Roses Revisited, Perfume Lovers London, The October Gallery, London – Thursday 26th February 2015

By Tara

Aromatherapy tells us that rose oil makes us feel loved and beautiful. I’d say that’s about right. If ever I start the day feeling like I need a little extra shot of beauty in my life, I turn to a rose perfume. I like them full-bodied, on the dark side and definitely rose-heavy. However, I was very happy to try a whole range of different roses at this PLL evening.


Event organiser Lila Das Gupta introduced us to Andy Bradshaw who lead a previous evening of roses a couple of years ago. Since then many more roses have been released and Andy (who was extremely informed and entertaining) took us through the following fragrances below.

I am paraphrasing what was said in order to give you the feeling of actually being there.

Andy: Roses have been on earth longer than man. But why are they so evocative for us? The answer is that they are a metaphor for life. The “blood red” rose. Red being the colour of passion. The rose can prick us but we still love it. Love can hurt us but we still love. Some of the roses we will try tonight will blow your minds…


Rose Anonyme, Atelier Cologne

Andy: There have been so many rose/oud fragrances released in the last few years. I say that there is even Royal Oud by Creed for people who don’t like oud. The first time I tried Rose Anonyme it knocked my socks off. It’s fantastically blended. Do get this one on skin. It combines incense, Turkish rose, velvet oud, patchouli and benzoin. It’s such a clever composition (by Jerome Epinette) because it lasts and lasts but retains its lightness.

Roses come in so many different forms. Une Rose by Frederic Malle is a yardstick rose soliflore. It is a majestic soliflore. Rose can be centre-stage or it can wink at you from the wings. Or it can be sweet, wearing cute bobby socks.

Audience member: It’s nice but there are a lot like it. It’s rather like Midnight Oud by Juliette Has A Gun.

Andy: It is similar but this is better blended.

Nevermore, Frapin

Andy: This was Lila’s standout fragrance of 2014 and I could not disagree. Some fragrances can be classed as gothic and this is one of them. It was inspired by Poe’s poem “Nevermore”.

Lila calls it a “sandalwood rose”. Sandalwood is not listed as note but we can conjure an accord which might not be there, from several others. Nevermore has a certain boozy quality to it. I like it. There’s something of the night about it.

Rose Cut, Ann Gerard

Andy: This Bertrand Duchaufour creation is like you are slowly pickling yourself in rum, plum and spice. Isn’t it glorious? This takes you away from Armani and Hugo Boss. The rose is underpinning all the other accords.

I love how roses are so versatile. I am reclaiming roses for men. Men used to wear roses all the time.

Lila: This one is much warmer and more seductive on skin.

Audience member: It’s very fizzy.

Lila: It is a mix of femme and butch to me.

Vengance Extreme, Juliette Has A Gun

Andy: When the original Lady Vengance came out I expected it to be more thrusting, like the slutty rose of Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur. I wanted it to say to me “Come on Big Boy, you’ve pulled!”. Juliette Has A Gun must have realised because they released this Extreme version.

We had to put it in a cage or else it would have devoured all the other fragrances around. The accords are lavender, rose and patchouli. It’s a unisex rose fragrance.

Audience member: It has a very velvety texture.

935, Jamal

Lila then introduced Mohammed from Jamal, who have just launched their first four fragrances exclusively at House of Fraser on Oxford Street. He told us he was carrying on a family tradition because his parents had had an attar business.

935 is a rose fragrance which has some amber and a just little oud as Mohammed didn’t want to overpower the composition. It also has some water-lily for freshness. Lila had sniffed it without any prior knowledge of the brand and was really impressed.

Lila asked Mohammed why rose was so popular in the Middle East. He explained that it is the first scent you smell in the home, growing up. It is also part of Islamic culture where rose is the scent of heaven. It’s brought, along with saffron, by the angels.

Ferrari Oud, Ferrari

Andy: This is Ferrari trying to do an upmarket fragrance. I sprayed it in Milan without thinking too much about it. Then I keep thinking “What smells so good?” and realised it was me. It has rose, saffron and oud. It’s beautiful.

Scent, Theo Fennell

Andy: This one reminds me of Perfect Night by Bella Bellissima, which when I wear it, people say “You smell like sex – in a good way”.

Cumin makes this rose dirty.

Lila: I wore it to a friend’s 50th birthday party and her husband kept saying to me “You smell so good”. It was embarrassing!

Andy: I should say this is discontinued but it’s still available at the discounters. I can see it becoming expensive to get hold of, like Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom.

Lila: Another naughty rose is Oud Ispahan by Dior.

Café Rose, Tom Ford

Andy: I find the Tom Ford line to be quite patchy but this is eminently wearable. It sounds like it would be heavy and loaded with coffee but it’s actually surprisingly light and more like a frappuccino with caramel on top. It’s probably a little sweet for me.

Levantium, Penhaligon’s

Andy: This was released last year and I think it’s their best fragrance since Sartorial. It’s utterly beautiful. It features rum, rose, spice and a little oud.

Another great fragrance by Penhaligon’s is Elixir, composed by Olivia Giacobetti. It took the rose from Hammam Bouquet and gave it a twist using eucalyptus and smoky woods. Some fragrances come and go but this one has stood the test of time. The drydown caresses your skin in a warm, comforting way.

Audience member: I wear it to bed.

Audience member: It’s warm and spicy.

Andy: It’s a forgotten great.

DamaRose, Xerjoff

Andy: This a beautiful Rolls Royce of a soilflore. It’s utterly stunning. The first time I tried it my knees melted. Paper doesn’t do it justice.

Andy finished by reading a wonderful poem by Emily Dickinson: –

THE ROSE did caper on her cheek,
Her bodice rose and fell,
Her pretty speech, like drunken men,
Did stagger pitiful.

