By Alexis Wintrob
Rose is at once both a daunting, yet comforting fragrance profile. It was the very first family I studied as I delved into perfumer training, spending almost six months immersing myself in its mysteries. While I diligently worked to understand its many and distinct varieties and experimented with the numerous raw materials that yield its unmistakable scent, the work that truly spoke to me was my research soaking in the history of iconic rose fine fragrances.
From classics like Chanel No. 5 to Joy by Jean Patou, the power of the rose transcends time. Chanel No. 5 features the rich, sweet May Rose, cultivated in Grasse, France. It is a hybrid of the French rose and the hundred-leaved rose. The lush floral bouquet of Joy by Jean Patou features 28 dozen May Roses. (WARNING: SPOILER ALERT) Not only are these two timeless fragrances associated with the fundamentals of the rose family, but they will also make a reappearance in future Jasmine and Ylang-Ylang fragrance guides.
To be honest, in my studies I personally was not attracted to these particular fragrances; they seemed overwhelming, overbearing and a bit old fashioned. As I continued over the months, I acquired a deep appreciation for the art and refinement that makes up these fine fragrances. But my real interest in the lovely rose really peaked when I learned about Stella by Stella McCartney. Stella changed my world. I may have FINALLY found a fragrance I could (somewhat) commit to. When I first evaluated this fragrance, it immediately felt complex, yet extremely new. It was obviously floral, but extremely feminine, powerful and new. The rich, potent rosy fragrance makes it feel as if you’re stepping into a rose garden of deep, lush pink roses at dusk. The rose notes linger and bring out a touch of spice at dry down.
Chloé is another brand that showcases subtle nuances of the rose. The brand spans from Chloé by Chloé’s powdery, classic rosy fragrance to Roses de Chloé’s lovely, fresh modern rose.
Louis Vuitton’s much awaited and now recently launched perfume collection features Rose des Vents as one of its seven fragrances. It is described as a light, airy, sparkling fragrance that pays homage to the classics, made up of the May Rose along with two additional roses.
Izia, the newest launch by Sisley, is inspired by and structured around the Rose. When designing the fragrance, owner Isabelle d’Ornano was drawn to the memory of her family’s rose garden. This floral scent showcases the feminine rose along with effervescent citrus hints and is rounded out with sweet, soft musk notes.
Many US brands like Tory Burch Jolie Fleur Rose and Aerin Rose de Grasse have been inspired by this remarkable and classically French flower.
Having invested months and months of time surrounding myself with bouquets of roses and raw materials that are at the heart of the rose character, this iconic flower will always hold a very special place in my heart. So the next time you ask me to help you identify the perfect fragrance for you, don’t be surprised when I start the conversation with the question, “So, how do you feel about rose?”