Friday, April 27, 2012

My Troubles with Rose (and Overcoming Them One Step at a Time)

I admit it: It took hard work on my part to appreciate rose for what it is and to familiarize myself with the better grades of rose absolutes and fragrances that highlight this noble material. But let's take things at the top: Why did I have any trouble with rose in the first place? Bad associations is one thing: toilet freshners and dusty pot-pouri left standing for ages have not done much to make rose an appreciated note. But it went deeper than that. 

I had always pictured rose lovers as romantic creatures (but a specific type of it that differs from what I embrace) who love interiors dressed in ice-cream pastels, dresses with lots of chiffon and lace in pretty, feminine shades of pinks and salmons, hair up in disheveled buns, leafing through retrospectives of the New York City Ballet. They adore being offered flowers on a first date, get treated to a dinner at a posh restaurant and can watch a rom-com anytime. Their china is patterned with tiny flowers edged in gold, their jewlery is dainty, pretty and vintage girly. They cherish Jane Austin and find the money-related matrimonial wannabe woes of the heroines utterly charming. Perhaps they have been dreaming and planning their wedding ever since they knew how to talk. It recalled instant Victoriana to my mind, even if Austin's more Empire really if we're to be period-appropriate. (Call it typecasting. Call it prejudice, if you prefer, you're probably right anyway).

I am none of those above things, for better or worse: I always prefered the Bronte sisters' dark and gloom, I dress in dramatic black and white (or red!) with bold accents of jewels when the mood strikes, firmly prefer wood & baroque interiors to "pretty" things and detest frou frou in almost everything. My china bears simple platinum meanders on the edge and nothing else and I didn't have a wedding plan in my head until I actually really, really had to. I equate romanticism with gothic literature, strong passions damaging everything in sight and Chopin préludes, preferably visualising the composer coughing up a bloody storm under that damp roof in the Majorca. Not a pretty picture, eh?

So I considered it natural that roses -and rose fragrances that replicate the scent of the flower- didn't hold much appeal on me. And yet, there was definitely rose in several perfumes which I found irresistible from a young age on: Paris by Yves Saint Laurent for one, with its violet-laced delectability, making the rose powdery, soft and tender as a feather or a sweet young mother's embrace. Or et Noir by Caron is full of it. Chanel No.5 also has lots. I had been presented with rose otto from the Bulgarian valley of the roses when in elementary school (gift from a relative who visited) and was hypnotized by the lushness.
I later read all about damascones and damascenones, ingredients which give fruity nuances of apple and plum to roses and a fluorescent glow. I had smelled roses deeply and compared with the differing essence rendered which resembles liqueur or powder or sometimes wine and marvelled on the facets of artichoke peaking! Somerset Maugham had likened rose's splendor to such a poetic concept: "Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all." I had to explore more...

Of course Sommerset Maugham was English. Does this bear any relation to my quest? Plenty, as you will see.

I also always pegged rose lovers as decidedly Anglo-Saxon, you see (that Liberty style print had no doubt influenced me profoundly, as well as the expression "English rose" for pretty UK ladies), with the corresponding flaxen, auburn or chestnut hair and peaches n'cream complexion under northern lights. What could this "clean", pretty look have to do with my striking black on fair contrast under the blinding Med sun? I admired Guerlain Nahéma, which was more my speed by all accounts, but somehow it seemed too intrusive for what I considered the last bastion of mystery, perfume... I had never actually met a grown woman in my culture who was crazy for roses anyway, nor did I meet anyone else for that matter outside that group who did.

But English and American (and a few Australian) women I got to know were really bent on roses and this made me think. Long and hard. Why is it that such a difference exists? And why are several young women so averse to roses? It is indeed a prefered scent of grannies, who do have a penchant for Victoriana, one assumes because it reminds them of a glamourised time when they saw their own parents as demi-gods. How come Stella by Stella McCartney is such a popular fragrance in the 20-30 age group nevertheless? (This is the same mystery as young women theoretically not liking "powdery scents" and yet going ga-ga for Kenzo Flower or DK Cashmere Mist!) And why is D&G Rose The One targeted to young ones? Francis Kurkdjian has practically built a career upon selling roses to the young, given them his gleaming sheen trademark. Surely they should be enough interest from a significant sector in the market to guarantee houses as the Parfums de Rosine -with its illustrious historical name and its pleiad of variations on the rose- to flourish.

 Alberto Morillas gave me a partial answer to that question when he presented Valentina de Valentino, explaining why the fragrance didn't contain rose even though Valentino himself uses it as a motif a lot: "Honestly, it's not easy to make roses 'young'," he shrugged. "It's a scent often associated with older ladies and jasmine is far younger. And although you do have roses in Italy, it's not really the essence of the country."

So, two factors then: Geographical location (my juvenile hypothesis had some substance after all) and age grouping. I don't know if it's a sign of maturing on my part, as the passage of time has made my stance towards roses more elastic, or really my persistence on overcoming this hesitation; but it could be both. More than a mere matter of chronological age, it might have to do with the maturing process of realizing what one categorically rejected during their teen "angst" years and the "mapping identity" early 20s, one is more lenient on accepting later on.

