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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Portrait of a Lady, Frederic Malle
La Fille de Berlin, Serge Lutens
Please share your own favourite roses in the comments!