Bite the hand: A Dozen Roses

I always encourage my self-employed husband, “Why make money for someone else, when you can make money for yourself?

… Well, that’s just what the ladies behind A Dozen Roses, a new niche fragrance house launched by a couple of old industry professionals, did. Sandy Cataldo and Lynn Emmolo are the brains behind the beautiful bottles which first caught my eye in last month’s issue of Marie Claire. There have been press releases seemingly everywhere, but I haven’t heard much about the actual fragrances. At the risk of losing the good will of the people who send free stuff, I’m diving in head-first to give you the whole truth, and nothing but.

The line launched with three fragrances:

Gold Rush: Mr. Howe selected this one first, and on his skin I immediately picked up a big blast of Ylang Ylang, followed the combo of rose, vanilla, sandalwood, and woods. A nice (if predictable) opening quickly developed a screeching pitch that sent Mr. Howe running for the Ivory soap.

Shakespeare in Love: This one I initially liked best, and for the first minute, the crisp pear note was interesting and uplifting. It very quickly turned into that woman you know who always has a giant, manic smile on her face, obsessed with being “happy!,” yet reeks of despair. This one was actually the most depressing for me, because it started so hopeful.

Iced White: Pale musk overload, effectively simulating an ice-pick to the brain. Stabbing sinuses, anyone?

Before getting my paws on the samples, I asked myself that perennial perfumista question, “Do we really want or need another niche perfume house?” The answer for me is yes. Yes! A thousand times yes! However, if a new niche house bothers to launch, it needs to do something different, something novel, or something BETTER than what is already being done.

A Dozen Roses is in the same approximate price range as Juiliette has a Gun, or the Etat Libre d’Orange fragrances. Whether you like the aesthetic (or scents) from either of those houses doesn’t matter much–they’ve cornered a coveted niche in the niche market, and in my opinion, they’re doing a good job of it.
Can ADR stand in such company?

N o p e. These are almost nice, perfectly forgettable scents… but each one actually ruined my mood while wearing. They belong in a grouping with Givenchy’s Very Irresistible, to be brutally honest. I feel like the machine behind these scents was built specifically to exploit the niche-loving perfumista market.

Dismal.

Currently exclusive to Neiman Marcus, $95, 3.4oz/100ml
My samples were provided to me by PR for A Dozen Roses.
*Interview of the creators of ADR at The Perfume Magazine online*

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46 thoughts on “Bite the hand: A Dozen Roses

  1. Love and ADORE your honesty! I am making a list for Luckyscent samples, not long, but my last stab for sometime…looking for a few to supplement the oldies but goodies! However, this can be a very expensive habit! You are wonderful!

    1. Haha, you made me laugh, really laugh out loud Judith. Thank you for that.

      When I saw that there was a comment, I held my breathe for a moment, because I was afraid it might be hate mail from the nice people who sent me the samples! LOL, seems like I’m feeling a little guilty about my honesty. 🙂

      I love buying new samples! I hope that you find some new loves!!!

      🙂

  2. Aww..don’t feel guilty about being honest (though I completely understand!!)..From the name- I thought their USP was ‘variations on the rose’ which sounds a little too like what Parfum de Rosines does. Are these all rose perfumes?

    1. You are spot-on Lavanya—these are each variations on treatments of the rose—an idea I love! Juliette Has a Gun has done this well, and, as you say, Parfums de Rosine, the acknowledged masters of the rose!

      If you come across them, I do hope that you’ll try them—I’d love to hear some more feedback 🙂

  3. I hesitate to express negative views aloud sometimes, let alone write them on my blog! But with regard to these A Dozen Roses scents, I have to agree: not good. And I think what bothered me more was that I felt they weren’t even really trying to deliver. It sounds like you felt the same way, in your comment about a machine built to exploit us perfume lovers. If they had put the same mentality to work on the juice as on the bottles, they might have gotten somewhere better, right?

    Oh, final note re: negative reviews. In general, I think Elena at Perfume Shrine has the right idea: “I would be much more inclined to be harsh with a big company who can afford to lose customers, however. A very small, struggling artisan might meet with my silence if I don’t feel I have anything positive to say.” (via the about page on Perfume Shrine) Isn’t that nicely said? Even though the idea of my blog influencing sales is pretty hilarious! 🙂

    1. That was part of the reason behind my struggle on this one—I too follow Elena’s strategy; when it comes to indie, artisan, and niche, I’m very careful what I say. Yet these felt like a major mainstream launch, which was partly what left a bad taste in my mouth, I think.

      I am glad to hear that you got the same impression, that they “weren’t even really trying to deliver.” That certainly helped me to hit the “publish” button!!

