Annick Goutal Rose Absolue and Rose Splendide : Perfume Reviews

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As I browse through new cookbook releases, I notice that rose is the flavor of the moment, appearing in everything from drinks to desserts. Pastries that would traditionally be perfumed with vanilla, chocolate or coffee are now presented in rose and violet incarnations. While reading a recipe for a rose scented cream puff in the delectable new book Ladurée Sucré, I realized that more so than sweets, I wanted another rose perfume. I craved something pink and unapologetically girly. My search led me to Annick Goutal Rose Absolue and Rose Splendide, two rose fragrances that do not shy away from being pretty and romantic.

As much as I love the dark and brooding rose perfumes, a perfectly blended tea rose never fails to sway me. There is something innocent and gentle about its pastel toned beauty; even if to some it may appear old-fashioned, to me it is charmingly retro. ‘Charming and lighthearted’ describes Annick Goutal’s rose collection well, with Quel Amour! and Rose Splendide striking a brighter key and Rose Absolue singing in the lower register.

Created in 1984 in collaboration between Annick Goutal and perfumer Henri Sorsana, Rose Absolue is voluptuous and velvety. It has a bright citrus top that plays up the sparkling rose notes, but as the perfume starts to dry down on skin, it grows warmer and darker. A rich note of chestnut honey foils the delicate sweetness of rose petals, and with time vanilla and musk amplify the abstract gourmand character of Rose Absolue. The rose accord is comprised of several different types of roses, and I notice a warm raspberry undertone that becomes more pronounced with time.

If Rose Absolue is a red velvet cake, Rose Splendide is a weightless meringue.  Created in 2010 by perfumer Isabelle Doyen and Annick Goutal’s successor Camille Goutal, this fragrance was intended to capture the scent of a garden on a summer morning. And if so, then Rose Splendide conveys the dewy freshness perfectly. At first, it smells like rose leaves and unopened buds. A touch of raspberry that I noticed in Rose Absolue is subtle, with green apple and pear accents creating a fruity champagne-like fizz.

As Rose Splendide warms up on skin and its pink petals unfold, it feels exhilarating and dazzling. It makes me want to wear pink lipstick, throw rose petals all over the apartment and make rose flavored macarons. Just like these ideas quickly lose their appeal upon practical consideration, the tea rose effervescence quickly vanishes under a sobering layer of musk. In contrast to Rose Absolue, Rose Splendide feels simple and linear, it’s less of a bombshell. Nevertheless, for a fizzy rose petal lemonade, it’s one of the best options.

Rose Splendide Eau de Parfum includes notes of pear, magnolia, rose, and musk. Rose Absolue Eau de Parfum features bergamot, May rose, Turkish rose, Bulgarian rose, Damask rose, Egyptian rose, Moroccan rose, and vanilla. Available from Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and other retailers.

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Sample: my own acquisition

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40 Comments

  • Suzanna: Rose is my primary spring fragrance note, and although I wear mostly Rosines, I adore Rose Absolue as well. As you say, it is a rich and deeply textured rose scent. Each time I wear it I am surprised how rich and bottomless it seems, and how the musky basenotes cloak around the rose.

    Splendide I have not tried and now I want to, specifically due to your mention of wanting to make rose-scented macarons and throw rose petals around the home.

    I think I will make an “unread” purchase of that book! April 25, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I was just at my favorite book store Kitchen Arts and Letters, and I already have a long list of books I want to buy. Laduree Sucre has a stunning presentation–the book is velvet bound and it comes in a box like their signature macarons. Not sure I would cook from it, but it would make a great gift.

      Rose Absolue has so many layers, it is so beautiful. Rose Splendide is fizzy and bright. I can’t pick between the two. 🙂 April 25, 2012 at 10:52am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Such a happy coincidence! I recently took my rose perfumes out of hibernation, and I am wearing Goutal’s Rose Absolue today! It seems to hover over my skin like a soft silk shawl. Idylle is another musky rose that I like during this time of year (it contains all of my favorite flowers! Rose, peony, lilac, lily of the valley….)

    Quel Amour is the Goutal I tend to prefer in summer. Peonies are my very favorite flowers! April 25, 2012 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: You describe it so nicely–silk shawl is a perfect way to capture how bright and yet enveloping Rose Absolue feels.

      Quel Amour is another cheerful perfume. I love its tart top notes. Very pretty. April 25, 2012 at 10:55am Reply

  • Elisa: I recently purchased a decant of Rose Splendide, thinking it would be Rose Absolue. Luckily, I like the Splendide too! I find it very crisp, green and tart, almost sour in a way that I imagine would turn some people off, but I enjoy it. April 25, 2012 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I missed Rose Splendide when it came out. I assumed that it was not a perfume, but an extension of Goutal’s Splendide skincare line. If you like sparkling rose notes, you will enjoy it. April 25, 2012 at 10:59am Reply

  • OperaFan: Dear V – You wrote about my favorite rose!

    Rose Absolue, to me is the rose among all roses. I have many rose soliflores in my collection but this one still stands out the most for me.
    Rose Splendide is a bit too green for my liking, sort of a rose for the non-rose lover. I can’t find the rose in it for my life, but as you pointed out – it can bring on an exhilarating effect.

    As I previously mentioned – Rose Absolue was partnered with Joy to form my wedding day perfume, and yes, I felt glorious!

    Cheers! April 25, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂
      I can just imagine how great you smelled on your wedding day! I tried your combination and I love how Rose Absolue uplifted the rose notes in Joy.
      Have you tried layering Rose Absolue with anything else? April 25, 2012 at 5:47pm Reply

      • OperaFan: I’m so glad you asked! 😉

        This goes back to the ’90s when I became acquainted w/AG at the counters of Saks and Bendel – pre-Grand Amour and Petite Cherie. The SAs at the time really encouraged layering the different fragrances. Since I was mainly interested in roses in those days, naturally they directed me to combining RA with other rose-compatible fragrances. One was Heure Exquise, due to the turkish rose, and the other – Eau du Ciel, with the Brazilian Rosewood. The HE kind of trumped the delicacy of RA, but the EdC was something else entirely. It provided a “lift” for the Rose Absolue and gave it a sense of expansiveness (if that’s a word), absolutely amazing. I didn’t even care for it that much on its own but given the chance, I got a complimentary bottle of EdC during one of their freebie promotions just so I could create that layering.

        In general, as with other roses, I can always use RA to enhance the rose note in other perfumes.

        In answering Marsi’s question below, you can go either way though most of the time, the idea of “layering” is to apply one on top of the other. The order you apply will definitely affect the outcome. For me, the heavier scent should go on the bottom to “support” the lighter one (and also so it doesn’t eat up the lighter one…). In the case of my wedding blend, it really didn’t matter the order because both were equal in weight though I believe I topped Joy with Rose Absolue because Joy’s multi-floral blend made it slightly “richer” in character than the rose soliflor. You can also apply on separate skin surfaces so that the scents can “meet” somewhere in-between. It all depends on what you are pairing and the outcome you want to achieve. I love to play! April 26, 2012 at 9:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s a great tutorial! 🙂 I now want to try all of them.

          It’s an interesting idea to wear two fragrances on different surfaces and wait for them to mingle on their own. I remember wearing Hermes Eau de Merveilles and Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist in this manner (by accident) and found it a great serendipitous pairing. If you haven’t tried this blend, I recommend it. It really works, as long as you use a tiny amount of EdM. April 26, 2012 at 9:57pm Reply

          • OperaFan: I know I have one of the Merveilles, sent by a swap pal. I may still have a tiny sample of ISM, so will try them out sometimes. On paper it sounds strange, but it’s all in playing that great discoveries are made! April 27, 2012 at 8:49am Reply

            • Victoria: You can try it on a blotter or a piece of tissue first. It’s a loooooong lasting combination, which is a problem if you don’t like it. 🙂 April 27, 2012 at 5:18pm Reply

    • marsi: I’m still a newbie, but how do you layer perfume? Do you spray one on top of the other? Or do you spray them next to each other? April 26, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

      • Victoria: OperaFan is an even more inventive layerer than I am, so she might have her own suggestions.
        If I layer, I usually spray one perfume on top of another. And for more guidance, you can check out this set of suggestions from French Elle:
        Guide to Perfume Layering April 26, 2012 at 2:55pm Reply

  • Rain Adkins: Sounds lovely and, yes, girly. . . . .i.e., perfect for May and early June. I love rose fragrance _simpliciter_, though, so I wear a simple rose linen-water on my clothes right now. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rose was the scent of my childhood summer mornings; we had a big old Zephirine Drouhin blanketing the front of the garage, and my first stop every summer-vacation morning when I went outdoors to play was to bury my face in its many Damask-scented rose-pink blooms. I still grow roses, and in spring and early summer I drink rose tea, usually Upton’s really excellent and startlingly un-pricey Hint of Rose ( http://www.uptontea.com , the Season’s Pick section.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Incidentally, that raspberry note you mention may have come from the roses themselves, or at least have been inspired by them; a few great modern roses (Tropicana/Super Star and John Paul II come to mind) and one great old one, Mme. Isaac Pereire. April 25, 2012 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love Upton’s teas, and I must try A Hint of Rose. I have a few other rose flavored teas, but usually I just add a spoonful of rosewater to my favorite black tea once it brewed. But the flavor would be better if the tea leaves themselves are saturated with rose.

      What other modern roses do you enjoy for their scent? I am busy jotting down notes for my future garden. 🙂 Tropicana is on the list already, and I just added the others you mentioned. April 25, 2012 at 5:50pm Reply

      • Andy: On the topic of rose scented teas, my favorite way of creating a rose tea has always been to mix just a drop or two of vanilla and a quarter teaspoon of rosewater into a cup of Darjeeling that has been brewed with a piece of lemon peel and sweetened with a teaspoon of apricot jam. I don’t drink tea sweetened, but for this one I make an exception. It’s the closest I’ve been able to recreate a food that tastes just like a rose garden! April 26, 2012 at 6:37am Reply

        • Victoria: Andy, that sounds wonderful! I just realized that I have all of those things on hand, so I will be sure to try this combination once I return home. Thank you for the idea. April 26, 2012 at 9:10am Reply

        • Suzanne: Oooo, that sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing 🙂 April 28, 2012 at 1:45am Reply

  • Mikeperez23: Your description of Rose Splendide reminds me of Rose by Comme des Garçons – a rose / raspberry sorbet sort of hybrid that IMO is one of the sleepers in the Red Series (along with Harissa).

    Personally I don’t like simple tea rose scents, but ever so often I crave a splash of rose water that I keep under my bathroom sink as a face toner /refresher. April 25, 2012 at 8:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: You are right, Rose and Harissa are interesting, if underrated. Those who love cumin should enjoy its spicy darkness in Harissa. There was another CdG rose fragrance that was supposed to smell like rose macaron, but now I can’t recall its name. April 26, 2012 at 9:09am Reply

  • Alyssa: Wow! So glad I came over to read through these comments. Lovely, lovely ideas for tea.

    You are inspiring me to dig out my bottle of Rose Absolue and try it again. I went through a huge rose period a couple of years ago and had to take a little break. But just seeing the title of your review in my inbox made me spray on Rosine’s La Rose last night. What a gorgeous perfume. April 26, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

    • Victoria: I did too. At one point I had so many rose favorites, but then I got tired of them. So, I’m slowly revisiting the old flames and making some new discovering along the way. April 26, 2012 at 1:34pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Speaking of rosewaters, I found some rosewater from India in my local supermarket fairly cheaply, in the international foods section. My question is this: Can this rosewater, obviously meant for consumption, be used as a cosmetic product as well? i.e., as Toner or to thin out a thick skin lotion? April 26, 2012 at 9:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t recommend it, because sometimes the inexpensive rosewaters are spiked with rose synthetics. While these additives are perfectly safe to ingest, they may irritate the skin. Seems like it would be the opposite–if it is safe to eat, it is safe to apply on skin, but it isn’t the case.

      Do you have Whole Foods nearby? They have a wonderful brand called Heritage, and their rosewater is excellent and completely natural. You can use it on your face as well as in your food. April 26, 2012 at 9:51pm Reply

      • OperaFan: I just took a look at the label. The brand is Inaidan (Laxmi) but the product is made in USA and the ingredient only lists water and distilled rose. I will look for the Heritage brand. No WF near Freehold as far as I know, just Wegmans, but I can always check out the one at Columbus circle.

        Thanks, V! April 27, 2012 at 8:48am Reply

        • Victoria: Laxmi is a good brand, but “distilled rose” makes me a bit suspicious. The labeling on their products isn’t always exact.
          Well, try it on your wrist first, before using it on your face. Just to be on the safe side! April 27, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Rain Adkins: David Austin’s peach-colored “Evelyn”, which smells so good it inspired a Crabtree and Evelyn perfume, looks as good here on the zone 5/6 line as it smells. The classic red “Mister Lincoln” has a huge true Damask scent, and is a big, hardy plant–mine’s as tall as I am. It loves heat and has some disease resistance, though you should still spray. The sister rose of that one, “Oklahoma”, is the same in every way, except very dark red and a somewhat shorter plant. “Tiffany”, another very fragrant classic, has superbly formed blooms of warm mid-pink with a brush of gold at the petal bases. Do spray. “Secret” is a pink-edged white that has a lot of great scent and a TON of great bloom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . Floribundas you should look at are white “Margaret Merril” (award-winning fragrance) and yellow “Sunsprite” and “Sun Flare”. You may not want “Scentimental”–it’s stunningly, mind-blowingly beautiful in full bloom and has a fine old-rose scent, but its one flush of bloom falls in three days–all of it!–and then there’s virtually no repeat. “Angel Face” is compact in both plant and flower; it has ruffled blooms of deep lavender, with a faint brush of deep pink at the edges in some weathers. Its scent has a lush citrus overtone that carries. Yellow “Julia Child” is newish and much ballyhooed, but very trouble-prone. Climbers? A very good classic red with plenty of fragrance is “Don Juan”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This is honestly a book-length subject. I highly recommend Witherspoon Roses, which has a good selection, good prices and exemplary customer service, and whose plants are MUCH bigger and healthier than you’ll find locally. For stuff they don’t have, Edmunds Roses is also very good. My advice would be to get both catalogs and just plow in. April 27, 2012 at 6:05am Reply

    • OperaFan: Evelyn is one that I have been wanting to plant. My roses are almost all David Austins with the exception of Souvenir de la Malmaison while my Mother In Law has all Hybrid Teas. Years ago I had a Gertrude Jekyll, which I understand was also used for perfume making. April 27, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

      • Victoria: Rain and OperaFan, thank you so much both! I pasted all of these suggestion into a folder titled “Fragrant Roses.” I can fantasize about their perfumes as I learn about gardening.
        Thanks to you, at least I know what roses I might want to consider. There are so many varieties, which can be overwhelming. April 27, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Rain Adkins: Oh, and there’s a splendid peachy-pink climber called “Compassion”, very fragrant, that makes excellent cutflowers. Train it young–the canes are stout and strong. You do know about splaying a climber’s main three or four canes out (from just fairly wide to near horizontal, depending on space and available support) to encourage more branches off them and more bloom? April 27, 2012 at 7:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t really know much on the subject. Do you have a website or a book that you like? I’m really just starting to learn the basics of gardening. So far, I have a good luck with jasmine and tuberose. But I love roses, so I hope to learn more. April 27, 2012 at 5:23pm Reply

  • Rain Adkins: Yes! If you love the forms and scents of old roses, GET THE AUSTIN CATALOG. It’s crammed with fragrant beauties, aod G. Jekyll is a great rose. So are Mary Rose, Winchester Cathedral, Brother Cadfael and a terrific red, The Squire, that is still available but isn’t in the paper catalog–it does really great here and is soooo beautiful! Just read up on the Austin roses first–they mainly aren’t for beginners. And be aware that when they speak of the famous myrrh note, they don’t mean the incense resin, _Commiphora myrrha_ ; they mean the licorice-scented _Myrrhis odorata_, the plant Americans call sweet cicely. Finally, heed their size notes abt. what happens to the height of some of their roses in American gardens; the word “whoosh!!” comes to mind. 🙂 April 27, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

  • Rain Adkins: And if what you want is perfumery material, make friends with the OGRs, especially the Centifolias and Damasks. They really do make superior rose oil and water to anything modern. April 27, 2012 at 11:52am Reply

  • Pierre: Thank you Victoria for reviewing Rose Absolue. I first discovered it in the late 80’s and was using it then on warm pebbles to scent rooms (Annick Goutal has discontinues the pebbles since). Although I don’t wear RA on me, I use it as aromatherapy, mostly to spray the bathroom at shower time, and occasionnaly at bedtime when I toss & turn too much. I sampled other very pretty rose fragrances (Frédéric Malle, Rosine, Serge Luthens…), but none have the therapeutic/healing quality of Rose Absolue. April 28, 2012 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Pierre, it’s interesting that you mention using rose scents to sleep better, because I also found that they help me with my insomnia. I don’t have a chronic problem with it, but because I travel a lot between different time zones, it’s hard to adjust for me (especially as I grow older). A drizzle of rosewater on my sheets does the trick though! Another scent that works well is orange blossom. It’s so relaxing.

      I would have to wear Rose Absolue to bed more often. April 28, 2012 at 3:56pm Reply

  • Pierre: Bravo for your well deserved award! Yes, I find rose scents and neroli calming too. Likewise, there are many amazing scented pillow mists out there, and I’m hoping you can write an article one day on the subject. My favourites are: Yuan zhi by Molton Brown; Lino Nel Vento by Jo Malone; Nuit Calme by Durance (they make 15 different “brume d’oreiller”); and a few local-made aromatherapy sprays from heath-food stores. Thank you again for your great work! (By the way I’m anxiously wating for the delivery of Eau de Monsieur soaps & decants ordered last week – upon your findings. Thank you again). April 29, 2012 at 9:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Pierre, thank you very much!
      If I ever decide to write on this topic, I will have to consult with you. You know far more on it. I’m busy jotting down your recommendations. So far, I took it in a very straightforward manner–I just sprayed my bed sheets with pure rosewater or orange blossom water. I can see that something with more lasting power might work better.

      Where do you find Durance products? April 29, 2012 at 11:11am Reply

  • Pierre: I’ll be happy to help. It seems like more and more companies are creating pillow mists or bedtime linen scented sprays (some work like magic). I was able to buy Durances products in Montréal until recently – they have a distributor problem. I can’t find the sleeping stuff on the US website (duranceusa.com), however it’s listed on french site: (http://www.durance.fr/brumes-d-oreiller-1.html). Sweet dreams Victoria! April 29, 2012 at 12:15pm Reply

  • claire: I mixed Rose absolue with Narciso Rodriguez For Her. Wooow !

    Great mix to give a floral note to the egyptien musk. November 8, 2013 at 7:39am Reply

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