Saturday, 14 February 2015

'Really rosy yet cosy' perfumes: a 'hybrid' rose scent challenge

Mondo (1993) ~ Source:
So I am writing a post about rose perfumes, and it happens to be Valentine's Day. This being Bonkers, the emphasis is very much on 'happens'. Not because I am at all Bah Humbug about the event - well, leaving aside its most rampantly commercial excesses, that is - but because I am simply not that organised as a rule. Scurries to the archives to see if I have ever blogged on a Valentine's theme before...the answer seems to be twice in five years(!), so it has been a bit patchy, certainly. This post from 2013 still perfectly sums up my view of the day, while this one from 2012 (a day late, admittedly) features Kate Walsh's Boyfriend scent, which just three days later - and rather tellingly, looking back - I reported smashing on the kitchen floor.

But as I say, the Valentine's / rose theme this year is fortuitous; the trigger for this post was rather a request the other day from my friend Jessica:

"Can you recommend some rose perfumes that might suit me (personality-wise)? Roses never used to be my thing (although I did wear 'Paris' and 'Tea Rose' for a while in the early 80s), but I do seem to be drawn to rose-scented things at the moment for some reason."

Now this is interesting, for Jessica recently celebrated a milestone birthday - her diligent wearing of sunscreen down the years means you would never think it, mind - and when I passed that particular milestone I too found myself strongly attracted to rose perfumes... Make of that what you will.


But while I was delighted to note Jessica's budding interest in rose perfumes, my first reaction was: 'Ooh, roses, that's a tricky one.' So I wrote straight back, mumbling some psychobabble about my friend being 'a bit of a dichotomy, personality-wise', to buy myself some time. ;) And because she had found Tauer's PHI Rose de Kandahar too full-on - she sniffed me wearing it at our last meeting - I also asked for some general steers as regards 'fuzziness vs limpidity', 'strong and ballsy versus soft', plus any thoughts on degrees of spice, which features in a lot of my own favourite rose scents.

"I think what I want is something soft and comforting without too many other notes competing with the rose. A little spiciness would be okay, eg cardamom. I want it to wear every day, for myself, rather than to make a statement."

By way of background, Jessica is a singer songwriter and front woman of Would-be-goods (a band name to which I am itching to add a definite article, which I have almost certainly done in the past by mistake!). Regular readers may recall that Would-be-goods have featured in a few of my posts, most recently this one about a gig in London last summer, where I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy my first experience of passive vaping. In person Jessica is warm and demure, with a charming gentility, while the band's music has been characterised as 'classy, elegant pop tunes with a wispy European air' and 'clever, witty and biting lyrics'. Jessica's voice meanwhile is 'a sultry measured tone that sounds both educated and sensuous'.

The Lexington gig last summer

Now I say 'demure', but Jessica is also one of the few people I know who can really rock true red lipstick, and a friend of hers reportedly said she looked 'total badass' (that word again!) when sporting it at the gig in question. So maybe I wasn't far out with my talk of dichotomies...;)

Also worthy of note is the fact that Jessica has distant Indian ancestry and would ideally love the perfume to connect in some way to India - or at least as far as the Middle East if that could possibly be contrived. And she doesn't care for a lot of patchouli, owing to unfortunate hippie associations involving a third party, over the precise specifics of whom I will draw a veil...;).

Having given the matter some thought, and sifted through the best of the 'best of' lists of rose perfumes on the Internet for inspiration, the conundrum I am wrestling with at the heart of Jessica's brief is the fact that in my experience the rose perfumes which are 'all about the rose' - or mostly, say - such as Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare, Lancome Mille et Une Roses, Frederic Malle's Une Rose or Serge Lutens Sa Majeste La Rose, tend not to be what you would call 'soft and comforting'. While the powdery, cosy, contemplative scents like Parfum Sacre or Lush Gorilla Imogen Rose, Ormonde Jayne Ta'if or Rose Kashmirie, NV Mohur etc are more about the softness and do not smell that glaringly of rose - or not on my skin at least. Jessica revisited her sample of Ta'if in fact, and pronounced it to be insufficiently rosy, hehe, giving us a helpful benchmark.


