JAMES&CO is a new niche fragrance house from Sydney, Australia. Its premiere range, all created by Justin James, offers four fragrances: Winterosa, Elegancia, D’Azul and Seven. Winterosa and Elegancia are described as feminine fragrances, D’Azul as unisex, and Seven as masculine.
Justin James, who is a graphic designer by trade, prefers not to call himself a perfumer, choosing to describe himself instead as “an artist who makes perfume” in a recent interview at The Olfactive. The distinction Justin makes is that although he has had some training in perfumery, he considers perfumers to be fully fledged, trained chemists as well, and as he doesn’t have that kind of training, he doesn’t consider himself a perfumer. Modesty aside, Justin is off to a great start with the perfumes he’s created, and I was impressed by his first four offerings. Justin’s background in perfume also includes fragrance reviews in print and on YouTube under the moniker of the Prince of Cologne.
I’m excited to be one of the first to be invited to review Justin James’ creations from JAMES&CO, a new Australian fragrance house. I’ve reviewed each of the four fragrances from the launch range and hope you enjoy reading about these new and interesting local creations.
Winterosa is a rich, sweet, yet curiously zesty fragrance. It’s bright and energetic on first spray, and reminded me a little of the character of the fresh, sparkling opening of Eau de Shalimar by Guerlain, and also of Shiloh, a luminous rose fragrance created by Michel Roudnitska for Hors La Monde.
The JAMES&CO website lists the notes as: Verbena Mint, Steel Rose, Gardenia, Clean Amber, Green Wood, Fig Accord.
On opening, the zest of the verbena mint is quite apparent, accompanied by a strong rose, quite fresh and crisp. The verbena mint lends the fragrance a citrussy, cologne-like character at first, but the fragrance soon morphs into something richer, sweeter and deeper, with fig and gardenia rounding out the composition. The fig note is slightly earthy and compliments the fresher green wood notes lurking in the background. The gardenia emerges around half an hour into the development, adding a slightly intoxicating, tropical sweetness. As the fragrance dries down, the green freshness of the verbena mint lingers (but not its cool, camphoraceous aspects), the fig comes more to the fore, and the rose and gardenia soften.
The JAMES&CO website describes Winterosa as follows:
Where traditional florals exude a warm and powdery appeal, Winterosa turns the appeal around 180 degrees to give coolness and a crisper take on the traditional floral fragrance. From the creamy headiness of Gardenia, to a cool dewey Rose. With the additions of Mint and Fig lending a freshness and sweetness respectively, making Winterosa a unique scent for the floral lover after something a little different.
Labelled as a feminine fragrance by JAMES&CO, this is a lively and interesting take on a floral fragrance. It has a complex development and real depth. Winterosa has good projection and longevity too, lasting around three hours before becoming a softer skin scent. This is my favourite in the new JAMES&CO line-up.
Elegancia is herbal, citric and green on first spray. The combination of mint and citrus reminds me a little of Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal.
The notes are listed as: Mandarin, Peppermint, Bergamot, Green Rose, Clear Wood, Floral Accord.
Mandarin is such a lovely citrus note, and in Elegancia it takes on a slightly savoury, sour character that blends well with both the sharper bergamot and the peppermint. The peppermint is mildly cool and vegetal, and slightly savoury and woody too, just like a freshly-crushed peppermint leaf. The rose is indeed green and reminds me of chopped green acidic apples.
JAMES&CO describes Elegancia as:
…delicate, fresh and alluring. Imagine a fresh green rose, covered in morning dew, floating on a crystal clear pond. The air scented with sweet mandarin and peppermint. The scent evokes an image of a woman in white, bare feet on moss by the pond, the light breeze shifting her dress ever so slightly.
Classed as a feminine fragrance, to my nose Elegancia would actually make a good unisex perfume. It reminds me of aromatic citrus fragrances by Annick Goutal, such as Nuit Etoilée and Mandragore; it’s classic, light, invigorating and restrained. The name Elegancia is spot on. It is indeed an elegant fragrance. Projection and longevity are only moderate, but as Elegancia is so top and middle-note and citrus heavy, this is to be expected. Elegancia becomes a skin scent on me after about two hours and sits quite close to the skin.
