Rose : Multifaceted Floral Note

Each rose that comes brings me greetings
from the Rose of an eternal spring
,”
Rabindranth Tagore, Bengali poet

Roses_small_earthelements

If jasmine is the King of flowers, rose is most certainly the Queen. Whether one prefers the smiling and effervescent roses, like Hermèssence Rose Ikebana, Les Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose and Parfums 06130 Yuzu Rouge or the somber oriental and chypre like Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit, Montale Aoud Queen Roses and Frédéric Malle Une Rose, the diversity in the world of roses is both fascinating and astounding. Just as aromas of fresh roses can range from apricots to violet jam, the fragrances exploring roses can offer a great variety. Attempting to provide a full overview of roses in the modern perfumery is an impossible task, therefore I shall limit myself to offering a few favorite examples of the rose focused fragrances that demonstrate a particular character and style.

The classical aldehydic florals cannot be envisioned with a rose, glowing in their hearts like a precious jewel, its honeyed sweetness and vegetal richness supporting an opalescent veil of aldehydes. Chanel No.5 is the archetypal aldehydic floral, while Guerlain Liu is Jacques Guerlain’s answer to Ernest Beaux, whose other creation Chanel No.22 gathers a bouquet of white flowers, rose caught among lilacs, orange blossom and jasmine and anointed with myrrh. …

Jean Patou Joy makes rose and jasmine float above an animalic base, a classical bouquet that does not take long to seduce. Guerlain Ode (soon to be re-released by the house) is not unlike Joy, a graceful rose and jasmine pas de deux against the luxurious warm backdrop of musks and woods. It is so beautiful that I wonder why it was discontinued in the first place.

Rose is usually associated with the femininity, beauty and love, and the fragrances by Sophia Grojsman showcase rose in its full lush glory. From Yves Saint Laurent Paris and Lancôme Trésor to S-Perfume 100% Love, her roses scintillate and cling to the wearer in a warm, soft embrace. Other quintessentially feminine rose interpretations include Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, that from the green violet top to the luxurious powdery base saturated with vetiver and raspberry artfully conjures a scent of vintage lipstick. Guerlain Nahéma, inspired by gorgeous Catherine Deneuve, is a composition, in which a refrain of rose accented with the fruity damascones and peach is repeated over the course of its development, deepening as the fragrance dries down. Annick Goutal Quel Amour! is a sip of pink champagne, its peony and rose brightness retaining a fizzy sensation even well into the drydown. Les Parfums de Rosine Rosa Flamenca foils rose and orange blossom in sandalwood, its sweetness ranging from powder to the scent of warm skin. Lancôme 2000 et Une Rôse is simply a cascade of silky rose petals, a rose tour de force.

Gourmand rose themes are not new, with the vanilla and rose having an affinity that has been explored extensively. Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose sets rose in a heart of iris and lily of the valley, its honeyed warmth spilling into the base of vanilla and sandalwood. Rochas Tocade is a melodious rose, amber and vanilla arrangement. Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises offers a taste of Turkish rahat lokum, a sweet made with rose water and sugar. Ormonde Jayne Ta’if is a Middle Eastern still life of roses, dates and sweetmeats. While not conventionally gourmand, Comme des Garçons Rose (Red Series) offers a taste of raspberry as it oozes its juices onto the rose petals.

Since antiquity, rose was considered to be a flower of Aphrodite, born from her beautiful thigh. Cleopatra covered the floors of her palace in rose petals when receiving Mark Anthony. Romans would fill fountains with rose water during their lavish entertainment events. In order to neutralize the pagan associations of this beloved flower, the Catholic Church attached its significance to the figure of Virgin Mary. “…Soon the mysterious rose, sacred to Venus in earlier times, became the flower of the Virgin Mary, who herself became the Rosa mystica. The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus became St. Peter’s, the temple of Juno Lucina the church of S. Maria Maggiore, and the processions honoring the Mother of God walked on rose petals, just as the processions carrying the images of the pagan gods had done” (Tergit, Flowers through the Ages, 43).

