Parfums de Nicolai Rose Intense : Perfume Review


Rose Intense, a 2008 release from Parfums de Nicolaï, is a puzzle. On the one hand, it features a lovely fresh-cut rose note that has been blended with dry and grassy chamomile. The combination of rose and chamomile—one of my favorites—makes Rose Intense a casual, outdoorsy scent  along the lines of Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Été, but less overtly effusive. On the other, there is nothing intense about Rose Intense.  It’s a good “starter” rose fragrance, one that is accessible and that smells good.


Smelling good might sound facile but it is not; plenty of non-mainstream fragrances go to lengths to smell what we might consider bad. Rose Intense is a mild, non-complex, and lightly powered fragrance that opens with a sudden smell of rosewater that segues immediately into a berried rose nestled in leaves of chamomile and geranium. The red fruit accord is as glossy as berry-glazed cake and indeed Rose Intense momentarily wanders into the sweet zone without becoming a gourmand.  As a soliflore, the rose note is featured without additional floral influences; in this way it is similar to Jo Malone Red Roses.

The chamomile note is a surprise: it’s big and for an hour it is nearly as featured as the rose.  Chamomile has a papery quality to it, like papyrus or parchment. It underscores rose with a husky edge that lifts the rose out of simple prettiness. Incidentally, something similar appeared in Lancome’s rose embellished Magnifique and its own note of nagamortha, an Indian variety of papyrus.

The white musk and woods of the base also argue against any intensity; they are just a backdrop haze against which the rose has unfurled. The quietness of the base and the fadeout of the rose makes me wonder if I might want to reach for a more opinionated rose—Jean Patou Joy, perhaps?—to actively seek some drama.

Rose Intense isn’t theatrical; it’s not the leading-lady, velvet-curtain type of rose that the name might suggest.  Instead, we might find it ushering theatre patrons to their seats, whispering sotto voce instructions about turning off cell phones and being mindful of one’s own personal space. In that, it’s the perfect scent for not staking out a huge airspace, for not breaching the aroma-boundaries of strangers.  Wear it on a hot day and be thankful for how polite it is to others.


Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Intense includes the notes of red fruit, rose essence and absolute, geranium, chamomile, woods, musk. Available from First in Fragrance, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, New London Pharmacy, The Perfume Shoppe and directly from Parfums de Nicolai website. 30ml, $45, 100ml, $130

Photograph by tiegeltuf via Flickr, some rights reserved.



  • Barbara: That’s a stunning photo, Suzanna! I love reading your reviews and looking at your photos. I am on the lookout for my own ‘perfect rose’ . There are just so so many rose perfumes that it’s hard to decide what to try next…. July 17, 2012 at 11:29am Reply

    • Suzanna: Barbara, thanks for the kind compliment on my reviews and my photos.

      For some time, I was also hunting for the perfect rose. I ultimately decided it didn’t exist, and that is why my rose collection is substantial, with each scent having its own place in the rose panorama. July 17, 2012 at 2:03pm Reply

      • Barbara: What are some of your favorite roses? I need to try more different ones. Also, if you have any great carnations to recommend, I’m all ears. 😀 July 17, 2012 at 3:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: Barbara, Suzanna will add some of her favorites–she’s our rose expert. But I just remembered that we talked about it here:

          Please scroll down to Kristy’s comments. July 18, 2012 at 5:03am Reply

          • Suzanna: Barbara–carnations–easy enough. My favorite/s are Guerlain Metallica and Metalys, extremely rare limited runs that go for astronomical prices. For a more reasonably priced carnation from the same house, Terracotta Voile d’Ete, which pairs the clove-y floral with vanilla.

            I also have Etro Dianthus, which is a woody/peppery carnation.