Therefore apart from the "bastard" roses which I always found intriguing and beguiling despite myself, such as Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan Parfumeur, Rose d'Homme by Parfums de Rosine, Rose Poivrée by The Different Company,  Une Rose Chypree by Tauer perfumes and Epic for Women by Amouage, I began to find myself attracted to sheerer, more tender, less artsy, well, rosier(!) fragrances. After all rose can take on myriad of nuances: from soft and powdery, to childlike and tender, to green with a hint of the dew on the leaves, to nectarous and honeyed and fruity, passionate and full, all the way to dark, angular and gothic.

I discovered the Annick Goutal rose fragrances Rose Absolue, Rose Splendide and Quel Amour, the whimsical little sister to the violet-rose combo of Paris in the charming Drôle de Rose by L'Artisan Parfumeur, the stupendous Lyric by Amouage, the greener and softer nuances in Rose Barbare by Guerlain. Briar Rose by Ineke. F.Malle animalic and "femme" Une Rose. The lovely and very true to a budding rose smell Rose 4 Reines by L'Occitane. The green & citrusy grapefruit tinge of Rose Ikebana in the Hermessences.
It seems have managed to overcome my fear and trepidation (hurray!), studying and playing with this regal blossom that yields such extraordinary results.
And then I come across such a different, iconoclastic take on rose such as the spicy, intense Cinabre by Maria Candida Gentile and I realize nothing's changed really: you can't get the poésie romanesque out of the girl, even if you add some mainstream, expected romance to it.

 And what about you? Is there a perfume note or material which you have been battling with for some time? I'd love to hear your stories!

pics via sansmith/pinterest , linda edmonson/pinterest,


  1. Violet and tuberose! I'm gaining ground on violet, as I realize that I kind of like the scent of the leaves - Tom Ford's Violet Blonde, for example. But not enough to go past my sample. I think tuberose is a total deal breaker for me; I've tried it in many different scents and floral blends and can always pick it out. I'm just not a floral fan in general, although I love rose, esp dark rose; my internet perfume name is rosarita, after all. :)

  2. Oh, I battled roses for a long time. I didn't even realize Lyric had rose in it when I fell in love with it - that's when I realized I didn't have a problem with roses. :)
    The thing I do have a problem with are aquatic notes and I honestly don't see that that problem will ever go away (but I'm not saying never). ;)

  3. MariaA14:11

    Rose was a deal breaker for me also. It either smelled old or too girlie for my taste. Then I came along Chloe Eau de parfum Intense and everything changed. I don't know if it is the combination with the pepper- sandalwood- tonka in it but it smells great on me. I spent half this winter wearing it and got the greatest compliments for it. It was a surprise and I bought it on a whim because Hondos was having a 75% discount and I got the 100ml for less than 40E. Since then my total perspective has changed regarding roses and am now willing to try more. Please note that I hate pink as a color

  4. I'm not a huge rose fan myself, but, as Ines said, there is Amouage Lyric. The rose is a middle note so you aren't stunned by a huge blast of rose out of the starting gate. It's quite lovely.

    I got a sample of Bellodgia and am getting my mind around the carnation/clove mixture. It's quite nice, but I haven't had anything quite like it. I am new to the world of perfume--that is, I've used it for years but recently it has become a major interest--and what I have are some Chanels, some Floris fragrances, and some wonderful Amouage samples. No carnation scents among them, so the Bellodgia is something different.

  5. I have always had gardens with fragrant roses in them, so my problem was always with "rose perfumes" which didn't quite smell realistic enough. I've gotten over that to some degree, and love all kinds of perfume with rose notes, even though I may not recognize them. Notes with which I currently struggle: cucumber, melon, pineapple, lemon.

  6. Eliam Puente17:12

    This is quite an interesting topic. Before I started my journey in perfumery I never thought anyone would have a problem with the scent of rose, after all, rose is considered by many one of the most important notes in perfumery. Boy was I wrong! What's most interesting is that the only people I've received a negative reaction from because of the scent of rose absolute or rose otto is to some of my female friends. I have two 23 year old female friends that simply cannot stand the smell of rose. One of them actually gags when the scent fills the room. However, I (being male) and many of my male friends have no problem with the smell of rose and actually like it quite a bit (especially May Rose Absolute from France).

    However, with that said, I don't think the problem is "rose" per say, but it's more how it is interpreted in a perfume. After all, there are so many varieties of rose plants in the world and they all offer their own special, yet still rosey, scent. Some are fruitier, some are sweeter, and some have more of a classic, musky, powdery scent. I think this has a lot to do with our liking, or disliking of a rose note in a perfume. Has the perfumer decided to go fruitier with the rose note, like some varieties of rose blossoms I've smelled at a local rose garden where the scent has taken on an almost orange juice like scent? Have they decided to make it lighter and more aquatic like what we've seen with Chloe's eau? Or, have they decided to go more of a Chanel No. 5 route where there is plenty of rose in it, but the rose just makes up a piece of the puzzle and is intertwined with lots of jasmine, ylang ylang, and iris notes?

    Another point is how rose interacts with other ingredients. For example, I love the smell of jasmine Absolute, but have you ever tried several drops of jasmine Absolute with a drop or two of may rose absolute? Instantly the jasmine takes on a more elegant, drier, and slightly powdery facet that it did not have before. In other words, rose, used the right way, can dramatically transform other floral notes into blossoms of pure elegance and sophistication.