“The rose, wherein the world divine makes itself flesh,” said Dante (1265-1321). Whether seductive or chaste, earthly or divine, rose has a mysterious aura, its thorny strength contrasted with the opulent blossom. Nowhere is the mystery and elegance of rose more clear than in the chypre and oriental compositions. The chypre fragrances rely on rose in the hearts of their compositions, in order to harmonize the hesperidic top with the mossy base. Guerlain Rose Barbare, Les Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose, Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and Agent Provocateur Eau de Parfum are some of the rose chypre examples, where rose presence is intensified beyond a mere supporting role.

Thorny beauty of roses is revealed in Frédéric Malle Une Rose. As its rich crimson sweetness vanishes into the darkness of the woody ambery base, the composition accents a sinister and cruel facet of roses, its earthiness dispelling the initial suggestion of delicacy. Caron Or et Noir explores the melancholy side of rose, its dark marble coldness conjuring church crypts and brocaded silk of altars. On the other hand, Caron Parfum Sacré, inspired by the chilly Or et Noir, ornaments the rose in the peppery warmth, an opulent vision of a Mogul palace. Montale Aoud Queen Roses leads one closer to that palace, allowing a glimpse through its marble screens into a room full of dancing girls, sweet smoke and rose petals. Caron French Cancan loses roses in the pale incense smoke and rich dark Caron undercurrent, a provocative, yet subtle at once. Caron Nuit de Noël wraps them in the fur coat of mousse de saxe, resulting in a fragrance that perfectly captures the serenity of a quiet winter evening.

Below are some of the fragrances exploring rose as a dominant theme. Please feel free to add your favorites to this list (I shall edit it in order to incorporate them).

Andy Tauer Le Maroc pour elle
Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais
Annick Goutal Rose Absolu
Bond No.9 Broadway Nite
Caron Bellodgia
Caron Rose
Czech & Speake Dark Rose
Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’eau
Diptyque Opôné
Diptyque L’eau
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Rosa Magnifica
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pivoine Magnifica
I Profumi di Firenze Florentia 16
Jo Malone Red Roses
Le Jardin Retrouvé called Thé Rose
Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose
Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Été
L’Artisan Parfumeur Drôle de Rose
L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses
Lorenzo Villoresi Donna
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Rose Muskissimme
Montale Black Aoud
Montale Aoud Roses Petale
Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Pivoine
Paula Dorf Zita
Parfums Gres Cabaret
Penhaligon Elisabethan Rose
Santa Maria Novella Rosa
Stella McCartney Stella
Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose
The Different Company Rose Poivrée
Photos: from mystillife.com, ground.ne.jp.

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49 Comments

  • Laura: Well, this was so informative and fascinating! I had no idea of the part rose plays in scents like Chanel No.5 and French Cancan, Parfum Sacre or Nuit de Noel. (I’m very excited about the Guerlain Ode! Can you tell us more about this one?) I love the Paris LE family–is Sophia Grosjman the nose for those as well? Thank you for this wonderful essay. January 26, 2006 at 6:59am Reply

  • Judith: What a wonderful and informative essay! I learned a lot from it. I think you know which fragrances I would add to the list: Czech and Speake Dark Rose (love that rose and saffron combination) and Montale Aoud Rose Petals (which is still my favorite of the Montale roses); Black Aoud, which many people seem to prefer, also uses rose. January 26, 2006 at 8:00am Reply

  • annieytown: I am loving rose week V!
    I have never heard of Guerlain’s Ode. This one sounds wonderful.
    As you know…2000 et une Rose is my all time favorite. I truly wish Lancome considers bringing it back. January 26, 2006 at 8:46am Reply

  • Denver to Paris: Wow, V. Nice work. Let me know when your book’s coming out so I can be first in line to buy a copy! (You really should write one, you know.) January 26, 2006 at 8:47am Reply

  • Allison: Hi, I enjoyed your post! I love rose scents. The Carons are at the top of my list, and I also enjoy Santa Maria Novella’s Rosa. It’s slightly reminiscent of Or et Noir. I also enjoyed a rose scent from Le Jardin Retrouvé called Thé Rose, it’s very clean and fresh. And I Profumi di Firenze offers Florentia 16 which has a lot of rose and iris. January 26, 2006 at 8:54am Reply

  • annE: Thanks so much for another wonderful and informative article! And another fragrance to add to my “must sample” list – today’s is Guerlain’s Ode. I’ve never come across this one.

