Rose in the Round

Winchester Cathedral photo our own

Winchester Cathedral photo our own

My roses have begun to be acclimated to the new garden and one has bloomed.  It is such a pretty thing and the scent is so different from what rises out of perfume bottles that I am  compelled to write about rose fragrances and how often they seem to go wrong when transplanted to human skin.

The rose in these pictures is David Austin’s Winchester Cathedral a white sport (A spontaneous change in flower, appearing on an established variety.  It’s an odd term I know.)  from his well known Mary Rose.  Winchester has a smell that is not at all like what wafts from perfume counters.

There is something earthy and creamy, something faintly like the best soap, and something that reminds me of baby diapers.  In short, this is a rose scent

An already established Winchester Cathedral from Pinterest

An already established Winchester Cathedral from Pinterest

that is intensely mortal. This scent reminds me too of hawthorn in bloom, and there is always that scatole element there, something I used to describe as “what died in the hedgerow?”

Nothing has died in the petals of this rose, but Winchester distinctly has that fleshy emanation, that little reminder that nothing lasts, not a conviction, not a life time, and not a rose in a glass.  What is immortal about roses is their underlying similarity.  Despite the fact that roses have such a tremendous range of smells in their repertoire, you always know that you have a rose under your nose.  The only credible mimic is geranium, and even there, you sometimes get tipped off that it’s an imposter.  How? Well, let’s say it’s remarkably like the mistakes that perfumers make when they imitate roses, there;s too much prettiness, and not enough beauty. Beauty has mistakes in it, prettiness, like gemutlichkeit, is faultless and therefore trivial.

Real roses, like Winchester Cathedral have this extra something, something, scata- logical, something odd, something disproportionate, like Sophia Loren’s long nose, or Audrey Hepburn’s big feet, that set off its startling loveliness.  In short there has to be a bit  of ugly in there.

Teo Cabanel's Oha a survivor of the Chypre Massacre

Teo Cabanel’s Oha a survivor of the Chypre Massacre

Lately perfume roses seem to be the last survivors of the great chypre massacre.  You still have oud and wood formulas with rose in the heart, cf, Guerlain’s Rose Barbare, Rose Nacree, Portrait of a Lady, Teo Cabanel’s Oha, and so forth.  They are inclined to pair rose with something dry and heavy, usually wood, and while I like the pairing, wouldn’t some real rose be a break from all this?

It would but…which rose to emulate, and how do you recreate that perfume?  Sa Majeste la Rose was one of my big disappointments because I felt the rose was static.  Equally I found the splendid old Creed Fleur de Te Rose Bulgare a flat rendition.  Roses are not suspended in time nor are they two dimensional.  Does anyone do a rose that isn’t? Does anyone do a rose in the round?

The Base accord of Une Rose was a reconstruction of a truffle

The Base accord of Une Rose was a reconstruction of a truffle

My own candidate is Une Rose, the Eduoard Flechier Rose from the Frederic Malle line but as Mals from The Muse in Wooden Shoes has remarked, UR has a very menacing synthetic in it which can be down right off putting, and I find something similar which makes me cough in Diptyque’s Eau de Rose. Still, the Flechier composition comes closest to the rose as ideal.  For one thing, Malle himself puts his finger on the point of perfume,”…a true perfume must seem to emerge from the skin of the person who wears it.” he writes in On Perfume Making, and  he’s quite right.

Une Rose began anyway with an earth accord which came, Malle says from an experiment in recreating the smell of a truffle.  The earth, garlic and nuttiness needed to be changed slightly, and when that happened, Flechier felt that he had a wonderful base accord.  He and Malle then decided to pair it with a beautiful Turkish rose molecularly distilled essence that made this rose one of the densest, most intense, but also epidermally friendly fragrances ever composed.

The overall impression of Une Rose is of a robust, rich crimson, here the Rugosa hybrid Hunter personifies it.

The overall impression of Une Rose is of a robust, rich crimson, here the Rugosa hybrid Hunter personifies it.

Here  is the kicker though, this rose is a rose for anyone with the skin to carry  such a thickly petalled bloom, because there is absolutely nothing gender specific about this rose.  This is simply a human rose, in the round. Have you found a perfectly wearable rose?

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18 thoughts on “Rose in the Round

  1. Heya,
    My perfect rose is Mohur. Yes, I know it’s part of an ensemble but I feel that Dachaufour has built the spice, sweet, citrus, tea, earth and humanity in. Another couple of my favourites are Aftelier Wild Roses, Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges and SOIVOHLE Rosa sur Reuse. They all seem to have depths and darknesses, the beauty and disfigurement, perfectly held for me.
    Portia xx

    • Do you mind if I lift your list for Vanessa’s rose questing friend? It’s a very good one and I too loved Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges and Rosa sur Reuse.

      Mohur I have not gotten around to yet, and there are rafts of Montales left untried. Also Wild Roses got past me, but will have a sniff because I love, love Aftelier!

