The rose is so central to perfumery that there is a stunningly long list of rose-centered fragrances, and an even longer list of fragrances that contain it but don’t focus on it. Today I’m concentrating on perfumes in which rose plays a lead role. I had thought of simply listing my favorite rose scents, but since a) that list is always changing and b) there are a large number of rose scents that I find pleasant but just Not My Thing, you get a BONUS LIST of all the rose scents I’ve either tried, want to try, or in some cases have simply heard of. I’m hoping that this will be an organic, always-growing sort of list, and I’m certainly open to suggestions on the subject. At the moment, there are more than 175 scents on the list, so I hope you’ll be able to find a few that suit you.
So. To simplify matters, I’m going to subdivide. I’ll list the categories of rose scents that seem to make sense to me – feel free, of course, to ignore the categories or rearrange them however you see fit. The names in color I’ve tested or worn myself. Some of these may be vintage or discontinued. Please forgive the lack of diacritical marks.
In each category, I’ll also be offering a very simple rating based on my very-personal reaction to each scent: I didn’t like it, I liked it, or I adored it. These are entirely subjective, and you may hate every last one of my favorite rose scents, while finding my reject pile productive. One perfumista’s “meh” is another one’s treasure. Dislike=*, Like=***, Love=*****. Simple and clear? Good. If it’s not, please ask a question about my idiosyncratic ordering system.
ROSE SOLIFLORES, or SIMPLE, FRESH, BRIGHT ROSE SCENTS:
Jo Malone Red Roses *** A little too powdery.
Sonoma Scent Studio Velvet Rose ***** Once the patchouli settles down, a lovely armful of crimson roses.
Creed Fleur de The’ Rose Bulgare*** Very like Sa Majeste’, but perhaps more lemony.
Montale Highness Rose ***** Beautiful, liqueur-like bright rose; v.v. expensive!
Serge Lutens Sa Majeste’ La Rose *** Lovely, fresh green rose with dewdrops on the petals. I don’t know why I don’t love it, but I don’t. For someone else, it might very well be five stars.
Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose *** A little on the mean side, a little too prim for my taste.
Stella McCartney Stella (Please note, there are several flankers for this one. I’m not listing them.)
Annick Goutal Rose Absolue
DSH Perfumes American Beauty *** Deep, rich winey crimson roses. A little potpourri-ish in spots.
People of the Labyrinths A.Maze
Chloe eau de parfum, eau de toilette (not the old orange-colored tuberose/orange blossom version)
Bvlgari Rose Essentielle
Brousseau Ombre Rose
Vera Wang Truly Pink
Paul Smith Rose
Zara Rosa Bulgara
Crabtree & Evelyn Evelyn Rose
Les Parfums de Rosine Diabolo Rose
Lorenzo Villoresi Donna
Baby Phat Goddess
Keiko Mecheri Mihime
Floris White Rose
Floris China Rose
Shiseido White Rose
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Rosa Magnifica
Czech & Speake Rose * Very powdery, thin, squeaky thing.
Priscilla Presley Roses & More
Avon Roses, Roses
Coty La Rose Jacqueminot (vintage, discontinued, long-gone)
L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines
MDCI Rose de Siwa
Fragonard Apres Tout
B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful B Scent
I Profumo Miele Rosa (Honey of Rose) *** Very pretty – also, very nearly naughty. Smells like the sheets of a double bed, the morning after, when someone went to bed wearing a rose scent. (Wasn’t Boudoir supposed to smell like that? Haven’t tried it yet.)
AMBERY OR ORIENTAL ROSES (excluding spicy orientals):
Lancome Mille et une Roses *** Lovely and very quiet. The very light ambery base keeps the rose from getting shrill. Well worth smelling, at least. (Why is the liquid blue, though?)
Chloe eau de parfum Intense
Agarscents Bazaar Ambergris Rose Attar (oil) *** Simple rose attar with salty notes. Great in the bath.
Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie * Rose and Dove soap. Not my thing, but if it’s yours, enjoy.
Yves Rocher Rose Absolue *** Pretty thing – spicy rose jam and sweet amber. Smells very natural and very simple.