    The image that just popped into my mind is the Compass Rose – your mention of so many fabulous rose scents makes me think there must be one for every point on the compass! I have so many favorites here that I could hardly single one out, but I have been wearing Une Folie de Rose after your mention of it yesterday, and on me, it’s much nicer than Voleur de Rose.
    I was so happy to see Guerlain’s Rosa Magnifica on your list. I was introduced to this fairly recently, and it was love at first sniff. I love to spritz it on at bedtime – it’s so simple and comforting, and makes me think of a grandmother’s hug. January 26, 2006 at 9:06am Reply

  • Marina: Oh, this is a joy to read, for a rose-lover. You mention so many of my favorites…thank you for the wonderful article! January 26, 2006 at 9:35am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Hello, everybody! I don´t usually like roses on my perfumes, but I´m absolutely obsessed with Rose Ikebana, one of my favourite scents, so I suppose I prefer my roses “smiling and effervescent”, as Victoria puts as nicely as ever. In the end I suppose it depends of how you blend and mix scents, because I don´t like vetiver and iris, but I love Vetiver Tonka and Dior Homme… January 26, 2006 at 10:39am Reply

  • Robin: What a lovely post, V…off to spray on some Ta’if in your honor. January 26, 2006 at 10:47am Reply

  • Katie: Oh I’m so glad you listed Zita. So clear and so pretty.

    I do quite like the dark mystery in Gres Cabaret – the rose is not quite direct, but it’s unmistakable. It smells like it should cost so much more than it does. (And that bottle – who could resist?)

    And of course, I am smitten with Andy Tauer’s Le Maroc pour elle, which is such a womanly rich rose. It is a very fine thing, and easily on my own list of top ten roses. January 26, 2006 at 11:22am Reply

  • Halyna: Dear Victoria,

    I finally have an opportunity to formally post and thank you for your wonderful blog and all the exquisitely detailed reviews. Growing up, my mother would make “pampushkis” (doughnuts) stuffed with rose hip jam or actually I believe that I remember her actually picking rose blossoms (I will have to ask what type of roses they were), grinding them up and mixing with sugar, and other ingredients and I remember thinking how odd that I should be eating flowers. Since that time, every fragrance containing rose notes evokes those pastries and I find that, as lovely as these scents are, I cannot wear them. I love reading your reviews and hope to do so on a more regular basis. [Do you remember “pampushkis?”

    Halyna January 26, 2006 at 11:52am Reply

  • Ina: Hi, V.! Just today I’m testing Czech & Speake Dark Rose. What a shame they’re not making this gorgeous scent any more. I think it’s the best rose and saffron combination I’ve tried so far. Montale Aoud Roses Petals comes second but it’s way sharper and almost leathery. Dark Rose is so soft and close to skin. Have you tried it yet? January 26, 2006 at 12:19pm Reply

  • mreenymo: Gorgeous piece, V. Wonderfully researched as always!

    You have re-introduced me to the rose and made me realize just how multi-faceted and exciting this thorny fragrant flower can be.

    Hugs! January 26, 2006 at 1:16pm Reply

  • malini: Such a beautiful article! You almost made me cry with nostalgia by quoting Tagore. I love that poem. Thank you. January 26, 2006 at 1:25pm Reply

  • mreenymo: P.S.–Halyna is a good friend. I am so glad to see her posting here…finally!

