Stella McCartney Stella : Fragrance Review



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

Roses love sunshine, which coaxes their buds to unfold in layers of silky petals and to release aromas ranging from lemony tea to musky honey. Rose fragrances likewise follow this dictum, blooming with abandon on warm skin. For this reason, as soon as the temperatures begin to increase and pleasant spring warmth turns into sweltering summer heat, a coterie of rose fragrances begins to dominate my repertoire—the gorgeous opulence of Lancôme Mille et Une Rôse (formerly, 2000 et Une Rôse), the lemony sparkle of Les Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose, the dark seduction of Frédéric Malle Une Rose, and the ambery rose velvet of Stella McCartney. …

Stella was created by the talented Jacques Cavallier, a perfumer whose portfolio includes a number of noteworthy fragrances, from the trendsetting Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey to the angular Yves Saint Laurent M7. In contrast to his other work, Stella might strike one as deceptively simple. The lush rosy heart of Stella retains its opulent character and even as the sheer amber grows deeper and darker in the drydown, the vision of voluptuous roses does not fade.

Although rose has an unjust reputation as old-fashioned and dowdy, Stella has been one of the top sellers for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté which owns Stella McCartney. For someone who adores roses and sees it as her mission to change the negative stereotypes associated with this beautiful flower, Stella’s success is a vindication of sorts. Facetiousness aside, Stella is lovely. The classical rose and amber pairing makes for a subtle retro reference, while the sheer execution lends it a thoroughly modern character. The even tempered quality of the composition has a tendency to become tiresome in large doses; however, on days when one finds oneself unable to escape the summer heat (i.e. power outages), its rose petal rainfall is perfect.

Stella exists in the Eau de Parfum and parfum, with my preference being for the latter. Stella Absolute is a richer, more complex version of the original. Stella includes notes of mandarin, rose, peony, Bulgarian rose absolute, and amber. It is available from Sephora, Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom as well as various online discounters.

Photo: Purple rose from



  • Judith: I really like Stella Absolute. I like Stella, too, but I’ve only tried in the EdP–would probably like it better in the parfum. One of the loveliest easily available perfumes. August 10, 2006 at 7:36am Reply

  • Judith: I really like Stella Absolute. I like Stella, too, but I’ve only tried in the EdP–would probably like it better in the parfum. One of the loveliest easily available perfumes.

    Oh, comment verification–I always fail those! Guess it’s necessary. August 10, 2006 at 7:38am Reply

  • Christina H.: Wonderful review about my favorite flower and genre of perfumes! I haven’t had the chance to try the regular Stella but am already on my second bottle of Stella Absolute!! I also was unaware that YSL owned Stella perfumes.Thank you for a beautiful and informative review! August 10, 2006 at 10:01am Reply

  • Tigs: I am now wondering if it’s not the rose, but the amber in Stella EdP that bothers me. I like many of the Rosines and many other rose fragrances, but I’m sad to say I just didn’t really get into Stella. I think I prefer my roses on the bright/dewy/sparkling side (Ecume, Gourmandises, etc.) August 10, 2006 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Marina: I too think Stella is lovely. I do, however, like Stella Absolute just a little bit more. There is more going on there around the rose note, so it is to me a little more interesting. Have you tried Stella Sheer? “Sheer” in the title is often a bad omen for me 🙂 August 10, 2006 at 8:19am Reply

  • violetnoir: I used to love this! However, after a dear friend introduced me to Rosine Ecume de Rose, I quickly tired of the former and gave it away. 🙂

    Hugs! August 10, 2006 at 1:22pm Reply

  • Ina: I find Mille & Une Roses quite similar to Stella, the latter having more amber. But now you got me curious to try the parfum and/or Stella Absolute. 🙂 August 10, 2006 at 10:04am Reply

  • Tara: Sadly, Stella smells sour on me. Maybe it’s the amber rose combo, as La Rose de Rosine and other rose fragrances smell just fine on me. My favorite is Mille et Une Roses. August 10, 2006 at 4:17pm Reply

  • greeneyes: My interest is piqued. I enjoy rose fragrances, and the combo of rose and amber sounds so pretty. Putting it on the list to try… August 10, 2006 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Cheezwiz: I think Stella is lovely, and when it came out, there was very little on the market in the way of rose fragrances.

