Shiseido White Rose Natural : Perfume Review

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I debated whether I should review Shiseido White Rose Natural, because it’s expensive and available only in Japan. For some, this may be a tantalizing combination, for others (and we are in the majority), the ultimate frustration. But if you’re a rose lover, a perfume history buff, or like me, have a strong interest in Japanese fragrances, White Rose is hard to resist. Given Japanese perfume tastes, it’s somewhat of a puzzle–a rose that doesn’t smell at all like the fresh watery roses that grace the regional top seller lists. White Rose Natural combines the boldness of American perfumery with the refinement of French, but the end result is that smells remarkably Japanese, even if it doesn’t follow the established trends.

white-rose

Last year Shiseido celebrated its 140th anniversary. Its story is full of interesting tidbits. Did you know that the company was founded by the ex-head-pharmacist to the Imperial navy, Fukuhara Arinobu, when he was only 23? Or that Shiseido is believed to have introduced ice cream to Japan? White Rose may not be an expected Japanese perfume, but then again, Shiseido doesn’t always play by the rules.

To find White Rose at the Shiseido boutique, you have to pass the makeup stands, skincare aisles and the rows of neat Serge Lutens’s bottles. Tucked in the back of the boutique are the shelves holding the retro styled bottles of Shiseido’s classical collection–Zen, Koto, Saso, Suzuro, Inouï, and White Rose. It was first introduced in 1954 and subsequently relaunched in 1976.

For all of its refinement, White Rose is not a dainty and precious fragrance. You’re pelted with soft rose petals the moment you uncork the vial. When the lush tropical note of ylang ylang rises to the top, you aren’t quite sure if you’re smelling rose or jasmine. It’s an interesting interplay of fresh and sultry, cool and warm. The drydown is subtle–a sheer layer of musk that sticks to the white petals and makes them linger.

White Rose may not worth a trip half way around the globe for its pretty rose character alone. I would instead recommend Serge Lutens Sa Majesté la Rose, which happens to belong to Shiseido (via its associations with Serge Lutens). On the other hand, if you’re interested in Japanese perfumery or love dewy roses like Creed Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare, this sparkling rose is a charmer. Also worth sampling are Saso (1988), a dark and rich chypre that can be considered an endangered species, and Suzuro (1976), a perfume so green that it feels surreal.

White_Rose

Shiseido White Rose Natural is available directly from Shiseido; 32ml parfum/¥22,000 (around $245).

Photography by T.Kiya, via Flickr, some rights reserved

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47 Comments

  • Sofia: Hi Victoria! I would love to smell it, it sounds like a delight. Thank you too for sharing the tidbits, founded by Fukuhara when he was only 23, already an ex-head Pharmacist to the Imperial Navy? I’m a pharmacist and that makes me feel so… nothing. Have a lovely day. February 13, 2013 at 7:24am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 That made me feel like I’ve wasted my 20s.
      White Rose is very pretty. I know that Zen is sold in Europe and the US, but it’s too bad that some other interesting Shiseido perfumes are not. February 13, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

      • silverdust: Maybe some are. When we lived in Hawaii all of the high-end department stores had Shiseido counters. Could be a vacation/perfume destination trip! February 13, 2013 at 3:26pm Reply

        • Victoria: Good point! Although at the Shiseido store in Tokyo, they said that White Rose is sold only in Japan. February 14, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

  • theperfumeddandy: Okay. If I can’t have the scent I will call in at the British Museum today and have a look at the ceramics and then, suitably in mood go and have a sample of the Serge.
    This all sounds divine – like a scene from a Japanese woodblock made perfume.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy February 13, 2013 at 7:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I don’t know what I would pick–a perfume or a trip to the British Museum. Probably, the British Museum, to be honest. February 13, 2013 at 8:05am Reply

    • george: My favourite exhibit at the British Museum is the collection of panels that depict Mayan Blood Sacrifice; your entry here makes me think that matching them and other exhibits with perfumes might be an interesting exercise! February 13, 2013 at 7:14pm Reply

  • mals86: Is Inoui still for sale, then? I’d thought it was discontinued. That’s such a lovely one, and I only have a small decant.