  7. Great article! I can relate to picturing people who wear rose as you describe. It is always how I pictured it too, and I am far from that description! But when I borrowed a small vial of Tea Rose oil (bought off a NYC street vendor) in my early 20's, I fell in love. I wore it all the time, even while looking like Strange Emily :)

    Now in my 40's, I still have that love for rose but find myself struggling to find a perfume that I like centered around the note. I keep hoping and sampling but come up empty. A couple hits, like Heely's Hippie Rose, Tauer's Incense Rose. Both paired with other strong notes that balance the sweetness of the rose.

    It is amazing how many young people really dislike rose, even though they probably haven't sampled many rose fragrances. Guilt by association?

  8. Anonymous18:08

    I rarely like rose in perfumery. In cosmetics, I find it more appealing. Japanese line "Happy Bath Day Precious Rose" by Kose have a range of products with an airy/powdery rose - I enjoy that.

    The note I stay away from is anything "grassy"/"green". I don't even like the natural smell of freshly cut grass either.

  9. R,

    I know a lot of people who have trouble with tuberose: it's intense all right and powerful players are more love it or hate it I guess.
    In some ways I see tuberose as the antithesis of rose (well, not quite, but you know what I mean): one is dramatic, the other is romantic; one is potent, the other is soft; one is corrupt, the other is elegant. That sort of thing. But dark roses can be intense too.
    Perhaps it's the camphor in tuberose.

    As to violets, I think there is a huge difference between violet and violet leaf (wrote an article about it in the Materials anyway) and the companies don't always distinguish which is used. So we end up having very different things, as diverse as Lipstick Rose (tons of sweet violet pastilles) and Farhenheit/Eau de Cartier (only the green, watery, slightly metallic leaf featured).
    Violet Blonde is a good one, though, woody and restrained.

  10. I,

    Lyric is so opulent and lush, I'm not surprised it features on so many lists of favourites. Rose can present the problem of not smelling realistic enough (the essence being so different from the real flower) or more importantly reminding one of iffy associations because of its ubiquitness in functional products of the toilet persuasion (argh!), I know this is what I struggled with at least.

    On a related note and in reference to what you point out, I find that increasingly the aquatics of the 90s have trickled down to functional perfumery (alongside fruit scents) and you open up shower gels, toilet freshners or bathroom tile cleaners and they have shades of Eau d'Issey built in. Urgh! It's enough to make anyone steer clear from the aquatic fragrances.

    Personally I believe aquatics can be done well as well (there are a few that are excellent!), but we have been just overexposed; it will need a generation for them to have an increased appreciation. It's a time continuum thing, IMHO. Right now they're THE deal breaker for most perfumistas (who do happen to be among 25-50 for the most part, aren't they; at least the vocal ones, LOL)

  11. M,

    I guess sharing a common cultural ground we never really worshipped roses the way other people do, even in gardens. Jasmine, now that's another thing. ;-)

    It's great to stumble upon something that makes one re-appreciate something, seeing it under a new light and it's a formative experience. I do suggest you try some of the "bastard roses" mentioned in the article, you have good chances of loving them as well.

    Now you have me all hot and bothered to try the Chole EDP Intense, which I didn't quite give half a chance. You got a great price on it!! Is it warm? Sounds like it.


  12. L,

    indeed, Ines came bang on the money with Lyric, which is a GREAT rose fragrance but certainly not a soliflore (i.e. single note floral composition) by any stretch of the imagination.

    Carnation/clove combos (carnation notes are usually built on clove) are so very antiquated in today's market, I'm not surprised you find Bellodgia out of the ordinary. It used to be a potent fad in decades past (remember also the carnation pitch in L'Air du Temps") but overexposure created tension and the trend was more or less abandonded. For exploring carnation, I suggest Malmaison by Floris (alas, discontinued, but worth trying a sample out), Oeillet Sauvage by L'Artisan (light, airy and young smelling), Caron's Coup de Fouet (more intense and fiery and less floral than Bellodgia).

    Your perfume wardrobe sounds quite lovable, especially for a perfume "newbie" (silly term IMO, we're all learning every day!)

  13. QC,

    ah, you're lucky in having those wonderful bushes. But then I understand well the struggle with coming to terms with the "manufactured" product: it all has to do with how several raw materials smell quite different than the real thing they're derived from. It happens to me as well "which is the truest jasmine of them all?" (as this is what I'm so intimately familiar with)

    Cucumber and melon I guess have been "burned" through the 1990s fragrance overload (when everything smelled of them). It will take new directions and overcoming cliches by the market to make several people reacquaint themselves with those two notes and not have a deja vu. Pineapple and lemon are easier I should think: have you tried MPG Bahiana? Lots of good lemons around, though usually in cologne form; lemon can lose some of the astrigence (and terpenic Pine-Sol ambience) and gain in "resinous" character when paired with frankincense and things like that: try Shaal Nur by Etro, perhaps? (first thing that popped into my mind).

  14. Eliam,

    thanks! You insight is invaluable.

