Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Czech & Speake Dark Rose is a fragrance that is certain to surprise. Exploring rose fragrances over the past couple of weeks led me to revisit a number of rose focused compositions, wondering why the roses that fascinated me the most were nocturnal and masculine. Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan, Une Rose by Frederic Malle, Rose d’Homme by Parfums de Rosine, Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens and, to a lesser degree, Rose Poivree by The Different Company, present beautiful treatments of rose that do not link flowers with their feminine associations. Layering roses with vanilla and sweet notes seems like a natural pairing, and it has been done to the extent that it is refreshing to discover a fragrance that takes the flower and accents its woody, spicy and raw aspects. Experiencing the smoke and incense anointed layers of Dark Rose makes one understand why in the Middle Eastern tradition roses are endowed with masculine traits.
Dark Rose makes one discover the rarely exploited aspect of rose, its thorns, thus separating Dark Rose from the sweet and pretty rose compositions. Admittedly, Dark Rose is not the best rose of the nocturnal genre, but its story still remains novel and its execution intriguing. In this light, my gravitation to Dark Rose after weeks of wearing other rose fragrance is understandable. Moreover, doesn’t one wish to reveal one’s own claws from time to time? …
The medicinal pungency of saffron, its vibrant hues cutting through the potential sweetness of rose, is a first hint that Dark Rose will not take the direction of frilly and girly. The woody notes intersperse the rose liqueur filling the composition, with a touch of spice setting it aflame. Dark Rose is reminiscent of Montale Aoud fragrances based around rose, however while Montale executes the theme in a manner that I find not unlike being subjected to loud music in extremely close quarters, Dark Rose has more subtlety. Nevertheless, the richness of oud, the equivalent of being draped in several layers of heavy silk, remains dense and dark.
The rose is unlikely to conjure soft petals and dewy blossoms, instead hinting at the woody stalk and earth covered roots that support the beautiful flower. The density lightens as the composition develops, leaving a matte veil of woods behind, its warmth comforting and rich. It manages to be alluring without striking the same chords as the more conventional orchestrations tend to do, and despite whatever faults I find with Dark Rose—density and linearity, it manages what more complex, but more derivative compositions cannot. It makes me want to experience it again and again.
Notes include saffron, agarwood, rose, sandalwood, white amber. Available from Czech & Speake website. Although there have been production problems, the company representative mentioned that the difficulties have been resolved and it would be resumed in the near future.