Jul et Mad: A love story. Stilettos on Lex, Amour de Palazzo, Terrasse à St Germain (perfume review)

A few months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the global launch for a new perfume line, Jul et Mad at the most perfect perfume destination in NY (if not the planet), MiN New York. I was so overcome by meeting a lot of friends in-person for the first time, by the beauty and quirkiness of the shop, and frankly also by owner Mindy Yang's 3 brilliant cocktails made with Mandy Aftel's Chef Essences and in the spirit of the 3 scents being launched --- so overcome that I forgot to ask for samples to take home and ruminate over.

Flash forward a few months and I finally got over my embarrassment and managed to procure some samples. If only getting myself bottles of these scents was as easy!

A little about the Jul et Mad line, for those who are not familiar with it...

Jul et Mad

If you like backstories for your perfumes, this line has it. The Jul et Mad line's Histoire d’Amour was presented to us at MiN by one of the owners, Madalina, who told of her love story with Julien (get it: Jul et Mad?). The perfumes trace this story and express it in scent, from Romanian-born Madalina's single days in New York working in the cosmetics industry, to when she first meets Parisian-born world traveler scientist-type Julien in Paris, through to the couple's first trip away together in Venice.

The perfumes were developed by perfumer Dorothée Piot of Maison Robertet (Amoauge Memoir WomanOlfactive Studio Chambre Noire, and others) following the company's tagline "Perfume Without Compromise". Each of the three scents comes in a beautiful, fabric-lined box, accompanied by a travel-size atomizer because Madalina believes women should be able to touch-up their scent experience throughout the day. She spent quite a bit of time considering every facet of the production, from scent (of course) to packaging and bottle design. I like the way she thinks, though I do wish the scents were available in smaller bottles as a stand-alone (cheaper than the current $280 for 50ml - parfum concentration, btw), as while I adore the perfumes I must compromise or my kids don't eat! :)

Stilettos on Lex
One of my favorite things about perfume is the phenomenon of sillage. A scent trail. The lingering impression left in one's wake. An olfactory timestamp. A memory.

This is the basis for the first scent in the Jul et Mad story. It tells the tale of a single, cosmopolitan woman (our Madalina) as she walks down the street leaving a sensual and confident sillage trailing behind her. We hear her heels click as she leaves nothing but that sound and that smell to burn into our minds. Dramatic, but you get the point.

What does this Stilettos on Lex sillage story say?

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…

The Accord: Chypre Fruity Floral

A timeless ode to eternal beauty opening on a sparkling fruity-gourmand note, a prelude to the opulent floral bouquet, dominated by the softness of heliotrope, and crowned by the powdery and sensual touch of iris and carnation… A mysterious and exalting mélange of musk and precious woods reinforce and sublimate this composition of ultimate elegance.
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
A lovely story - but the perfume: does it stack up? Well, almost everyone I've encountered thinks so! It was, that night we met it, the most popular of the three, though I think the others have become just as beloved - perhaps Stilettos is most accessible? I don't know. I myself favored Amour de Palazzo that night, but I'll talk about that in a moment.

Stilettos on Lex is a modern take on both the chypre style of perfumery and on the traditional "lipstick" or "cosmetics powder" accords. The fruity opening, dominated by a luscious plum, is a flirtatious wink and smile, delightful but not sticky or shrill. Stiletto's heart features rose, violet, powdery heliotrope, and other lovely florals that bloom softly and with beautiful presence before folding graciously into the musky, softly-powdered base (in which the cedar and patchouli are barely noticeable but give a certain strength to a bottom that would otherwise fly away).

I love it. It's cheerful without being chipper, it's pretty without being girlish, it's floral without smacking you in the face. It's delightfully modern with a polite nod to traditional perfumery. Glorious.

Terrasse à St Germain

 Love at first sight. A lovely concept! Depending on who you speak to, it's either a ridiculous notion or the turning point in one's life.

Terrasse à St Germain celebrates the struck-by-lightening feeling of love at first sight, or "coup de foudre". Our couple meets in Paris - though they almost did not!