    As you say, I think the aversion is cultural and all the more prominent among young women because those are the women who have been subjected to endless visions of rooms with grannies with doillies spread all around, china cups with rosebuds, dusty pot-pouri on the mantelpiece and a scent of decay and Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose sprayed all around. (I'm being creative, no offense to PW's TR)
    Because you see, this is EXACTLY how rose is visualised into the rose scent products most of the time: and by that I mean functional/home products (cans of room spray with dainty English cottage on the front, candles with "romantic" images on the packaging, closet "hang in" sachets with "pretty" prints etc.) It creates the idea that rose is something for homebodies, grannies and is not sexy or mysterious at all. Not exactly what the average 23-year-old woman is after, is it?
    Men on the other hand rarely even see those things, let alone buy among them in the aisles of a store (how many men do you know who pick out candles for their home? or closet/wardrobe scented sachets?) so they don't have those associations.

    So this is my explanation of the phenomenon.

    As to the material itself, as you say the absolute or the otto is in itself a fabulous thing. I remember that even though I had been indifferent to roses as a child (I always prefered lilacs, narcissi, jasmine, carnations and lilies over roses; practically all the "dirty"/spicy things) I had been gifted some real rose otto from Bulgaria by a relative visiting the valleys of the roses. The thing, encased in a wooden "slav" enscripted little amphora with a screw off top was trickling with richness. It was so lush, so multi-layered, so wonderful that it had been open it again and again to catch a whiff. But I couldn't actually wear it on skin, it was so strong! I still have some drops left I believe in some drawer in my country house. The May Rose is arguably less intense and a bit "greener".

    As you succinctly put it (and it's good advice for everyone reading here to real Eliam's comment carefully), rose can take so many forms in itself, but it also has to do with how it interacts with other materials (my fav combos are rose + sandalwood or rose+patchouli): Take Joy where it's a crystalline floral composition of rose & jasmine, and yet the two become a greater sum than their parts. That's perfumer's magic, all right!

  15. Nikki,

    oh goodies, so I'm not alone in that imagining. :-D

    It's a tricky note, rose, even for people like you who love it. It's so easy to get into the pitfall of appearing like loo spray or abandonded pot-pouri. I wonder why perfumers don't think of that when composing; that should be the number 1 and 2 detterents in a rose scent, so they should work hard to avoid it.
    Tauer uses rose masterfully: his roses are always layered with rich materials which add edge, so it's never a simple affair. And I had good luck with everything Heeley I tried.

    As to young people really disliking rose, please read my answer above to Eliam. This is my theory and I believe it kinda makes sense, doesn't it? ;-)

  16. A,

    perfect addition: the rose scent of cosmetics. I can't believe I missed that! Yes and with added violets too. It's often in lipsticks and powders. Haven't tried that Kose range, should amend.

    As to grassy/green, that's interesting. Do you find these things bitter? Or raspy? (Thinking of Vent Vert or Chanel No.19)

    Coumarin is present in freshly cut grass, in itself a sweetish smell. But "green" scents can also have lots of galbanum or moss, which are bitter-smelling materials. Could that be it?

  17. MariaA13:26

    Dear Elena, thank you for replying. To answer your question, yes it is very warm and as winter was very cold this year the fragance stayed very close to the skin. Also the silage is extraordinary as well as longevity. I made a mistake it was 75ml bottle i checked it but yes the price was super and this is why I bought it because the original as well as the new eau fresh or whatever it is called are total stinkers. I guess the lack of patchouli and balance between the other ingedients is what makes it so good. As far as rose scents go I think my nose became prejudiced due to the Bulgarian rose colognes waters creams and perfumes that were very popular back then (not saying how long ago that is) . I just couldn't stand that smell awful and persistant. I will try more of the ones you suggest as now I am more open to rose scents.

  18. I didn't think I liked rose especially as a note until I recently discovered that a lot of my favorites are heavy on rose- Tauer URC, Epic, OJ Taif, Lumiere Noire pour femme, Portrait of a Lady and a recent big favorite-Neela Vermeire Mohur!
    And although I'm not fond of anything frou-frou, I must admit I prefer Austen to the Bronte sisters, not because she's more romantic but because she's more clearsighted and often downright cynical! (Something that's not so obvious in the movie-adaptations).

  19. Anonymous17:11

    Galbanum is a suspect that turns a mix bitter. Yes, bitterness is a thing I avoid. There's also Vetivert, that is totally "grassy", nor sweet or bitter. However, the key is in the mix: SL Vetivert Oriental is such a joy to wear!

    Chanel N.19 doesn't crash with my taste. I don't know about Vent Vert. AG Ninfeo Mio represents "grassy" so successfully that I find it unsuitable to wear :)

  20. Anonymous17:19

    you are right about the subtlety that Rose offers when juxtaposed to other essences.

    It is such a privilege that Rose, Ylang-Ylang and Jasmine are offered in absolutes or essential oils! One can mix them diluted in a carrier oil and receive their healing properties, as well!! Elena, sandalwood and patchouli (that you favour) essential oils are beneficial, too! Their addition to a flowers mix gives a resonance.

  21. Anonymous17:53

    I love your articles. thanks.
    Also the comments. I learn as much there as the article sometimes,
    Sorry, fragrance slut here, love almost everything.

