Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled

The classic – some would say cliché – gift to a woman on Valentine’s Day is, of course, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a dozen red roses, and jewelry. (My teenage daughter’s boyfriend brought her a card and six red roses yesterday; she gave him a handmade card and some candy. All together now: awwww, how sweet!) I don’t like chocolate in perfume, and the idea of jeweled perfumes will have to wait for another day, so here’s a look at some rose perfumes that I love. (Also, it’s an excuse to post beautiful pictures of roses.)

I do indeed love, love fragrances in which rose plays a major part, from light and girlish ones all the way through to dark Gothic ones. So many fragrances contain at least a little bit of rose – even if you can’t smell it on its own, it’s there, making everything smell round and full. I’ll admit up front that it is very, very difficult to find a rose fragrance that smells just like a freshly-cut dewy rose, because in order to obtain rose essence, the rose petals have to be treated in some way – from steam distillation to enfleurage (which involves pressing fresh petals in fat), to the modern scientific method called distillation moléculaire – and you always get “cooked” rose, not fresh. I figure if I want fresh roses, I’ll go to the florist.

For rose perfumes, I have a stash! Some of my favorites, starting from the light and girlish end:

Gazebo Rose~ Yellow Macro Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete – a summery yellow rose, with light fruity notes of apple and honeydew melon. The fruit isn’t too literal, and the effect is not like shampoo – rather, it’s a little powdery from the mimosa. I love this one. It was my first niche purchase, and I still wear it with happiness.



Pastel roseTeo Cabanel Early Roses – another light and summery pastel rose, with a few citrus notes, and a lacy, airy feeling. Pretty, uncomplicated, and delightful. A bit old-fashioned, perhaps, but if you like reading Jane Austen you may feel perfectly at home in it.

Bright Pink Roses in the Sun at the Public Garden DSH Perfumes Rose Vert – this is one of the rare all-natural fragrances that I love, because it is so fresh and beautiful, and does not suffer from a standpoint of longevity. It starts out with aromatic lemon and bergamot, and then there is a lovely mixture of rose and treemoss, with a few woody notes. Dawn’s website calls it a dream of red and green, but this one I “see” as being pink and green and “feel” as being raw silk. Gorgeous. I’ve gone through four samples of this thing; maybe it’s time to actually buy some.

Lavender RoseYSL Paris, or any of the Paris flankers – oddly, I didn’t run across Paris when it was new and assaulting nostrils with its 1980’s, big-smell, shoulder-padded femininity. I first bought Paris Pont des Amours, one of the Printemps limited-edition flankers, off ebay, and wore it a great deal before deciding that I could probably handle Paris proper. So I bought a miniature of Paris, which is very similar to Pont des Amours, but brighter, less pastel. This is ROSE-VIOLET, quite sweet and overtly girly, petaled and beribboned and Dresden-shepherdess-y. I quite like that sort of thing, and I refuse to apologize for it.

Crimson Bouquet Rose - Marin Art and Garden (5649) Sonoma Scent Studio Velvet Rose – THE absolute closest to an enormous armful of fresh-cut, dewy, crimson roses I’ve ever smelled coming out of a bottle. It’s mostly blended high-quality rose essences with a bit of green patchouli to highlight those ruby-red roses. Simple, you say, but I’m positive that it took a lot of work to make those rose oils come alive. It’s parfum strength, so don’t overdo the spray.

Hot Pink and Proud of ItL’Arte di Gucci – (You knew this one would show up, right?) I am a huge fan of this larger-than-life, dressed-to-the-nines, Kathleen-Battle-opera-diva of a fragrance, a six-dozen bouquet of hot pink roses surrounded by a jungle of greenery. There may be a cat in that jungle, too. It’s a rose chypre which is uncompromising, fierce, and beautiful. Sadly, it’s discontinued. If you can’t find it, tryUngaro Diva, which is a bit more leathery, and has more of a floral mix rather than being so rose-focused, but which is really lovely as well.

Vanilla. Caron Parfum Sacre – this floriental isn’t All About the Rose, and you may be surprised by the lemon-pepper opening. That subsides to a silky, wine-like rose bolstered by sandalwood, vanilla, and incense. It’s gorgeous, both luxurious and comforting.

