Frederic Malle Une Rose : Perfume Review



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

Une Rose was created by Edouard Fléchier for Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums in 2003, and it is a fragrance that hides darkness of woody amber under the sweetness of crimson roses. Its utter lack of sentimentality and preciousness that are common in rose fragrances is akin to Degas’s sympathetic, yet honest treatment of ballet dancers. Beauty with a sinister edge is how Une Rose can be characterized.

The top notes spill into luscious red rose petals, touched by dew. Rose is accented beautifully by geranium, which emphasizes the voluptuous quality of the central accord. A dark honeyed aspect is thrown into relief by the vividness of the rose as it unfolds slowly. The petals can almost be felt against the skin, their silkiness contrasting with a distant dark whisper. This whisper grows louder until it is strong enough to scatter the unctuous richness.

A moist earthy note envelops the composition gently, lending it a somber quality and turning an opulent vividness of rose into a streak of sun drenched sweetness that adds an elegant contrast to the truffled facets. What comes as a complete surprise is a rich layering of animalic notes over wooded amber, which petrifies any remaining traces of rose silkiness and radiates warm glow over the base. The end result is a dark ambery composition, where rose is more of an impressionistic rendition than anything found in nature.

Editions de Parfums fragrances are available from Frédéric Malle boutiques, Barneys New York and Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums website.

Edgar Degas. Blue Dancers. c.1890. Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. From



  • Sisonne: Dear V, what can I say? The review is as lovely as always 🙂 Unfortunately it´s another fragrance that I still don´t know. Since I haven´t found a lot of rose fragrances I like, I´ll test “Une Rose” as soon as I can! October 13, 2005 at 6:31am Reply

  • julien: Maybe the most “earthly” rose i know and it is pleasant.
    Not romantic,not old,not vanishing or disturbing…it is just THE rose,available for its animalistic sensuality also for men.
    Maybe the only MALLE with MUSC RAVAGEUR wich i could wear… October 13, 2005 at 10:01am Reply

  • Robin: It is one of the most interesting rose fragrance I have tried…”with a sinister edge” is very apt. One of these days I will buy a bottle. October 13, 2005 at 10:45am Reply

  • Anya: V, I just dabbed some on my fingers, since my wrists are already occupied by Citrus Maximus 😉 and my, what is that sweet candy topnote? Here and gone. It is such a literal rose, I don’t know if I could wear this as my scent without layering it with something else — I don’t want to smell like a rosebush. Well, sometimes I do, but then I’ll just dab on some rose otto or absolute straight.

    Yes, the darker, richer notes are there, but it’s just pure rosebush to me. I do like it, it seems more natural that his other fumes. And you are right, the petals do seem more red than pink, a good accomplishment, since truly, damascena and centifiolia, used in perfumery, are pink — this fume takes away that imagery. October 13, 2005 at 8:04am Reply

  • Karin: The rose stays completely dominant on me. Rose often does. October 13, 2005 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: “beauty with a sinister edge”…hmmm. Maybe that’s why this fragrance made me think of a dominatrix with a scarlet-lipped frown and her hair in a severely tight bun. I adore FM Une Rose, but it’s not one that’s a natural fit for my usual personality; I have to be in a certain mood. It’s awfully demanding. Love the Degas comparison, though…it is certainly appropriate, given the complex, dark, difficult beauty of the fragrance. October 13, 2005 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Marina: V, wonderful review (“beauty with a sinister edge”!!). I still have 3 Malles left to try, one of them the somewhat infamous Une Fleur de Cassie, but so far Une Rose was the only one that was entirely unwearable for me. It was incredibly harsh and dry on my skin. October 13, 2005 at 9:07am Reply

  • Tania: Is Anya smelling the same fragrance? Because what I love about Une Rose is that it is a complete lie: sure, there’s a rose in there. It’s like calling the haystack with the needle in it “A Needle,” though. The rose is not the point: it flees, and a massive deep, savory, woods accord takes over—savory like dried shiitake mushrooms. I love it, and I don’t love photorealistic roses. October 13, 2005 at 10:04am Reply

  • Anya: Well, I got my sample from V, Tania, so unless she was pouring dyslexically and mislabeled (which I doubt ;-), I am getting rose with a capital R. FO rose, but rose. Oh, yeah. Just dabbed it on again. Got the intial candy sweet note, too. Rose city. October 13, 2005 at 11:47am Reply