I have discounted all the rose-forward Tauers as well, by analogy with PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, as they are all a similar intensity. Then FM Portrait of a Lady, By Kilian Rose Oud and Amouage Lyric have the requisite Indian / far away feel to them, but are also not overtly rosy enough to my mind. YMMV of course, as might Jessica's indeed, when she catches up with them. And I would say that most of the above perfumes have too many notes competing with the rose, though as long as the latter as very prominent, that aspect may well fall out of the equation.

Next up, I ran the question past Katie Puckrik, who came up with two suggestions: the new scent Spirituelle by Divine (which I have not yet tried) and Rose Splendide by Annick Goutal, which I smelt during my last visit to Fascination Perfumery, but by the looks of things may have muddled up with Rose Absolue in that post. It turns out that Jessica used to own and likes Rose Absolue, but again it lacks the cosy aspect.

Source: fragrantica

We are kind of back to 'spiky vs fluffy' territory, though for spiky substitute 'realistic'. And here we are of course trying to combine both facets in one, as well as incorporating Eastern influences and possibly a slight 'badass' undercurrent for good - as in bad! - measure. For even though Jessica envisages this as being more of an everyday scent, I think it would be nice if it had a hint of a sultry kick to it somehow.

My own best tips at the moment - which are cosy-ish and 'somewhat, veering to quite markedly' rosy - are Agent Provocateur Original and Tom Ford Cafe Rose. However, I could really use your help on this to generate some more contenders. Is the notion of a rose scent that is 'really rosy yet cosy' too thorny for words, hehe, or is the perfect 'hybrid strain' out there somewhere...? ;)

Oh, and this is not the sort of powdery rose look we are aiming for - that poor specimen is suffering from mildew!

Source: "Podosphaera pannosa 1" by Clemson University (Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, as we are on the theme of Asian-inspired perfumes, I was touched to receive a joky Valentine's gift this year from fellow blogger Sabine of Iridescents, who brought it back from her recent holiday in Thailand. Thanks, Sabine! My only other post today was a £1.50 Tesco coupon, which wouldn't even stretch to the smallest box of Ferrero Rocher...;)


Tara said...

I love perfume match-making! I bet Katie P has it sewn up with her suggestions but I'll just add one. I hate to say I haven't actually tried it but Rose Kasmirie by Les Parfums de Rosine might fit the bill. It's a powdery rose with saffron. Did you dimiss Brulure de Rose, V? That's a cosy rose, though with no "badass" or Eastern inflections.

I think Tobacco Rose would be worth a try too. Not what I'd describe as cosy but there is more than enough rose in there for anyone and it has a touch of badass - The Silver Fox called it "a dirty bitch" after all!

I really hope Jessica finds her rose and we get a follow-up post.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Thanks for seconding Rose Kashmirie - I shall get my bottle out and have another sniff. I admit I dismissed Brulure de Rose on 'full-on' and gourmand grounds - I thought it might be just a little bit much. And no badass or Eastern inflections, as you rightly point out, but good and rosy in its choco-tastic way!

Good reminder too about Tobacco Rose - I did actually dig your decant out the other day and got sidetracked from giving it the onceover again. Good old Foxy - that's a great comment! So far I have only sent Jessica Imogen Rose, Cafe Rose and Mohur, because I had them to hand and wanted to see where they fitted along the rosiness spectrum to help refine the search.

I do also think we each perceive different amounts of rose in different scents, so that is another variable. And sometimes I get a different impression with the same scent on separate days in this regard! The rose in Cafe Rose was coming and going, for example. ;)

Tara said...

Sorry V, totally missed that you mentioned Rose Kasmirie in the post under those that are not sufficiently rosy. Must read more carefully in future.

I think sending Jessica those three will really help narrow it down and I can imagine her taking to Imogen Rose which I've heard good things about.

Vanessa said...

Hey, no worries - I thought you had clocked the RK reference, and were agreeing that it sounded promising, though you haven't tried it personally. Must rectify that!