    I love the idea of being “pelted with soft rose petals,” what a lovely image. February 13, 2013 at 8:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I saw the bottle on the display, but I didn’t inquire if it’s still being made, and unfortunately I didn’t test it. I don’t even know what it smells like. February 13, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

      • mals86: It is a gorgeous green floral. February 13, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

        • Victoria: One of my favorite styles! Even more disappointed now that I didn’t ask to smell it. February 13, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

        • Phyllis Ann Iervello: I remember wearing Inoui and then it disappeared. It was a beautiful scent. February 13, 2013 at 7:09pm Reply

    • behemot: I was able to find Inoui only on Ebay, and it was about $200 for about 50 ml of EDP. February 14, 2013 at 2:18am Reply

  • Barbara: I love reading about rose perfumes more than wearing them. My skin amplifies the metallic notes. I also would love to find something that smells like rose scented vintage lipstick. February 13, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • Barbara: I also tested Ce Soir au Jamais this week. After a great start, it turned to sour mush on me. February 13, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

      • Victoria: That’s my perfume heartbreak. It opens on such a gorgeous rose note, but the drydown smells like the red wine dregs on me. February 13, 2013 at 10:46am Reply

    • Victoria: The first that comes to mind is Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, which is the best retro lipstick rendition in a perfume bottle. I also find a lipsticky feel in Love Chloe and L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore. L’Artisan’s Drole de Rose is another contender, but I don’t like how thin it feels in the drydown. February 13, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

      • behemot: The drydown of Drole de Rose was a huge disappointment. Lipstick Rose is a bit better on me. February 14, 2013 at 2:20am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, the sharp, scratchy musk was a let down! February 14, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

  • Debbie: I had been looking forward to trying this one for years. When I finally did order a sample, I just wasn’t that impressed. I’d definitely urge someone to sample this before purchasing a bottle. February 13, 2013 at 10:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I can think of few fragrances that I would recommend buying blindly, and I completely agree with you, Debbie. It’s a smell-before-you-buy perfume. Plus, at that price, it would be folly not to! February 13, 2013 at 10:48am Reply

  • Rachel: My mother had a bottle of Saso but I don’t remember how it smelled. Regrettably she threw away all of the old things when we moved houses. Hope that you can review it. February 13, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

    • Victoria: My mom never keeps anything, so I’ve learned not to dwell on things she threw away (sometimes by accident). But I hope that you get to smell Saso some day. It’s definitely an old-fashioned fragrance, but it’s a good thing in this case. February 13, 2013 at 10:49am Reply

  • Annabel: I’m lucky to have a bottle scored on Ebay 3 years ago. I love the smell of real roses, the old fashioned ones. Most roses fragrances turn sour on me, but White Rose doesn’t it. It smells very true to life. I only wish that it lasted better. I remember reading that Shiseido promoted it as an all-natural perfume, do you know if it’s true? February 13, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not sure if it’s true, Annabel. It doesn’t smell completely natural to me. February 13, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

  • Elizabeth: This post has put me in a rose mood! I am going to wear Diptyque Eau Rose today, one of my favorite rose perfumes. And someday I will try White Rose Natural. February 13, 2013 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Eau Rose is such a pretty perfume that happily avoid being harsh or metallic or pungent like some other dewy roses. I’m in a rose mood today too, so I might go and make myself a cup of rose tea. February 13, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

  • Eric: Victoria, I also would love to read your review of Saso. A chypre can’t be dark enough for me. February 13, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to review it, but I smelled it only once and I don’t have a sample. If I come across one, I will definitely write about Saso. February 13, 2013 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Raluca: Victoria, I am going to Japan soon. Besides White Rose and the other Shiseidos, what Japanese perfumes should I look for that cannot be found in the US? Is there something that a perfume addict like me must not miss while there? Also, now that you opened the subject of Japanese perfumery, did you already write any article on this subject that I could read? I am intrigued. Thanks. February 13, 2013 at 1:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I have. It’s linked to the post, right in the first paragraph.

      I’m so jealous of your trip. I hope that you will enjoy it. I would recommend looking for incense and exploring that. There is so much variety.

