L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses : Perfume Review

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Torn_roses

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Rose is often considered as a quintessential feminine flower, a flower that represents woman in different stages of her life, a flower that men traditionally give to the women they love. The pronounced rose notes in the modern perfumery are usually reserved for feminine compositions, despite the fact that this fascinating flower appears into 75% of all modern fragrances and into 10% of all men’s scents. In the Middle East, where rose is traditionally considered masculine, the yellow rose being the symbol of Islam, it finds way into fragrances intended for men much more often than it does in the West. Since rose is usually interpreted as sweet, lush and soft, it is interesting to experience creations that highlight its masculine side, such as Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit, Les Parfums  de Rosine Rose d’Homme and L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses.

Created by Michel Almairac in 1993, Voleur de Roses speaks of rose blossoms covered with wet soil. Patchouli creates a heavy feeling that pervades the atmosphere after the rainstorm as the humid vapors rise over the drenched vegetation….

The mass of red petals is mixed with the oily darkness, their sweetness losing itself in the pungent camphorous cloud of patchouli. Tart fruity juices drip through the earthy layers, adding a bright touch that dissolves the dense heaviness of the composition.

While woods, especially sandalwood, have a tendency to suppress the arrangement, patchouli makes it explode. Its effervescence creates an almost dynamic effect conjuring a vision of the wind ripping the petals off the rose bushes. As the fragrance dries down, the subtle sweetness of the rose loses itself in the resinous woods warmed by the musky breath. The earthiness persists into the drydown, and at one point, the composition shifts slightly to resemble not a handful of dirty roses but a slice of hot rye bread. Crimson rose petals swirls above the darkness of the base, slowly disappearing into its fold.

For all of its interesting facets, Voleur de Roses is not among my personal favorites, because its earthiness has a transparent quality, whereas I would have liked for the drydown to be more fullbodied and perhaps less dry and camphorous. For those who wish to explore further the marriage of rose and patchouli, I would recommend Les Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose. Indeed, if one found Voleur de Roses to be too heavy on patchouli, Une Folie de Rose might be a gentler, less challenging fragrance to wear.

Notes include rose, plum, patchouli. L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances are available at Aedes, Barneys New York, Beautycafe, Bergdorf Goodman, Bluemercury, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Theperfumeshoppe. European shoppers can find the line at First-in-Fragrance.

Photo: Roses from atomik.com

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48 Comments

  • Judith: I have only tried this once, expecting to love it, and I found it . . . . difficult (I think b/c of the kind of earthiness you describe). I do intend to try my samples again, however. On the other hand, I recently tried AP, as Marlen recommends, and found it very easy to like. I hadn’t noticed the similarity, but I sniffed them very far apart; I will have to put one on each hand and see how they feel. Who knows, the experiment might lead me back to VdR. January 25, 2006 at 6:56am Reply

  • marchlion: In general I’m wild about l’Artisan, but this one was not for me because it’s got, um, roses in it… and patchouli. If you just added some cumin my head would probably implode. ::runs away fast:: January 25, 2006 at 8:32am Reply

  • Evan: Subtracting roses and patchouli from perfumery is like cutting an arm and a leg off a person- you don’t have that many limbs left! I guess you mean overt interpretations of the two.

    I’ll have to smell this one again- my memory is fuzzy about many of the L’Artisan Parfumeur line: there’s so many of them, and so many of them are rather direct, and they have that characteristic light touch that you mention in the dry down. January 25, 2006 at 9:10am Reply

  • Anya: “shifts from dirty roses to hot rye bread.” Yow! That is too funny. January 25, 2006 at 9:21am Reply

  • Robin: V, VdR is probably my least favorite L’Artisan of all time. Simply can’t think of a single good thing to say about it, so suppose I should say nothing at all…oops, too late 😉 January 25, 2006 at 9:53am Reply

  • Tania: I know what you mean. In the end, I wanted it to be more savory. Une Rose turned out to be the thing I’d wanted Voleur de Roses to morph into. 🙂 January 25, 2006 at 10:03am Reply

  • marchlion: Evan — oh, I don’t know… I think it’s more like cutting off an ear and a toe. Yes, my world would be a little smaller, but I’d get by okay. However, you are correct, I meant overt; I know patch is there as a supporting note in many favorite frags. Given some of the other perfumes I like, my guess is I will meet the right Overt Patchouli and fall in love. Can you recommend one? V? January 25, 2006 at 10:21am Reply