Jessica did like Imogen Rose - she definitely found it comforting - not sure how it fared in the rosy stakes.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, I would second Tom Ford's Café Rose and recommend trying Patricia de Nicolai's Musc Intense. To my nose it's soft and comforting, it's only a little bit spicy (cloves), doesn't make a statement and can be worn all year through. (And that PdN offers 30ml bottles is a plus, I think). But it's a rather realistic rose and I don't see an Eastern Influence (well, the rose is said to be a Turkish rose, if that counts...).
(I am wearing Nahema today, one of my favorite roses)

Vanessa said...

Hi Anka,

Thanks for those recs! I am not familiar with the Musc Intense scent at all, indeed the whole Nicolai house is a little off my radar. A rather realistic rose - of whatever provenance - sounds good to me. Turkey is a fair way east, certainly. ;) Nahema is lovely, and I did wonder about putting it forward. It features on some of the 'best of' lists I was reading too. Slightly metallic facet, doubtless due to the type of rose used?

Asali said...

Perfume-matching is great :-) I'd actually recommend the original Stella. I only know the 'old' version of which fragrantica says this 'In the top notes there are rose oil, peony and a gentle touch of fresh tangerine. In the heart of the perfume there is rose, whose gentle scent is emphasized by the deep note of amber in the base.', but apparently people love the new version too. I suppose Safran Troublant would not be enough rose, but original AP is a good bet too.
Good luck to Jessica finding her perfect rose.

Yuki said...

I second the original Stella (definitely rosy, but might not be cozy enough), and perhaps Rose Ikebana along the same vein?

I was thinking is that while your friend mentions that she wants a rose without too many other things competing with it, I have found in my own personal experience that my own idea of a truly rosy rose is often very different from whatever extract or oil or whatnot that the perfumer has used (even if it is literally straight from the flower)...and many of my favorite roses are composed of many other notes that somehow come together and work. Thus, I love Rose Poivree and find it incredibly rosy even though a salesperson at Barney's told me that it didn't actually have any rose in it (not sure if this is true, though).

crikey said...

Might I suggest Lutens's Fille de Berlin? Possibly lacking the cosiness, but a good spiced rose. Lush, jammy, almost boozy rose, with some cold spikes of baddassery, and it's not buried under a dozen other notes. (hmm... or Byredo's Rose Noir? Though that may pack too much patchouli for comfort.)

Carol said...

My first thought was AG Rose Absolue but after reading your entire post, I see that one was nixed. Then I thought of the original Stella, and see that others suggested that as well.

Anonymous said...

I love Nahema and read that it was the inspiration for Vero Kern's "rozy" and it really smells like a forerunner for her beautiful fragrance. An abstract rose which is cool, green and warm at the same time (it's more green than metallic on me).

Poodle said...

Rose and I have a fickle relationship. Sometimes she loves me and I love her but other times, not so much. Cozy roses are hard to come by but off the top of my head I'd say E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose is more about the rose than the Jacinthe. It was all fluffy and pretty on me. Paestum Rose is another that was warm and rosy. Although not really rose, my skin pulls a lot of rose from Jardins de Bagatelle but that might not qualify as cozy.

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

I wondered about Safran Troublant, which to me is more about the spice than the rose, so didn't suggest it. But it is lovely nonetheless and could be worn every day. And has a great name!

Interesting that you recommend Stella, for when Katie Puckrik put forward Divine Spirituelle she also said it reminded her of Stella, so that is another vote by the back door. ;)

Vanessa said...

Oh I say, Anka, I didn't know that about Nahema being the inspiration for Rozy, but I can make the connection now you mention it. I do get the green as well, but remember a metallic aspect being quite pronounced on me. Time for a retry as it was very special.

Vanessa said...

Hi Yuki,

Hey, another vote for Stella! I guess I assumed that some degree of powderiness might be required to convey cosiness, so didn't come up with Stella off the bat, but I do think it is worth a shot for its warmth and depth of field. Rose Ikebana is the one with a grapefruit note, as I recall?

Then you make an excellent point that really rosy roses may be achieved in a more complex composition. What a fascinating titbit about Rose Poivree not having much rose in it. That would make an interesting blog post by someone with more technical knowledge than me about why that phenomenon should be. It was certainly my hunch that the number of competing notes in the perfume that comes off as sufficiently rosy in J's eyes might prove to be a red herring, so thanks for chiming in on that aspect.

