Stewart’s website; $125 for 50 ml. Created by Juliet Stewart and formulated by a master perfumer in Italy, the fragrance is comprised of notes of Amalfi lemon, basil, bergamot, Sicilian orange, fresh Mediterranean herbs, Italian jasmine and Madagascar vanilla, on a background of amber and precious woods from the Orient.

Image: actors Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini from the 1989 film Cousins is from, originally uploaded by Caliana and part of her photostream.

October 12, 2009:

There is an image of Isabella Rossellini that I’ve held in my mind since the late ’80s, when she starred in the sweetly offbeat romantic comedy, Cousins (the Hollywood remake of the French film, Cousin, Cousine). The movie begins with a wedding, where new cousins-by-marriage, Rossellini and Ted Danson, strike up an acquaintance when they are left stranded at the reception by their respective spouses, who are off together having hanky-panky somewhere. The next day, with Rossellini convinced they’ve been cheated on, she and Danson decide to teach their spouses a lesson by having a pretend affair of their own, which in due time leads to an actual affair that you can’t help but applaud: both have quietly suffered through mismatched marriages and share a bond of maturity that places them in a realm completely apart from their superficial spouses.

That you root for them so strongly, however, is a credit belonging almost entirely to Isabella Rossellini. She is the very picture of grace, charm and uncontrived beauty—and with her girlish laugh and patrician European accent, you can’t help but fall in love with her. Dressed conservatively in long flowy skirts paired with linen jackets, she makes “the other woman,” Danson’s wife (played by Sean Young), look foolish in her flashy, body-hugging dresses. While that’s precisely the reaction the movie director wants you to have, the effect itself goes beyond what is intended. Isabella Rossellini is so calmly, quietly luminous in the film, she delivers true believability to the story and, at the same time, manages to steal every scene she’s in without even trying.

About a month ago, someone sent me a fragrance sample that perfectly recalled this vision of Isabella Rossellini that I became fixated with so long ago. Whether coincidental or not, the name of the fragrance is congruous with the image it evokes for me of a singular elegant woman. Quite simply, it is named Juliet, and its creator, make-up artist Juliet Stewart, shares at least a couple things in common with Rossellini—both being Italian-born beauties who had careers with Lancôme Cosmetics at one time. Stewart worked for more than twenty years in the upper echelons of the cosmetics industry (including a ten-year stint as National Make-up Artist for Prescriptives Cosmetics) before opening her luxury boutique in Nyack, New York, where she currently offers professional make-up and personalized skincare. Juliet, the perfume bearing her name, is a delicate and joyous fragrance that wears like the most delicious of secrets. It was created to reflect Stewart’s beauty philosophy and motto, “Be Unforgettable…Own Your Own Beauty,” and her belief that “what makes women of all ages beautiful and sexy is their self-assurance. The place to start is in the mind.”

With aromatic top notes of lemon, basil, bergamot, Sicilian orange and Mediterranean herbs, the first spritz of Juliet reminds one of a classic eau de cologne—uplifting and refreshing. What lies beneath those brisk and airy notes, however, is like a long and lingering caress; a creamy-velvety scent that retains some its cologne-like alfresco character, but is far more substantial than a cologne. It’s a bit difficult to describe, in the same way it is difficult to describe, for example, the sly beauty that is Hermès Eau des Merveilles, or the streamlined and graceful L’Artisan Parfumeur Orchidée Blanche: fragrances that are kith and kin to Juliet. Perhaps “soft floral oriental” is the best description I can give you, as from this point forward Juliet becomes a whispery filigree of jasmine, amber, vanilla and sandalwood (or what I think is sandalwood. I also detect hints of pepper and iris that keep the fragrance’s sweetness in check, though perhaps these, too, are only figments of my imagination, as they are not listed among the fragrance’s official notes.)

Juliet confers upon its wearer an aura of beautiful scent, more so than a wafting sillage. Its power lies not in the art of seduction but in the art of gracious enchantment. Juliet is a scent of serenity, good manners, and that old-school notion of “class,” to which (I would like to think) some of us still cling. Considering how little heed such notions receive these days, wearing a scent like Juliet almost seems a subversive statement. In fact, would you please excuse me as I go freshen up with a spritz? Who knows, if I play the part right, I might just have people wondering whether I’ve been to finishing school or am a cousin of Isabella Rossellini’s—kissing or otherwise.

The Scent of a Woman, The Essence of a Lady:
Juliet by Juliet Stewart