  • marina: It *is* very patchouli-heavy on my skin. But I actually started to like that. I should revisit Une Folie though. January 25, 2006 at 10:40am Reply

  • Donna: This one sounded good on paper, but on my skin it became a patchouli city. It smelled of bagels in the drydown. January 25, 2006 at 10:58am Reply

  • Laura: I haven’t tried this again since I started to like some l’Artisans, but I remember distinctly NOT liking it in the past. Will be in NYC next weekend and will check it out at the l’Artisan boutique. ‘Drole de Rose’ is also l’Artisan, isn’t it? January 25, 2006 at 11:12am Reply

  • Anya: V states — rye bread
    Donna states — bagel

    Some perfumer has been hanging in a deli too much! Anybody catch a whiff of pastrami? Biali? A schmeer? January 25, 2006 at 11:17am Reply

  • Evan: marchlion- What about L’Artisan’s Patchouli Patch, which smells like a platonic headshop. I quite like it (and I couldn’t resist the headshop reference, though I’m quite against the unfair pigeonholing of patchouli with the hippie set).

    Old patchouli smells quite different than fresh patchouli, and I suspect many people’s negative feelings about it come from smelling the fresh stuff (usually mixed with some rancid carrier oil and smeared in some white guy’s dreadlocks. I know I said I’d avoid the stereotype, but it’s sadly often true) Patchouli is also good at camouflage- it forms accords with certain materials and becomes transfigured and lurks in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

    Youth Dew (the original) and Tabu are both great patchouli-heavy perfumes. My current favorite patchouli interpretation though is Luten’s Borneo 1834. January 25, 2006 at 11:30am Reply

  • marchlion: Evan, you’ve just given me another push to try Borneo, which I keep meaning to sample and keep forgetting about in my general perfume frenzy… I realize patchouli’s gotten an unfair rap, you are exactly right. (You’re slaying me with the dreadlock reference — I know that kid, he works here at the organic co-op!) Youth Dew and Tabu are most decidedly not my thing… I tried, honest I did. I love a number of vintage frags, and they can be pretty outre. But a trip with Serge is always guaranteed to be interesting, even if I don’t fall in love. Thanks. January 25, 2006 at 1:24pm Reply

  • paru: I had no idea the yellow rose was a symbol of islam. Your reviews are educational at so many levels 🙂 January 25, 2006 at 1:41pm Reply

  • whitebar: I’m a male who enjoys rose scents. I currently own Une Rose, Rose d’Homme and Voleur de Roses. Voleur is by far my favorite of the three and I loved it from the first moment I tried it. On me the patchouli is not overpowering and there is a wonderful plum note that puts a smile on my face. This one rates in my top 10 favorite fragrances and I wear it year round.

    Like Evan, I also adore Borneo 1834 so maybe my tastes are just more in this direction although I do not like many patchouli scents. Many of them do remind me of headshops but not Velour or Borneo. I recommend Voleur highly to any males wanting to explore rose scents. January 25, 2006 at 1:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marlen, yes, that is how it strikes me–very cold. I think that it is a very interesting fragrance, and I can appreciate it from a distance. Your recommendation of AP is a very good one, which is a wonderful pairing of rose with a chypre base. I only wish for it to be slightly softer. January 25, 2006 at 4:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I would say that AP does the overt rose/patchouli theme in a more feminine manner. Voleur de Rose is definitely rather masculine, which is exactly what makes it interesting. January 25, 2006 at 4:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I often hear about people disliking rose in fragrance, and I wonder why that is. Perhaps, on one level, familiarity breeds contempt, or the associations people form are such that the note is not appealing. I guess that if you do not like dominant patchouli, Voleur de Roses will not please you at all. January 25, 2006 at 4:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, it is a large line, and many fragrances are just too thin. For instance, Drole de Rose is probably my least favourite rose–it has that thin quality paired with sweet powderiness. And it is by Olivia Giacobetti, whose creations I ordinarily enjoy very much.