‘Burgundy Iceberg’


Amouage Lyric Woman – a smoky, dry, woody incense-rose that is elegant yet easy to wear, very meditative. It may be the suggestion of its name, but I find it wonderful for wearing to classical music concerts. I am one of those weirdos who don’t feel strange wearing Amouage with jeans, but Lyric does at least deserve a cashmere sweater as accompaniment.

DSC_0107Rochas Tocade – a sweet/smoky rose-vanilla fragrance that flirts without saying a word. Warning: it’s loud. I put the bottle in my closet for about two weeks once, and could smell it for months. Turns out the cap had come loose, but still. That Slut Tocade slurred an over-friendly, drunken hello every time I opened the closet door.



Pink and white rosesGuerlain Idylle eau de toilette – I’m not much of a patchouli fan, but this cheery concoction of rose, muguet and “clean” patchouli is very pleasant, and great for wearing to baseball games.


Sexy Rose Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour femme – in fact, about the only way I can handle patchouli is when rose is involved. There’s a big slug of greeny, herbal patchouli (the “green”-smelling stuff is, apparently, the expensive aged kind) in LN, as well as some spice and dark red rose petals. This scent is formal and pretty sexy, if you ask me. I thought this thing was dark until I wore it next to Malle’s Portrait of a Lady. I was wrong: Lumiere Noire is full of candlelight, while PoaL is the darkness of a winter afternoon.

Candelabra Bloom, Bronx, NYTauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille – a big Hawai’ian sunset of an orange-pink-red rose, with vanilla meringue and plenty of raspberry and orange peel. Totally unserious (this is not the thing to wear to your performance review or to apply for a loan, if you ask me) but such a joy.


Other rose-focused scents to add to the bouquet:

Annick Goutal Rose Splendide – much like Early Roses, but with a bit more citrus and less powder.

DSH Perfumes Beach Roses – gentle roses with a salty air.

Coty La Rose Jacqueminot – if you can find any version of this at all, it’s worth smelling. It’s a lovely red rose set on a ton of mossy and woody notes, and probably had aldehydes and citrus up top (my small bottle has a nail-polish-remover quality, which is what you get when aldehydes+citrus decay), and basically smells like vintage Miss Dior + roses. This is reportedly the fragrance that kick-started Francois Coty’s modest apothecary-style fragrance business into high gear; the 1980s rerelease may not be exactly the scent that started it all, but it’s darn good.

Frederic Malle Une Rose – this is a stunningly lovely rose for about twenty minutes, and then the woody-amber in the base makes me feel positively hunted. My shoulders draw up toward my ears every time I even think about Une Rose, but you may not have the same reaction.

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady – a rose chypre with oriental notes in the base. Projects large distances, lasts for three weeks on a wool coat sleeve, and has huge WOW factor. Nabs compliments right and left. It goes Youth-Dew in the drydown, which just ruins things for me, but the ride getting to there is very beautiful.

Montale Aoud Roses Petals – nice bandaidy-medicinal oud up top, bright pink roses thereafter. Very pretty and my favorite of the Montale oud-rose combos.

Tauer Une Rose Chypree – orange-spice notes topping a beautiful, labdanum-heavy rose chypre. Amazing work.

Pink Roses

Note: I had written this post on February 13, only to find that both Victoria at Bois de Jasmin and Krista at Scent of the Day had posted about roses as well.  Go enjoy their picks, too.

All photos from Flickr.


21 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled”

  1. I love your selection of roses. Three I must try are L’Arte di Gucci, Parfum Sacre and Lumiere Noire pour femme. I can’t believe I didn’t used to like rose perfumes. There are so many beatiful ones.

    1. Those are GORgeous. (Sadly, L’Arte is discontinued, which is why I mention Diva. Sigh.)

      Actually, they’re all beautiful. After I posted this, I thought of about six more I should have referenced…

  2. Mals, I love these lists. You were my “go-to” when I was trying out green frags last summer, and I suspect this will be bookmarked when I finally do the rose note in earnest. Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about figs? 😉

    1. Glad you love the lists! (Somewhere on here there is an Even More Exhaustive list of rose frags. you have been warned. 🙂 )

      I suspect I will not be your go-to for fig. I like to eat figs, and that’s about it! Fig leaf in perfumery makes me nauseous and/or bitterly angry for no reason at all. Premier Figuier? Philosykos? SSS Fig Tree? All a total bust. There was another one, too, but I managed to put it out of my mind so as to not repeat the experience…

      1. I think that is happening to me too! I had a Philosykos decant which I wore the other day and it did not agree with me. Swapped it away. Just tried the new Hermessence (Santal Massoia) and something about it was bugging me and I looked online and there it is – it’s got fig! But I do love Jardin En Med, but I think that is more fig fruit than leaf.