    Unfortunately it turns quite sour on my skin – not the perfume’s fault, just my chemistry. Many rose fragrances do this on me for some reason. August 10, 2006 at 8:55pm Reply

  • Diane: I, too, think this one is very well done–the ambery rose is especially becoming as the day approaches sunset. Parfum is my choice as well. 🙂 August 10, 2006 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Katie: Alas, I am just not enamored of Stella, at least in edp. It is so peony laden to my nose, both on myself and others that it seems somehow disappointing overall. But it’s nice to hear that you and the others here seem to do quite happily with it. August 11, 2006 at 12:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, Stella Absolute is my favourite too, because I love its darker rose notes. For a rose lover, it is a nice discovery. August 11, 2006 at 11:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: No worries, I myself fail it all the time! 🙂 August 11, 2006 at 11:29am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, Stella Sheer is actually quite lovely–a transparent, wispy rose. I also prefer Stella Absolute, but Stella parfum is stunning as well. August 11, 2006 at 1:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, it is one of my favourite flowers, and Stella Absolute (as well as Stella parfum) are among the fragrances I enjoy very much. YSL Beauté is the group that own both Yves Saint Laurent brand and Stella McCartney, among many others. August 11, 2006 at 1:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, I thought so too, but yesterday, I tried them side by side and they have very different characters. Stella is sharp and dark. Mille et Une Rose is much more nature-inspired. Both are gorgeous. August 11, 2006 at 1:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tigs, perhaps, it is just the type of rose in Stella. It tends to assume a sour quality on some people, as certain roses do. For instance, I cannot wear Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais–it starts out lovely and then it turns into an olfactory nightmare for me. August 11, 2006 at 1:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I used to wear Ecume de Rose often, but lately, it strikes me as sharp and bordering on unpleasant. I will put it aside for the fall. August 11, 2006 at 1:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Greeneyes, it is lovely. You should definitely seek it out. August 11, 2006 at 1:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, I wonder if it is just the type of rose. Mille et Une Rose is also a rose-amber combination. August 11, 2006 at 1:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, the parfum is truly beautiful! You are to be thanked for introducing me to it. August 11, 2006 at 1:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cheezwiz, you are right. When it was released, the rose fragrances on the market were few and far between. Beautiful Sheer by Lauder is another lovely transparent rose fragrance that is widely available. August 11, 2006 at 1:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I have nothing against peony, I suppose. However, do try Stella Absolute. You will be pleasantly surprised. August 11, 2006 at 1:55pm Reply

  • Elle: Am absolutely going to have to try Stella Absolute. I’ve been in a rose mood recently, but I like them on the somewhat complex side. August 11, 2006 at 5:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, you should definitely try it. It is beautiful. The new Stella in Two: Peony is also very lovely. I cannot wait for the official release. August 11, 2006 at 10:06pm Reply

  • a.: stella is the only rose perfume i’ve ever tried that doesn’t become overpoweringly cloying on me. it maintains that beautiful watery rose scent (doesn’t turn into the icky powdery rose scent so many others do) and has a depth with the amber that is beautiful. July 21, 2007 at 4:20am Reply

  • Nora Szekely: It’s not available in Hungary (unless online). I own and love Montale Roses Musk, if someone knows that one, can you please let me know if they are similar? Or offer other similar perfumes for me to try? Thank you. January 20, 2014 at 8:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Nora, we’ll have a Perfume Recommendations thread on Friday. Why don’t you ask this question there? January 20, 2014 at 10:45am Reply

  • Elizabeth: This perfume smells like Rose on me for about 1 minute, then it’s all Mandarin oranges; the kind in syrup that I had in my lunch box as a kid. Meh. August 16, 2018 at 9:13am Reply

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