August 2005: 49 posts

Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose : Perfume Review



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

Rose is one of my favorite notes, however it is difficult to encounter a rose focused fragrance that can still pique my interest.  A combination of rose and patchouli is a successful marriage, which first was explored in depth by L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses.  Une Folie de Rose was released by Les Parfums de Rosine in 2005. Unlike a much more avant-garde Voleur de Roses, Une Folie de Rose is a classically composed rose chypre, featuring notes of coriander, bergamot, tea rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, vetiver, and patchouli.

The impression upon inhaling the top notes is similar to smelling a tea rose on a hot summer afternoon. The hot and dizzying radiance of the sun and the transparent sweetness of silky petals combine to create a multifaceted sensory wave. Radiant rose is clouded by lemony spiciness of coriander, with sparks of bergamot contributing to the effect.

Intense floral heart, weaving in sweetness of rose and opulent sharpness of ylang-ylang sends forth a shower of red and white petals.  Once the petals settle, an earthy darkness of patchouli rises up, layering the flowers with the currents of golden shimmer and earthy richness. A gentle sweetness of amber is like a scattering of cinders glowing softly in the dark.  A base resting on a cold powdery sweetness of oakmoss sets a stage for an interplay of sensations that makes chypre genre so fascinating.  The outcome is an elegant and interesting rose fragrance, steering clear both of the sentimentality associated with rose and of the aloof austerity attributed to chypre.  While Voleur de Roses is a more innovative take on rose, Une Folie de Rose might be a more wearable option for those who found patchouli in L’Artisan to be too dark and earthy.

Available at Aedes, First-in-Fragrance, and Barneys New York.

Picture: Advertisement by René Gruau from

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 : Fragrance Review



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

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 proves once again that the genius of  Serge Lutens and Chris Sheldrake lies in the interpretations of particular notes by exaggerating their qualities and ornamenting them in such a way as to reveal the most unexpected and arresting element. By way of example, the odd camphorous note serving as a prelude for the sensual floral heart of Tubéreuse Criminelle is a note present in tuberose absolute, a hot rubbery darkness that suffuses white floral opulence. Smooth cinnamony sweetness of Cèdre intensified by tuberose recalls a caramelized floral note present in certain types of cedarwood oils, particular Himalayan cedar.

Borneo 1834 takes the sweet winey effervescence of patchouli and layers it with silkiness of chocolate and darkness of resinous woods. The top notes shock like vapors from a glass of rum. The hot wind that stuns senses upon the first inhale whips up a scintillating cloud of patchouli, which settles slowly in swirling patterns—one moment, it is a sweet golden (not earthy) patchouli, the next, it is a dark balsamic resin. The intoxicating warmth is interspersed with sweet incense smoke, which segues into the bitter chocolate. It is not a sweet luscious gourmand note of chocolate that made Angel a success, but a dark mélange of cocoa powder, bits of rubber and rosewood dust. The end result is a composition of remarkable contrasts—weightless darkness, smoky sweetness and eerie sensuality of patchouli.

Borneo 1834 is a newest Salons du Palais Royal exclusive fragrance. Wax samples of this fragrance seem to be more representative of the drydown. However, the best aspect of the fragrance is a fascinating interplay between almost palpable gradations of heat, which are revealed best in the liquid perfume. The notes include Indonesian patchouli, white flowers, cardamom, camphor, cistus, galbanum, cannabis resin, cocoa accord. The name refers to the place and the year marking the period when patchouli first entered the West.

Photo: Borneo 1834 limited edition bottle from Serge Lutens’ fan site (thank you, C!).

Patchouli : Perfume Note


If there are smells that have an aura of particular time and place indelibly ingrained in their olfactory image, patchouli is certainly one of them. For many, especially those who grew up in the sixties, it is a smell of headshops, its earthy darkness masking the smell of marijuana. It is a smell that shows up in any blend bearing a reference to India. It is deemed as too earthy, too heavy, too overwhelming, too inappropriate for haute parfumerie. It is a misunderstanding, of course, because patchouli is one of the most unique scents and the basic building block of the many perfumery genres.

Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli) is a two-three foot perennial bush with purple flowers, a member of the mint family native to the East and West Indies. The name patchouli originates from a word in Tamil, the southern Indian language, paccilai, which means “green leaf.” Leaves contain the oil, which is steam distilled either from fresh or dried leaves.