    Hugs to you both! January 26, 2006 at 1:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I am glad that you enjoyed it! Yes, Paris and its limited editions are created by Sophia Grojsman. Her takes on roses are excellent, and I love nearly all of them (including Eternity). Ode is a really beautiful fragrance, created in 1955 by Jacques Guerlain. It weaves roses and jasmine together over a subtle animalic base. It starts out with a slightly aldehydic note which almost immediately gives way to the bright rosey heart, which warms up soon and attained dry rose sensation, especially when sandalwood comes into play. January 26, 2006 at 2:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, Dark Rose is definitely the most interesting out of C&S fragrances. I also enjoy Aoud Roses Petale, although lately it strikes me as very heavy and sharp. I will just put it aside till another time. All of your favourites were added to the list! January 26, 2006 at 2:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Annie, like you, I think that Lancome’s 2000 et Une Rose is beautiful, and it is a shame that it is limited to the Lancome institute in Paris. Ode is a 1955 fragrance from Guerlain, and there are plans to re-release it within the next few years. In the meantime, I am cherishing my bottle. January 26, 2006 at 2:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, thank you very much! We shall see what the future will bring, but I promise to let you know if that will happen. January 26, 2006 at 2:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Allison, thank you! I completely forgot about SMN. They do have a nice rose soliflores. Thank you for mentioning–I just added your favourites to the list. January 26, 2006 at 2:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, how do I love your idea of the Compass Rose. There are indeed many different roses, and no wonder that it is difficult to do yet another rose that would not be redundant. My own favourite roses tend to be more abstract, although the lush sweetness of Ecume de Rose is very lovely. I also love rose chypres. I am always looking for more recommendations on that front. I would also imagine that some of the modern synthetics can be interesting when combined with roses–metallic accents, dried fruit of damascones (although those seem to be banned over a certain concentrations, from what I understand, hence the demise of Nombre Noir, which is among my favourite abstract roses). January 26, 2006 at 2:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, my pleasure! As a rose lover, I feel that I only scratched the surface. 🙂 January 26, 2006 at 2:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, yes, I find that it all depends on how the note is ornamented and the rest of the composition. If you like Rose Ikebana, I would imagine that you might like Un Zest de Rose and Yuzu Rouge as well. They are sparkling, smiling roses. January 26, 2006 at 2:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you! I am glad that I inspired you to wear Ta’if today. 🙂 January 26, 2006 at 2:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, thank you for mentioning your favourites! I love the bottle of Cabaret, although I have not tried the fragrance since it was released.

    I smelled both L’air du Desert Marocain and Le Maroc pour elle on Laura and they were wonderful. We agreed that L’air du Desert Marocain suits Laura better, but I still wanted to go back and smell both of these fragrnaces, which is a very good sign. Le Maroc pour elle reminds me of Bal a Versailles very much, and it is a good thing. January 26, 2006 at 2:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Halyna,

    It is the Ukrainian thing! My grandmother would make pampushki as well, stuffing them with rose petal jam. She used petals from a rose bush we called tea rose, but which I suspect is actually rosa damascena. After the sun would dry out the dew, I would be sent to collect the petals from the fully opened roses. The fragrance associated with this task is probably what made me crazy about roses.

    Thank you for your nice compliment!
    Victoria January 26, 2006 at 2:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, I recently read that Dark Rose is going to be released soon. C&S have been having production problems, but everything seems to be resolved. For another nice rose and saffron combination, I highly recommend Gourmandises. It is lovely. I had a pleasure to try Dark Rose recently, and I agree–it is a beautiful fragrance. January 26, 2006 at 2:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you very much. I am so happy to be able to accomplish this. Rose is a very multifaceted flower, and its usages in the perfumery cannot be numbered. January 26, 2006 at 2:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Malini, oh, thank you! I am glad that you liked the quote. I have been enjoying Tagore’s writing since I was a child. My great grandfather had an entire collection of his works. I am not sure what it is exactly about his poems, but they are the only ones that made me cry. I have the highest respect for his talent and his philosophy. What an oustanding person! January 26, 2006 at 2:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I am glad to see both of you here. It is really such a pleasure! xoxo January 26, 2006 at 2:58pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear BoisdeJasmin,

    I do not have favorite rose fragrances, but I found your post delightful. I did not know that rose was a flower of Venus. Thank you for this informative read!