      🙂

  4. If it ‘stinks’, please let me know….I can make up my own mind, as yours and mine may be different. I need to see Vanilla somewhere, don’t care where, which has helped me narrow down. I am not a HUGE FLORAL, nor am I a BEACH, nor am I, well lots of things. I like Sweet, I like boozy, I like Gourmand (to some extent), I LOVE vanilla, and to be honest, I don’t care if anyone near me cares! Fragrance is for ME!

  5. Sorry, I just re-read that and I think I almost sound like I’m saying you shouldn’t have written about these, but that’s not what I meant at all! I just meant that I understand your hesitance to be negative, because I feel the same.

    1. That wasn’t the impression I got at all from your comment! I think we shared similar feelings; but even if we didn’t you are always welcome to speak your mind here!

      😉

  6. For us readers, may I say this to bloggers, you have the responsibility to be honest. I read, I make a list, I investigate. Somethings not right for you, may be right for me. IF you are about grasses and beaches, you are NOT right for me. IF you are about warmth, even sweet, you ARE right for me. I am not a huge flower person, I would say I am Oriental, if one could actually define my tastes, but I, like all, am simiply me. Sniff, love or reject. One goal in all of my reading and sampling, is finding ….five? scents, that I can live by. So, here you have it from a reader. Some blogs I don’t get pass the headline. And, I am not seduced by photographs as ‘illustrations’. They tend to be beautiful, regardless. However, By Kilian has the most amazing press machine and I was seduced into Sweet Redemption, without a sniff. No regrets, just not amazing. However, the packaging is!! So be it, hope you don’t mind honesty from a reader…I am not a big poster, but somehow today, I just feel like letting loose!

    1. Haha, I am glad you are letting loose! LOL, please always feel welcome to do so here Judith!

      Thank you for saying that—I know it’s true, because I do the same thing—I rely on people like Birigt, or Tarleisio, or Carrie, or Gaia, to tell the truth in their reviews, because I make buying decisions based on the things that they say in their reviews. If I ever found out that one of my favorite bloggers gave a positive review because they wanted to keep the free samples coming… well, I know that would never happen, and that’s why they’re my favorite bloggers!! 🙂

      A good insight J., I hope to hear more from you!

      1. I agree! I rely a lot on blogger reviews when buying samples/decants etc- so honesty is sooo important! (And most bloggers I read, are, thankfully..:))

  7. Vanilla is comforting when it has that ‘bakery’ feeling, however, like many things, it is a big, broad umbrella statement. Like anything. Vanilla to me crosses all, unlike a flower note: A rose is a rose is a rose, a lily is a lily, etc. Vanilla lends itself to amazing combinations. It is a mainstay of all baking, which doesn’t mean it is bland! Wow, cannot believe I am so talk a tive…not really me. I rise up to defend the bland Vanilla or the concept. It is simply one ingredient, one note, that can make the rest raise up to glory!

    1. LOL, that is true—I should say instead, “all the vanilla’s that have made the cut and live in my collection are wonderfully comforting!” 😉

  8. Stragety does not always mean success. It really only means ‘hopeful’. I am sick and overwhelmed by bloggers who simply minic the press releases. Later, when the review is there, there seems to be some obligation to be kind. I know this, as once, as a fashion writer/stylist I did not want to offend. I never was on the end of ‘free’ samples, however, when one makes a personal connection, such as in an interview, it becomes very difficult to cut the cord, so to speak, and say, honestly, this doesn’t work for me. And, in fragrance, all the more, as it is so individual. However, in my working life, long ago, integrity meant more to me. I hope it does to fragrance bloggers. Some come out and say with honesty, I am not an “Oriental” or whatever person, I am whatever….still, us readers can take what we can from any honest review.

    1. I agree with you that there can be ” some obligation to be kind.” When I do have a more personal interaction with the perfumer, or a rep from the house (which is, to be honest, quite rare!), and I am not impressed with the perfumes, I don’t say anything at all. You know the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

      There is a fine line there, as anotherperfumeblog pointed out above, citing for us Elena’s example (which I think is a good one).

      What an exciting past you have had! I would love to make my living as as fashion writer/stylist! Excuse me, while I go turn green with envy 😉

  9. Sampling, always, mistake not to. Those who provide samples are making off very well, and good for them. I only sample from a few, very select, sites. Who knows what they are getting, how old, how stale? I never consider a fragrance that is not in production or available. Why? Because if it is the Holy Grail, as the expression goes, it will not be available. I also am very much fearful of ‘the stale’ For example, once, for a long time, I wore Chopard Casmir. I smelled it in a magazine, we are talking a couple of decades ago. It was MINE before I was ‘educated’. Today, DO NOT BUY, what you will get is dreadful. There is new and fresh, new packaging, only through Chopard. There are a few wonderful and dependable sites, but be cautious. I won’t sample Creed Angelique (???), as I know I have little chance of having it, no point. This is simply one example. OH, have I gone on past my time?

