In Celia Lyttleton’s book The Scent Trail, which is about her travels in search of inspiration for a bespoke perfume, there is one sentence I love. I happened upon it again last night while I was idly flipping through the book.
In the introduction Lyttleton mentions her earliest scent memories being that of her grandparents’ house. She remembers not just the smell of woodsmoke, cigars, leather, and dark chocolate but also:
my grandmother’s rich peppery rose scent (which she had made in Cairo during the war and the formula of which she kept so that she could have it copied in Paris).’
All of that sounds delightful, but oh! How enchanting to have a scent made in Cairo, and loving it so much as to keep the formula and ‘have it copied’ in Paris. She had a bespoke perfume made for her twice over, in Cairo – and Paris! How much more romantic can you get? (Well, not the war bit.)
How I would love to be there, to smell the perfume, to follow the grandmother through some lovely little street in Paris with her last bottle, to have the perfume recreated. How precious it must have been to her.
So I have been dreaming of finding my own ‘rich, peppery rose scent’. Trouble is, I have never liked rose soliflores much. I don’t like dark angry roses, I don’t wear rose-violet blends (though I appreciate their beauty), I don’t like tea-rose, and wine-like rose might remind me of vinegar. I can’t usually afford high-end niche fragrances, which is where a lot of the adventurous roses tend to be. That does not leave me much room to move does it?
Well, I do have some spicy roses: samples of Tauer’s Insense Rosé and Une Rose Chyprée. Both are lovely but rather intense. My ideal peppery rose would be a bit easier to wear. No powder though; this is not a salon fragrance. It would be a bit rough and unrefined, as befits a perfume perhaps blended firstly on the streets. It would have an earthy or mossy base, I think, but there would be something a little sweet and airy in the blend as well, to suggest the City of Light. Citrus, and maybe lily-of-the-valley? Magnolia? Hyacinth?
Any suggestions? Natalie’s recent review on anotherperfumeblog Caron’s Parfum Sacre makes me think that that one could be a good start.
Or is this dream best left as just that – a dream?