  • Tania: Anya: That is really strange! The topnote is strong rose, but in my experience it is overtaken quickly by the massive savory woods until the rose is only a memory. October 13, 2005 at 12:03pm Reply

  • Marina: I am with Tania on this one, but skin chemistry works in mysterious ways… October 13, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Anya: I’m Karin’s cousin 😉 Rose loves me. Maybe a little too much. Amber, too. Others fly right off me, but the Une Rose rose is a persistent little sniffer on my skin. Didn’t anybody else notice the extremely fast disappearing sweet candy top note? Lasts about five seconds, but it’s there. I just got back in after running errands in 90+ degree heat. STILL rose on my hand, faint, but there, and now the ambery/woodsy drydown is there, which is a feat in itself, given the temps and my (ladylike) schvitzing.

    Re: the skin chemistry, I guess this is a real YMMV scent according to your skin. October 13, 2005 at 1:38pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Rose on me too, mostly, with wet earth. Very modern and unsentimental, as you so aptly wrote, dear V. The animalistic/earthy note is supposed to evoke black truffles. I once plunged my nose in a bucketful of them in a restaurant in Dijon: it is indeed a blend of fresh earth and something that can only be described as the scent of sex. So: love and death. So apt a match for a red rose. That said, it also has a freshness (not in the American sense of “fresh”), the freshness of a living thing. This rose is still on the bush, to me. October 13, 2005 at 1:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, thank you! I am glad that you liked it, because this fragrance is one of my favourite roses. Like Tania notes below, it is a rose that is not a real rose, more of an abstract rose. Although if you read Anya and Karin’s post, you shall see that their reactions are different. All in all, it must be sampled. October 13, 2005 at 1:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I get loads of wooded amber once it dries down as well as vetiver, however perceptions differ, so it is very interesting for me to read your thoughts. I doubt I mislabeled that vial, because I recall sending you two FM fragrances, Lipstick Rose and Une Rose. October 13, 2005 at 1:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marinochka, the first time I tried it, I was not so much disappointed as taken aback, because even though it is called Une Rose, the take on rose is so abstract. Un Fleur de Cassie happens to be a favourite. Do you like it? October 13, 2005 at 1:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, you are absolutely right–men can certainly wear this fragrance, just like L’Artisan Voleur de Roses is perfectly suitable for men. It is earthy and dark. October 13, 2005 at 1:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, yes, I thought that you might like it, especially since you do not care for rose per se. Here, it is almost a facade for that melange of dark, earthy and sensual. October 13, 2005 at 1:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I was wondering if you liked it, and I am glad that you agree on the sinister part. I also need a bottle of it at some point. Ok, want, not need. 🙂 October 13, 2005 at 1:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, do not put it past me to be dyslexic and absentminded! October 13, 2005 at 1:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, you are right. Nothing surprises me anymore! October 13, 2005 at 2:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, do you like rose in general? What is your favourite? October 13, 2005 at 2:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, thank you. I was browsing through an album of Degas’ paintings of ballet dancers and noticed that despite the fact of him being enchanted with his subjectmatter, the treatment is very realistic and sometimes brutally honest. Une Rose has the same quality–the rose is dark, dirty and sinister. This is not an English country rose. October 13, 2005 at 2:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I notice is a hint of something like camomile amplifying the honey aspects of the rose in this fragrance. It is definitely sweet, but not preciously so. Maybe, that is what you mean? October 13, 2005 at 2:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, you are right on the mark here, because to me, this rose is still on the bush. It is living and breathing, but the backdrop is the darkness and earthiness. It is indeed very seductive. October 13, 2005 at 2:05pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Maybe the fact that it’s alive makes it darker ? It still has its thorns on… October 13, 2005 at 6:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Perfect observation, D. It definitely still has its thorns. October 13, 2005 at 6:13pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Ok, so now I’ll have to go and buy another bottle. Mine doesn’t have a drop left. Unless I wait for Carnal Flowers to come out ? That one I might convince monsieur to offer me (he did buy me Une Rose), if only because of the name — he believes it suits me, which is quite flattering. October 13, 2005 at 6:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: If you are asking my opinion, then get both (well, I have not tried Carnal Flower yet, but I cannot wait to test it). Of course, my advice is meant to take you down the same bad path as the one I am threading. 🙂 It is dangerous to be around perfume when one has absolutely no ability to choose. At any rate, the problem of choice is the problem of capitalist society, therefore I prefer to avoid it. Choosing, that is. 🙂 October 13, 2005 at 6:36pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Hum. That’s what got me into trouble with the bank ! ={ October 13, 2005 at 6:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ah, to be a perfume addict and a true hedonist. 🙂 October 13, 2005 at 6:48pm Reply

