Helen Greenwood learns that a nose for a fine fragrance can run in the family … but it’s not always that simple. Romano Ricci grew up with the scent of L’Air du Temps in his nostrils. Ricci, 33, the great-grandson of French fashion designer Nina Ricci, used to play in the family factory just 100 metres down the road from his childhood home at Fontainebleau, outside of Paris.By the time he was 10, his grandfather Robert, who created the legendary fragrance in 1948, had initiated his only grandson into the secrets of scent. “He was a short man, with a lot of charisma,” Ricci says. “He taught me how to recognise the different notes and how fragrances were produced. He left me a lot of important memories, moments and attitudes.”These included the value of hard work.”I used to work as a schoolboy in the warehouse, driving the forklifts, picking up the pallets and the rubbish,” the debonair Ricci says.He’s also witnessed a family business disintegrate. Growing up a scent heir is not what you might imagine. “Working in a family business is always difficult,” he says. “I’ve seen different parts of the family fighting for position and having different points of view.”Ricci, who sports a trademark fedora and lives in Paris, has just released Not a Perfume, the sixth fragrance in his intriguingly titled Juliette Has a Gun range, which he launched in 2006.Although Ricci says he has always been attracted to “fashion, smells and appearance”, he didn’t automatically follow his grandfather or father’s footsteps.Instead, as a rebellious teenager, Ricci successfully pursued a passion for car racing. “I could express sensitivity, precision and creativity through racing,” he says. “You’re always surprising opponents.”In his early 20s, after the death of both his grandfather and father and the sale of the Nina Ricci luxury label to the Spanish company Puig, Ricci surprised everyone again. “When you reject something, it usually comes back to you more violently.”His DNA propelled him into perfumery and he trained for five years at a private fragrance house producing custom-order perfumes. Eventually, with the owner’s blessing, he branched off into his own venture. “I’m a bad employee. I just don’t manage to do what I’m told.”He dubbed his debut Juliette Has a Gun to evoke William Shakespeare’s Juliet and the modern-day woman – romantic and independent, seductive and sure.For his first fragrance outings, Ricci teamed up with the talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian of Narciso and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male and Ma Dame fame. Together Ricci and Kurkdjian created Lady Vengeance and Miss Charming.Citizen Queen and Calamity J, fronted by a nude Lou Doillon, the daughter of Jane Birkin, followed in a line-up that portrays the drama and duality of being a woman. Not a Perfume continues the story.”I wanted to get away from the cheesiness, the image of purity and perfection that perfumes try to be. It’s not a quest for the perfect perfume, it’s a quest to be as close as possible to the portrait of women I have in my head.”I have three sisters and a mother and I’m the only boy in the family. You see things,” he says. “Every woman fights between her education, her role as a mother and, on the other hand, having the freedom to do what she wants, to have fun.”Juliette Has a Gun, which began as a niche brand, is now sold in 50 countries. Much as Ricci admires the Nina Ricci history and legacy, he is his own man. “I have a very different point of view,” he says. “I am not following my family’s point of view.”Juliette Has a Gun eau de parfums ($136-$157 50ml) available from David Jones, Sydney, and World, Paddington.

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