  3. I am not a big rose fan in scent – the only one I love is Hermes Rose Ikebana. It is so fresh and lovely. I just have a couple samples, but next time I’m at the store, I’ll have to get some more. Also like Hermes Kelly Caleche, which is rosy to me. Just got a sample of Safran Troublant and it is very nice – need to give that more skin time! And I should get out my sample of Lyric as well. I sniffed Eau D’Italie Paestum Rose in a shop some time ago and really liked it – a nice dirty rose. Way back in the day, I had a bottle of Perfumers Workshop Tea Rose, which is a super realistic rose.

    Do you have some Diva? I got a cute mini as a swap extra and I know you love minis….

    1. Rose Ikebana I think I’ve tried once, and it was (like most of those Hermes things) evanescent. Gone in a flash. Which annoys the HECK out of me in something that I’m paying big bucks for.

      Kelly Caleche I have not tried. I liked Safran Troublant, and I love Lyric, and Tea Rose is sort of Scary Real (lots of geranium in that one, IIRC). Paestum Rose does not work at all for me – something about the combination of rose-cedar-incense is very sour and unpleasant to me. I’ve noticed that in several other scents with that nexus of notes, too (Tauer Incense Rose, Penhaligon’s Elixir, Shaal Nur).

      Yep, I have one of those cute little Diva minis!

  4. I think Velvet Rose, Tea Rose, and Une Rose are the roses that smell most true to the real flower to me. Interestingly, I find the photorealistic roses hardest to wear, though I love smelling them. If I’m going to give it a full wear on skin I prefer a gourmand-y rose, or a rose chypre, or a mostly-geranium rose, or a rose that’s just part of a bouquet.

    1. Yeah, I can’t wear Tea Rose either. Too screechy. Velvet Rose I can, but only in tiny quantities. I gave myself three spritzes once, and about DIED. (That was when I decanted myself about 3ml and passed my bottle on to a friend.)

      I don’t get on with the geranium-heavy rose scents. But I agree to some extent – it is often easier to wear rose in composition, and most of my picks are not soliflores.

  5. A very beautiful and comprehensive list of roses, Mal. Whenever I smell SSS Velvet Rose, I am tempted to add a couple drops of it to things I am cooking and have to really refrain, since of course, I don’t know the actual chemistry of it. But darn, I almost wish she would do a Velvet Rose for the kitchen, becuase hers smells even better than the culinary rose essence from India that I have.

    Reading your list makes me want to dab on Portrait of a Lady. So, so beautiful … but you’re right about its strength. One to apply sparingly. 🙂

    1. Oh, Velvet Rose does smell amazing, doesn’t it? I’ve never cooked with rose essence.

      I have decided I can’t really *wear* PoaL, but I admire it very very much. I once got a compliment on my perfume from a young man at the pharmacy – but I wasn’t wearing anything that day, and it had been all of nine days since I spritzed my wrist with PoaL (one time!) and then put on my coat.

  6. I love your lists. Always so comprehensive and thorough.

    This evening I’m enjoying Jo Malone Red Roses, it’s a potpourri rose in the same vein as DSH American Beauty and SSS Vintage Rose. There are a few Jo Malone’s I really enjoy and this is one of ’em 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you! :0)

    1. Thanks! I like JM Red Roses in very small quantities, and American Beauty is good but I don’t love it. (Sadly, I admit that there is just… something… in Vintage Rose that nauseates me. I’ve tried it eight times – 8! – and the longest I went without scrubbing was 23 minutes.)

      And Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

  7. I wish roses liked me. I used to grow the actual flowers when I lived in the Pacific NW, and loved how a single bloom of an old-fashioned Bourbon rose would scent the house. But in perfumery, they almost always turn soapy and sour on me. 🙁 So disappointing.

    Lovely photos, mals!

    1. Very sad you can’t wear rose perfumes… have you tried rose in composition, like Elisa suggests? I wonder if the rose was more hidden whether it would play nicely with you. Hm.

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