As time goes on and you find that you are indeed an incurable perfumista (or perfumister) you find the notes you love. Some people can’t live without iris, and others love patchouli, and others again have a thing for Iso Super E, but in my case, the indispensable note is a rose.
Last post I was complaining about fall and how hard I find it is to squeeze myself and my outsized craving for florals into a season that is usually about gourmands, woods, ambers and leathers, well, there is always the strategy of the rose. I can retire behind a huge bouquet of them whenever I am perplexed, and generally do. So here is my little tiny wardrobe of roses for all year long. You may not agree with my choices but if you have any good ones, I’d love to hear them, you can never have too many roses.
I always have Caron’s or et Noir ( really for twenty years) . This fragrance is the ancestress of the better known Parfum Sacre, still I notice much worn on the perfume forums. I like Parfum Sacre and may buy a bottle of vintage one day, but for evening wear I love this big oriental rose over incense. Originally released in 1944 the perfume with a very high quality oriental rose was so expensive that it was only sold as a limited edition in a gold leaf covered Baccarat bottle. Felicie Bergaud who owned the business by then had a real weakness for roses, and this one is perhaps the best of the Caron roses. I like the current fountain Or et Noir in extract, but vintage is best if you can find a bottle.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris is my second choice, though more in theory than practice. This one has always struck me as being a tribute to the old Coty Paris, which was also and probably not by coincidence, a violet rose blend. I enjoy the chic playfulness of this Sophie Grojsman composition. She loves a rose too apparently and often includes one in a scent while understanding that roses are extremely diverse smelling in nature.She uses a wide swathe of the rose spectrum.
Although I find Paris a tad strong for wearing more than a single drop at a time-and that drop is is edt- I do wait with some anticipation for the evaporation to get around to the pretty mimosa buried deep in the green and pink nosegay of this perfume. Wow, just wow. I know Christopher Brosius probably hates this perfume, and I can find Paris overpowering but this is still a thing of beauty.
De Nicolai’s Balkis is my springtime go to, and mine is the original version of Balkis. Many people have smelled the later formula which de Nicolai put out under the same name, and frankly that was overly sweet .* This version is a random seeming blend of rose, raspberry, iris and coffee. In the later iteration I could not find any iris try as I might. But I bought this vintage bottle, and after a fresh raspberry, then a Chambord marinated raspberry and a rose, maybe a boozy Turkish rose, there it is: a lovely dry iris, finally coffee, dark espresso which mingles politely with the iris and remaining rose perfumes. This is not infantile or Candyland like, rather, the fragrance is chic, a bit sophisticated, slightly demanding and very fond of a good meal, rather like a French woman in fact.
My selection for the summer months is Neil Morris’s Rose of Kali. This is chocolate, two kinds of rose, damask possibly, and a lighter rose, pear essence and patchouli. The effect is not explained by the notes. The nearest description I can give those who have never smelled the Morris style, is that Kali is a melding of Lutens’ Borneo 1834 and Flechier’s Une Rose. The mix is strong, sort of cooling, very dark, and has this odd stinging beginning, as if you’d put your nose over a bath tub champagne glass and the bubbles were tickling your nostrils. This perfume lasts very well, and is not really like anything else although RoK contains references to other compositions. Kali is also something that men could wear without any trouble at all. This is a disturbing image of a scent, something you might be warned against, but haunting and rather wonderful all the same.
So if nothing else, there are always roses. Which are your favorites-everybody has got a rose.
* She also sold Balkis Light for a while.