  2. I’ve always liked roses that had an aroma but I smelled many different roses and I think they have in common as much as different breeds of dogs: you can still say it’s a dog but you’ll never mistake Great Hound for Shih Tzu.
    As to rose perfumes, I prefer them in complex bouquets.

    • You have Portrait of a Lady don’t you? That is one of the most sophisticated of the rose bouquets. Another is the chypre Rose de Nuit and I don’t know what you think of that one, or La Fille de Berlin, which I forgot about when writing about peppery flowers the other week, anyway both beautiful. I agree with you about wanting something with the rose. Still love Black Rosette myself though gotta admit leather and mint are curious companions for rose!

  3. ” … a true perfume must seem to emerge from the skin of the person who wears it”. That’s a great quote, and so true. Exactly what will create that alchemy between perfume and skin will vary from person to person, but when you have found one, that is the perfume you reach for again and again.

    • Oh yes, you have it there. This is what always bedevils me with perfume, because I’m continually trying to talk myself into one masterpiece after another, but subsequently find that what I wear is what “seems” natural on me, and that is often not classic!

      Case in point Nuit de Noel, try to wear it but, nope, nada, no dice. On the other hand can wear Poivre just fine. It’s what adapts to human skin that lasts. Guy Robert understood that perfectly 😉

  4. Very interested in your post because my friend’s quest to find a really realistic rose scent is still ongoing – she rejected lots of the ones she tried because they had too much other stuff going on. She did try Une Rose but it was too loud, as I recall, which is a shame as I was hopeful of it being a contender. Sa Majeste came close but is still not right. I must check in with her and see if she has found any others meanwhile.

    But ‘rose in the round’ is a great way of putting it – the flower is such a complex thing.

    • See Portia’s list above for anything your friend has not tried, and I would add, if she’s looking for a soliflore, then why not Tea/Rose from Brosius or Krigler’s Manhattan Rose?

      Sometimes you can find La Rose Jacqueminot from the nineties re-release for reasonable online, and ditto Houbigant’s A Rose is a Rose, or the slightly dusty earthy Crown Rose. Among contemporaries, Musc Intense is PdN’s actually Turkish rose scent, very lasting and quite rose in the drydown.
      Hope she finds her rose!

  5. I’ve been on a rose kick lately, and I seem to be wanting gentle roses, not fierce ones – mostly soliflores, but I’ve also been craving AG Petite Cherie as well, for comfort. The uber-spendy Parfums MDCI Rose di Siwa is a favorite, but truth be told, I love it mostly because it smells of Sarah Bernhardt peonies to me. Teo Cabanel Early Roses I have been wanting to buy for some time, and I ran across a slightly-used bottle on ebay a few days ago and SNAPPED THAT SUCKA UP. $49 for 50ml, how could I resist? Just tried Mona di Orio Rose Etoile de Holland, and that’s nice as well – or there are a number of DSH roses that are lovely. I am not a big citrus fan, nor a “natural/organic/botanical” perfume fan, but her Rose Vert is just gorgeous. Beach Roses is pretty, too, though I did not really get on with American Beauty. (I assume Vanessa’s friend is in the UK, so DSH might be out of the question for her.)

    • Rosa sur Reuse is very good. And I liked Ballets Rouges very much from a sample, but when I bought a bottle the magic had gone; I don’t know why – whether it differed from the sample or what, but it seemed much less rosy, much skankier. Sigh.
      Tauerville Rose Flash? Any of the Tauer roses maybe?

      • I haven’t sampled the Tauerville Rose Flash, so far have not had much luck with Tauers in general, but Teo Cabanel is good, now where is that Early Roses sample? Sounds like you picked up a bargain!

        There are a bunch of MDCI’s I should try. Un Coeur en Mai was not my rose nirvana unfortunately. Did you sample that?

        Actually one of my favorite roses is the rose in the first half of L’Heure Bleue (vintage 90’s edt)before the bandaid note kicks in. I just love that, and so far have not come across a better one. Well, OK, once I was given by Meg of Parfumieren a sample of Turkish rose extract. That was rose crack!

        • Did not like Un Coeur en Mai. I got smacked in the nose with a big geranium note, and I don’t much like geranium in general.

          SOMEWHERE I have a sample of Montale Highness Rose that is truly rose. I promised it to someone else because I never wear it, but it was nice. I just don’t know where it is right now. GRR.

          • I was reading your post on storing samples and know what you mean about not being able to find things. Frustrating, though only have myself to blame and don’t even try to sort alphabetically!

            Will look out for Montale Highness, don’t hear much of Montales these days-curious.

  6. I’ve had good luck with Papillon’s Tobacco Rose – the name is a bit misleading, because it sounds like a woody-spicy heavy hitter. On me, TR is a gauzy red rose with a hay-like facet that dries it out enough so it isn’t pretty-pretty. The sillage isn’t enormous, but it does radiate nicely.

    • Aha, somebody has tried Tobacco Rose!

      Was very curious about that one, and afraid it was going to end up another Lubin Black Jade, but the hay part sounds new and different to me…Will give it a try when in Europe this summer.

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