Not every one cares about the brand behind the perfume. Or the brain behind the perfume, for that matter. And sure, if I discovered olfactory marvel from a perfume house I did not feel strongly for I would still find the perfume extraordinary and wear it. But I do prefer to feel that there is also a person and intention behind the perfume that I can relate to and like. This could be explained with my day-job in PR and communication. I started out as a copywriter so I am interested in storytelling of course. But more than that, I am interested in the special stories that I believe can be found in anything if you know how to listen and how to search. And that’s why I got into communication in the first place. To search, find and tell.
For this reason there are some perfume(r)s that appeal more to me than others, there are some brands that I feel more comfortable with and more curious to discover. I appreciate a personal declaration and intention, expressions of curiosity, passion and purpose. I appreciate the generosity of those who share more than their product, for example the way Carlos Huber of Arquiste connects all sorts of life dots in his interviews. Or how Jean Claude Ellena invests so much energy into writing books that give the reader unique insight into the life and mind of a perfumer. I appreciate the world of Mandy Aftel enormously, such passion and endless curiosity for the craft and a generous dedicated ambition to share it. Byredo’s perfumes became so much more special to me when I learnt about the red thread with Ben Gorham’s recreation of memories and places. There are many examples, I realize I leave important ones out by stopping here but it has already taken me too long to get to the point. (Then again, that is not really relevant in perfume reflections, the journey is the point.)
First time I read about Jul et Mad I instantly loved the story. Who wouldn’t? It is enough to know that Jul and Mad in “Jul et Mad” are a couple who met and created perfumes together. Yes, I admit in my world creating a perfume together is the most romantic thing any people in love could do. This kind of story only works though if it comes with perfumes that really deliver, otherwise it becomes a somewhat awkward branding concept.
So who are these two perfume makers and lovers? Julien, comes from a science environment with thorough knowledge in neurosciences and biology. This background is combined with an entrepreneurial spirit that has led him to communication companies specialized in the scientific field. He is also a traveller at heart. Madalina, left her native Romania to go to NYC in order to pursue a future in the beauty industry. The first step was the Cosmetics and Fragrances Marketing program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, followed by work at several luxury brands. So far – two separate stories about two separate ambitious individuals who have not yet met. (I can relate to both for various reasons so what happens then gives me double goose bumps).
This is where the magic starts… One day the both find themselves in Paris and in the same café. I know no details of what happens here more than the result of this encounter – Madalina leaves NYC and moves to Paris for love. These two find each other’s hearts but also a share path, which is the creation of perfumes that tell the story of love. The name seems rather inevitable, Jul et Mad. With the help of Dorothée Piot of Maison Robertet they have so far created three fragrances: Stilettos on Lex, Amour de Palazzo and Terrasse à St-Germain.
Stilettos on Lex is the olfactory story about Madalina’s life as a single woman in Manhattan. It is an interesting one, this super feminine blend of independence and softness. I have worn it to work, cinema, girls’ talk-about-life-dinner and a date. On me, this fragrance is really soft and I appreciate the way in which it is sweet without trying to please. It is very easy to wear and manages to combine a soft romantic feeling with something more urban and mischievous. I don’t know how else to describe it. I really enjoy wearing it, but for me it works better in a private context than at work.
Head : Lemon, Pear, Davana, Plum Liquor
Heart: Lily of the Valley, Violette Leaves, Rose Absolute, Heliotrope, Iris, Carnation
Bottom: Musk, Madagascar Vanilla, Indonesian Patchouli, Atlas Cedarwood
The second fragrance in the story is of course Terasse à St-Germain… The Moment that changes it all. And this is where you can tell there must have been many candid personal conversations between Julien, Madalina and Dorothée Piot because this is a completely different feeling. Just like Stilettos on Lex combined different sides of femininity, Terasse à St Germain sparkles with different energies in a special meeting. Soft, bouncy, sweet, playful. When you know that this is the meeting between two persons you can find that duality blending. And it is so happy, so extrovert.
Head : Grapefruit, Tangerine, Rhubarb
Heart: Freesia, Lotus Flower, Blue Rose
Bottom: Musk, Sandalwood, Indonesian Patchouli
The third fragrance, Amour de Palazzo tells the story of the couple’s trip to Venice… If you feel any of the seduced infatuation that I feel for this city you will recognize much of that feeling in this perfume. It is dark, flirtatious, deeply sensual and seductive. It is the scent of the beauty of no turning back now. This has nothing of the cashmere softness of Stilettos on Lex, nothing of the playful sunny conversation of Terasse à St-Germain. This is just pure seduction.
