I might be working out of season here by taking up Teo Cabanel’s Julia solid perfume in the fall, rather than the spring, but sometimes the nose wants what it wants. I was setting out fragrances to photograph for this week’s blog posts and Instagram posts, but Julia kept calling to me, rather than the fragrance I had planned to write about today. I opened the compact, swiped some on, and decided to go with it. Now that I’m spending so much time in my own home, where the temperature is fairly steady year-round, the concept of “seasonal” fragrances is a little less important. I can choose a fragrance for the day without having to take season or climate into consideration, let alone co-workers or things like day/night or formal/informal occasions.
I no longer see solid fragrances offered for sale on the Teo Cabanel website, and that’s a shame, but in keeping with the larger trends I’ve observed in the fragrance industry. Solids are often just holiday releases or included as part of a gift set. For most masstige and mass market fragrances, they’re no longer part of the permanent collection. Even in niche, which the Teo Cabanel brand arguably is, solid fragrances were always a small segment that’s becoming even smaller these days. I am grateful to find so many solids still available in the indie and artisan market, and grateful, too for the secondary markets (Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, etc.) and the gray market fragrance discounters that make the discontinued solids available to seekers like me.
My Julia came to me by way of Ebay and there are still Julia solids available on the site, starting at remarkably good prices. I rarely bid on auctions and usually stick to the Buy It Now format, but I bid and won it for a price I was comfortable with, even though it was a blind buy. It’s another fragrance that I may not have chosen had I sniffed it first–my first love from Teo Cabanel was actually Alahine–but Julia is still a beautiful perfume unlike any other in my collection. I wore it a lot this summer and it will be a good choice for office wear when I return to the workplace.
Teo Cabanel Juila Solid Perfume Review
Size: 0.07 oz./2 g, and the package includes another 2 g refill
Packaging: The packaging is super luxe. The solid comes in a beautiful goldtone compact stamped with the Teo Cabanel logo. The solid is then housed in a deep pink leather case, with a matching goldtone “needle” pinned into the cover. The “needle” is actually a tool for removing the used solid and inserting the refill. The compact and leather case arrived in a matching pink cardboard box, along with the refill in a plastic clamshell and a small brochure about the brand. The compact is refillable and actually includes one refill with purchase. The leather case is reusable and the needle could be repurposed as a shawl pin or stick pin. The box and brochure are recyclable.
Base: Isononyl isononanoate, Aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, Ozokerite, Methylparaben. All skin-safe emollient and viscous ingredients, with a little preservative thrown in.
Color and Texture: A cream-colored solid that softens under a fingertip and swipes easily across skin.
Natural perfume or mixed media: In addition to the catch-all “Parfum,” the ingredients list on the box includes several natural isolates. This is a mixed media fragrance.
Fragrance description and notes: from the Teo Cabanel official website, for the Julia Eau de Toilette: “A gourmand floral bouquet. Top Notes: Mandarin, Black currant. Middle notes: Hyacinth, Violet, Jasmine. Base notes: Sandalwood, Cistus, White Musk.” Further, the additional description from the brand suggests I am not crazy in thinking this one is appealing for a chilly fall afternoon: “The perfume for all seasons: soft and comforting in winter, fresh and bright in summer. Perfect all day, its trail will subtly dress up your evenings.”
Longevity: Very good at around five hours.
Sillage: Loud upon application, but only for 15 minutes or so. It quickly becomes intimate (a few inches above skin) before fading to a skin scent after two hours or so.
The experience: Julia is very pretty, very much what we could traditionally identify as a “feminine” scent and also very French! We love all our fruit punch and cake frosting gourmands here in the United States, and the approach to “gourmand” taken by Teo Cabanel is nothing like that at all.
Black currant is a sharp, sour fruit and it’s not sweetened much by the mandarin here. Fragrantica also lists rhubarb as a top note, while Parfumo lists rhubarb leaf and I agree with the description of some kind of rhubarb note in the opening, even if it is somehow just a fragrant illusion produced by the combination of the other two fruits. (Perhaps the fragrance has been reformulated over the years, or it may simply be that the brand is emphasizing different notes for marketing purposes in 2020. Rhubarb was a trendy note a few years ago but is not turning up as often nowadays.) Rhubarb gives you a much better idea of what you can expect when you apply this one, whereas mandarin suggests a sweetness you won’t find here, and black currant often has an acidic “cat pee” aroma that, thankfully, you also won’t find here.
Beyond the sour fruity opening, Julia offers a lovely dried floral bouquet that is just as important to the experience of the scent. I picture a muslin bag filled with dessicated flower petals and crushed leaves, sprinkled with a puff of lady’s bath powder, stashed in a lingerie drawer. The dried flowers make a lovely counterpoint to the tart fruits, even though I don’t actually smell any of the listed flowers as individual notes. Sandalwood and cistus in the base add a vintage amber-woody vibe in the last hour or so, but the rhubarb and floral potpourri are the stars of the show.
I don’t disagree with “gourmand floral bouquet” as a description. Not all gourmands are sweet, after all, though we tend to categorize the ones that aren’t as “citrus,” “green” or “spicy amber” instead. Some flowers are certainly edible, though consuming flowers is not a common practice. I have used the term “fruity floral” for Julia and while not inappropriate, it suggests a more youthful vibe than the fragrance possesses. Julia wouldn’t be inappropriate on a teen or young woman, but it feels fully appropriate for a grown-up woman like me to wear it, too, without being mutton dressed as lamb.
Where to buy: The best place to find the solids is currently Ebay. The liquid EDT of Julia is available from authorized retailers and on the Teo Cabanel website.
Additional notes: The box bears a 12M period after opening symbol, and the brochure that comes with the perfume also suggests using it up within 12 months of opening.
All photographs by me.