Czech & Speake Dark Rose : Perfume Review



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

Czech & Speake Dark Rose is a fragrance that is certain to surprise. Exploring rose fragrances over the past couple of weeks led me to revisit a number of rose focused compositions, wondering why the roses that fascinated me the most were nocturnal and masculine. Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan, Une Rose by Frederic Malle, Rose d’Homme by Parfums de Rosine, Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens and, to a lesser degree, Rose Poivree by The Different Company, present beautiful treatments of rose that do not link flowers with their feminine associations. Layering roses with vanilla and sweet notes seems like a natural pairing, and it has been done to the extent that it is refreshing to discover a fragrance that takes the flower and accents its woody, spicy and raw aspects. Experiencing the smoke and incense anointed layers of Dark Rose makes one understand why in the Middle Eastern tradition roses are endowed with masculine traits.

Dark Rose makes one discover the rarely exploited aspect of rose, its thorns, thus separating Dark Rose from the sweet and pretty rose compositions. Admittedly, Dark Rose is not the best rose of the nocturnal genre, but its story still remains novel and its execution intriguing. In this light, my gravitation to Dark Rose after weeks of wearing other rose fragrance is understandable. Moreover, doesn’t one wish to reveal one’s own claws from time to time? …

The medicinal pungency of saffron, its vibrant hues cutting through the potential sweetness of rose, is a first hint that Dark Rose will not take the direction of frilly and girly. The woody notes intersperse the rose liqueur filling the composition, with a touch of spice setting it aflame. Dark Rose is reminiscent of Montale Aoud fragrances based around rose, however while Montale executes the theme in a manner that I find not unlike being subjected to loud music in extremely close quarters, Dark Rose has more subtlety. Nevertheless, the richness of oud, the equivalent of being draped in several layers of heavy silk, remains dense and dark.

The rose is unlikely to conjure soft petals and dewy blossoms, instead hinting at the woody stalk and earth covered roots that support the beautiful flower. The density lightens as the composition develops, leaving a matte veil of woods behind, its warmth comforting and rich. It manages to be alluring without striking the same chords as the more conventional orchestrations tend to do, and despite whatever faults I find with Dark Rose—density and linearity, it manages what more complex, but more derivative compositions cannot. It makes me want to experience it again and again.

Notes include saffron, agarwood, rose, sandalwood, white amber. Available from Czech & Speake website. Although there have been production problems, the company representative mentioned that the difficulties have been resolved and it would be resumed in the near future.



  • Judith: Pure roses just don’t move me, but I adore the noctural ones. At the moment, I would say Rose de Nuit is my favorite, but I also love this, as you know. I think it’s the combination of rose, saffron, and oud. I’m a complete sucker for oud, I guess; I seem to like almost anything that contains it. And rose and saffron together get me every time. I agree that this is much more subtle than the Montales; it also (to my nose) lacks the leather accord that is in those compositions. I’m very glad that it’s not permanently gone; I can stop nursing my decant. February 7, 2006 at 7:36am Reply

  • Christina H.: Oh,my,I recieved a sample of this and really adore it for all the reasons you mention.This does seem a tad softer than the Montales(even though I still love them).I will be thrilled when it becomes available for purchase.Did you have a chance to try the reg. rose from this line?I am curious to know how that would compare against this.Thank you for another wonderful rose review! February 7, 2006 at 8:57am Reply

  • marchlion: Well, I’m still learning to love the rose, as you know! This one does not sound like it’s for amateurs. It’s the saffron that makes me hesitate… given how much (and how unexpectedly) I loved Malle’s Une Rose, can you please make a recommendation for my next rose foray? (I also liked Ta’if very much, but oddly it does not smell like roses at all to me — it smells green and herbal, although I can feel the rose if I concentrate.) Thanks. February 7, 2006 at 9:40am Reply

