Japanese Roses and Fantasies

If I fashioned my life following the recommendations of Japanese beauty magazines, I would wake up in a white and pink bedroom tastefully decorated with colorful cushions and artfully arranged designer shoes. I would go to business meetings in mint and rose ensembles complete with vertiginous high heels and wear the perfect cat eyeliner. My meals would be so picture perfect that guests would be wondering whether they should eat them or simply admire my ability to carve carrots into maple leaves.


Given the number of impeccably groomed women I encountered in Tokyo, being perfectly polished is possible, but for better or worse, my life is not even close to the Japanese magazine fantasy. (OK, I did learn the cat eyeliner thanks to the point-by-point instructional diagrams spanning several pages.)  But I enjoy the portrayal of a neater and prettier universe on the glossy pages as a kind of vicarious thrill. It’s the same reason why I watch flamboyant Bollywood movies and moody film noir. It’s an escape from the routine.

While the Japanese are famously understated when it comes to perfume, fragrance is an important part of the fantasy that every magazine puts forward. Most choices are sheer, fresh and sparkling, as I’ve previously described in The Japanese Fragrance Conundrum : Top Selling Perfumes, and there are plenty of roses.

Sheer roses, sparkling roses, fresh roses, and luminous roses fill the Japanese perfume editorials, and I’ve leafed through my pile of magazines to compile the list below. As you can see, sumptuous, dark or rich doesn’t make the cut. While I don’t think that I can give up my provocative roses like Guerlain Nahéma or Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma, sometimes light and delicate is more appropriate, and that’s an easy fantasy to indulge.


Annick Goutal Rose Splendide

A shower of pink petals. Annick Goutal Rose Splendide is one of the truest roses and smells like a freshly picked blossom.

Serge Lutens Sa Majesté la Rose

Sa Majesté la Rose is one of the most understated perfumes from Serge Lutens’s exotic and opulent collection but it’s not a wallflower. A radiant rose laced with green geranium leaves, it starts out fruity and sweet and then takes a detour into smoked woods and vanilla. The dark touches are added with a light hand, and the overall effect remains transparent and glittering.

Chloé Eau de Parfum

This perennial Japanese best seller reminds me of shampoo, but I admit that whenever I smell its trail on someone else, it’s very appealing. A clean, transparent rose set into a backdrop of crisp amber.


Balenciaga Paris L’Eau Rose

Balenciaga Paris L’Eau Rose is my rose of choice if I want something fresh. It’s a sophisticated bonbon of pale woods and velvety rose petals, wrapped with soft violets. Dainty, pretty, but still interesting to wear. Since Paris is the beloved fantasy destination described in any Japanese magazine, Paris L’Eau Rose has a double appeal.

Diptyque Eau Rose

Diptyque Eau Rose is another natural rose blossom rendition that takes you into a rose garden after a rainstorm. Diptyque’s Roses and Annick Goutal La Rose candles are also featured frequently in Japanese magazines, especially in the seasonal gift guides.

Marni by Marni

Leave it to Marni to make an incense fragrance that would be appropriate for the understated Japanese tastes. A whisper of rose scented smoke that wears like the ultimate skin scent.


L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines

To be sure, Rose 4 Reines is a riff on Yves Saint Laurent Paris, a violet-rose classic. But unlike its full-bodied predecessor, Rose 4 Reines is mild and soft. The sheer rose gets sharper and more saturated as time goes on. While Annick Goutal’s and Diptyque’s roses are watercolor etudes rendered in feathery strokes of pink and lavender, L’Occitane’s is a glossy print.

jill stuart1

Now for some Japan only rose products. I originally hesitated to include them, since they aren’t available to the rest of us, but you never know what an internet or Ebay search might turn up. I also mention more widely available alternatives.

Rose de Marrakech

Rose de Marrakech is an interesting Japanese-Moroccan enterprise. The small company sources its ingredients directly from Moroccan farmers, and the products feature local ingredients like orange flower and rose essences, argan oil and the famous ghassoul clay. Its Huile de Rose, a cleansing oil scented with rose, is excellent, as are Baume de Néroli, neroli balm, and Ghassoul Clay Shampoo. If you’re based in Asia, you can order their products online.