Vanessa said...

Hi Crikey,

Thanks for dropping in, and may I say what a brilliant name you have! Fille de Berlin did flit across my mind, but because I don't have a sample of it at home it promptly flitted out again. ;) I do remember from my one in-store test of Fille de Berlin that it was good and rosy, with a lot of pepper and spice, maybe? Byredo's Rose Noir I can't remember though I must have tried it at some time. On the list it goes, patchouli notwithstanding. I can tell people that Jessica didn't care for Miller Harris's Rose Noir - it didn't reel her in for whatever reason. And Fleur Oriental gives her a tremendous headache, which is how she and I came to talk perfume first time round a few years back...

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

Stella is definitely going to go forward to the next round...;) And yes, sadly AG Rose Absolue doesn't fit the cosy profile, as beautiful and realistic as it is.

Vanessa said...

Hi Poodle,

I appreciate your stopping by, given your hot and cold relationship with rose. ;) I know the E Coudray line but not that one in particular, so Jacinthe et Rose could be worth checking out, also Paestum Rose. That's a darker, woody one, I seem to remember?

Then I have Jardins de Bagatelle, and while that one is more about white florals in general, I am curious to see if I can pull more rose from it now - I have a mini somewhere! ;)

Unknown said...

La Fille de Berlin would get a rec from me too, but I'm not that good with roses. What about Black Jade? I think I gave you a sample, it's a cinnamon rose. But may be not rosey enough for ypur friend.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

A pattern is starting to emerge, with La Fille de Berlin and Stella as strong contenders on scent grounds if not 'backstory'. Black Jade I have enjoyed wearing and still have a teeny bit left I think. I must confess I didn't know it was primarily a rose perfume - so much for my nose! I have just looked on Luckyscent and I note that it also has cardamom, which is on J's wish list of notes. Will fetch it out again for a retrial, as I am curious to see if I will read it as more rosy with that knowledge. ;)

Kathy Bungard said...

I love roses and in fragrance I have two favorites I wouldn't want to be without, one is Shiseido's White Rose and it must be distilled from the gorgeous Maiden's Blush alba rose. I have one in the garden and the scents are identical and so soft and beautiful. The other is Perris Monte Carlo's Rose de Taif from the rose purported to be the most fragrant of all. Highly recommend them both.

Undina said...

I have two names for you JHAG Miss Charming and Teo Cabanel Early Roses. Both should be easy to test since both houses have great sampling program.

Just thought of a couple more - Guerlain Rose Nacrée du Désert and Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme. Ok, somebody stop me: Jo Malone Red Roses and Diptyque Eau Rose.

Please report back once your friend finds her rose.

Vanessa said...

Hi Kathy,

Have not heard tell of that Shiseido perfume in ages, but from my distant recall it is definitely in that cosy vein. The other scent you mention is new to me and I must investigate - assuming it is a available in the UK. Thanks very much for chipping in with those recs!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thanks for all those suggestions! I have never sniffed Miss Charming for some reason. The Teo Alahine I should have somewhere. Eau Rose I did actually send to my friend in a scented body lotion - which was what I happened to have. I forgot to include that in the post. And I also mentioned the Jo Malone in one of our email exchanges, so it's great to hear these names recurring. The Guerlain I gave away, which is a shame. I think it has the Eastern vibe we are aiming for - near if not far.

Blacknall Allen said...

Cozy rose? Hm...for pure rosiness and a measure of coziness too I like Strange Invisible Perfume's Prima Ballerina with a bit of sage on top of the most intense pink rose-plus it's natural. Otherwise I really recommend Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's American Beauty which is always lovely and quite reasonable with the focus kept firmly on rose.

Anonymous said...

To add a contender with an Indian theme, there is Smell Bent's Bollywood or Bust. It's uncomplicated, with red rose, spices, and sandalwood, and SB scents are very reasonable. My only doubt is that it might not be rosy enough.


SallyM said...