  22. I have a very bad relationship with amber. It makes me feel depressed, it isn't that I do not like it, it just sucks up the air from the room. Ambre Sultan can literally bring me to tears. The only amber scent I love wearing is the very sweet Ambre Precieux.

  23. Miss Heliotrope03:28

    I struggle with vanilla, for I am not a cup cake.

    I feel almost the reverse about Austen & the Brontes - I find the Brontes overwraught & emotional, whereas Austen is clear, detached, and (as has been mentioned above) cynical - try Northanger Abbey if you havent, it has a wonderful sense of humour, which is something the Brontes lack (have you tried Wide Saragsso Sea as a response to Jane Eyre? - it's fantastic & full of scents).

    A rose scent that I adore is Anthropologie's Happ & Stahn's 1842 Rosa Alba, which I find very rosy in a fresh, green way.

  24. Anonymous20:38

    As a natural perfumer who love blending with Rose oils and absolutes, I found the article very informative. My rose fragrances are a far cry from the Victorian idea of a rose perfume or violet for that matter. BRONTE", WILD ROSE and Shalott Rose Perfumes are anything but old fashioned; rose blend with a kick is how I would describe them. Anyhow, I really did love the article. Jane Cate , A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes; we have our shop on

  25. Anonymous22:09

    Perhaps you are getting sophisticated enough to avoid categorical judgments; it is the way a note is used (and the quality of ingredient) rather than sterotyping the note.

    After all, you would not say that you hate all music that features a violin, ranging from Yesterday to Bach, would you?

    As a lover of both the Brontes (particularly Anne and Emily) and Austen, let me weigh in. I don't see any necessity to chose between these novelists. All four writers wrote about a society in which marriage was the most important and irreversible economic decision one could make, and the difficulty in uniting personal and ethical choices with economic ones. Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) deliberately marries a woman to get her property and to revenge himself on a romantic rival, and then destroys her. Rochester (Jane Eyre) is manipulated by his already wealthy family into marrying a lunatic, while the more clear headed Jane resists marrying the outwardly saintly missionary for financial and social security.
    Anne wrote about a heroine who had enough financial power to chose, but then choses badly.
    I tend to read Austen as social commentaries, more than romances. Austen's heroines are not all charming, (Even Austen realized that few readers would like Fanny of Mansfield Park, whose lack of charm distinguishes her from the superfacial other characters). Emma, the most charming, is too secure to need to worry about marrying for money. In most of the other novels, the heroine foregoes at least one match which would offer economic security but not love. Only in Pride and Prejudice does the heroine actually marry someone really, really rich, whom she loves, and the improbable plot which brings this about actually helps the point that in real life, this would be unlikely.
    Persuasion is perhaps the most realistic book in terms of love and lucre. The heroine begins, as a teenager, by accepting advice to not marry someone without any funds. She later reflects that this advice, while prudent and well meaning, was not the best. On the other hand, Austen presents the example of the heroine's old friend who married for love, but is now completely impoverished and disabled, unable to even legally obtain money owed to her late husband without others intervening from her.
    Unfortunately Persuasion was written when Austen was already ill, and we never got a chance to see how this realism might have developed in future novels.

  26. Loved this! I too have a tough time with roses for many reasons, but discovering lighter, sheerer, even wilder roses has made them far more interesting to me. I think roses can be hundreds of different types of smells but there are too many of a certain type of rose that many of us don't relate to.

    I am really enjoying Eau de Chloe?, I think it is, these days - the summer flanker that boasts of a high degree of rosewater - it is so light, so fresh. Also cannot say enough about MCMC's roses - if you've not tried Maine or Kept you've not tried some truly glorious roses. (I also love Rose Splendide and Rose Barbare, so we're on the same page there as well!)

  27. Roses have been a problem for me, haven't found a rose perfume that I LOVE yet. I love Paco Rabanne's La Nuit, but it's not really "Rose" to me, the rose doesn't stand out. Malle's Lipstick Rose is lovely, but not full-bottle worthy for me.

    I DO love that pink kitchen!! It's inspirational, my kitchen is pink walls/white cabinets. When it's paint time again I'll be referencing that photo.

  28. E., you know that I myself love a sheer (Stella), a true (Sa Majeste la Rose, tea Rose oil by TBS) and spicy/patched (Midnight Poison, YR Rose Absolue) rose myself and I do have to recommend you sniff Mohur, a sandal-rose of the Indian style by lovely Neela Vermeire!! Please let me know if i should send you a sample. <3
    best Wishes

  29. Maria,

    awfully late, but thanks for the clarifications and further info.
    Patchouli is great with rose, so I'm further encouraged. Thanks!

  30. Eva,

    an interesting viewpoint! I hadn't calculated that Austen might be more appreciated for her cynicism! True. (She can draw a character perfectly, to the point of disparagement, that much I do admit myself; it's perhaps the issues she's dealing with I find a bit...shallow? My own quirk most certainly!)

    Yes, rose is in so many things, we often take it for granted. But it's there and it's good.

  31. Asuka,

    hmmm....vetiver is musty in its essence form and licorice-like very often in mixes. In the SL though (the VO you like) it's almost stripped off its masculine and "fresh" aspect, so that might explain it.