The rest of us are out of luck, but there are plenty of Moroccan companies in both Europe and the US that offer traditional products. The French brand Decléor has excellent Baume de Néroli and other essential oil creams. The Australian outfit Jurlique is worth exploring if you love floral essences in your skin care. If you’re after argan oil, make sure the ingredient list includes only one item: 100% cold-pressed argan oil.

Shiseido White Rose Natural

Another Japan-only find and a Shiseido classic. White Rose Natural smells like a dewy tea rose and wears like a silk camisole. While I urge anyone visiting the Shiseido boutique in Tokyo to smell this charming perfume, we have other more easily available fresh roses. I would start with Annick Goutal Rose AbsolueHermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose and Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose.

Jill Stuart Tuberose & Rose

Until I started reading Japanese magazines, I had no idea that Jill Stuart had a successful makeup and body care range. A modern day princess who can’t get enough pink shops at Jill Stuart. It’s even too much for me, and I’m happy to admit my love for anything pink. On the other hand, their pink blush is perfect and I’ve yet to find a better brown and peach eye shadow palette.

To fit Jill Stuart’s romantic theme, the company has recently released a Tuberose & Rose line of fragrance products. Pink ribbons and diamond motifs abound. You can choose from body milk, mist to perfume your lingerie, hand cream, and fragrance. The notes include lemon, orange, black currant, violet, rose, jasmine, and amber, and Tuberose & Rose smells like the sparkly, synthetic fantasy of a rose. The body products and lingerie spray (Fabric Perfume) are very good, though.

Matching Jill Stuart’s psychedelic Barbie decor might be tough, but Victoria Secret’s Chiffon Peony Freesia, L’Occitane’s Délice des Fleurs and Love Chloé are composed in the same sweet and pretty style.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, “Sweet” and “Biteki” magazines.



  • Anne of Green Gables: I really like Diptyque Eau Rose! I think the newly launched Roses de Chloe or Tocca’s Bianca would fit well in the list.

    I think the popularity of rose perfumes has to be also to do with familiarity – it’s easier to appreciate something you’re more familiar with. You can relate the love of flower patterns and pink colours to the Japanese fantasy of メルヘン Meruhen (comes from the German word Märchen meaning fairy tale). Many Japanese girls dream of marrying in a white wedding dress in a church although they’re not religious. Many wedding venues resemble churches/chapels and they even hire a westerner to act as a priest (my friend told me that some people do this as a part time job!). November 21, 2013 at 8:12am Reply

    • Hannah: The art for Revolutionary Girl Utena (an anime/manga and one of my favorite tv shows) uses so many roses. It took a lot of influence from another anime/manga called A Rose of Versailles. Anyway, the school where Utena takes place (a school with very intricate art-nouveau architecture) has the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians, which is actually located in Bremen. The show subverts Märchen tropes, as well. November 21, 2013 at 8:40am Reply

      • Victoria: I don’t know much about anime, but the tale of the Bremen Town Musicians was my favorite when I was growing up in Ukraine. There is even a famous song that accompanied the Soviet cartoon. November 21, 2013 at 10:19am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I don’t know about Revolutionary Girl Utena but I watched A Rose of Versailles as a child. November 21, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

        • Hannah: Shōjo Kakumei Utena is from the mid/late-90’s. Each episode features a duel, and whoever loses their rose (attached to their breast pocket) loses so every duel scene ends with an explosion of rose petals. November 21, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

    • Victoria: The one rose I love from Chloe is L’Eau de Chloe. It also happens to be their worst seller, and I suspect that sooner or later they will just remove it from the collection.