The scent of patchouli contains the same earthy element that is also present in vetiver, making it a dark and rich scent. It has an interesting structure, comprised of sweet herbaceous top notes, rich winey heart and balsamic woodsy base. The quality of oil will determine whether it will uphold its negative stereotype of musty and mossy or whether it will envelop one in an almost tangible cloud of sweet golden dust. The oil is often aged, which changes its olfactory profile, with a rich fruity note mellowing the spicy dryness. Experiencing a high quality patchouli oil is something a true fragrance lover should undertake, because it is one of the most fascinating essences. It is hardly a conventionally polite and elegant scent, however it is very haunting. The first rush of effervescent sweetness paired with the dark balsamic spiciness is quite memorable.

The usage of patchouli in perfume has been increasing since the 19th century. Recognizing its insect-repellant properties, the traders of silk and cashmere used patchouli leaves to fold inside their wares. Upon receipt of the products in Europe, the scent of patchouli would have permeated the fabric, thus adding an additional layer of allure to the precious and exotic items. Indeed, in the 19th century, patchouli become an integral part of various Indian fabrics made for export, which led producers of unauthentic paisley shawls to layer them with patchouli leaves, thus being able to pass them off as genuine. Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III was among the first to favour shawls to protect her against chill, without obscuring the beauty of the gowns designed for her by Worth. Soon, patchouli redolent shawls become fashionable in the 19th century France, paralleling the rise of patchouli as a fragrance ingredient.

In perfumery, patchouli is often used a base note in chypre, oriental and powdery fragrances, marrying particularly successfully with sweet floral tartness of bergamot, chilly sweetness of lavender, voluptuousness of rose and smoothness of sandalwood (Morris 1984, 242). In aromatherapy, it is often employed to treat stress and fatigue.

Fragrances dominated by patchouli: Byblos Patchouli, Bond No.9 Nuits de Noho, Caswell-Massey Aura of Patchouli, Dana Tabu, Etro Patchouly, Gobin Daudé parfums Jardins Ottomans, Jalaine Patchouli, Keiko Mecheri Patchoulissme, L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses, L’Artisan Patchouli, L’Artisan Fragrances Patchouli Patch, Lorenzo Villoresi Patchouli, Lush Karma, Mazzolari Patchouly, Molinard Les Scenteurs Patchouli, Montale Patchouli Leaves, Santa Maria Novella Patchouli, Serge Lutens Borneo 1834, Thierry Mugler Angel.

Some fragrances containing patchouli: Azzaro Pour Homme, Balenciaga Homme, Bond No. 9 Bleecker Street, Caron French Cancan, Caron Tabac Blond, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Christian Dior Dune, Christian Dior Miss Dior, Christian Dior Miss Dior Cherie, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Coty Chypre, Givenchy Gentleman, Guerlain Jicky, Guerlain L’Instant Pour Homme, Guerlain Quand Vient l’Eté, Jean Patou Câline, Jean Patou Enjoy, Lalique Eau de Lalique, L’Artisan Timbuktu, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Parfum d’Habit, Miller Harris Terre de Bois, Montale Aoud Lime, Parfums de Nicolaï Maharadhah, Prada, Rochas Lui, Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän, Serge Lutens Un Bois Sepia, Thierry Mugler A*Men, Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Pour Homme, Yves Saint Laurent Kouros.

References: Morris, Edwin T. 1984. Fragrance: The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel. E.T. Morris and Co., New York.

Strange Smells: Chandler Burr Article in New York Times

Chandler Burr explores the concept of strange fragrances in his NYT article Sniff, and Scratch Your Head.

Montale Aoud Queen Roses : Perfume Review



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

Pierre Montale’s creations quench the desires to travel over the temporal and spatial map, inviting one into the Middle Eastern souks and the Mogul palaces.  The tapestries of rose, sandalwood, oud and spices are woven as intricately as Scheherazade’s tales.  My favorite fragrances in the line are from the Aoud range, incorporating pungent and medicinal oud.

Aoud Queen Roses is a majestic fragrance of crimson roses veiled by dark earthy richness of oud.  At first, the composition is redolent not so much of a rose, as of a piece of heavy silk permeated with a scent of rose petals.  The silky sensation vanishes as a dry medicinal note of saffron turns rose softness into hot cinders.  The dark shadow of oud fills the composition with intensity and inscrutability, as the dusk fills the room in the evening distorting the outlines of familiar objects. The warm glow of rose is even more sensual and arresting against the dark pungent backdrop.

Before one overindulges into the intoxicating pairing of rose and oud, the composition transforms once again.  Now, it is suddenly dawn, with the first rays of sun turning the horizon burnished orange. The smoke of rose incense escapes through the carved screens, yet the petals remain on the cold marble floors. As the fragrance dries down, Aoud Queen Roses tempers the opulence of its dark rose heart, continuing its beguiling tale of seduction and mystery.

Available at Montale website, Aedes, Parfumsraffy, and First-in-Fragrance.

Painting: A Noble Couple Star Gazing, a Mogul illustration. 

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