    Yes, perfumery is difficult to imagine without rose and patchouli. These two notes are present as accents in almost everything. January 25, 2006 at 4:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, glad it made you laugh. 🙂 January 25, 2006 at 4:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I can imagine why! It is so earthy and patchouli heavy. January 25, 2006 at 4:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, Une Rose is among my favourite rose fragrances. I cannot wax poetic about it enough. January 25, 2006 at 4:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, oh, no! A world without rose and patchouli is a bleak prospect for me–gone are all of my beloved chypres, gone Guerlains, Chanels, all of my the florals…. However, I can see why over interpretation of patchouli can be difficult. Let’s see: Borneo 1834 is a definite must try. Hermès Parfum des Merveilles–maybe not an overt, but a strong enough patchouli note that is done beautifully. January 25, 2006 at 5:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I did not like it at all when I first tried it about 10 years ago, however since then I admit that my love for patchouli has grown. Une Folie is the one that I find easier to wear. January 25, 2006 at 5:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Donna, oh, I see that you also get the doughy note. I actually like it. January 25, 2006 at 5:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I recall you disliking it the last time we tried L’Artisans at the boutique on Thompson Street. You seemed to care more for Drole de Rose. January 25, 2006 at 5:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I find that the base bit of a doughy quality–that heavy, dense feeling. Which is why I was thinking rye bread. I actually liked it. I think that it comes from some type of combination of patchouli and musk. January 25, 2006 at 5:13pm Reply

  • marchlion: V, I am insanely fond of roses — I grow heirloom roses, climbers and rugosas and ramblers, selected only for their scent. In fact, my interest in perfume probably started with my interest in the perfumes of various roses, which I have discovered can differ even on the same bush from year to year. Somewhere in my initial forays into perfume, I was disappointed, because the rose scents never smelled right to me. I realize it is both illogical and unfair to compare the smell of a rose perfume to one I have just brought in from my garden with the dew still on it, but I have been unable thus far to develop an appreciation for the former. I have learned to love the opening rose note in 100% Love, though, so there is still hope for me. January 25, 2006 at 5:14pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, I admit that the headshop is not an immediate reference I would have with patchouli, because of my background. Aged patchouli can be stunning, a true liquid gold–effervescent, dry and winey. The fresh patchouli has the kind of pungency that makes people dislike it. As for tenacity, yes, it is very tenacious. I have a strip saturated with patchouli oil in one of my homemade plastic Monclins, and it smells quite strongly even after 4 months.

    I cannot agree more on Borneo. The vintage Tabu is just excellent. I wonder what the modern version is like. January 25, 2006 at 5:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, another overt patchouli I actually like very much is Prada Intense. It is different from the regular Prada, despite everything the SAs tell you. I highly recommend trying it. January 25, 2006 at 5:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Paru, you flatter me too much! 🙂 January 25, 2006 at 5:20pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Whitebar, like you, I am very fond of Borneo 1834. I would say that it is my favourite SL of the moment. I do not find patchouli too strong on me in Voleur de Roses, although the camphorous element is where I hesitate. Nevertheless, I would agree that it is a fantastic fragrance, and I would also highly recommend to explore it. January 25, 2006 at 5:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I can definitely understand this. I remember the first time I smelled rose de mai absolute from Grasse. I cannot even begin to describe how shocked and disappointed I was–it was raw and vegetal, not resembling what I remembered rosa centifolia to be. Yet, understanding how perfumers working with this material were able to use it in such ways as to highlight new dimensions of rose changed my perspective. Today I am wearing vintage Guerlain Ode, and what a gorgeous rose it has. Of course, modern technology allows to obtain rose raw materials that smell much like fresh flower does, and it is interesting as well. In a way, as I reflect on what rose fragrances I like, I discover that I prefer roses to be less photorealistic, but rather abstract–Une Rose, Rose de Nuit, Nombre Noir, even the rose note in Chanel No.5, to name a few. January 25, 2006 at 5:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I just remembered that I have an article on patchouli, and I included some recommendations for overt patchouli themes as well as patchouli as accents:
    http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com/_/2005/08/note_of_the_wee.html January 25, 2006 at 5:31pm Reply

  • marchlion: Thank you so much! I am going to broaden my horizons and find an Overt Patchouli to fall in love with. (I was aware of it in beautiful Jicky, and quite surprised to see Nuits de Noho on your list — really?! — will have to go re-sniff). Thanks for all the recommendations. Regarding the rose: yes, perhaps I should start with the more abstract ones. In fact I believe I have a sample of Une Rose upstairs, which I of course just ignored, poor thing. I did try the New Tabu in my drugstore romp, and it was criminal. I don’t know anything about the way scents are manufactured, but it had an acrid, synthetic smell — not the patchouli, a petroleum-type smell. If that’s the best they can do, they should discontinue it, it made me furious that they would pretend it was Tabu. Guerlain Ode! sigh… one of my missing pieces, I keep watch on eBay. January 25, 2006 at 6:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nuits de Noho is a little bit reminiscent of Angel in terms of its maltol/gourmand side paired with patchouli, however the patchouli in Nuits de Noho is soft and woody, without the typical earthy element, which is why people who tend to hate patchouli (or rather hate the overly camphorous and earthy patchouli) seem to like Nuits de Noho.

