My ideal rose: Montale’s Aoud Queen Roses?

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.

My ideal rose :: Not my Ideal Rose but …

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22 thoughts on “My ideal rose: Montale’s Aoud Queen Roses?

  1. I also just received a generous amount of AQR from Dee, and sampled it yesterday for the first time, so good timing Anne-Marie. 😉

    Unfortunately, on me the rose went very sour. Disappointing, because this was my very first experience with oud and I found that part of it really intriguing.

    1. Ah yes, roses seem to do that sometimes. I know what you mean. Sometimes I get a suggestion of that sourness from a fresh rose too. Still, AQR is a good intro to oud, a base from where you can move on.

  2. Wonderful review, Anne-Marie. When there is such a specific idea in mind, it is hard to find something that exactly fits, so maybe it’s not a bad result to have found two things to love in the process? I’m enjoying following along, anyway. 🙂

    I’m sorry to hear you and your kids have been sick. Here’s hoping you’re on the mend.

    1. Yes, I did think from the start that the journey could be just as interesting and fun as the destination.

      We are mostly better now thanks, tho’ all of us still have lingering coughs.

  3. Loved reading about the pefume that’s come closest so far, annemarie. I’ve heard about Aoud Queen Roses for a long time but not tried it. I wore Black Aoud today and got on with it well – after a bit of a bumpy start – so I feel like I’ve properly made friends with oud now. Have you tried Amouage’s Epic or Lyric?

    Hope those lingering coughs go soon.

    1. I’m not familiar with that many ouds but my impression is that they can sometimes have a bumpy start? A friend of mine told me that he went perfume spritzing with a friend of his and that person tried and oud (dont know which one) and smelled pretty bad for about half an hour until it transformed into something TOTALLY divine.

      Amouage is so out of my price range that I have not gone near it in case I fall for something I can hardly afford to sample, never mind own. I can manage Malle (a decant, not a FB you undertand), but Amouage? I dunno. Maybe one day.

  4. I have not tried AQR (which to me will perhaps always mean the Assocation of Qualitative Researchers, of which I really should be a member…), plus I am usually a bit nervous of aoud as a note, and Montale’s treatment of it. However that – as with many of my tastes – may be about to change. I loved By Kilian’s Rose Oud (which is quite rosy), and second Tara’s suggestion of Lyric. Ta’if is probably my favourite rose, but for how long? : – )

    Hope you and your family will soon be fully recovered!

    1. I have not by any means explored even some of the many ouds out there but I can quite see that oud as a note could scare the horses. I get an oud-like effect – subtle and lovely – from Portrait of a Lady, even tho’ oud is not listed as a note in PoaL. And I do know what you mean about tastes changing. I would not have given AQR a second sniff twelvel months ago.

      Ta’if. I will get to it one day soon.

  5. Aoud Queen Roses is one of my earliest full-bottles, and remains one of my great loves; it was my intro into Montale, and into oud as a note, and I love it so much!

    It’s smooth as silk on my skin, sensual, and sophisticated. Gotta love that lasting power and perfect sillage too!

    It’s one of the few in my collection that Matt knows by name, and he’ll occasionally request that I wear “The Queen.” 🙂

    1. And you would wear it magnificently, I know! It is just magic when a perfume works so well for you.

      Now that you mention sillage, it has (belatedly) made me realise that a good sillage is critical in my ideal rose. The grandmother who wore the fragrance that has inspired this dream of mine sounds like a woman not afraid to make a statement.

      1. … has been written, and will go up next week! 😉

        I’m kind of in love with the line; I want Osmanthus Interdite next, I think!

        1. Yay! I’ll have my sample at the ready so I can compare impressions.

          Pd’E makes it so easy to sample. Aziyade is high on my list, and OI too.

          1. Oh man, I wish every house offered a sample set of their complete line-up for such a reasonable price! They obviously know what they’re doing 😉

            Equistrius… mmmmmmmm!

  6. I have a very difficult relashionships with agarwood: it works for me, probably, once out of every five or six perfumes I tried. I’m not 100% sure yet but I suspect that I don’t like it exactly in the combination with rose. But I keep testing.

    AQR is nice on my skin – as soon as I get through the first 15-20 minutes when it smells unpleasant. I will test more but I doubt it’ll ever join my collection.

    Ta’if and Portrait of a Lady are two of my most favorite perfumes so I’m rooting for them!

    Thank you for sharing your journey!

  7. ooh- fun!! There is something in the top notes of oud queen roses that i don’t like (my favorite montale and one of my fave roses is black oud)..Have you tried POTL Amaze? I remember adoring it- it is rich luscious but not too dark (I’ve never bought it, though. they only seem to have 90 and 100 ml bottles)..white aoud is also lovely

    1. You too with the top notes of AQR? Seems you are not alone.

      POTL never seems to quite make it in to my radar somehow. A.maze definitely sounds worth a try, thanks for the mention. I’ve just ben looking at their website and notice that while they say that A.maze is 100% natural, notes of musk and civet are included. Hmmm … something needs to be explained there …

      1. I think their all-natural claim is a bunch of hooey (excuse my expression) but I remember loving the scent. (there is a 2008 post on it on perfume posse- google amaze+perfume posse)..supposedly, according to POTL, the musk and civet is not animal derived but approximated using natural materials..*rolls eyes*

        Re: the AQr top notes- it is not the medicinal oud aspect that bothers me (there is much more of that in black aoud and I love it- I find the challenging top notes oddly comforting.) – there is something else in AQR that bothers me- i don’t want to be a kill joy and tell you what it reminds me of..:D

      2. Yeah- I was just wondering why nobody talks about A.maze anymore even though people seemed to love it when it was released..I think it is the large bottle and price tag- somebody should split it..hmmm..:)

  8. Thanks Undina. I admit I like AQR better after it starts to settle, as you say, about 15 minutes in. Good to keep testing rather than give up!

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