  • cora-lu: A bit late to this rosy party, I know… But has anybody tried Crown Marechale (original)? I find it very close to Une Rose, maybe the latter’s drydown is a bit less dark, closer to the rose, than to the woods and “wine dregs”, but still very similar (and their top notes are almost identical to my nose). Anybody else? October 14, 2005 at 9:59am Reply

  • linda: I was scared of the truffle accord I heard about. After reading your review, I want to try it. Yes, what else is new? 🙂 October 14, 2005 at 11:05am Reply

  • Anya: There I was, V, middle of the night, awoken by an adventure dream, and as I’m analyzing it, the thought of Une Rose being a headspace scent pops into my head, just floats on in, out of nowhere. It all fits — the trueness to a rosebush, the unique properties, the darkness, even (clone, solitary, not-ever-alive dark side vibe). When I have a flash of intuition like that, I’m usually right. Yes, to me it all fits. That’s my reality, and I’m sticking to it 😉

    And now I can’t remember what the dream was about, lol. October 14, 2005 at 8:43am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, that is very interesting. I cannot judge one way or another about it, but of course, you might be right. Your knowledge of roses exceeds mine by far. October 14, 2005 at 10:38am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cora, I have some Marechale original, and you are right about a connection, although Marechale is a rose and dark carnation blend with a touch of something like cured tea leaves. It is sweeter and less ambery than Une Rose, but it does have a dark element as well. October 14, 2005 at 10:43am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I would not say that truffle is dominant, but something earthy and dark is definitely there–it is not a pure red rose, by any means. October 14, 2005 at 11:29am Reply

  • whitebar: Excellent review of Une Rose. It really makes me want to try it as L’Artisan Voleur de Roses is one of my favorites. Can anyone tell me how Une Rose compares to Voleur de Roses? October 14, 2005 at 6:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you! Voleur de Roses is much heavier on patchouli than Une Rose. If you were to imagine 90% of Voleur’s patchouli being substituted by wooded amber, then you can understand what Une Rose is like. The rose is also richer in it, sweeter and more opulent. However, in the end, it becomes only an ornamentation. October 14, 2005 at 6:46pm Reply

  • Anya: After really musing on all this, and not quite able to give it up after the headspace epiphany (which could be wrong; I’d love to find out), my take on why the woody accord is given so much dominance in Une Rose is that it more truly represents the woody note that is very pronounced in rose otto, particularly Turkish. When I first purchased genuine Turkish rose otto in 89, I was surprised at how the rose was subdued, as if caged in a wooden lattice box, that with time, gently let the damascena scent float through. It was not a wood scent that you could ID as what we call woods, like cedar, sandalwood, no, nothing like that.

    Many believe that rose ottos improve with age: I’m still on the fence about that. The wood becomes less pronounced, but damascenas never have the spicy, in-your-nose rose scent that centifolia has — they’re just way more subdued. Une Rose is more in the centifolia arena, but not quite — it’s more like an idealized standard of what a rose should be, encaged in wood, with the wooden base there at the end. To me the amber is less exalted, so it is merely part of the platform, and not part of the observation, since there is no amber in the notes of damascena or centifolia.

    All in all, a cerebral rose. That’s how I’ll classify Une Rose. October 14, 2005 at 7:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, Une Rose actually uses Turkish rose otto, based on what I recently read, therefore you are quite on the mark. Yet, when I say amber, I do not mean opoponax or labdanum type amber, but more of a wooded amber, something that has a fair quality of that note that is definitely woody, but would not fall under any specific classification. October 14, 2005 at 7:22pm Reply

  • Karin: So sorry to be so late to reply, I just realized you asked me about rose. On the whole I don’t like roses on me. But I do like Stella (in the dark purple) and also the newish Bvlgari one. Both of those smell good on me and stay true. May 26, 2006 at 9:41pm Reply

  • C. Brown: I saw elsewhere that someone mentioned Une Rose from the ’80s. I loved it, but as a young woman, could not afford it. This Une Rose seems quite a bit darker than the ’80s version. Can you please comment on how it compares. Also, if there is any current perfume that is more similar. Thank you in advance. July 7, 2016 at 1:06am Reply

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