      Beauty shopping in Japan is more exciting than perfume. If you like makeup and use eyeliners, look for Kate brand eyeliner at the drugstores. It is the best eyeliner for painting a fine line. On the high end, brands like Laduree, Suqqu, Lunasole, RMK are impressive in terms of quality and colors. February 13, 2013 at 1:33pm Reply

      • Annikky: And then there are the brushes… February 13, 2013 at 4:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: Mmmm, the Japanese brushes! I never part with my Suqqu brushes. February 14, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

  • dee: V.,

    I was planning to wear Puredistance M (I have some exciting stuff planned for my afternoon, lol!), but now I can’t decide between SMLR or the only Shiseido fragrance I…

    oh. my. goodness.

    Just suffered the horror of realizing I don’t have any Shiseido’s to reference in my cabinet!

    The horror I’m experiencing is real, but I’m maintaining a sense of humor about it, haha! Sa Majeste la Rose it is 🙂

    Your words are magic, Victoria! Thank you <3 February 13, 2013 at 1:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Dee, so nice to hear from you! Sa Majeste la Rose has one degree of separation from White Rose, so I think you’re fine. 🙂 It was interesting for me to realize at some point how much Serge Lutens is inspired by the Japanese aesthetic (in his makeup even more so), but of course, the blend becomes something uniquely Lutensian. I might wear Sa Majeste la Rose today. My gloomy winter evening needs a boost. February 13, 2013 at 1:42pm Reply

      • dee: Thank you <3

        I'll be thinking about that aesthetic as I prance around downtown austin today! It's been a long time since I reached for SMLA… it will resonate nicely with the sunny day I'm blessedly experiencing (and sending your way via emoticons 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) February 13, 2013 at 1:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you! Enjoy it! Sa Majeste is a perfect perfume for prancing. 🙂 February 13, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Lauren: The exterior packaging reminds me of a tea canister! I have spent too much time at Teavana lately. 🙂

    Victoria, do you accept review requests? I would love to read what you think of See by Chloe and Byblos for Women, if you can find it. The latter has recently been discontinued, I think. February 13, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, you’re right, it does! Now that you mention it, I see it too–a fancy tea canister. 🙂

      I would be happy to review See by Chloe, but the last time I’ve smelled Byblos was more than 10 years ago. I remember liking it very much and using up a little bottle. Too bad that it has been discontinued. February 13, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Annikky: This one seems so well regarded by perfume enthusiasts, I have planned to get a sample for a while. Now I’ve got two additional motivators: your great review and my new Inspired-by-Japan pants! I adore Japanese visual arts and cannot resist clothes that are even vaguely Japonesque. February 13, 2013 at 5:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Japanese fashion designers have such a distinctive aesthetic. But more generally, I loved shopping for clothes in Japan (inexpensive brands, not haute couture). For one thing, finding things in my size wasn’t difficult, and the cuts and colors were really interesting. February 14, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

  • L.: Victoria, I take it this review is of the current White Rose – I know it’s been around for a while, but it sounds like 2012’s version holds up as equally beautiful?

    Also I’m looking for advice on whether the current retail version of Koto is still quite good (certainly less of a luxury than the White Rose), did you sample it? February 14, 2013 at 10:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not familiar with the older version to compare, but I liked the current one well enough. Not sure if I would splurge on it, since they are plenty of good roses around, but it’s definitely a well-made, quality fragrance.

      Unfortunately I didn’t sample Koto, which is another perfume I’m curious about. February 15, 2013 at 5:39am Reply

  • Daisy: Now that sounds interesting!

    I would be dangerous in Japan. I would come home 20 pounds heavier with all kinds of stationary covered in puppies and electronics with cartoon paws.

    Because I am genetically susceptible to anything cute with big eyes! February 18, 2013 at 7:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Japan is the most dangerous place for my credit card. Even the most mundane things are of such exquisite quality. February 19, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

  • SNOWWHITE: Is there any testers available???
    Really intriguing…white rose…mmmm… October 26, 2013 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Erry: I got mine from the perfumed court. I kind of regretted getting it because now I love it and want it badly. October 31, 2016 at 11:17am Reply

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