Guerlain Nahema (might be the wrong category here – I can’t say, because I am anosmic to this fragrance)
Rochas Tocade ***** I love That Slut Tocade, with her cheerful vanilla-patchouli.
The Body Shop Moroccan Rose
Bond #9 Broadway Nite *** A lot like Tocade, only under neon lights. Reminds me of glitter fingernail polish and is extremely loud. Nice, though.
Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud
Parfums de Rosine La Rose de Rosine
Parfums de Rosine Secrets de Rose
Tauer Perfumes Le Maroc pour elle
Caron Or et Noir
S Perfumes 100% Love * Chocoberry rosechouli. Um, no.
Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet
Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
Amouage Epic Woman
Montale Deep Roses
Sonoma Scent Studio Vintage Rose * One of the few absolute scrubbers I’ve run across. I’ve tried it four times on different days, and it was Lauder-like (means death to my nose). The longest time I was able to keep it on without scrubbing was 20 min. However, several people I know just adore this one. Must be my skin.
Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradis (some fruit and woods as well, but seems primarily an amber fragrance to me) * Truly dreadful on me. Very little rose, very little wood, but lots of turpentine and sugary amber.
Keiko Mecheri Oliban
Bond #9 West Side
GREEN ROSES (lots of green notes here, but no moss – mossy roses are in the rose chypre section):
DSH Perfumes Rose Vert ***** Some citrus here, but mostly herbal notes plus a soft, natural rose. Expensive, and worth it.
Jacomo Silences ***** Almost more “green” than rose, thanks to galbanum and moss; also a lot of iris. Bonus: cheap!
PdR Un Zephir de Rose
MDCI Un Coeur en Mai
Penhaligon’s Elizabethan Rose
CB I Hate Perfume Tea/Rose *** I should have loved this. Somehow, I just didn’t. Very pleasant, though, and worth smelling.
CITRUS ROSES (this subgenre is really just not my thing, so no 5-stars here for me):
Clarins Par Amour Toujours
Parfums de Rosine Un Zeste de Rose *** Attractive, just not my style.
Hermes Rose Ikebana
Eau de Pamplemousse Rose
Cerruti 1881 *** Pretty. I like the citrus-herb stuff.
Pacifica Egyptian Bergamot Rose
Mariella Burani Eau Rosee
Perfumes 06130 Yuzu Rouge *** Again, I find these citrus roses pleasant but uncompelling.
YSL Baby Doll Paris (and a gazillion flankers)
WOODY or INCENSE ROSES (I’ve sometimes called these Dark Roses, although I’d also include Rose Chypres in the Dark Rose category):
Caron Parfum Sacre’ ***** When I die, I want to be wearing Parfum Sacre – preferably in extrait!
Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose *** Rose+Myrrh. Lovely, but I find myself wanting either more myrrh or more rose.
Gres Cabaret *** Some people have called this a poor person’s version of Lyric. It’s definitely cheaper, and contains a soft, cushy musk that I enjoy. But it’s not Lyric.
Amouage Lyric Woman ***** If there’s no Parfum Sacre’ available, I’ll die in Lyric, thanks.
Frederic Malle Une Rose *** Frightening stuff. It makes me feel threatened. But if screaming insane-asylum roses are your thing, this is your scent. The rose note in it is very beautiful; it’s the woody-amber thing that grates like nails on a chalkboard.
Czech & Speake No. 88 *** Gorgeous spicy-woody thing I’d prefer to smell on a man. Don’t know why.
Czech & Speake Dark Rose *** Very nice woody rose. I think the Montales are better oud-rose fragrances.
Comme de Garcons Woman 2
Bath and Body Works Sandalwood Rose (discontinued)
ByRedo Rose Noir
Parfums de Rosine Poussiere de Rose *** A lot like Feminite du Bois, with more rose. Since I have a partial anosmia to FdB, this version is preferable to me.
PdR Rosa Flamenca
Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais
Fresh Cannabis Rose
Clarins Par Amour*** Lovely. A poor girl’s version of Amouage Lyric. (Could be a poor man’s as well – it’s woody enough for men.)
