It has been a funny 2016 for me and new rose perfumes. Early on when I was receiving a lot of the spring releases I was bored to tears at the lack of variability. I sent out a silent plea for someone to do something different. I guess pleas, silent or otherwise, can be heard. Over the next month or so I have received some different takes on rose. Which put me in a receptive mood upon visiting with independent perfumer Maria Candida Gentile as she presented her new Rrose Selavy to me at Esxence 2016.
Photo of Rrose Selavy by Man Ray (c.1921)
Sig.ra Gentile was inspired by the Man Ray photographs of artist Marcel Duchamp dressed as a woman in the 1920’s. These founding members of Dadaism were close friends. These photographs led to the alter ego of M. Duchamp called Rrose Selavy. If you say it with the rolled r’s out loud it is meant to sound like “eros ces’t la vie”. Mme Selavy would be a consistent presence as she would sign some paintings and author some articles. I’ve seen the picture above when I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I find the soft focus doesn’t necessarily mask the man underneath but rather makes it more prominent. Which is what I believe Sig.ra Gentile is doing with Rrose Selavy. By using multiple sources of rose she produces a softness which allows for deeper consideration of this most ubiquitous of perfume florals.
Maria Candida Gentile
Rrose Selavy is a series of different layers of rose layered on top of each other. Sig.ra Gentile starts with two versions of rose we are familiar with as Rose Damascene and Rose de Mai provide the early moments. Rose Damascene is the version with spicy undertones. Rose de Mai is the fresh soft rose. Together they provide the double r at the beginning of this perfume. Then Sig.ra Gentile starts adding in different rose sources. The woody stems and green leaves fill in some of the gaps left open by the florals. Along with those the commonly sold Michelle rose provides a sort of flower shop accord. There are other sources of rose here as well including an accord designed by Sig.ra Gentile. The r’s keep rolling along the longer you wear Rrose Selavy.
Rrose Selavy has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I often talk about ingredients being used in perfume in overdose. A single ingredient or two pushed to a high concentration. It has the effect of allowing that extroverted raw material the opportunity to elicit subtleties not always apparent if used at a more normal level. Rrose Selavy is just one huge overdose of rose all by itself. Except instead of one ingredient Sig.ra Gentile uses multiple sources which add up to the overdose. When I wore Rrose Selavy it was interesting what would stand out from one moment to the next. There were times it was honeyed while at others spicy or green or ethereal. I put out a request to the universe for a different kind of rose; Rrose Selavy seems to be my answer.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Maria Candida Gentile at Esxence 2016.