      So interesting about the fairy tale wedding fantasy!
      The white wedding fantasy isn’t limited to Japan, and there are even Indian brides who besides getting married in a traditional way also choose the Western white dress for a reception or another ceremony. This is especially unusual, because traditionally white is the color of mourning in India, as in much of Asia. November 21, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Oh yes, it’s not limited to Japan. Most Korean brides also wear white wedding dresses. I once read about Chinese couples travelling to the Neuschwanstein castle in Füssen to get married! November 21, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

        • Victoria: What a cool story! 🙂
          This reminds me that Switzerland is a favorite destination for Indian tourists, spurred by the use of Switzerland locations in Bollywood films. There is a hardly a big film from the 1980s where a sari clad heroine doesn’t dance in the Swiss village square as the confused/amused locals look on or against the snowy mountain backdrop of the Alps. Sometimes the locations shift within the same song-and-dance sequence: it all starts out in a blooming Indian garden and suddenly moves to a Swiss valley. Talk about crafting fantasies! November 21, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: I just watched some Youtube clips and my immediate thought was “Isn’t the actress feeling cold in her sari?”. 🙂 Switzerland was my mum’s dream place but it was because of Heidi. November 22, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

            • Victoria: That’s exactly what I keep thinking. There is even one song during which the actress rolls around in the snow in her sari. I can’t remember which movie it was from, but I get goosebumps watching that. 🙂 November 22, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

      • Amarie: I’m curious, Victoria…what do you think of the new Roses de Chloe? I found it to be a bit synthetic, but it was certainly a strong rose. Do you have it there yet? If so, do you like it? November 29, 2013 at 11:12pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: I am curious too, I agree with Amarie. I like Cartier Goutte de Rose better. November 30, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

        • Victoria: I also didn’t think it was anything special. Very sharp and thin on my skin. I would rather go for L’Occitane’s rose or Balenciaga’s if I’m in a mood for something sheer like this. November 30, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

  • nikki: So interesting, including the previous comments, Hannah and Anne. I am becoming quite fascinated with Japanese culture lately and the German connection with Maerchen and Bremer Stadtmusikanten which is a lovely story about animal musicians, is a plus.
    My favorite roses are Paris, of course, and Portrait of a Lady and Lumiere Noire…
    And then there is Tearose, of course… November 21, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfumer’s Workshop Tearose is such a classic. Another fun and simple rose is Crabtree & Evenlyn’s. November 21, 2013 at 10:20am Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: I have to say that Crabtree & Evelyn’s Rosewater is really lovely. It’s such a simple, delicate tea rose. My grandpappy used to have an out of control tea rose growing in his back yard and every time I smell this it takes me back there.

        I’m also a fan of L’Eau de Chloe, I hope it sticks around! I’m also trying to find a sample of Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, because it sounds delightful. November 21, 2013 at 2:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: One time when I was wearing the lotion and studying at the library, someone remarked out loud if there were fresh roses in the room. 🙂 I love the whole C&E Rosewater collection. November 21, 2013 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Merlin: Wow, I’d find the Japanese air-brushed ideals even harder to aspire to than the Western ones!

    It seems that the Rose is the queen of flowers round the world, though I think its the red one that is most majestic:) On the subject of majesty, the Lutens which used to smell like a realistic dewy red rose now seems rather tart on me – as if the berry note is dominant. Its nearly slightly sour! Any explanation?

    Many of the pretty pink rose scents smell unfortunately quite bland to me. I can appreciate a bright/light rose (as opposed to only dark spicy ones) but I find Eau Rose particularly disappointing. November 21, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t even try! But Japanese magazines top the Western ones when it comes to makeup. Often the editorials compare different products, show photos of what different pencils, mascaras or lipsticks look like, give advice on selecting colors, etc. There is not much text, mostly photos. That’s how I discovered that the liquid eyeliner from the drugstore brand Kate beats anything from the luxury outfits. (It’s still cheap, even if you buy it from Japan on Ebay). Then there are different magazines when it comes to fashion, for all ages and style proclivities.

      Not sure why Sa Majeste smells tart on you. I haven’t noticed that it’s dramatically different, but I haven’t compared side by side. Are you smelling the new sample, or is it the same bottle you’ve had for a while? November 21, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

      • Merlin: My eyes are sensitive so the only eye-liner I can use (and not daily either) is this navy/black propeller one from Clinique. It’s waxy and the color pay-off is not very good – and it drags – but its the only one that doesn’t irritate my eyes and leave me looking, and feeling exhausted. Basically the more vibrant and rich the color – the worse my eyes react!

