Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Rose is the most representative fragrance note of Eastern style fragrances as it carries many rich symbolic connotations as revealed by Persian poetry and Sufi writings. In traditional perfumery rose was prized for its ability to withstand the considerable heat of distillation, unlike most other fragrance flowers like jasmine, violet, hyacinth and lily. Even today, the rose fragrance is likely to form an indelible impression when visiting any of the Middle Eastern countries—rosewater is customarily sprinkled on guests upon arrival and departure, rose flavor is as likely to be found in a dish of lamb pilaf as it is in sweet sherbets and pastries, and the scent of rose attar fills the air as people prepare for Friday prayers. Therefore, it is not surprising that the third chapter of the Arabian Tales from Armani Privé La Collection des Mille et une Nuits, Rose d’Arabie, takes the shape of an oriental rose.
The rose framed by sweet, balsamic notes, from vanilla and coumarin to amber, sandalwood and patchouli, is a frequent enough theme in the oriental genre. Both the honeyed facets of rose oil and the sharp freshness of synthetic rose alcohols blend well with the opulent and warm accords in that family of fragrances. In the case of Rose d’Arabie, the theme is interpreted as a rich ambery rose. Its bright top notes belie the richness of the composition, which comes mainly from vanilla and amber, with warm, sweet violet further enriching the accord. Patchouli and Cashmeran (a woody-musky raw material of incredible tenacity) offset the sweet heft of the composition and add an element of radiance to the sweet, warm rose.
Though beautifully crafted, the treatment of rose in Rose d’Arabie plays by all the usual oriental fragrance rules. For those who love the full bodied richness of rose in Montale fragrances, it might be a great choice, particularly since Rose d’Arabie lacks the screechy feel of sandalwood synthetics, which made me averse to Montale as of late. Next to by Kilian Rose Oud, however, it fails to impress me. Despite the heavy oud accord, Rose Oud is remarkable for its luminous quality, whereas the heft of Rose d’Arabie persists unmitigated. Compared to Frédéric Malle Une Rose, which is one of the most interesting dark woody roses, it comes across as particularly conventional. Heavy and dark, it is a rose suitable for the Carmen and Scheherezade in us. Beautiful, without doubt, but not original in character.
Armani Privé Rose d’Arabie was created by Firmenich perfumer Marie Salamagne. Rose d’Arabie (fragrance family: floral rose) includes notes of orange flower, saffron, rose, violet, patchouli, amber, vanilla, wood. Armani Privé fragrances are available from Saks5thAvenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York.