Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guerlain Rose Nacree du Desert: fragrance review

Arabian perfumery is no stranger to the amorous coupling of rose with oud or saffron. Guerlain is no stranger to opulent florals with woody underpinnings highlighting their thorny beauty (just witness Nahema, a lush fruity rose and Rose Barbare, a chyprish, woody one). Imagining the two directions -Arabian & Guerlain- combined gives you an idea about how Rose Nacrée du Désert smells like. But that is only the beginning...

According to perfumer Thierry Wasser, Rose Nacrée du Désert is a mysterious fragrance one can lose their heart to, thanks to its very formula. "Mystery often comes from intense and deep notes such as patchouli or oakmoss. Chypre perfumes also can reveal a mysterious character because one can perceive notes which are sometimes woody, sometimes ambery or floral. And of course the more a fragrance makes us dream of far away lands, the more it is laden with mystery too!" This is why Wasser reveals he searched for a Persian rose that was difficult to harness and rendered even more cryptic thanks to its alchemical alliance to woody notes, such as oud and patchouli.

Rose and oud are a trend we're going to be seeing a LOT of in the coming season. Already there are quite a few perfumes with the exact combination (the ubiquitousness of oud notwithstanding), such as those below, as well as Midnight Oud (Juliette has a Gun), Rose Oud (Kilian), Rose d'Arabie (Armani), Mirroir des Voluptés (Thierry Mugler) or Portrait of a Lady (F.Malle) and we're going to witness even more.  Fine by me, as this gothic style of rose is simpatico to my sensibilities (I told you I had trouble with liking too prim or Victorian roses, didn't I? This is why the rose-patchouli dewy woodiness of Voleur de Roses is among my favorite rose fragrances.)

from L to R: Oud Ispahan (Dior, 2012), Velvet Rose & Oud (Jo Malone, 2012), Rose Nacrée du Désert (Guerlain, 2012), Al Buraq, by Al Haramain.

Arguably therefore the less "original" in the trio (vaguely reminiscent of Amouage Epic for Women for its treatment of rose and oud) Rose Nacrée du Désert,  Guerlain's take at the Damask rose and oud combination, is at once dusky and velvety, gothic, dusty and with a beautiful sheen like hammered gold. The sweetness is pervading, even more than the previous Déserts d'Orient examples, with nuances of loukhoum rosewater and copra powder enrobing the yummy delicacy.
The mouth-watering gourmand quality is very Guerlain; rose and sugar are eager bedfellows with passionate results. The woodiness of patchouli and oud are brimming with promises of sensuous adventures in a land of buried treasures in the sand; full of mystery, full of languor.

The Guerlain perfume bottles of Les Deserts d'Orient are adorned with Arab-cript calligraphy down one side, the French names down the other side. They are the tall, architectural style of the collection L'Art et la Matière with the antique gold overlay on the sides holding 75ml of perfume. The concentration of the fragrances is Eau de Parfum for tenacity. Prices are set for 190euros/AED990 per bottle. The perfume is available exclusive in the UAE and the Guerlain flagship store. Also via the connections of Wim in Parfumerie Place Vendome in Brussels.

still from Pretty in Pink by John Hughes starring Molly Ringwald via jbtaylor.typepad.com/
pic of bottles of various brands in middle by parfums-tendances-inspirations.com


  1. Anonymous17:59

    "Rose and sugar are eager bedfellows....." that's such a lovely thing to say! And it's something I'm just beginning to realise after all this time - I think I knew it deep down, but just hadn't appreciated it.

  2. I love Rose and Oud (Epic and PoaL are favorites) so I really want to try this one, it sounds lovely!

    1. I would like to recommend you alexandre. J "rose oud"it smells really very nice .

  3. Although my most beloved oud-rose scent was/is Montale Aoud Damascus I tried this one and I love the sugar-icing and the patchouli Wasser added to his interpretation of an oud-rose. My fav. among the three Dés(s)erts, hand down! I would LOVE to have a FB size of this one.
    And a beautiful review- as always, E. ! :-)

  4. Jillie,

    there are just so many little magic moments when discovering something or rather "seeing" it through someone else's eyes and then hitting your forehead because you knew that all along.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  5. Eva,

    I think you have high chances to love it :-)

  6. N,

    thank you dearest, thanks for stopping by! How are things?

    Yes, it's pretty good and proves how one can respect the attention that went into those three fragrances. With that and Lys Soleia, my hopes for Wasser's work at Guerlain have reached a zenith. :-D

    My own fav is probably the Encens, but then I do love the "dirty"/musky ones. ;-)

  7. MariaA09:49

    Lovely reviews all of them, I just didn't have the time to read them very carrefully, will do this weekend. These are indeed fragrances that need attention and will try to have a chance at sniffing them soon.

  8. This makes me think of my favourite oriental rose, Linda Pilkington's Ta'if. Here, the sugary scent of oriental sweetmeats filled with dates and orange rind mixes deliciously with the rose.

  9. Anonymous22:09

    Q: I finally smelled this one - it's lovely on paper but I have to ask, does it contain a pronounced amount of Iso E Super? I'm no expert but after a few hours there's a strong uninvited woody-peppery note (esp. on skin) that is neither oud nor patchouli, etc and smells like Iso E. Saw the ingredient mentioned in the post on Songe d'Un Bois d'Ete - is it here (and noticeably) too?

    Your posts on this Desert series are lovely and also extremely helpful for being accurate.


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