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… the beautiful stranger turned around and approaches...
The Accord: Woody Floral Musky

Starting with the first note, a green and sparkling freshness awakes the senses, rapidly sustained by a subtle floral palette of freesia, lotus and rose, giving to the formula a surprising and delicate sensuality. The strength of the musk strikes suddenly, but in complete harmony and perfect symbiosis with the precious sandalwood and the seducing patchouli…
Head : Grapefruit, Tangerine, Rhubarb
Heart: Freesia, Lotus Flower, Blue Rose
Bottom: Musk, Sandalwood, Indonesian Patchouli
At the start, there's a watery sweetness to Terrasse à St Germain that is unusual, at least to my novice nose. This perfume moves fast, flashing through the tangerine, a glimpse of grapefruit, and on to the rhubarb. It then grabs the freesia (sweet tarts! this is the truest freesia note I have encountered in perfumery so far!), and takes a little tang from the rhubarb. Rhubarb seems to be one of those notes that gets perfumistas very interested, very quickly. Luckily for those perfumistas, the note is handled beautifully here, and with a sense of humor - it's flirty and fun and unexpected!

Still moving quickly, on my skin if not yours, Terrasse slips right into the rose. It's slightly candied (the lotus and freesia still playing a hand) and very cheerful. This is, I suspect, the scent that is to blame for my recent obsession with rose! The delectable rose in this blend is one that stuck in my mind and didn't let go.

That said, this is not a "feminine" scent. A confident man would lead lines of women around wearing Terrasse à St Germain. This will be especially true when the beautifully musky wood base
comes into play. While I wish this scent lasted forever, it does not (alas! only 5 hours or so.), which is all the more reason to spritz it again.

Terrasse à St Germain is a beauty, from the first tangy, ebullient spray to the final, lingering woody traces.

Amour de Palazzo 

The first trip as a couple is always remembered and cherished as a memory. Our setting for this third scent and story, Venice, is the sight of one such trip, as our couple walk through ancient buildings and experience the history of this special city.

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.

The Accord: Oriental Woody Leather

The noble palette of ingredients used for this creation give the precious character to this fragrance: a spicy start, fresh and slightly "gourmand" at the same time, opens the way to the heart of the perfume where floral, woody, and leather notes create a perfect harmony… A divine, marvelous amber-oud accord reveals itself promptly, sustained by the seductive power of animal notes… Narcotic and irresistible…
Head : Four Spice (pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
Heart: Absolute of Violette, Atlas Cedarwood, Leather, Indonesian Patchouli, Labdanum
Bottom: Musk, Oud, Amber, Papyrus, Animal Castoreum

This one is the more masculine of the three, though I consider all three unisex. Amour de Palazzo was my instant favorite of the three. Considering my tastes in perfume, it's easy to see why!  Amour de Palazzo is a woody, leathery thing that immediately evokes a sense of history, depth, and sex appeal. It opens with a peppery bang laid over leather. The spices do not turn foody, thankfully, rather they stand strong and lay wide the perfect path for the woody, slightly rough notes that are to come.

The heart of Amour de Palazzo still carries some of that peppery facet, wrapped in the slightest hint of violet, wrapped in patchouli leaves, wrapped in leather (the turducken of perfumery!). It's just the right amount of deep and slightly dirty. Sexy. By blending violet (Stilettos) and wood (Terrasse), we've moved from flirtation right into the good stuff!

The beautiful base of Amour goes on and on, echoes of spices and leather still present in swaths of animalic oud and musk. It's raw, but round; intense, but not painful and sharp. Where the opening notes are intense and somewhat strong, the base softens and melts into the skin leaving a distinct impression - but only for those fairly close up. For them, it leaves the heart racing.

Jul et Mad
It's now 6 months after the global launch of Jul et Mad, and already one of the scents, Terrase à St-Germain, has brought acclaim in the form of a nomination for FiFi Indie Perfume of the Year Award (it was runner-up!). MiN is not the only point of sales in the US, now: you can also purchase Jul et Mad at Aedes de Venustas (NY). MiN does now offer samples on their website, by the way, for those of you curious about the brand. I also encourage you to take a wander through the beautifully done Jul et Mad website (you can order online there, too).

Bottom Line: I would be a proud owner of any of these three scents, hard-pressed to select a favorite. I love them all.

Samples graciously provided by MiN New York