Montale Black Aoud
Montale Red Aoud
Montale White Aoud
Montale Aoud Damascus
Montale Aoud Roses Petals *** Slightly-bitter oud-y opening, then lovely pink roses.
Montale Aoud Queen Rose *** Similar to ARP (above), but big florid red roses instead. I have a very slight preference for this one.
Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises
Tauer Incense Rose * Tart mandarin top, winey rose, and patchouli-frankincense base, a bit disjointed. I expected to love it, but didn’t.
Amouage Lyric Man
Etro Shaal Nur *** Rose-incense-woods. Would have loved this one if it had had less patchouli in it.
YSL Paris *** A little too loud and insistent for me, but smells good. I’d have to put this one on with a toothpick to be satisfied with the sillage. Insistently girly, so if that’s not your style, you probably wouldn’t like any of the violet roses. (Like Stella, there are many flankers – a limited edition every spring. My favorite flanker, which would earn five stars, is Pont des Amours. I hear Roses de Bois is lovely, too.)
Coty Exclamation *** A little on the powdery side; strikingly similar to Paris, but with a sweet, peachy cast. I’d love it more if it didn’t remind me of high school.
Drole de Rose *** Again, pretty, but didn’t really catch my heart.
Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Lipstick Rose *** Yep. Smells like lipstick. And I would wear that why?
YSL Parisienne * Thin version of Paris with pleasant cranberry topnote. Uninteresting after fifteen minutes.
Guerlain Insolence (more violet than rose) * Shriekingly loud. You could successfully torture me with this.
Ralph Lauren Lauren (Vintage only) *** Very lovely, with a green-herbal cast over the rose and violet. A little on the soapy side.
Celine Dion Always Belong
L’Occitane Rose Nuit de Mai
Frederic Malle Noir Epices *** More spice and woods than rose, but I’d definitely call it a rosy scent.
Chanel Coco * I find the spices lovely, and the rose attractive. It’s that cursed tolu balsam that just kills the rest of it for me.
Lancome Sikkim (La Collection) *** A gentler, less-tolu version of Coco. Still can’t wear it.
L’Artisan Safran Troublant
Miller Harris Rose en Noir *** Very lovely; a lot like Tauer Une Rose Chypree but quieter.
Ormonde Jayne Ta’if ***** Pepper, saffron, rose, and wood. Amazing and beautiful.
PdR Rose Kashmirie
Miller Harris Rose en Noir *** Pretty woody rose with green notes and spice. Should have been called Rose in Green and Russet.
Il Profumo di Firenze Zafferano
Annick Goutal Petite Cherie ***** Pear-rose. I love it beyond all explanation.
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete ***** Apple-tea-rose, with a hint of melon. It smells like the blowsy, sweet yellow roses we had in our yard when I was a kid. They weren’t much to look at, but they smelled awesome. That’s why I love this one.
Gianfranco Ferre Ferre Rose
Valentino Rock’n Rose
Lanvin Rumeur 2 Rose
Juliet Has a Gun Miss Charming
Dolce et Gabbana Rose The One
Sonia Rykiel Rykiel Rose
The Body Shop Cassis Rose
Keiko Mecheri Damascena
Dior J’Adore *** Quite pleasant. Seems ubiquitous, I smell it on lots of people.
Miss Dior Cherie (berry-patchouli-so-called chypre) * Dear Lord, Kill.Me.Now. Nauseating.
Bath and Body Works P.S. I Love You * Extremely synthetic. I like the occasional B&BW frag, but not this one.
Lalique Tendre Kiss
Parfums de Nicolai Balkis *** Raspberry rose with some woods, very nice.
L’Arte di Gucci ***** There IS no better rose chypre, IMO. This is the ultimate rubies-on-green-velvet.
Estee Lauder Knowing * As you know, the Lauder base makes me nauseous. This is gorgeous for two hours, if a little more mossy than I’d like, before the cursed Lauder base comes by to kneecap me.
Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave *** A quieter version of L’Arte. Very, very pretty.
Teo Cabanel Oha ***** Spicy rose chypre, somewhat reminiscent of Tauer’s lovely Une Rose Chypree, but without the heavy emphasis on amber that makes that one difficult for some people.