    You should like a bit of galbanum if you like NO.19. It's got that bitter green edge. Ninfeo Mio is indeed very grassy, but with a citrus and fig leaf twist (and fig leaf is indeed quite bitter, so you're right; it's bitter you don't like)

  32. Asuka,

    I'm trying to find a good sandalwood oil locally, but no luck. They all seem very "cut" to me.

  33. Portia,

    thanks, that's a great compliment and I'm sure our readers are also flattered :-)

  34. Christos,

    I had always envisioned amber as hugh well-meaning aunts wanting to embrace you very tightly as a kid. :-P

    "Sucking the air from a room" is a great phrase for it. Curiously Ambre Sultan doesn't do that to me, though I find it difficult to wear sometimes; all those masculine-like herbs on that resinous base make it better on men's skin, I find most of the time; when it works though....
    Love most of the MPG btw!

  35. Miss Heliotrope,

    vanilla is hard to do well. It can turn up smelling juvenile or too foody. When it works, it's supreme though. (thinking Jicky or Shalimar)

    You're absolutely right about the Brontes being overemotional (guilty on that front myself) and lacking humour (hopefully not on that one). I hadn't really thought about it. Perhaps people with a squarer head than mine appreciate Austen for her qualities.

    I haven't read Northnager Abbey, so will probably follow your advice and do. I had read Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park when I was a teenager (the first two) and as a university student (the next two). I then threw the towel. I grew sick and tired of the constant theme of girls wanting/not wanting to marry and all the social expectations surrounding that theme. I don't know; perhaps my overemotional idea of love as an untamed passion doesn't tie well with such overanalysis of matrimonial issues and should-I or should-I-not.

    Now here's a funny incident: There was a discussion on a perfume board where I was analysing this divide between Brontes and Austen and saying why I prefered one to another and amidst it quickly and absent-mindedly said something to the effect that "the only Austen book I ever enjoyed and was moved by was Washington Square" to be told of course that that one is by Henry James (whom I love, btw). LOL!!! Goes to show you!

    One thing I have attested through boards is that it's American (and some British, but not all) readers who absolutely love Austen to bits. Not international folks reading in English, contrary to their stance on other English-writing authors. Why's that??

  36. Cate,

    thanks for stopping by and for commenting.
    I agree that rose can be rendered a million ways and there's no reason to think every rose should be Victorian. It's probably a touristy-thing to promote rose scents like that. Thanks for informing us on your own creations and providing the source from which to procure.

  37. Anon,

    thanks for such a detailed comment!

    As you say, being categorical in one's judgement is a symptom of youth. C'est la vie. We grow and change our ways. I was wary of roses as a teenager and now am not. The Austen thing stuck longer, because as I said above to another reader, I had read 4 of her novels and none really struck me as deep and meaninful beyond excellent character sketching. I'm of the Dostoyevsky school of thought in the arts and consider some things shallower than others perhaps.

    The scope of Wurthering Heights or Jane Eyre never seemed to be about marriage to me; it went beyond that and it was about love itself. Mad love, revengful love, illogical love, moral love, reademing love too.

    But of course as you say, one doesn't have to exclude one or the other! :-)

    Perhaps I should really read Persuasion and Northanger Abbey! Making a mental note.

  38. I forgot to say, perhaps I have a man's mind after all. I don't know of any straight man who would sit through an Austen novel (or Austen-inspired film either). Then again, you might say I don't know that many men in the first place :-P

  39. Unseencenser,

    it's high time for companies to break the stereotype of rose, then! Glad to get recs from a fellow RB and RS lover :-) Noting them down.

  40. N,

    I would never in a million years peg La Nuit as a rose. Never mind it has rose in it, it just doesn't make its presence know.
    LR I found too opressing, too waxy, too thick. Brilliant idea, but heavy execution.

    I believe the kitchen combo is inspired by Dita von Teese and her colour scheme. ;-)

  41. N,

    thanks honey for the offer. You know, I should really take you up on your offer! I hear great things about the NV perfumes.

    Thanks for commenting and hope you're well! :-)

  42. Miss Heliotrope03:25

    A late response re Austen & Americans: perhaps it is because Austen's more famous books (not Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park in the same way) can be read to represent an ideal old fashioned England: nice houses, nice clothes, marrying a gentleman, that sort of thing, while the Brontes do a wider social range, marital abuse, and so on.

    I often found (as an Australian in the US) that when Americans were looking at P&P or even visiting the UK on holiday & touring old houses, they tended to associate themselves with the upper classes. In Australia, we seem more likely to figure we'd be in the servants' quarters or the slums. Perhaps Europeans have more experience of class systems & are less starry eyed about having upper class people in nice houses?

  43. MH,

    what a clever observation!! Thank you.

    Yes, I think you have an excellent point. There is an overromanticism over the upper British classes IMHO when I read/hear American people talk about it. Perhaps the distance between the UK and the US in terms of class rifts is such that this is possible.
    The class distinction in the UK has been such that they never let you forget where you're coming from (which can take both directions and can be bad/restrictive even for the upper classes).

