A while back I embarked on a quest for my ideal rose, inspired by a sentence from Celia Lyttleton’s book The Scent Trail.
Many of you kindly made suggestions and I have been hoping to post a set of mini reviews based on them. However, a post like that takes extra thought, and unfortunately illness – mine and my children’s – has intervened. So am going to get straight to the point and discuss the perfume that comes closest so far to my ideal. Montale’s Aoud Queen Roses.
The perfume Celia describes in her book was a rich and peppery rose that her grandmother wore. Her grandmother had it made in Cairo and kept the formula so that she could have it copied in Paris. AQR’s rose is beautiful: deep, spicy (if not especially ‘peppery’), but not overly dark or angry either. All good. I didn’t want an angry rose; I can supply the anger all by myself thanks.
Oud may not have been part of the Celia’s grandmother’s rose but it gives AQR the feel of antiquity. I can smell something from so long ago that my daily worries don’t matter any more. This place is cool, dark and serene. I love being there; I find myself thinking about AQR at odd moments during the day even if I am not wearing it.
AQR is very sensual and very intelligent and this quality of intelligence is essential. A woman who carries a bespoke perfume from Cairo to Paris and beyond is no fool.
Oud comes originally from south-east Asia but it has been used in the Middle East since ancient times and so it fits the idea of a rose from Cairo. The only reason that AQR is not quite my ideal rose is the Paris angle: to me that always suggested moments of light, and spring flowers, and perhaps a dash of fruit. Parfum d’Empire’s Eau Suave supplies those but lacks AQR’s depth and richness, and I don’t actually get much rose from it in any case.
My lady of the ideal rose has a merry laugh, but she is not a young girl and the people she loves know her for her serene gaze and calm wisdom. I picture her in a lovely old room, standing in dusty sunlight as she arranges roses in a cracked but beautiful bowl.
Perhaps there will be a single perfume that combines all of this but in my search I have discovered two perfumes to love and keep, and I have no complaints. Many thanks to Danielle for having suggested AQR, and for a generous decant while I make up my mind if this is THE ONE.
The others I have tried include:
- DSH Dirty Rose
- Malle’s Portrait of a Lady (a very strong contender I may say)
- L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant
- Le Labo’s Rose 31
- Caron’s Parfum Sacre
- Eau d’Italie’s Paestum Rose
I hope to cover those in some mini reviews. And still on the list to try are various Rosines, and Ormond Jayne’s Ta’if. So stay tuned.