Despite the name (which means “The Blue”), this unisex fragrance to me smells cool and green (in a herbaceous, vegetal sense), and not really “blue” at all.
Justin writes the following about the fragrance:
D’Azul (loose translation ‘The Blue”) takes the bare bones of a blue/ocean scent, and adds just enough intrigue to create something altogether unfamiliar yet immensely appealing. Taking the clean coolness of absinthe and adding the sweetness of the Green Tea Accord has you walking a fine line between a dewey green forest and the crystalline blue ocean of the Costa Del Sol.
The notes are listed as: Green Tea Accord, Peppermint, Bergamot, Absinthe, Blue Wood, Fig Accord.
This really isn’t a typical aquatic, despite the name, but as Justin says, the fragrance is a twist on the ocean scent concept. The peppermint dominates on first spray, but there is also something slightly sweet and woody lurking in the background. About ten minutes in, more sweetness emerges alongside the peppermint, as hints of fig and licorice-like Absinthe start to emerge. The Green tea, which is sharper, fresher and greener than a traditional powdery matcha type of green tea, emerges quite a bit later in the development of the fragrance.
D’Azul sits like a cool layer or veil on the skin, an aura of mentholic, light and herbaceous notes hovering an inch above my wrist. This fragrance would be lovely on a really hot day as it’s refreshing, cool and light. It would be good to wear at the beach, even if, to my nose, it doesn’t evoke the ocean. D’Azul would be great for someone who likes light and uplifting fragrances, or for an environment where you want to smell clean and fresh, but not dominate the space with your scent. D’Azul is the subtlest fragrance in the JAMES&CO range and becomes a skin scent on me after one-and-a-half hours.
Seven is described by JAMES&CO as follows:
Seven does nothing quietly. A sweet bright beginning leading into a dark, mysterious and brutally masculine story. Visions of a man sitting upon a high backed leather chair, his sweet pipe smoke still lingering in the air. He speaks with confidence and power, a cheeky smirk hints at his sweetness and sex appeal.
The notes are listed as: Bergamot, Pink Peppercorn, Fig Accord, Tobacco, Leather, Civet, Clear Wood.
From reading this description and the list of notes I was expecting a brutish, masculine fragrance, something rough and dry and smoky and animalic. However, Seven, to me, is quite rounded and sweet. Masculine, yes, but veering more towards unisex, as it radiates such warmth and cosiness. This fragrance presents as a rich gourmand to my nose.
Seven warms on the skin and radiates a sweet and lovely sensuality that reminds me a little of Maurice Roucel’s Rochas Man, without any coffee or lavender, but with a similar kind of character. As the fragrance settles down, what I can mostly smell is an amalgam of subtle tobacco and sweet fig (which also adds a hint of green) and possibly a touch more sweetness from the civet, which is not fecal at all to my nose. Personally, as a lover of tobacco and leather, I would like these two notes to be a little stronger, but Seven is a well-blended and balanced composition as it is. This is the strongest fragrance from the new JAMES&CO lineup: Seven radiates enormously and lasts at least 6-8 hours before dying down.
I was excited to have the chance to be one of the first to review JAMES&CO’s new range of fragrances. It’s always exciting to discover new Australian perfumers, and I wish Justin James all the best in his new olfactory venture. JAMES&CO’s first four fragrances are well-composed and offer interesting twists on classic formulas. My favourite of the four is Winterosa, which emanates a rich and vibrant energy. I like Justin’s use of slightly more unusual citrus and aromatic notes including peppermint, verbena mint and mandarin. This makes for fragrances that steer subtly away from the norm, towards an aesthetic that is slightly left-of-centre and modern.
If you’d like to read more about JAMES&CO and find out more about the fragrances and Justin, visit the JAMES&CO website. All four fragrances can be purchased on the JAMES&CO website.
Samples were provided by JAMES&CO at no charge, however, all opinions and views in this review are my own. Perfume Polytechnic strives to give honest and fair reviews and feedback to both readers and perfumers alike.