            Roses are too numerous to really break down, but some that I have and wear frequently are Caron Or et Noir and Delire de Roses, Jo Malone Red Roses, Rosine Rose d’Ete, Ecume de Rose, and Zeste de Rose, Stella, Malle Une Rose, Lutens Rose de Nuit, Paris, Tanya Sarne Ghost, Lancome Mille et Une Roses. July 18, 2012 at 8:13am Reply

  • neil chapman: I love this review, but judging from your words (you seem to really like this..) can’t see why you gave it only three stars….what is holding you back?
    For me, I have tried Nicolai scents and am strangely fascinated with them. There is something UNDERNEATH though I am not sure I love…like many niche brands there is something that signs them off. I know for a fact I can’t bear Duchaufour’s bleak sandalwood musk which always seems to appear even after gorgeousness has been present….I am obsessed with base notes. As for De Nicolai, I have Vetiver and Fig Tea, and want to try more…I think. I love how unpretentious they are…how they are just smells. And I think your comment that ‘smelling good may sound facile……..’ is genius. How many things we smell and buy genuinely do? July 17, 2012 at 11:50am Reply

    • marsi: That was my favorite line too! :)) July 17, 2012 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Neil, I like this scent. I think it’s a good “starter” rose for people who are beginning to explore rose or for those who are rose aficionados (like me) and want to continue their rose-scented adventures. It’s not a four-star scent to me because it doesn’t have a strong artistic execution–as I said, it runs counter to its name and it didn’t make my jaw drop in wonder or rush to purchase. It doesn’t stun me with beauty. It’s very pretty, but not a jaw-dropper. Higher ratings are for scents I would buy for my collection and the highest ratings are those that I would consider as signature scents (for me). So it’s a three-star scent for me. Remember, ratings are subjective. July 17, 2012 at 2:01pm Reply

  • marsi: I’m on vacation so my internet access is bad. But I just saw the email notification for this post and couldn’t help dropping by and waving to my fave ladies, V and S. Suzanna, you’ve just made me buy a bunch of Luckyscent samples including Rose Intense. They’ll be waiting for me when I get home. July 17, 2012 at 11:58am Reply

    • Suzanna: Waving back to marsi! Enjoy your vacation!

      I’m glad you ordered some samples and I’d love to know what they were and what you think of them. July 17, 2012 at 1:57pm Reply

  • (Deborah) Annie Oney: I just received Rose Intense a few days ago and have been puzzled by it’s diversion from it’s name. It should more properly be called Scent of Rose in a Field by a Wood. Though the whole effect is gauzy and more defuse than even that title. It’s not unpleasant, is fairly interesting, though three stars might be a bit generous. It is in the 90’s today on Cape Cod, so it has a bit more definition and punch in this heat. But only a bit. July 17, 2012 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Annie, as I said to Neil above, I liked it well enough. I certainly have room in my wardrobe for a rose like this (that slot is currently being filled by Caron Delire de Roses, another sweet, light rose); if I would accept a bottle and wear it, then I’d give it three stars. It’s a nice effort, but as you also noticed, a puzzle. July 17, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

      • (Deborah) Annie Oney: Suzanna- you’re right . . . four days of sniffing does not give it justice. I need to wear it through a few seasons before I talk about how many stars. A change of season (or mood) can bring a 180 in one’s opinion of a thing.
        Thanks July 17, 2012 at 10:17pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Annie, I can’t count the number of sudden about-turns I have done relative to fragrances. My library today is much different than my library of a decade ago. Then, I wouldn’t go near rose and I loved sweet, ambery things (like Anne Pliska).

          Today, most of those ambers are gone, replaced by florals.