    1. Some fragrances seem to hold up really well over time, while others… well, fall apart! It’s too bad that your beloved Casmir has not stood the test of time; I do not know that fragrance—was it a victim of reformulation?

  10. I would love to know what ‘Vanillas’ in your collection have made the ‘cut’, but I would also love to know what has that softening of Vanilla that takes us outside of the gourmand Vanilla box! To me, it adds a twinge of sweet, that takes anything away from harsh. I am not interested in any ‘unisex’, I am such a girly girl! At mid 60s, but not looking for ‘antique’….Good grief, give me soft, sexy and powerful! I want the whole room to smell me as I walk by! But please, give me vanilla…and right now completely open to suggestions!

    1. I was a late-comer to the vanilla party—it’s only been in the past two years that I developed an appreciation for it, and it began with L’Artisan’s Havana Vanille. I sampled it as soon as it was at Luckyscent, and bought a bottle within a few weeks of that! So, if that tells you anything, it’s that I like my ‘nilla on the unisex, woodsy side 🙂

      Other vanilla loves, which give me comfort and make me happy (and also live in my collection) are: Shalimar, Bulgari Black, and L’Artisan Vanilia. I also have and enjoy Laurence Dumont Tendre Madeleine, an utterly gourmand delight!

  11. I ‘retired’ years ago, but yes, a wonderful life! Casmir, like many others, just doesn’t hold up after years, however it is not been reformulated to the best of my knowledge. Just never took off. New packaging, but same formula, and I have the new packaging on my fb page, and I would never buy it from any one other than Chopard, at this point. Interesting, contact them and ask for a sample, I would love an up to date, honest review! I don’t trust almost any fragrance to stand up to time in a box, on a shelf. Any. Just me. And reformulations are common now, not sure why, ingredients and regulations? However, please call Chopard, and ask! I would love to know, be interested in, if this fragrance has stood the test of time, although not on a shelf. I don’t know how to send you a photo of the new “Casmir” packaging…it is now gold/white as the former red!~

    1. I will look for Casmir, and give it a test run; although, since I have nothing to compare it to, I’m afraid I might be a disappointing reviewer!

    2. hi Judith! just quickly chiming in here… I,too, have a bottle of Casmir. It’s in the red/gold packaging. My boss loves it too (she loves anything vanilla), and had me get her a replacement bottle recently, also still in the red/gold packaging. So your comment on the new white/gold packaging understandably had me do a quick search… what i found were two flankers: Casmir White (in White/gold) and Casmir Pink (i know…and yes, in pink.. baby pink, no less!). So perhaps you simply got your hands on a flanker instead? I sure hope that’s the case, and that they left the original Casmir well enough alone! Cheers, Wendy

  12. The original L’Artisan Vanilla was sublime. Why, oh, why was it discontinued? One of the best, although I find L’Artisans have little lasting power on me, I want to haunt the entire room! I have the Havane Vanille(s), now Absolute? I prefer something in between, a bit sweet, but smokey! Is there anything? I would gladly invest in the original Vanilla, however, long gone. This was a full bottle buy for me!

    1. It was an interesting choice for discontinuation—Vanilia seems to have a really devoted following. I often wonder how those decisions are made!

  13. I thought, no expert, that after a time, Casmir got ‘harsh’, lost its lushness, however, believe me, I cannot distinguish a single note in anything, I am no poetic writer! My husband would find bottles for me, passing through airports, etc. It came out, distributed by Lancaster? , and then disappeared, was only available through Canada at some point, dropped off the face of the earth, and then available on all the discount sites, which I do not buy from. Ever. So, I gave it up. Bought a bottle at Chopard in Beverly Hills, nice. It was only recently, through some odd connection,that I learned about the new packaging, and if it is in the NEW, then I assume the juice is fresh. I keep my prized possessions in a cool closet, out of light. I don’t have a huge stash, however, these are an investment, this we know!

    1. Those bottles are precious! You are right to guard them carefully 🙂

      I feel a little bit differently on freshness/staleness issue. There are quite a few items in my collection that have ‘mellowed’ over time, and I feel like they’ve gotten even better! This might just be a personal preference—perfumista’s have a lot of those 🙂

  14. Getting back to ‘bloggers’ and their ‘obligations’, not following in a straight line here, I never do! A big company can absorb a hit, some will buy regardless. Much more difficult for a Niche company. DO NOT EVER think that people do not choose based on blogs! These so called ‘niche’ fragrances are not supported by heavy advertising dollars. How does one learn about them? It is only through blogs and message boards. Trust me on this one. Which makes it all the more difficult for any fragrance writer or critic to truly be honest. You are correct when you say, don’t say. However, that is doing a an injustice to those of us who read. We read to know and learn. We sign up with our emails or ‘like’ on facebook, and our intention is to learn, be aware. OK, I have done enough for today, thank you all for reading and listening.

