A Ring of Roses

White Rose Collage of English Roses from the blog French Essence

White Rose Collage of English Roses from the blog French Essence

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

Yves saint laurent’s Paris

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.

Red Rose collage from French Essence

Red Rose collage from French Essence

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.

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22 thoughts on “A Ring of Roses

  1. A while ago I realized that I have never tried YSL’s Paris. I need to rectify that to test some hypothesis (I’ll write about it on my blog in the next couple of months).

    I like rose in perfumes but not those that turn soapy on my skin. One of the biggest offenders was Perfumer’s Workshop’s Tea Rose: I almost hated it and even gave away my decant – which is very unusual for me.

    Roses that I like and enjoy wearing are OJ Ta’if, Amouage Lyric, FM PoaL, Le Labo Rose 31, Hermès Rose Ikebana, Lancôme Mille et Une Roses and Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille. There are probably at least 3-5 more but since they are still represented by samples in my collection I won’t count them (al from the list above are at least decants).

  2. I often wonder about that soap phenomenon. Why do so many rose scents go that direction? While we’re at it, the second problem with roses, sourness, can’t say how many roses I’ve abandoned because they smelled like Countrytime Lemonade on me.

    Vanessa sent me a decant of Ta’if and that is a lovely peppery rose, I like PoaL , and the Lancome, like the Hermes. What do you think of Diptych’s old Ombre sur L’Eau? That’s a beautiful-but linear- rose with cassis. Very cooling.

    Paris is something you recognize because very popular back in the day, but still very pretty.
    As to Tea Rose that was AWFUL on me but I had a friend on whom the same scent was spectacular, hard to believe it was the same perfume.

    • L’Ombre dans l’Eau was Ok but it reminded me of something else… I thought YSL Babydoll but wasn’t sure since I didn’t have any of the latter left for a comparison.

  3. I’ve wondered about the soapy/sour thing with roses as well… not to mention synthetic and cloying (Stella managed to be all four on my skin).

    The first rose I’ve ever been enthusiastic about is By Kilian’s Rose Oud. The oud/incense angle seems to keep the rose from indulging in any of the above-mentioned bad behavior, while still keeping a very tangy-juicy rose vibe throughout.

    I chased down a 5-ml mini of Yves Rocher’s (discontinued, of course) Rose Absolue recently. On me it’s a very creamy pink rose that’s sweet but in a natural and not-at-all cloying way; in fact, it’s so lactonic that it has an almost gourmand quality (in a good way). Am planning on layering it with something like Avignon/Cardinal or something very green and seeing what happens!

    • Oh dear, you have been through the rose mills!

      For the record could never wear Stella either, though i’ve had good luck with Killians and with Yves Rochers (one of the best kept secrets of French perfumery really, price and quality wise, don’t you find?).

      Have you tried any of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s roses? American Beauty and Dirty Rose are really good and I can vouch for American Beauty being … beautiful and pretty reasonable :-)

      • Yes, Yves Rocher has some surprisingly nice fragrances – especially the ones in the Secrets d’Essence line. The Neroli Sd’E is another one that’s FBW for me (and you can find 30-ml and 50-ml bottles on eBay for less than $50, yay).

        I haven’t tried the DSH roses yet; I’ve been saving up for a sample run at her website, so I’ll be sure to add both of those… thanks for the tip!

  4. Very partial to rose scents and keep finding new ones to love. In no particular order here are a handful – Tai’if (okay, that is probably high up!), Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar, PG Brulure de Rose, Amouage Lyric, AG Rose Absolue – and have recently fallen for (and won a decant of!) Tauer Une Rose Vermeille.

    • Brulure de Rose drove me absolutely bats-here’s why. I kept on smelling roses and crumbled Oreos. It also had this dry cocoa thing going on , so didn’t manage BdR. Very annoyed because I wanted to.

      But I did like Ta’if a good deal, and really liked Rose Absolue for years but it was always a if you see it jump on it proposition in the States. I swear Saks imported five bottles every year and sold them in twenty four hours!!

      Lucky you for winning the Tauer decant, I’ve had little experience with his things so far. Do you love this one?