Montana Parfum de Peau *** A little too much leather for me, but really intelligent. Like L’Arte without the screaming neon pink roses – and for me, the screaming pink roses really make L’Arte.
Ungaro Diva *** If I ever run out of L’Arte (not likely!) and can’t find any Oha, I’ll buy this. It’s a little less focused on the rose than the other two, although there’s a huge rose presence. The mossy base is really lovely, and less dirty than the Montana. For some reason it seems to call for my snootiest outfit, while I’d wear L’Arte anytime.
Vivienne Westwood Boudoir
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection
Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance
Giorgio Armani Armani Prive Rose Alexandrie
Guerlain Rose Barbare * A disappointment for me: started out a thorny rose, then turned into shaving cream.
PdR Rose d’Homme * Like Coco and Drakkar Noir made a baby, a cross between Spicy Oriental and Aromatic Fougere. Not my cuppatea.
PdR Twill Rose
PdR Une Folie de Rose
Sisley Soir de Lune
Perles de Lalique * PATCHOULIPATCHOULIrosePATCHOULI.
Bond #9 Bryant Park
Parfumerie General Corps et Ames
Jean Couturier Coriandre
ROSES THAT DON’T SEEM TO FIT IN ANYWHERE ELSE:
Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen ***** Technically called a chypre, but really a rose-violet-leather without any moss at all. This one makes my knickers fall down.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Femme ***** Another technical chypre, but I’d describe it as rose-narcissus-patchouli, without moss. Similar to Citizen Queen, but even naughtier.
Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree’ *** Not exactly a chypre IMO, as there isn’t a lot of moss. Lovely amber, with some spice and juicy mandarin topnotes. Some people find it too rich.
Jean Patou Joy * I guess you could have fit this in under Classic Rose-Jasmine Blends. Joy still smells like dirty underpants to me; the jasmine seems to overcome the rose. I’d never call it a rose-centric scent, although I could be talked into calling it a rose blend.
Cartier So Pretty (a fruity-rose chypre) *** Well-made, interesting thing. Nauseates me, but that’s the fruity-chypre talking.
Oscar de la Renta Rosamor
Laura Biagiotti Laura Rose
PdR Ecume de Rose (beachy)
PdR Rose Praline (gourmand)
DSH Perfumes Beach Roses *** Salty, musky rose, very light and pleasant.
Keiko Mecheri Mogador (rose-floral blend) *** Perfect scent to wear to a wedding, or a summer afternoon tea. Lovely stuff.
Parfums de Nicolai Rose Pivoine
Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate (musky)
L’Artisan Voleur de Rose (patchouli) * Again, I’m not much of a patchouli fan. This one scared me.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise (green-iris-rose) ***** Somewhere between Chanel No. 19 and Silences. Lovely thing with lots of iris and galbanum.
Estee Lauder Beautiful (tobacco rose) * Gah. The Estee Lauder base just kills it. I know, that’s just my nose, so if you do well with Lauders, give it a whirl.
Art of Perfumery 5 (hay rose)
Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs (tuberose-jasmine-rose) *** Pretty, but has no soul. Honestly, I could have put this one together myself with some good-quality absolutes and a whiff of galbanum. I liked Mogador much, much better.
Coty Paris (floral blend, vintage and discontinued) *** Lovely retro thing, an elegant aldehydic rose-violet-jasmine-lilac blend that would be perfect for scenting handkerchiefs.
E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose (floral blend)
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (floral blend) * Anyone for some candied flowers?
Guerlain Idylle (floral blend)
SIP Black Rosette (no idea on the category here – notes of mint and leather and tea)
Agent Provocateur Strip (so-called chypre; smells mostly to me of iris & labdanum, like a stripped-down 31 Rue Cambon or Alahine – or a floral Shalimar Light without the citrus) *** I like this a lot, but at the same time it reminds me so much of so many other fragrances that I can’t give it five stars.
Want more roses? Go check out “Raphaella’s Roses” at Sniffapaloozamagazine.
Top image is Romantic rose bouquets from instyleweddings.com (gosh, I want those orange ones!). Other images are from vintagegardens.com or? ??antiqueroseemporium.com ?- go check out their websites for garden porn. Everything I see there, I want.