        I love the more avant garde Japanese styles!

        No, I doubt the perfume has changed. Though it was the first Lutens I loved I never actually bought a bottle of this one. Periodically I revisit it and reconsider:) I test from the shop bottle but also have a sample or two.

        The last time I decided against it was because i started only being able to perceive the tart fruitiness which it has. I thought it was some kind of berry note, but looking at the notes, no such a thing is listed, so who knows! November 21, 2013 at 11:10am Reply

        • Victoria: You’re right about the tart fruitiness, though, because Sa Majeste has lychee (it smells like pineapple, rose, red berries). That’s probably what you’re noticing, if I were to guess.

          Gosh, I sympathize. My eyes are sensitive as well (plus, I wear contacts), and I also find that many colors irritate them. Basically, anything with red or purple is guaranteed to make them either dry or teary or red. I haven’t tried Clinique eyeliner, but I had good luck with those from Estee Lauder and Shiseido. Kate doesn’t bother me either. November 21, 2013 at 11:16am Reply

    • irem: I have a similar issue with Sa Majetse, I’d be happy with tart though, it smells downright sour on my skin. November 21, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

      • Merlin: Actually, the sales assistant told me it smells sour on me! It does have a certain refreshing greenness and I think this is part of it – but I also think there is a berry-tart component. Whether one calls it sour or tart may just be a matter of whether one likes it or not! November 21, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

  • Britney: I thought I didn’t like roses in perfume but I got the Annick Goutal face cream and fell in love with its smell. November 21, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried Rose Splendide perfume? It’s meant to be close to the classical fresh rose, which is what the face cream uses. November 21, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

  • Lauren: Beautiful – and thank you for posting some magazine spread shots!

    I love Chloe and my other favorite rose is Paul Smith Rose.

    Still using drugstore lip products I bought in Japan 8 years ago. I have applied them sparingly to make them last as long as possible because I love them so much…but it’s also amazing to note that a lipstick could still be moisturizing and creamy after 8 years!! I think it cost me about $2. Japanese beauty products, especially cheap drugstore options, have been some of the best purchases I’ve ever made. November 21, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I can believe it! The first night we got to Tokyo, we just wandered around to find something to eat and then decided to stop by the drugstore to buy a bottle of water. My husband had to wait patiently as I scanned the shelves full of makeup, soaps, bath salts, etc. I bought a few things, and later I regretted that I didn’t get more, because not only the makeup was not expensive, the quality was top notch. And I’m not even a huge makeup addict.

      Also, I loved the packets of scented bath salts and simple white soaps. They have this classical, subtle cold cream scent that’s now much harder to find in the Western brands. November 21, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

    • Merlin: Another vote for Paul Smith Rose:) November 21, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

  • Aisha: The photos of the Japanese magazines take me back to my childhood when I would flip through the beauty calendars my grandmother would get free with her Shiseido purchases. All those models looked so ethereal. I also like flipping through the Pakistani/Indian fashion/beauty magazines that my mom sometimes gets from friends who travel to those countries. The styles, the scents and the colors are much more bold.

    I do love L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines and, of course, Paris. I wonder if I’d be able to find Shiseido’s White Rose Natural at a counter in Hawaii. There’s a department store in Honolulu that sells many products from Japan, and they do have a full Shiseido counter. November 21, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

    • Victoria: You know, the issue of Sweet I photographed for this post had a separate inset on Hawaii. It was all about what to do and see in Hawaii, how to spend the vacation and how to dress and always have flawless makeup in hot weather. Definitely worth checking the Shiseido counter in Honolulu. I know that in some big cities that cater to Japanese clients, certain brands even have items they generally release only in Japan.