    Fragrant regards,
    Kara January 26, 2006 at 3:20pm Reply

  • linda: You are making ME crazy about roses. 🙂 Thanks for a terrific article, V! Hugs! January 26, 2006 at 4:05pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Dear V., somehow the mention of Dante triggered the idea of “la rose mystique”, the mystical rose, and from then on thoughts of the maze of the Chartres cathedral, and then on to the rose stained-glass windows… Which of these rose fragrances would you say attains the serene, soaring, multi-faceted luminescence of a Gothic cathedral rosace? January 26, 2006 at 4:56pm Reply

  • paru: I had no idea that the scent of rose could range from “apricots to violet jam.” I think I just have one stereotypical perception of rose but perhaps one day I’ll sample the full spectrum. Great review as always. January 26, 2006 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Campaspe: How kind of you to provide me with this year’s shopping list. 🙂 January 26, 2006 at 9:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kara, my pleasure! I am glad that you enjoyed it. January 26, 2006 at 10:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I am glad! My task has been achieved then. 🙂 January 26, 2006 at 10:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I can think of only one rose that fits that image–Nombre Noir, it is like shattered pieces of stained glass hit by the sun. Simply stunning in every way! January 26, 2006 at 10:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, thank you. My grandmother grew all sorts of roses, and when they would bloom, the garden would be filled with the most wonderful scent. I distinctly recall one variety that smelled of candied violets. January 26, 2006 at 10:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: F, oh, my pleasure! 🙂 You are the one who turned me onto many rose favourites, after all. January 26, 2006 at 10:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you very much! Nice to see you here, a fellow rose lover. January 26, 2006 at 10:31pm Reply

  • mireille: Ta’if as Middle eastern still life: lovely work, V. xoxo January 26, 2006 at 10:15pm Reply

  • Rita: Nothing beats a pure turkish rose oil or Bulgarian rose oil. I have a tiny taif rose bottle that cost over £150 that transports me to rose heaven. My favourite commercial rose perfume is Wardh Istanbul by Al Haramain Perfumes. This is sugar rose with apples and men always comment on it when I wear it. And for you Victoria, my favourite rose poem (and I have hundreds of rose theme books – my secret passion).

    It was translated from the Turkish by the sufi singer Latif Bolat who gave me his personal copy from the book to be printed this year.

    The Rose by Ummi Sinan

    I dreamt I came to a magnificent city
    whose palace was the rose, rose.

    The crown and throne of the great sultan
    his garden and chambers were the rose, rose.

    Here they buy and sell but roses
    and the roses are the scales they use;

    Weighing roses with more roses,
    the marketplace and bazaar are all roses, rose

    Oh Ummi Sinan – Heed the mystery
    of the sorrow of the nightingale and rose;

    Every cry of the forlorn nightingale
    is for the rose, rose. March 19, 2006 at 5:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Rita, thank you so much for this wonderful poem! It really made my morning.

    Wardh Istanbul by Al Haramain Perfumes sounds simply enchanting! March 20, 2006 at 11:39am Reply

  • Rita: You are most welcome. I have another sweet rose fragrance which I love to douse myself with on hot days. Dr Harris & Co Pharmacy est in London in 1790 have been making their “Rose Bouquet” for a long long time. Quintessentially English, lemony roses. After the first swig of alcohol just cheap and cheerful, uncomplicated fruity petals sans gravitas. March 20, 2006 at 7:36pm Reply

  • Natalya: One of my new favorites:
    Paestum Rose
    Le Sirenuse
    Eau de Toilette

    Thank you for your blog, Victoria December 5, 2007 at 9:47pm Reply

  • Judith: Hi Victoria
    I think Dyptique’s Opone has been discontinued, which saddens me as it’s one of my faves. Would you happened to know where can I get some vintage bottles ? Could you recommend other perfumes with similar accords and sillage ? Thanks January 16, 2012 at 9:26pm Reply

  • Alicia: When I was a child an aunt and friends of her who came to tea at my grand mother’s house wore a lovely fragrance, Crepe de Chine, a rose chypre now discontinued. That and my grandmother’s rose garden (with many old roses) might have started my present fervor for rose scent. Today I am wearing a lovely, light, sort of a rose who dances in a vainilla field: Rochas Tocade. I love it.
    Tonight I will wear the glorious Nahema, as beautiful as dreaming the impossible dream. August 11, 2013 at 7:01pm Reply

  • Anca: Hey, it’s a very interesting article, but I have one question, why didn’t you mention Mona di Orio’s Rose Etoile de Holland fragrance? January 20, 2016 at 9:30am Reply

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