Stella! (shouted in my best Marlon Brando voice). First I must say that I'm not a rose fan at all, having had a hideous experience at 9 years old after trying to make "rose water" on the advice of a very eccentric aunt. Bottom line was a bedroom that smelt of rotting pond water overlaying a cloying rose resulting in years of therapy. (J/K on the therapy but I have loathed rose perfumes with a passion ever since) That being said, I was quite impressed with Stella and I think that was due to the soft amber that underpins it - amber is one of my favorite notes - which lends the "coziness" aspect I think your friend is looking for.
My 2nd suggestion would be Nahema - a truly lovely rose to even this rose-phobic nose. At least on a strip.
Do let us know the end game!

Vanessa said...

Hi Blacknall,

I know a few of the SIP line, but not the one you mention - sounds amazing. Hard to come by in this country. American Beauty I had seen a mention of somewhere, so was starting to wonder about it - thanks for putting it forward. An order to Surrender to Chance might be in order for these US ones.

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Bollywood or Bust sounds great - it's a line I have just heard of by name, but I vaguely remember a glowing review of this somewhere. Great tip for the Indian theme, no question.

Vanessa said...

Hi SallyM,

Stella! Commiserations on your abortive attempt to make a rose perfume - was reading about Undina's own fiasco recently. Seems quite common, as haunting formative childhood experiences go. ;)

If Stella wormed its way into your affections notwithstanding, that is an accolade indeed. And another vote for Nahema I see...

Promise to let you know the end game!

Vanessa said...

Update on Jessica's findings so far. Cafe Rose may be too dominated by the coffee note, though she is persisting with it. Mohur is not rosy enough, which I predicted. She has also clarified that softness and cosiness may be conveyed without out-and-out powderiness of the face powder kind - so amber is a contender, as in Stella, or incense, woods, milky, rice-type accords, benzoin, vanilla, sandalwood et al. I can't think offhand of any other soft-conducive notes, but you get my drift.

Sarah Waite said...

Hi Vanessa and Anka, I dropped down the comments box ready to suggest Nahema and subsequently read Anka's suggestion of the Nicolai musk and thought it to be an excellent idea.
Then I read she was wearing Nahema.
Anka, are you my scent soulmate?
I love the hyacinth opening in Nahema but wonder if it would be a challenging note to those not hankering over the oily and slightly angry plant?

Vanessa said...

Hi Sarah,

Oh how funny that you were thinking along totally similar lines to Anka. Maybe it is the hyacinth that makes me think of metal in Nahema. I do like it a lot, but it has a tang to my nose which could be challenging to someone looking for the shortest route to cosy?

Sun Mi said...

I have no suggestions, but I am enjoying trading about this rose journey! Best of luck to Jessica in her search!

Sun Fontaine said...

Ugh, reading... Terrible at phone swyping!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun Mi,

Apologies for the delay in replying, but thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed reading this post, and don't worry about your phone probs - we all have them!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
haha, I would love to have a scent soulmate!

Suzanne said...

If it's not too late, Vanessa, may I add one to your list for Jessica to try? Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient features more than rose, but the rose really shimmers in this lovely perfume - and the incense is quiet, such that the overall effect is sublime (maybe not cosy, but definitely soft and elegant and the perfect rose scent for someone who wears lipstick well). Otherwise, my vote goes to Amouage Lyric for Jessica.

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Not too late at all! I had forgotten about Mythique d'Orient, and your description is lovely. Amouage Lyric I can report back on - unfortunately it was not rosy enough, and I think also a bit sweet on J's skin, which was unexpected. She has already been to Liberty's once on a sniffing foray, but needs to pay a second visit, I gather. I am hoping to get along there myself soon and try a few things on her behalf.

Katie Puckrik said...

Ooh wow, the "smell imagination" section of my brain is really going to town with everyone's wonderful suggestions. Yes yes yes to L'Artisan's Safran Troublant, Rose Kashmirie, the Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient, and Smellbent's Bollywood or Bust. I've worn them all and love them all.

Vanessa said...

Hi Katie,

Jessica tried Rose Kashmirie and liked it a lot, however it fell by the 'insufficiently rosy' wayside. She is now veering to plusher, more overt rose scents and compromising on the cosy, if need be. Quite hopeful of Milieu Rose by Odin or Attar de Roses by Keiko Mecheri.

Vanessa said...

Oh, I tried that Smellbent one in the course of my own research and liked it a lot too. ;)

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