My Favorite Things: Rose

Like all things perfume has its seasons. When it is spring it seems like many perfume brands consider it time for a new rose perfume. Rose is one of the most crowded categories in all of perfumery. While it might be true that there is nothing new, talented perfumers manage to find new ways to interpret this most ubiquitous of notes. As I receive new rose perfumes I have a group which I use as comparators. I’ve already written about what I consider The Gold Standard, Guerlain Nahema, in rose perfumes.  I’ve also lauded Vero Profumo Rozy Voils D’Extrait as the best post-modern rose ever. For this edition of My Favorite Things I’ll add five more worth trying.

Francis Kurkdjian has produced a number of spectacular rose perfumes including his most recent Maison Francis Kurkdjian A La Rose. No matter how many times M. Kurkdjian interprets rose I always go back to one of his earliest takes, MDCI Parfums Rose di Siwa. In this perfume M. Kurkdjian takes rose from dewy petaled ingénue through to sophisticated adult. So many rose perfumes tend to choose one of those and with Rose di Siwa you get both with the mix of Moroccan and Turkish roses in the heart supported by hawthorn and lychee on top and a beautifully sensual musk in the base.

I once described Le Labo Rose 31 by perfumer Daphne Bugey as a rose which is doing the walk of shame after a wild night. Mme Bugey has cumin, vetiver, and oud convince rose to join them for a rowdy ride. By the time it is all done rose is left holding her shoes as she squints into the sunlight wondering where the night went.

rose oud

If rose is the most interpreted note in perfumery, oud would have to be a close second especially in the last five years. In eastern attar making rose and oud are the classic pairing. In By Kilian Rose Oud perfumer Calice Becker westernizes that combination. The oud is surrounded by exotic spices saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. The Bulgarian rose is presented in a very French style to stand up to the oud. Together it makes something undoubtedly eastern as seen by western eyes. One of my most complimented fragrances I wear.

Creative Director Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have produced a number of great rose perfumes for the Serge Lutens brand. While Rose de Nuit and Sa Majeste La Rose have more fans it is La Fille de Berlin which is my favorite. M. Sheldrake composes an explosive rose which detonates on my skin every time I wear it. There are many more complex rose perfumes out there but few with more presence.

Last year’s Ann Gerard Rose Cut has risen steadily in my opinion. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has created a crystalline rose full of shiny facets like a rose diamond. The rose in the heart is topped by pepper and rum and supported with a base of oakmoss and vanilla. This is brilliant in both aesthetic and composition.

As I said at the beginning this is a list which could go on and on. Give these five a try and you will explore five singular interpretations of rose.

Disclosure: this review based on bottles of the perfumes I have purchased.

Mark Behnke

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