  • Christine: I use Neroli on my sheets and it has a very nice, clean scent. I didn’t know about C&S Dark Rose. It doesn’t sound like my thing but it is interesting to read your impressions. February 7, 2006 at 11:28am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I always find that being surprised and intrigued is an important criterion for judging whether I would like something over a long run or not. I love how Dark Rose is not the predictable sweet and lovely rose, and while I like sweet and lovely too, nocturnal is what I am drawn to more often. February 7, 2006 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Robin: Very tempting, V…this sounds like something I would love. February 7, 2006 at 12:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, even if it is softer, I also think that it lasts very well. I tried Rose, but I did not care for it as much, because it has a rather cloying aspect to it. In general, I am not the biggest fan of C&S line, but Dark Rose is among my favourites. February 7, 2006 at 12:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I doubt that saffron is the culprit and it is even more unlikely that it might be oud. It is more likely that it was the base that they are using. I can see how it might have a potential to sour a little, although it does not seem to on my skin. February 7, 2006 at 12:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I am not sure if you tried Montale Aoud fragrances, but if you are okay with saffron in those, you would not mind Dark Rose. Une Rose is in a class of its own–absolutely stunning. What about Agent Provocateur? Have you tried it? February 7, 2006 at 12:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christine, I can imagine how Neroli might be wonderful on sheets. It is such a light, gentle fragrance. February 7, 2006 at 12:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I would imagine that you might like it. It is a very interesting composition. February 7, 2006 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Marina: I thought Dark Rose was a beautiful, unusual fragrance. Unfortunately it smelled a little sour on my skin. I would have attributed sourness to safron, were it not for the fact that Ta’if, another safron-rose composition, smells wonderful on me. Now, looking at the notes, perhaps it is agarwood playing tricks with me. February 7, 2006 at 9:19am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, it is not new, but it was out of production for a while. I tried Rose (the other one), but it did not enchant me. Dark Rose is much more interesting. February 7, 2006 at 3:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patty, I think that you would love it then. I like the woody aspect that presents a nice interplay with the florals. February 7, 2006 at 3:59pm Reply

  • Laura: V, is this new? Last year I tried all the scents at the C&S boutique in London and liked many but wasn’t crazy about any. Can’t remember if I tried this. Do they do another rose, too? February 7, 2006 at 12:59pm Reply

  • paru: I love the idea of a rose liqueur with a spicy flame. Great description! Actually, I wonder if there is such a thing as a dark, rosy liqueur. I’d be intrigued to try it if such a thing existed; although, I can’t really guess if I’d like it or not. I can only say that the idea sounds fascinating to me! February 7, 2006 at 6:20pm Reply

  • Patty: I’ve been wanting to try this forever. Your review heightens it even more. I like the dark side of roses. February 7, 2006 at 1:56pm Reply

  • KS: Hi V! Long time, no write. I do love deep rich woody/resinous rose scents. COULD a man wear this one without being assaulted all the live-long day with questions like: “Is that ROSE I smell on you?” I do like Voleur de Roses, Rose d’homme. There is a rose in my garden (I have no idea what its name is since it was here when I moved in) that smells like damask roses floating in a heady iced sangria — I smell red wine, orange, burnt sugar. I wish I could duplicate it. K February 7, 2006 at 8:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, I would liked something like that myself. If such a thing exists, I am sure you will find out before I do. 🙂 February 7, 2006 at 10:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kevin, nice to see you here! Yes, a man could definitely wear Dark Rose, and I would say that if you do not find Voleur des Roses too feminine, you will like Dark Rose as well.

    Can you make jelly out of the sangria scented rose? February 7, 2006 at 10:49pm Reply

  • KS: Good idea! I did use those roses to make “wet” potpourri one summer. The scent was wonderful but the “look” of wet potpourri is NOT…. K February 8, 2006 at 2:17am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: K, if you do, I would beg for a bit to taste! 🙂 February 8, 2006 at 10:48am Reply

  • KS: No begging necessary! K February 8, 2006 at 10:14pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Your jams are simply outstanding! February 9, 2006 at 11:43am Reply

  • Katie: It’s perhaps strange, but I don’t find Dark Rose terribly dark. Shadowy, yes, but not exactly dark. Perhaps it is the saffron, which always sets me in a sunny warm frame of mind.

    I cannot help but feel like this is one scent I would love to explore in a much more concentrated form – I’d love to try a parfum of it.

    I also pick up on the implication of leather without its actually being there, which lends Dark Rose a certain intelligence I think. February 13, 2006 at 4:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I agree. I do not find it particularly dark either. Of course, dark is a somewhat subjective concept and it also depends on what one compares it with. However, it is definitely much more masculine than most roses. I also notice leathery aspect, which is why I immediately thought of Montale. Nearly all of them have notes that give a leathery impression. February 13, 2006 at 4:31pm Reply

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