Head : Four Spice (pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
Heart: Absolute of Violette, Atlas Cedarwood, Leather, Indonesian Patchouli, Labdanum
Bottom: Musk, Oud, Amber, Papyrus, Animal Castoreum
Three completely different perfumes, which could very well be the base of a perfume wardrobe if you add something more work-oriented. I love how they all emerge out of this love story because they are quite different reflections of the energies that exist between lovers. These perfumes remind me of the variation I have appreciated in my own most memorable romantic relationships. How both persons could be many aspects of their personalities and switch between them. The freedom and playfulness that a relationship that stimulates such variation creates.
I really like the background stories that come with each of the perfumes. In fact, I would almost have preferred to have only those and the notes. It seems to me that there are two different tonalities in the Jul et Mad communication, and personally I prefer the more poetic one which to me carries more of the personal serendipity of this beautiful story. I leave you with the three stories and the wish that all may find that soulmate to create with at least once in life.
She’s back! I can guess her presence behind me by the clacking sound of her high heels on this legendary Lexington Avenue… I turn, and it is her, indeed, with her determined walk, her tall silhouette more real than ever… Pleasure for the eye, trouble for the soul…
A mysterious aura accompanies this almost immaterial apparition while walking, so beautifully, so elegantly… Who is she? Where is she coming from? A divinity descended from a different world? An animated sculpture carved by the tools of what genius? The perfect image from a silent dream, if it wasn’t for the regular percussion of her stilettos…
As in a spontaneous homage, the crowed steps aside to let her pass… Heads turn… Is she aware of it? Nothing indicates it. She seems ignoring the passers-by, her expression is serene, her regard soft but determined… Was that the shadow of a smile floating on her lips? Royal, superb, her image fades away, vanishes. Nevertheless, she offered me the most attaching gift: her unforgettable perfume. On her magical path she left the trace of a subtle fragrance, yet imposing… an obsessive, rare perfume that floats, nostalgically, like the memory of a Lost Paradise.
Dream or reality? Enthusiasm or despair? All she did was to pass by… The contouring of her figure and the sound of her high heels marked my spirit… I now invoke my luck, hoping that one day I will cross again her magnificent allure on this same legendary avenue…
Her image disappeared, but during her short passage she offered me the most attaching of memories: her perfume…
Paris. Tender sunlight and bright fresh air of springtime. Saint-Germain. A pleasant noise of the conversations all-around floats over the café terrace. From her table, in perfect quietude, she watches the passers-by… when suddenly she observes this elegant silhouette, virile and relaxed, crossing the boulevard in front of her. They look at each other… They are captivated… It’s intense, magnetic… He approaches… keeps regarding her… A moment of inattention, the sidewalk missed… A false step he transforms rapidly in a gracious reverence, accompanied by this charming smile… a bit embarrassed, a bit amused… Everything lasts no more than one second, the handsome stranger walks away…
His passage leaves a void behind him, and this emptiness, daydreaming, she already fills it with wild and fascinating perfumes inspired by the picture of the young man… Fusions of subtle yet present scents, atypical but almost recognizable, a soft mix but virile at the same time, of a complete ambiguity and yet of an incredible simplicity: the very essence of a growing passion.
A delicate and refreshing breeze, in perfect accordance with the spring fragrances surrounding the terrace, brings her back to reality… She finally looks away from this sidewalk where the seducing silhouette escaped her insistent gaze…
Then, suddenly, the perfume of her reverie embalms the air, but rather real this time. The beautiful stranger turned around and approaches, also real. He plunges his regard into hers, he walks straight towards her.
It is truly her… her, Venice, revealing itself to our first avid regards as the unrestricted décor of a dream theater. High facades come out nude from the dark waters of the Grand Canal, slightly veiled by the mist of dawn, nude, but rapidly ornamented by the marble garlands of their bays. The three annunciating sounds of the ball will soon be heard; the costumed guests will animate the ballroom and the balconies with their multicolor embroideries and silks.
Will the day put an end to this magical night? In the penumbra, an interlacing of winding narrow streets and canals traversed by bridges. Hand in hand. Drunk with love. Drunk from dancing for so long. We wander through these labyrinths charged with history, trying to recover our spirits after this enchanted night: the long passageways of the magnificent palazzo we just quit, its ballrooms richly decorated, so beautiful under the lights of their gigantic suspended chandeliers.
The first signs of the dawn envelop the so well-called “Serenissima”. The rich and heavy perfume of precious wood and leather furniture, shone and polished by passing centuries, mix agreeably now with the pleasant and cocooning fragrances coming from the surrounding gardens, the humidity of the old stone and the lagoon that follows and surrounds us… We walk aimlessly… Dream or reality? It doesn’t really matter… Here we are in perfect harmony, we feel free, free to love each other, free to taste as one the same happiness… free to appreciate the instant… Every single gesture, no matter how simple, is now charged with profound significance.
PS: Love this – Jul et Mads pinterest. Fun way to share inspiration and references.
PS: All images in this post from Jul et Mad.