    I don’t know what they put in the new version of Tabu, but seeing it with a $5.99 tag makes me think that it is nothing particularly great! I also hear that Dana is due for some makeover by someone who wants to restore its former glory, therefore I remain hopeful. January 25, 2006 at 6:49pm Reply

  • Flora: If anyone wants to fall in love with a Patchouli-rich perfume, you might try “Nirmala” by Molinard, in their Les Feminines series. It is a wonderfully deep fruity floral, ripe with blackcurrant, and with a profound patchouli base that is softened by the fruit. It is not for the faint of heart, however, as it also has incense and vetiver in it. Released in 1955, reformulated recently, but still lovely, with mango, jasmine & grapefruit to zing up the heavy base notes. I never liked Patchouli much until I tried this one. January 26, 2006 at 1:26am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Flora, thank you for mentioning Nirmala. I have been planning to revisit it. Great to hear that it did not suffer through the reformulation. I find that Habanita is not too different from the vintage version. January 26, 2006 at 3:00pm Reply

  • linda: I liked it at first but it started to make me sneeze. Maybe it was patchouli that bothered me. January 26, 2006 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Campaspe: I didn’t know the bit about the yellow rose and Islam, either. Can’t wait to trot out that piece of knowledge at a family get-together. 🙂 January 26, 2006 at 8:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I am not sure what made you allergic. Have you experienced it before with patchouli based fragrances? January 26, 2006 at 10:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: F, the stories are rather complex actually. In my notes, I have two different legends, in addition to the symbolism mentioned: “In an Arabic legend, all roses were originally white until one night when the nightingale met a beautiful white rose and fell in love. At this stage nightingales were not known for their melodious song — they merely croaked and chirped like any other bird. But now the nightingale’s love was so intense that he was inspired to sing for the first time. Eventually his love was such that he pressed himself to the flower and the thorns pierced his heart, colouring the rose red forever.
    In another legend, the Prophet Mohammed was away fighting a war when he began to long for his wife, Aisha. Mohammed was tormented by the idea she was being unfaithful and asked Gabriel for help. Gabriel suggested Mohammed give his wife a simple test. When he returned home he should ask Aisha to drop whatever she was carrying into the water. If she was faithful, it would stay the same colour and prove her unwavering love. Mohammed finally returned from his battle and Aisha rushed to greet him, carrying a huge bouquet of red roses. She was surprised when he commanded her to drop them into the river, but obeyed and the roses turned yellow. Eventually, Mohammed forgave his favorite wife but, for some, the yellow rose remains a symbol of infidelity.” from cdb.com January 26, 2006 at 10:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Also, the yellow rose is a symbol of absolute achievement. January 26, 2006 at 10:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I should also clarify that yellow rose symbolism is more appropriate to the Sufi tradition than to other forms of Islam. January 26, 2006 at 10:41pm Reply

  • Campaspe: V., both of those are fascinating! Oscar Wilde has a version of the first tale, called “The Nightingale and the Rose,” a story that made me weep copiously as a teenager when I first read it.

    In Shi’a tradition, Aisha is not looked upon favorably, but I am fuzzy as to why. I don’t think the rose bit has anything to do with it! I do love yellow roses but they seem to always have iffy associations. January 27, 2006 at 1:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I am familiar with that story too. The ending when the rose ends up tossed carelessly and trampled is the heartbreaking bit. I wept too.

    Yellow roses have iffy associations in the Russian tradition as well. Yellow signifies parting, therefore I would warn men not to give me yellow flowers. January 27, 2006 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Jeannine: I love Voleur. It is very distinct and unusual and I can understand how most people would not like this, but I find it smoky and spicy with a bit of floral. I love it! I often mix it with other fragrances and it works really well. July 24, 2007 at 12:40am Reply

  • Eileen: I like this scent a lot, as you mentioned. A nice earthy, dark rose. But I am reminded of my childhood a bit, somehow…there’s an almost plastic, waxy side to it that reminds me a bit of those My Little Pony dolls that were supposed to smell like flowers…just a bit obvious, I guess. September 30, 2011 at 3:51pm Reply

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