      I’ve been wearing Rose 4 Reines lotion to bed this week, and it’s nice to fall asleep to the scent of roses. 🙂 November 21, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

      • Aisha: I’ll definitely look for the fragrance the next time I visit my parents. We probably won’t be able to head there until next summer, but the Shiseido counter will be on my list of places to visit. 😉

        Speaking of my parents, they’ll be visiting next week. I’ve had a lot of things to do to get ready for their visit, which is why I’ve been absent from this blog. I’m playing catch-up now. 🙂 November 21, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

        • Victoria: Enjoy your parents’ visit! That’s something so nice to anticipate. My mom was visiting recently, and we had a great time exploring together. 🙂

          Hawaii sounds like a lovely fantasy right now as I type in my office. The sun has set, and it looks dark, misty and cold outside. I might need a splash of Nicolai’s Vanille Tonka to warm me up. November 21, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

    • Victoria: P.S. I love love love Indian magazines! The aesthetic is the polar opposite to that of the Japanese magazines, but one can’t live on pretty pink alone. 🙂
      Unfortunately, I haven’t found a place in Brussels where I can get Indian magazines. November 21, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

      • Elisa: V, I think you will enjoy this makeup tutorial inspired by Bollywood beauty:


        🙂 November 21, 2013 at 1:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Annikky forwarded to me and yes, I loved it. It’s a very tasteful version of a Bollywood style makeup, and I love how she used the warmer colors on the model. November 21, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

        • Aisha: I love Lisa Eldridge’s makeup tutorials! Actually, one could say I’m addicted to them. 🙂 November 21, 2013 at 2:55pm Reply

          • Elisa: Me too! They completely changed the way I do my eye makeup. November 21, 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

      • Little Red: You beat me to it. The Indian aesthetic can be summarized by “more is more” which seems to be complete opposite of the Japanese with their emphasis on harmony and balance. We wear practically the whole rainbow of colors all at once in comparison to the Japanese. November 21, 2013 at 11:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s fun too! I’ve noticed that many Indian women have a very sensitive eye to colors, and when it comes to color matching (say, sari and bangles), they’re total pros. When I wanted to wear lemon yellow bangles with my saffron yellow sari, my friend protested and demanded that we go straight to the store to pick the right shade. “It doesn’t look right at all.” So, while it’s “more is more”, there is still a sense of style and harmony. November 22, 2013 at 8:10am Reply

  • FeralJasmine: Sounds like they would evict me from public places in Tokyo! Not only do I live with a small but noticeable (at least to me) baseline degree of dishevelment, but I can only feel true love for the darker, moodier roses. Rose de Nuit and L’Arte de Gucci (Edp only) are probably my favorites. I can admire the dewy rose scents but I’m not able to love them. November 21, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: L’Arte de Gucci is a stunning perfume! Another favorite is Accenti, which is less dark and moody but also very interesting. November 21, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

  • nozknoz: What a fascinating post and comments!

    I’m curious about when roses came to Japan or if they’ve always been there. Wikipedia indicates that most species are native to Asia but doesn’t say anything about Japan specifically.

    I’m very fond of Guerlain Idylle Eau Sublime, a dewy rose. I usually make a wide detour around anything described as a fruity floral flanker, but a sample came with a purchase, and it was love at first sniff. It abounds at discounters now. I think it deserved some love but got lost among the floods of flankers. November 21, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Guerlain has been launching so many flankers that even the head perfumer, Thierry Wasser, complained about it in interviews. That being said, some of Idylle flankers have been even better than the original. I’ll have to see if I can find Eau Sublime someplace. November 21, 2013 at 2:37pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I agree with Nozknoz. I own Idylle pure extrait, and Eau Sublime. Both are better than the edt, and also for me it was love at first sniff. November 22, 2013 at 4:55am Reply

        • Victoria: The pure extrait was very good! I thought that it would be heavy and sweet, but it’s not at all. The floral notes are more velvety and the drydown lingers beautifully. November 22, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: velvety, that’s the right word.
            I found the edt too heavy, perhaps too much of a lilac for me, but the pure perfume and Eau Sublime are excellent. I also love the Duet Rose. November 22, 2013 at 8:48am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, it made me wish I sampled the parfum first, but it was launched only later. November 22, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

  • Tatiana: Thanks for this interesting article. I am traveling to Tokyo with my family over the Christmas holiday and was wondering which scents I could wear without offending anyone. Trying to figure out where to shop for skin care, cosmetics and kitchen ware while we are there. November 21, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, Tatiana, I’m so envious! I wore Serge Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist while in Tokyo, because not only I wanted something understated, I also wanted a fragrance to be associated with my trip. Iris Silver Mist seemed like a good choice.