      • I do love this one, though my past experience with the line overall is chequered at best. Another new discovery is Diptyque Eau Rose (like Creed’s Fleurs de The de Bulgarie – you know what I mean…;) )

        • Oh darn it Vanessa! Was just at Neiman’s yesterday and they have Diptyque and I didn’t try Eau Rose.
          Arrg, I knew I should have checked out that counter better.

          They are all selling the Diana Vreeland things these days at NM, also Francis Kurkdijian’s line and CREED. Lots of Creed.

  5. I love the scent of actual roses, but wear very few perfumes that emphasize that note. Of these, Magie Noire is my favorite by far. I’ve recently had the opportunity to check out Vero Profumo Rozy and also like that one quite a bit.

    • Now you have interested me a good deal because I don’t remember a rose note in Magie Noire. However because you mentioned it, I went and looked it up but you are right there is a very big oriental rose right in the heart of Magie Noire!
      There is also a big patchouli base, given all this,I can’t help but wonder if you would not like Rose Anonyme which is the rose patchouli ginger Atelier perfume.

      As to Rozy, well I’m shockingly behind the times with Vero Kern. Have to get on it!

    • The rose in Magie Noire gets overwhelmed by all the green stuff for me. It’s *there,* but I have to lift all the shrubbery to find it. (Oddly, you know, I smell tons of roses in Aromatics Elixir.)

      • Isn’t there a lot of patchouli in AE as well? My problem there is not the rose but the chamomile opening which reads as “The dog wet the carpet again!” and off I go in search of the spot remover.

        • Yes! Lots of patchouli and something EXTREMELY urinous… I always make myself sniff it at the counter, just so I can think to myself, “Somebody peed all over the rose hedge,” and shudder a little.

          I notice, though, that if I spray it on a card or fabric, it is *SO* gorgeous a day later.

  6. I have been looking for something that evokes the feeling of vintage Magie Noire ever since Lancome reformulated it. Many thanks for the suggestion of Rose Anonyme! I will certainly check it out. I think I like Rozy (in voile d’extrait) the best of the Vero Kern perfumes.

  7. You know me, I love roses in general. I’m usually more surprised by rose scents I *can’t* wear than the ones I can: 100% Love, holy COW how awful that was – sour rose, dusty cocoa patchouli. Dreadful. Voleur de Roses is along the same lines.

    Tauer Incense Rose. Again, awful – sour rose, sour wet-ashes wood/incense. I do not do well with certain kinds of incense and rose, I’ve found. Eau d’Italie’s Paestum Rose was similarly acrid, and at least a couple others that fit that profile. (I really like Une Rose Chypre & Une Rose Vermeille; haven’t tried Une Rose de Kandahar yet.)

    Frederic Malle Une Rose – it was glorious rose for fifteen minutes, after which it began to have a strange emotional effect that made me feel HUNTED. Gah.

    I didn’t get on well with Or et Noir – the rose up top is sharp and hissy for some time on me, before it relaxes. I do love Parfum Sacre, though.

    • Favorite roses: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete
      Parfum Sacre
      Amouage Lyric Woman
      L’Arte di Gucci
      DSH Rose Vert
      By Kilian Rose Oud
      Annick Goutal Petite Cherie (yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all the wet-dog cracks… I don’t smell that. And I like pear.)
      Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme
      YSL Paris – which I never smelled until about 2010, unless what I thought was Coty Exclamation! was really Paris. And yeah, the old Coty Paris is cut along the same lines as the YSL, I agree.
      I like a nice citrus rose (Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, Moschino Funny!) as well for summer.

      • The top of Or et Noir is indeed somewhat hissy!! I actually love the description, bit of a diva, but later on O&N is so lovely that I forgive it the hiss fit.

        Une Rose features Karanal, which can be a typhoon, and always gives me pause and sometimes headaches.

        One of the best roses overall-you know – just might be Rose Vert, also I like Musc Intense which reads as: strawbery jam, rose and musk on me. Did you try that one?

          • There is also a very nice rose in the Jeffrey Dame samples Olfactif sent out, called…Cassis, Rose &Sandalwood come to think of it when i was writing to Undina it occurred to me that what CR&S smelled like was Ombre sur L’Eau only less one note. My favorite of jeffry’s things so far, and a good alternative to Musc Intense if you aren’t a musk maniac ;-)

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