Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Like any fragrance house with a large and diverse range, Le Labo has a number of hits and misses in its collection. The generic blandness of fragrances like Fleur d’Oranger 27 and Neroli 36 exists side by side with the striking renditions of Patchouli 24 and Oud 27. In fact, when Le Labo offers something successful, it is truly memorable and dramatic. Would one have expected Rose 31 to be a dark, moody composition where roses completely melt into the smoky woods? Would one have anticipated Aldehyde 44 to be a vision of edgy glamour? Likewise, Baie Rose 26 is a fragrance I find fascinating, and in a word, addictive.
The play on words—baie rose means pink pepper in French—allows perfumer Frank Voekl to explore the affinity between pepper and roses, a truly marvelous pairing that has often served as an inspiration for perfumers (from Estée Lauder Pleasures to The Different Company Rose Poivrée). Yet, in Baie Rose 26, the pairing is presented in a rather unusual manner, which fuses classical and modern.
The prominent clove-like eugenol note gives rose a character that recalls the retro glamour of Caron fragrances, where the floral accord oscillates between a red carnation and a dark rose. At the same time, a crisp, fruity overtone reminiscent of the cranberry roses in 100% Love lends it a decidedly modern quality. This surprising juxtaposition is what keeps my interest throughout the development of the composition. Moreover, the spicy facets are deliciously accented with the heat of allspice/pimento berry, while aldehydes lend their characteristic fizzy, metallic shimmer. The drydown of dry amber, incense and cedar is very enjoyable. It has a crisp, transparent, and subtly smoky character, which makes for a great foil to the warm spices and luscious roses.
Baie Rose 26 includes notes of allspice (pimento) berries, pink pepper, aldehydes, ambrox, clove, pepper, rose, musk, cedar. It is exclusive to the Le Labo counter at Barney’s in Chicago. Considering that I did live in Chicago for some time, I am pleased that Le Labo has chosen Baie Rose 26 to represent the city. Still, I am not so enamored with this city-exclusive trend, and I hope that like other city-exclusive fragrances, it will be available more widely.