          I think Rose Intense is terrific as a hot-weather scent and has a definite appeal there. July 17, 2012 at 10:55pm Reply

          • Annie: Suzanna,
            You are so right! One of the great joys of perfumery is that it is full of surprise . . . that WE change, while the parfum stays relatively the same. It is one of the things I love most about it in fact . . . that by next Thursday, or next month, or next year, I may find this the most delightful perfume I’ve ever experienced! Thanks for reminding me to open my mind to the time factor! 🙂 July 18, 2012 at 11:02am Reply

            • Suzanna: Annie, sometimes I am very surprised at what I used to like! Intense powdery ambers, leathers-cannot wear at all now! July 18, 2012 at 5:51pm Reply

  • Austenfan: This was one of the Nicolaï fragrances I smelled during my trip to Paris. I was very surprised as I expected something else entirely. Both because of the name, and because of the review in the A-Z guide.
    I liked it well enough, but wasn’t tempted to buy it. I have a lovely summery rose in Ecume de Rose and another one in Rose Pivoine. I love rose fragrances but I don’t seem to wear them that much these days.
    Thank you for your lovely review. July 17, 2012 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Austenfan, I love Ecume de Rose as well. To my mind it is the perfect unisex rose scent. Your mention of it makes me want to buy the soap!

      Rose Pivoine I have not tried. There is always another to try, and I love a peony note.

      I was hoping for a luscious, deep rose scent. Ah, well. In any event, my fave rose is Pope John Paul II and I have looked everywhere for a fragrance that recreates its creamy, peachy smell. July 17, 2012 at 6:06pm Reply

  • Ariadne: Recently I have been trying out 4 rose perfumes. Annick Goutal’s Ce Soir Ou Jamais is my ’12 summer fave. It is a blended rose perfume and quite sassy & spicy but still retains a classic rose presence. Lasts a long time too. Sonoma Scent Studio’s two rose offerings are FABULOUS….so very authentic you would swear you were smack dab in a hedge of rose bushes. I also really like Juliette Has A Gun Lady Vengeance. This is a rose perfume for vamps and vampires. So sultry, long lasting, and surprising in it’s unfolding. NOT for the demure though. July 17, 2012 at 7:55pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, I’m a huge fan of Ce Soir ou Jamais. I always keep a bottle on hand. It was one of the first rose fragrances that really blew me away (the other was Malle’s Une Rose).

      Have not tried the SSS but I’ve heard how delightful they are!

      Perhaps a post about “Favorite Roses” is in order, given the responses to this post! July 17, 2012 at 9:13pm Reply

  • annemariec: This is a lovely review and I completely agree about the importance of ‘smell good’ fragrances. (Although of course we may all differ on what is ‘good’!) Neil’s remark, above, that the Nicolai fragrances are ‘just smells’ has got me thinking hard. It reminds me of a remark I heard made by a chef: perfection is a whole lot of small things done well.

    I am interested in your mention of chamomile. I don’t recall ever noticing chamomile as a perfume note before, although I am very familiar with chamomile tea. Chamomile blended with berry-rose sounds intriguing. I love fragrances that offer strange contrasts, so although I’m not much of a rose person, I might give Rose (un)Intense a try. July 18, 2012 at 4:21am Reply

    • Suzanna: Anne Marie, you might also like Rosine Rose d’Ete, which also has a chamomile-like note. It works so well with rose and gives it an outdoorsy quality without smelling like a barn.

      Perhaps Rose Intense will turn out to be a rose for a non-rose person! July 18, 2012 at 8:15am Reply

  • Andrea: I want to try this! I am looking for “my” rose perfume, and so far I love both Nahema and Goutal’s Rose Absolue (of course, I’d love the hard-to-find; AG’s is difficult so far for Texas!)

    How does this compare with AG Rose Absolue?

    And you mention that camomile has a “papery” quality to it; I have smelled a “wet paper” note in L’Eau d’ Chloe and Stella McCartney’s Summer Rose (2012) which turned me off of both. Is this possibly the same note? (I’m not sure how else to describe what I smell with those except to state it as wet paper, sorry for my lack of terminology!)

    Thank you for your lovely picture and a review which makes me want to try this! July 20, 2012 at 3:33am Reply

    • Suzanna: Andrea, not to worry. There is no “wet paper” note in Rose Intense.

      This frag is nothing like Rose Absolue. It is sweeter and lighter. Rose Absolue is meaty by comparison and not lifted or lightened by sweet notes. Where Absolue is opaque, Intense is gauzy.

      Thanks for commenting! July 20, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

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