    This might also explain why Americans are -from what I gather- impressed by royals, on the whole (not counting exceptions; there are of course those who are not).
    Coming from a country with lapsed, exile royals, I can assure you there's absolutely nothing praise-worthy about them! :-/

  44. Miss Heliotrope02:01

    Thank you for a great discussion - this is a lovely blog.

  45. You're most welcome, lovely Miss Heliotrope. Thanks for the stimulating discourse!

  46. Rose has always been difficult for me. I didn't come to that realization right away but I do notice I just don't gravitate to them.
    I have to have a dirtier or sexy rose......rose can be in it!! No doubt.
    I have and like Stella Absolute......Rosa Magnifica (I rarely reach for it) Velour de Roses and I won a roll on of Mona di Oreo's Les Nombres d'OR Rose.......I have GOT to say that one is GOOD!! Of course with MdO.....there is some spice or something more in there! I can wear that one and enjoy it.
    I do enjoy a powder that I received as a gift. It is from the Historic Charleston, S.C. collection. I wear it to bed sometimes and it's lovely!

    Many perfumes that I love and adore have rose in them but it's not the main event! My fabulous Guerlain Guet-Apen has rose in it and I never knew it!! You never know!

  47. Gloria,

    oh another similarity between our tastes!
    Yup, also like rose "bastardized", so to speak, as a rule. I found myself liking Stella Absolute thanks to that patchouli-musk in the background, mainly. It's got something. Voleur is also rich in patchouli and feels dewy rosy, doesn't it? Darkish too. Now I NEED to try the Mona di Orio Rose. Your powder also sounds absolutely brilliant!
    You know, one rose which you should get your hands on to try it is "Cinabre" by Maria Candida Gentile, an Italian artisan perfumer with a GREAT line: I had reviewed it here on the Shrine on this link.
    As you can guess from the name it's spicy with cinnamon and ambery too so not a typical Victorian rose by any stretch of the imagination. Let me know if you'd like a sample in the mail! ;-)

  48. Anonymous06:20

    Firstly, I've just discovered Perfume Shrine - absolutely fascinating and well written.

    Secondly, I too have trouble with rose, yet I like rose essential oils and a body lotion called Rose Otto on sale at Holland and Barrett.

    The odd thing is, this body lotion underneath Bulgari Black smells unbelievably wonderous to me, and to other people at times - a guy I was dating kept sniffing me and saying 'what IS that?! You smell absolutely gorgeous'.

    I've experimented with other rose fragrances - essential oils and recently with Sonoma Studio's Velvet Rose, and I'm convinced that a small touch of rose is wonderful with Black. It probably depends on what suits you. I find Velvet Rose by itself a bit clean (I love Fireside Intense though)

    Can anyone tell me more about Rose Otto and the difference with, for example, Rose Damascus?

  49. Rosestrang,

    first, thank you for your lovely words on the work done here, which are very much appreciated. Hope you enjoy!

    Secondly thanks for bringing an interesting issue to the fore. Yes, rose can be polarizing. We've rose so much on our consciousness through visual cues and through exposure to "rose" in manufactured goods (be it perfume or other products) that our impression of it is greatly influenced by them. We just can't access it innocently like a virgin, as we'd do with -say- vetiver (to pick a "note"/material which is tabula rasa for many people only remotely interested in fragrance). So our perception of rose is shaped through all those references.

    Now, rose with Black would be indeed a good pairing. Rose however usually pairs well with almost anything. Do try and see ;-)

    The difference of otto vs Rosa damascus should be part of a more detailed article on rose materials, but in passing let me say that Rosa Damascus is a variety of rose (Damascena) and rose otto is specifically the steam distilled essence derived from rosa damascena. There is a big price difference between the rose otto and rose absolute (which is extracted from the same flower, but with a different method).

  50. Anonymous21:16

    Yes one person's rose is another's poison! I definitely have an idea of what I'd like a rose perfume to smell like - I'm looking for the Turkish Delight feel I think, not a tea rose.

    If you ever write an article in more depth about otto and damascus rose I'd love to read that!

  51. Rosestrang,

    for Turkish Delight rose you need to check "loukhoum" named fragrances: Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum, Loukhoum by Keiko Mecheri (this one is EXREMELY powdery), Sweet Oriental Delight by Montale, Boadicea the Victorious EDP, Turkish Delight by Lush, Rochas Tocade...things like that.

    I will definitely devote some space as soon as able!

  52. Diana17:26

    I'm just dipping my toe into the perfume world and learning a lot - thank you for this blog! So far I didn't find any with as much information.
    Your article about rose suprized me because I don't associate rose with old ladies, yes I associate it with romantic people. And maybe I am a little bit as your description of rose lover - but not that extreme. I like rose a lot, maybe not as much in perfume. Having said that, I'm 28 and one of the few perfumes I ever bought myself and really wanted is Armani Prive Rose Alexandrie. It's one of my favorites still.
    I hope that others will learn to love rose just as you did!

  53. Diana,

    thanks for finding it and for stopping by and commenting! Hope you enjoy it here and come back often.

