Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
What would one expect a fragrance named Rose Poivrée, peppered rose, to smell like? One is about to wax poetic about dewy crimson roses and warmth of crushed spices. Unwashed body parts probably do not figure in that image, however remarkably this is exactly where The Different Company Rose Poivrée ends up. Animalic and vegetal, the composition belies its floral promise, and yet it captures a facet of rose that is not often associated with it—the waxy and pungent quality.
I have once been told a story by a young perfumer about composing a rose soliflore using very expensive rose absolute during his perfumery training in Grasse. His teacher, Jean-Claude Ellena, looked at the formula and asked him about the purpose of the ingredients. …
“Take a strip dipped in phenylethyl alcohol [rose synthetic] and another one dipped in rose absolute and ask a non-perfumer which one smells of rose. They will invariably point to the one smelling of phenylethyl alcohol.” If the purpose is to create something smelling of roses, rose synthetics, especially when combined with natural essences, would be able to approximate the fragrance of the flower better than merely relying on a large quantity of rose absolute.
In most compositions, the warm, vegetal and rich quality of rose absolute is usually polished and sweetened, the waxy components made to recede into the softness of its body. Thus, it endows the composition with luxurious richness and complexity. In Rose Poivrée, it seems as if Ellena wanted anything but to make a rose redolent fragrance, because none of the expected polishing and concealing takes place. The cold waxiness of rose absolute remains unadorned, the vegetal pungency is accented further, and animalic breath is heightened with civet. The finished result is between the roses past their prime and dirty laundry. That description would probably strike most as repulsive, and yet Rose Poivrée manages to make me pause and reflect on its unconventional rose rendition. It is fascinating. I just do not want to wear it.
The Different Company Rose Poivrée includes notes of Damascus rose, rose bay, pepper, coriander, vetiver, civet.It is available from Available at Aedes, B-glowing, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, and Takashimaya. European online shoppers can discover the fragrances from Browns and First-in-Fragrance. Rose Poivrée is available as a part of 48h refill set, which also includes 10ml of Bois d’Iris and Osmanthus.