Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Not all celebrity scents are made equal, but then again, not all celebrities are either. I would be glad to back any Pedro Almodóvar’s actress, but Rossy de Palma, the striking and charismatic Spanish beauty, completely wins me over whether onscreen or with her perfume. Her eponymous Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance is as a perfect fit for her dramatic image as it is for me when I want my perfume to make a statement. For such a dark, smoldering rose as Rossy de Palma, making a statement is an easy task.
Rossy de Palma was created by perfumers Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu, and while the composition is based on rose, the impression is much more abstract and surprising. While the initial spicy freshness is quite bright and cool, things get dark and mysterious very quickly. As the rose unfolds, so does the intensely dark oriental accord. Although there is a fair bit of honeyed sweetness present in the rose, the earthy notes of patchouli and leathery balsamic notes keep it balanced. The dark woods and ambers further lend Rossy de Palma an appealing dry facet. The late drydown of Rossy de Palma is a classical amber note, dark and animalic, which takes me to my favorite ambers like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and Tom Ford Amber Absolute. The fragrance has a good sillage and an incredible tenacity, lasting well over 12 hours on my skin.
It is a seductive fragrance, yet it is devoid of the cloying oriental triteness and “harem odalisque” exoticism. The latter often plagues the opulent oriental roses, which have been explored widely recently, whether successfully by Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady or less so by Armani Privé 1001 Nights Rose d’Arabie. Rossy de Palma occupies the same realm for me as Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and Frédéric Malle Une Rose, the earthy dark roses that, despite their lush floral hearts, nevertheless have a masculine aura. For a man who loves patchouli and dark orientals, the prominent rose notes in Rossy de Palma should not be too difficult to handle. On the other hand, a woman who wants to eschew the cliches of “sweet and pretty” would find it very appealing.
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma includes notes of bergamot, cardamom, black pepper, geranium, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, blood accord, patchouli, benzoin, incense, chocolate. Available from Henri Bendels and online from Luckyscent.
Sample: my own acquisition