    There is that romanticism about roses. They certainly are the classic romantic gift. I tend to think that it's the treatment of rose essences in perfumes rather than the smell of roses themselves that makes me apprehensive sometimes. Fresh roses, just cut off the stem, smell anything but "old".
    It's a good thing that I haven't let myself not try more rose fragrances, as I wouldn't have found some true loves. :-)

  54. Anonymous22:49

    I haven't been able to figure out the note I love in Celine Dion Celine Dion. Osmoz has Celine Dion Celine Dion listed as the only yellow rose perfume on their database, so I wonder if it could be yellow rose note I love so much or something else.

  55. Anon,

    thanks for commenting!

    Hmmm, I wouldn't be so wrapped up in the given "notes" of any perfume, as they do not represent actual ingredients and they often convey a "concept" rather than reality. I should think that from what I recall Celine Dion by Celine Dion is a mild woody with some floral notes (the rose is fresh and tart with berries, I recall, but really a mix of "airy" florals) and a nice mandarin top note. Have you tried Boss Woman in the curvy trapezoid bottle, Dreaming by Hilfiger,Dior J'Adore L'Eau or Allure eau de toilette by Chanel? I think they share something.

  56. Anonymous23:58

    Yes, it might be a certain mixture that I can't stop sniffing on my wrist. You know, I like to smell a lot of perfumes in the stores looking for new favorites to fall in love with and I haven't tried ANY of those I definitely will--thanks!

    You know, there is one question I have been pondering about regarding another rose scent. I wonder what aromachemical is in Pleasures by Estee Lauder in much higher concentration than some of her other scents. I had a severe allergic reaction when I sprayed it on in the store in '11 (difficulty breathing and wheezing requiring medicine). Because I would love to avoid testing scents with large amounts of that aromachemical if I can figure it out.

  57. Anonymous02:27

    Chloe EDP opening smells exactly like Celine Dion by Celine Dion.

  58. Tati22:19

    The rose discussion comes at the perfect time for me. I, too, mostly associated it with bathroom freshener or hand lotion, and avoided it. This summer I bought my first oud (Perris Monte Carlo Oud Imperial) and before going out to dinner one night sprayed it on. Too heavy! In despair, I looked at the sample of Rose Taif they included and decided to spray it on. Heaven! I'd never purposely worn a rose before.

    This summer has been the summer of roses for me. So far my favorites are Voleur De Roses, Lyric Woman, and SL La Fille de Berlin. Have Maria Candida Gentile's Sideris, which I loved for the incense but didn't get much rose from. Maybe the Cinabre will be stronger? Love cinnamon and amber.

    Thanks so much for the inspiring blog. I run for samples every time I read.

  59. Anon,

    hmmm, interesting but confusing question.
    Most aromachemicals are expressly manufactured to bypass known allergenic issues. The only thing that Pleasures has in higher concentrations than any other Lauder is karo karounde, but that's a natural essence. (and pretty unusual in perfumery).
    Hope this helps?

  60. Anon#2,

    interesting! I only recall Celine Dion Notes, a likable if not very original clean floral with musk.

  61. Tati,

    thanks so much for commenting.

    Roses can be taken in so many different directions: but you discovered this already ;-)

    I personally like Cinabre very much and highly recommend it for a great spicy, ambery rose. I think you'd love it!

  62. Forgot to say: Have reviewed it too, in case you missed it. (Use the Search option on the top banner)

    Also, 2 more recs: Neela Vermeire Creations "Mohur". (Trust me, gorgeous!) and Parfums de Rosine Majalis (lush, carnal, spicy, perfect) Also reviewed here.

    Enjoy!! :-)

  63. Tati20:02

    Thank you for the recommendations! I will definitely give them a try. Never heard of the Parfums de Rosine Majalis but the ingredients are right up my alley.

  64. Tati,

    you're most welcome!
    Try it out and report back your impressions. :-)
    Here is the link to the Majalis review.

  65. riverbank here...
    and happy to see that there are others who respond to perfumes that are 'rosy' with great difficulty.
    It's not that I don't like the flower itself. One of my earliest memories of the southwest coast of British Columbia was the scent of roses carried on the damp air of a June day when I visited here for the first time when I was 6 years old. I came from the colder eastern weather and hadn't ever experienced roses that way before. Until 2013 however, I felt that roses in perfume was something my grandmother might have liked when she was a young woman in "the Roaring 20's".
    Then one day a couple of years ago while I was visiting the 'Perfume Shoppe' in Vancouver, BC, I tried on the amazing red juice from a bottle of Serge Lutens, "Fille de Berlin". I wore it for about half an hour and was in my car before I found myself surrounded by a magic haze of a wonderful and slightly familiar scent. It took me a few minutes to realize that it was the "Fille de Berlin' that I was wearing and that it had morphed into my 'roses in the rain' childhood memory. Now I save the bottle for special days when I want to be transported back to my youth and the amazing rose gardens in Vancouver's Stanley Park. It is still the only rose among my perfumes as I am much more likely to be drawn to 'unisex' perfumes with spicy oriental woods and herbals but I can still respond to the call of the rose as Serge Lutens imagines it.

    1. That's an enchanting story and one I can relate to, in response to rose scents. I think the one perfume which "got" me ALTHOUGH it was a rose was initially Paris by YSL (in the edt). Then Mohur and a string of others converted me. I still need to be wary, but can enjoy rosy scents now. Ain't it nice.
      Great choice having Lutens as your "mentor". Chapeau!


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