Her fingers fumbled at her work,—
Her needle would not go;
What ailed so smart a little maid
It puzzled me to know,

Till opposite I spied a cheek
That bore another rose;
Just opposite, another speech
That like the drunkard goes;

A vest that, like the bodice, danced
To the immortal tune,—
Till those two troubled little clocks
Ticked softly into one.



A few other roses available to try on the night:

Tobacco Rose, Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Rose Oud, By Kilian

Saffron Rose, Grosssmith

Rose Velours, Van Cleef & Arpels

Rose Imperiale & Rose Nocturne, Terry de Gunzburg

Lyric, Amouage

Portrait of a Lady, Frederic Malle

La Fille de Berlin, Serge Lutens

Please share your own favourite roses in the comments!


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22 Responses to Roses Revisited, Perfume Lovers London, The October Gallery, London – Thursday 26th February 2015

  1. Anka says:

    What a wonderful report, thanks for sharing, Tara!
    After rereading your review of Tobacco Rose, I am now so curious to try it – rose and oakmoss sounds delicious.
    I love abstract roses like Nahema and Mohur and discovered Rozy last year which at the moment is my favorite rose fragrance (the edp).
    Did you try Saffron Rose from Grossmith? I’ve only tested it a couple of times but remember liking it, one of the few rose and oud combinations I enjoyed.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Anka,
      Glad you enjoyed the write-up. It was a fun, rosy evening.
      I haven’t got around to the Grossmiths yet but will do soon hopefully. Saffron Rose sounds great.
      Your favourite roses are top=notch. I hope you like Tobacco Rose when you get to try it.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Wow, this was amazing! So many roses I have not tried – or even heard of! I really do use roses in the way you say – the comforting ones as well as the ‘going out’ ones, hehe. I also love Ta’if as you know, which wasn’t featured. This week I re-tried Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and Sa Majeste la Rose after a very long interval, both of which I liked in different ways. Have scrutinized the list to see which additional ones I could suggest to my friend who is looking for a rose-heavy perfume, and that Xerjoff one caught my eye. As for me, I would like to explore more of the dark / Gothic ones, and I am also going to try to dig out my sample of that Theo Fennell which I didn’t realise was rose-centric. Kicking myself for not sending my friend along to the event in fact! 😉 Oh, and I so loved the poem too…

    • Tara says:

      V, I thought this post was good timing for you! Hopefully it will help on your search for your friend’s rose.
      I’m kicking myself for not trying Rose de Nuit on the night. I didn’t see it.
      Unfortunately Scent is a real no=go for me. Way too much cumin.
      The peom is fab.

      • Andy Bradshaw says:

        Hi Vanessa, we featured Ta’if Rose in the first Roses evening, along with other great rose fragrances like Paestum Rose which is gloriously evocative.


  3. Sandra says:

    Wonderful report Tara. I am searching for a perfect rose so this list comes in handy. Have an excellent weekend.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Sandra! Let meknow how your rose search goes. Fingers crossed you get on with Tobacco Rose.
      Wishing you and the family a great weekend too.

  4. cookie queen says:

    I cannot wait until I get a chance to attend a PLL event. I rather like Saffron Rose I must say. I don’t know if there is a perfect rose. I love to wear rose at the end lf the day. Great review and it has left me wanting to try Levantium. Big hug. xxxx

    • Tara says:

      I can’t wait either! We’d have a lot of fun and you wouldn’t be afraid to speak up 🙂
      I have a sample of Levantium somewhere so I’ll have to try it out and maybe write about it.

  5. My rose is Mohur Tara. Then Ballets Rouges and Rosa sur Reuse. Mitzah and Bellodgia too. GAWD I have so many rose loves.
    Portia xx

  6. Sabine says:

    Great write up, shame that I couldn’t make it. My favourite rose is Portrait of a Lady, which sets the bar for any other rose perfume quite high. But I know sooner or later I will go back to trying other roses and like one or two.

    • Tara says:

      Too bad you couldn’t make it, Sabine but hope you got an idea from the above.
      Portrait of a Lady is such a strong character, I can see why it would blot out all others roses for a while.

  7. Ines says:

    I always get so jealous when I read your reports (because I wish I could be there too). 🙂
    Thank you for sharing though!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Hey Tara, as always, I enjoyed your report! I’m curious, did you try the Ann Gerard Rose Cut? A perfume friend sent me a sample of it and I thought it was one of the loveliest rose perfumes to come out in recent years. My favorite rose scents are those in which the rose is very prominent but not the whole story of the perfume. Amouage Epic Woman, Lyric Woman and Opus I, Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient, Montale Black Aoud — those are some of my favorites.

    Off topic, but I hope you are enjoying your trip to see Birgit and Vienna!

    • Tara says:

      Suzanne, Rose Cut was my favourite of the evening! Lila is going to bring a sample for me to this month’s event.
      Loved reading your list of other rose loves.
      I got back from Vienna yesterday and I had the time of my life. Currently writing it up so hopefully you can read (and see!) all about it next week.

  9. Undina says:

    Thank you for the report, Tara! As always, I enjoyed reading it – the next best thing after attending those events in person.

    I think most of my favorite roses have been already mentioned – either in your post or in the comments. So I’ll add just one – JHAS Miss Charming. I finished my sample and keep thinking about getting more. Probably it means that I like it 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Hi Undina!
      It’s nice to be able to share the events with people who can’t make them. I think it can be a good way to discover a little about something you might not have come across yet.

      Thanks for mentioning Miss Charming in return. It’s not one I’m familiar with but if you’re thinking of getting more, it’s deinitely a good sign!

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