New Perfume Review Heeley Rose Aria- How to Build a Rose

My antipathy towards rose perfumes is that all too often their reason for being is to smell good. Now you might think that is the primary goal of perfumery. I hold it to a higher standard. There is so much more to the best besides being pleasant. Rose fragrances are the biggest perpetrators of doing little other than displaying the floral. Which is why you might think I would not be excited about Heeley Rose Aria.

Independent perfumer James Heeley has been one of my favorites because he manages to make the generic less so. Three years ago in Poudre Blanc he did a brilliant interpretation of fresh laundry. It was subtly layered and one of the best constructed perfumes I have ever come across. Rose Aria has a little bit of that as Mr. Heeley takes on rose.

James Heeley

The press material mentions it wants this to be a true garden rose with the green as important as the flower. That’s a good description of the first half of this. Underneath it is a gorgeous musky woody base which is where this really hits the high notes.

It opens with an overdose of galbanum. In these concentrations I experience it as a crystalline solid green. To break that up there are some softer green ingredients which cut though. This is the green of the rosebud, but I imagine it with little glittery flecks of galbanum. A classic rose centifolia explodes to life out of this. The rose bud opens to reveal a floral which is also keeping the green which came before. It is that which makes this rose less generic.

The base accord is a fantastic contrast as he takes a very dry amber and sandalwood to form the outlines. In between saffron and musk act like their own accord bursting out of the amber-sandalwood frame. It is the same kind of transformation I encountered with the rose and galbanum in the first half. Together this turns into a dry musky ambery green rose.

Rose Aria has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage at extrait strength.

I wish all rose fragrances would rise to this level of interpretation. Or maybe I don’t. It makes it easy to distinguish the brilliant from the mundane.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke