Rose Intense, a 2008 release from Parfums de Nicolaï, is a puzzle. On the one hand, it features a lovely fresh-cut rose note that has been blended with dry and grassy chamomile. The combination of rose and chamomile—one of my favorites—makes Rose Intense a casual, outdoorsy scent along the lines of Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Été, but less overtly effusive. On the other, there is nothing intense about Rose Intense. It’s a good “starter” rose fragrance, one that is accessible and that smells good.
Smelling good might sound facile but it is not; plenty of non-mainstream fragrances go to lengths to smell what we might consider bad. Rose Intense is a mild, non-complex, and lightly powered fragrance that opens with a sudden smell of rosewater that segues immediately into a berried rose nestled in leaves of chamomile and geranium. The red fruit accord is as glossy as berry-glazed cake and indeed Rose Intense momentarily wanders into the sweet zone without becoming a gourmand. As a soliflore, the rose note is featured without additional floral influences; in this way it is similar to Jo Malone Red Roses.
The chamomile note is a surprise: it’s big and for an hour it is nearly as featured as the rose. Chamomile has a papery quality to it, like papyrus or parchment. It underscores rose with a husky edge that lifts the rose out of simple prettiness. Incidentally, something similar appeared in Lancome’s rose embellished Magnifique and its own note of nagamortha, an Indian variety of papyrus.
The white musk and woods of the base also argue against any intensity; they are just a backdrop haze against which the rose has unfurled. The quietness of the base and the fadeout of the rose makes me wonder if I might want to reach for a more opinionated rose—Jean Patou Joy, perhaps?—to actively seek some drama.
Rose Intense isn’t theatrical; it’s not the leading-lady, velvet-curtain type of rose that the name might suggest. Instead, we might find it ushering theatre patrons to their seats, whispering sotto voce instructions about turning off cell phones and being mindful of one’s own personal space. In that, it’s the perfect scent for not staking out a huge airspace, for not breaching the aroma-boundaries of strangers. Wear it on a hot day and be thankful for how polite it is to others.
Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Intense includes the notes of red fruit, rose essence and absolute, geranium, chamomile, woods, musk. Available from First in Fragrance, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, New London Pharmacy, The Perfume Shoppe and directly from Parfums de Nicolai website. 30ml, $45, 100ml, $130
Photograph by tiegeltuf via Flickr, some rights reserved.