Regular readers will know that I have been on a quest to find my ‘ideal rose‘: a rose conjured in my imagination by fragrance writer Celia Lyttleton, who remembers her grandmother having worn a ‘rich, peppery rose’. You can go here for my original post, and here for a discussion of the frontrunner so far, Montale’s Aoud Queen Roses. Here in no special order are some mini reviews of the other contenders.
- DSH Dirty Rose
A rose complete with roots, earth and a tumultuous past. Sadly, DR is fleeting on my skin. A ruggedly beautiful opening fades in less than five minutes leaving a vague earthy floral with a trace of oud as a parting comment. If you have had better luck with DR, do comment.
- L’Artisan Safran Troublant
I don’t smell much rose at all. ST reminds me strongly of the milk and sandalwood notes in Penhaligon’s Amaranthine, which I adore (and already own as a FB). Unfortunately when I wear ST I find my nose running around like an anxious little dog, peering here and searching there, looking for the sharp green notes that for me feature prominently in Amaranthine. A pity. If I had smelled ST first I might have loved it. But in any case, it is not my ideal rose.
- Agent Provocateur Agent Provocateur
A beautiful and assertive spicy rose opening had my heart missing a beat: could this be The One? After about ten minutes an annoyingly artificial accord takes over. This accord spoils the whole thing and, needless to say, lingers for hours.
- Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose
This one offers a sense of lightness and airiness that the denser compositions, including AQR, lack. These qualities are important in my ideal rose: Celia Lyttleton’s grandmother had her fragrance made in Cairo but kept the formula and later had it made again in Paris. In my mind the Parisian perfumer has added elements of his or her olfactory world, lighter and sweeter notes that illuminate the composition with shafts of gentle Parisian light. But unfortunately Paestum Rose for me carries that thin and sour quality that green rose accords sometimes have. Damn. So close!
- Caron Parfum Sacre
Even closer! This ought to be The One. This is the only contender so far to have a genuinely peppery accord that Celia remembers in her grandmother’s fragrance. On paper this peppery, astringent (but not sour) facet lingers and is joined not just by a strong rose accord but some sweet facets that I also long for. But on my skin these sweet facets run away with almost the whole fragrance. The first time I tested PS properly I found the sweetness cloying, but in cooler weather it has been not so bad after all. So all is not lost! PS probably wears better in the winter. (AQR had better look out: she could be knocked off her throne.) I think I am smelling the EDP. If you are familiar with the EDP Intense, do comment.
Still to come another day: Frederick Malle’s Portrait of a Lady; Le Labo’s Rose 31; Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if, and maybe some Rosines.
Thanks again to everyone who has made suggestions and sent samples. Even if those fragrances are not The One, I’m learning heaps about a whole genre of fragrances I had not tried much before. Fun!