    1. Judith, I’d bet my bottle of Poivre 23 that you’re a hoot to have over for tea!

      It’s true—when the blogs are quiet about a small brand, all you can do is order samples blind, which can get expensive! I guess a good rule of thumb would be, if no one is talking about it, maybe it’s not any good? Then again, by that logic, there are quite a few things I’ve fallen in love with that don’t get much attention—or as much as I think they deserve: Anne Pliska is a great example!

      Bloggers have a responsibility to their readers—I’m still figuring out my comfort level in the spectrum. But it’s the feedback from readers that drives this bus, so keep it coming!!

      🙂

  15. Have other messages to respond to, however, IF you look for a ‘sample’ of Casmir to check out, please call Chopard! Do not buy a sample from anywhere, it could, and probably, will be OLD. I would much prefer you to just take it as any ‘new’…..will look to see if you have a personal contact number, I have a photo of new packaging, and right now, IF I were to buy, I would go directly to Chopard in Beverly Hills, or anywhere….remember, I first took notice of this over 20 years ago, and I have evolved!

  16. Hey, you two- get a room! 😉
    I didn’t have many expectations from this launch but I was curious. I still am. And I plan to try them from the samples I “won” on Another Perfume Blog. Now my curiousity is more along the line: is it really that bad?

    1. Haha! There’s room for you too 😉

      Oh man, I can’t wait to hear what you think of them; I really hope that you will write about all three—I found them completely depressing. As in, I spritzed, I felt abysmal, I scrubbed, I spritzed another one. Lather, rise, repeat!

  17. How can I send you a photo of the new Casmir. The Blue is another scent all together. I am on facebook. Judith Dan Madison. Among my photos, it is there….I allow friends of friends, my guess is if you are friends with Gaia, you can see my photos. I don’t have ooodles to slog through! I just personally would not buy the red/gold as I know the packaging is old. However, for all I know it could be very old stuff in a new box. I mean dated, old stock. Chopard in Beverly Hills told me absolutely the formulation has not been changed!

  18. Thought these bottles were gawgeous, and you know Me and My Roses.

    But something about the notes list made me decide “No.” Looks like I made the right decision…

    Teo Cabanel Early Roses is really, really pretty – wore that one yesterday while taking my daughter shopping for school clothes, which can be nervewracking. She doesn’t do well with junior sizes (or, to be honest, the junior styles), but she’s short. Now that we know to start in the misses petite section, things are easier… still, aaarrgh.

    1. Aren’t the bottles splendid? I’ll bet they’re even better in person!!

      You know, I read the notes, and I still felt hopeful—I guess that might be part of why they were such an epic fail for me. I should know better than to have any expectations!

      Ahhh, Teo Cabanel! I love Alahine, and Oha and Julia are stunning. I haven’t tested Early Roses yet, but those people? They’re doing it right!

      Poor girl! Mals, I can totally relate. At age 11, I was 5’6″, and 95lbs. I had to shop in the Women’s section, and it was so embarrassing for me—I wanted to dress like my peers (remember stone wash jeans with the zip-ankles with bows at the top of the zip? they didn’t make those in a Woman’s size 2!) and couldn’t. I’m still the same height, but I’ve always felt like a giant because I was so tall so early. Character building isn’t always fun! 🙂

  19. Don’t buy a bottle, ask Chopard for a sample, and if not forth coming forget it…I was at the very early stage of my fragrance hunt, although I did the usual, Chanel #5, Chloe, even went to Tijuana for Opium,—I saw an Ad, and was seduced… which was the first place I could get it! too many to mention, No ‘niche’ then! We are talking ancient history, especially with all the ‘niche’. I smelled Casmir in an insert in a magazine, and fell in love, and would have loved to continue to love, but I am not a fan of old bottles….and not a collector….I shy away from discount perfume sites, and IF i buy it is from a place where I believe it is fresh…..whatever that is! Just me…

  20. Eh. Late for this one. We all love an honest review, but I too tend to keep silent on indie-produced fragrances if I don’t like them. If it’s Chanel, tho’, then we can all go nuts. Remember Luca Turin’s remark about Chanel’s Chance? ‘Avoid this one, unless you are dating the Piltdown Man’.

    As for Givenchy, we have come a long way since the glory days of L’Interdit. A long way downwards.

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