A Very Dark Rose Indeed

A Boldini study

A Boldini study

The other week I bought a bottle of La Rose Jacqueminot without having tested the perfume.  Since it was composed about 1904, I was not certain what kind of perfume I would end up with, this is a Coty after all, and he invented two of the standard scent families of the twentieth century.

La Rose Jacqueminot is unusual.  In broad outline it is a rose chypre, but like many of the earliest of those, the formula straddles the line between chypres and orientals.  I have only read a couple of descriptions of L R J online and am not sure if my experience of it is similar to others’.  Rose can be used as a top note and probably is here, then there is an extended floral section that smells to me principally of rose and violet.  The notes are rounded almost three dimensional and even though my bottle was of the 1990s re-issue this is a slow moving fragrance.  Original versions of this perfume are described as being rose violet into the dry down with neither flower dominating the accord.  In this edp there is a definite trail which smells of musk and sandalwood or a sandalwood synthetic, plus another very dark material, possibly oakmoss. Some people described a tobacco scent.  I don’t really catch that here. The rose quality maybe a bit heavier, possibly a rose otto, and the material Rhodinol was used in 1904. Here there are some mulled tones but I smell faint smokiness rather than tobacco.

rosa-gallica-tuscanyLa Rose Jacqueminot does seem different from most other perfumes I have encountered.That may be due to  its earliness. The new rules were not established in 1904, by the next year with L’Origan they began to be.  This is a chypre without all the chypre ingredients, and an oriental without much amber. The base is somber with a tinge of saltiness in the far end of the evaporation.

This rose makes no excuses for being both sensual and lethargic.  In its original formula I bet it was even more leisurely, stretching itself like one of the Grandes Horizontals, across the hours between five and seven. The base of this perfume is more pronounced than those that came later for Coty.  His perfumes are generally rounded and soft with nothing  prominent about them.  La Rose Jacqueminot has a formidable quality to it underneath the many rose and violet petals, a sort of steeliness beneath the nosegay which is not much like modern perfumes. Most of the time though, this demanding

Late 19th century Paris

Late 19th century Paris

ending is too muted to unbalance the perfume, but once I showered, and the base washed clean of flowers was rather harsh. Normally it isn’t, partnering the roses and violets to their last molecular trace.  Smell this and you smell the end of the nineteenth century. This is horses and carriages and not internal combustion engines.

Despite its clip-clop speed I’d still recommend LRJ.  You need to have patience, you need not to mind perfumes that change over time (because it does considerably) and you have to like rose and violet in combination. I think that this particular retro perfume is well suited to men.  In fact I would highly recommend this to men who like Rose Barbare, or Rose de Nuit, reminding them that it is slower moving than either of those. LRJ lasts on my skin for a good four to five hours in the edp. It is not as heavy as the Rose Oud formulas. I compared it to de Nicolai’s Rose Oud and found it much more flowery and discreet in its beginning, though certainly with more staying power than you might think and an elegance you might not find in the more heavy handed orientals. This is a very 19th century rose.

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8 thoughts on “A Very Dark Rose Indeed

  1. Thanks for the review; from your description I can sort of imagine LRJ (love ‘clip-clop’), though I normally put the rose-violet at the softer, more feminine end of the spectrum. Rose can be tremendously masculine, but violet? Not sure. That said, Lush has a shampoo called Daddy-o which is scented with the deepest, darkest, oiliest, most threatening violet you can imagine.

    Dark roses are not my line of country (I enjoy Knowing every now and then), but I enjoy reading about them, and indeed all rose fragrances. There is such variety now and the people who love them write about them so passionately.

  2. Not everyone is rose obsessed (this is hard for rosarians to believe) but true.

    The very curious aspect of La Rose is that it is not a rose soliflore at all but really a rose violet accord. Your description of Daddy-o makes me want to stop by a Lush store to smell but think LRJ is the opposite side of the violet spectrum.
    Then too it has this chypre end, someone and I think it was The Muse in Wooden Shoes once described this as a soft rose on top of Miss Dior, and that’s accurate.

  3. You had me at the mention of ‘sensual and lethargic’. I am on an eternal quest to find the most knock out dark rose…

    By the way, you won the elephant(!) over on my blog – let me know if you would like it or whether I should offer it to the next person I drew as a fall back. 😉

  4. Did I? Well there’s a first.

    You should offer it to the next person. Sometimes I think I ought to let someone else have a shot at owning some nice perfume bottles for a change and not be such a hog.

    Sorry to hear of all your domestic leaks and dishwasher problems- but I do like the sound of Truffle’s crunchie collection. Our cat mostly collects toys and napping spots.

  5. LRJ sounds very interesting, like a riddle, like a mystery. I hope it continues to intrigue, with more positive effects than jarring. I like rose mixed with jasmine as in Joy, not sure of rose with violet but I’m a novice with a lot to learn.

    It’s nice LRJ lasts 4 or 5 hours, that’s persistent. It may be one of those oddities that improves with time if not an immediate favorite. Perhaps the changeable Alexandrite nature of LRJ may give a pleasant feeling to the wearer more often than not. It sounds lovely, I hope you aren’t sorry you bought it. Francois Coty’s own blend, hard to go wrong.

    I must tell my son-in-law about grapefruit beer. He brews.

    Which reminds me, remember when pink grapefruit fragrance was all the rage?

    • Good for your son, the world can always use brewers!

      Yes, I do remember when grapefruit was very much in style. It’s a very nice note and the one I remember loving the most was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Pamplemousse which you could buy in a pulse roller.
      La Rose is a fragrance I don’t regret buying at all. The beginning of it is the softest rose and the violet seems to make it plushier, if anything.

    • Very strong minded stuff really. I did get the violet and I do like the beginning but the end is a bit rough in the re-issue.

      Sometimes wonder how the originals compare but as time goes on I often find they are relatively true to the original concept, so I’m guessing LRJ was always a tough cookie.

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