      If your time is limited, I definitely recommend heading to Mitsukoshi, which is a big department store in Ginza. They have many cosmetic lines, both Japanese and European/American ones. I especially recommend Three, RMK, Suqqu, Addiction, which have limited distribution (or none) outside of Japan. Paul & Joe, Anna Sui, Jill Stuart, Laduree are some others that beauty bloggers tend to rave about. The Shoyeido stores in Ginza or Aoyama are great. And the drugstores are on every corner and most are open late into the night. Kate and Lavshuca are two very good, inexpensive drugstore brands. November 21, 2013 at 2:36pm Reply

      • Tatiana: Thanks Victoria, I appreciate the info. Do you if and where Hakuhodo brushes might be found in Japan? I just received a travel spray of Iris Silver Mist, I’ll definitely put that one in my carry on bag. It does seem like it would be a good fit for Tokyo. November 21, 2013 at 5:28pm Reply

        • kaori: Dear Tatiana,

          I am replying on behalf of Victoria that Hakuhodo brushes are sold at Mitukoshi, Ginza store at B1 floor. They will have an special fair around Dec. 26~ 31. Have a fun there! November 21, 2013 at 9:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: Kaori already responded, and I just wanted to add that there is a standalone Hakuhodo boutique in Aoyama. A friend wanted me to pick up some brushes and I wrote it down, but unfortunately, I ran out of time and never made it to the store.
          “3rd fl. Terra Asios Omotesando 5-10-6, Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 107-0062
          Tel: +81 3 5464 6737 / FAX +81 3 5464 6738
          Opening hours: 11:00AM to 19:00PM
          * We may have temporary closing times so please contact us before visiting.”

          You can also check directly at en.hakuho-do.co.jp for more info and a map. If you’re going to Omotesando, then you should visit the incense store I mentioned in the other comment. November 22, 2013 at 8:04am Reply

  • The Perfumed Veil: I liked the idea of Rose of Marrakech. The other light roses don’t appeal. November 21, 2013 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a cool company and their products are great. Plus, I love the Japanese concept of cleansing oils. November 21, 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Jillie: I bought off the famous auction site Japanese rose-flavoured chewing gum, which is weird as I don’t chew gum. However, it tastes gorgeous, and I would make this a habit if I could buy it more easily here! November 21, 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I would be tempted by rose flavored gum too. There is also gum made by an Australian company which is flavored with musk! November 21, 2013 at 2:23pm Reply

      • Jillie: My sister in Australia sent me musk refreshers! They are lovely! But I suspect that they are not to everyone’s taste ….. November 22, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

        • Victoria: My husband hated them and then spent some time rinsing his mouth. Yes, definitely, not a crowd pleaser. 🙂 November 22, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: I used to have black locust flavoured gum as a child and I miss it. November 22, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’m really taken with Marni! I ended up buying a mini.

    Two more very fresh roses: DSH La Vie en Rose (inspired by YSL Paris, but lighter and airier) and Yosh Sottile (rose + LOTV) November 21, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I finally tried La Vie en Rose, and you’re right, it’s wonderful! While the inspiration is there, DSH added her own twist. November 21, 2013 at 2:13pm Reply

      • Elisa: Yes — I’ve noticed that Dawn has a penchant for violet leaf and many of her perfumes are very green in the opening. November 21, 2013 at 4:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve noticed that too! I love this kind of personal fingerprint in fragrances. November 22, 2013 at 7:51am Reply

  • maja: Japan and pink roses, fantastic combo 🙂
    My favourite is Rose 4 Reines also because the whole line of products is lovely and affordable while I ended up swapping my bottle of Marni. There was something so unpleasant for me in the drydown. The bottle was cuteness overload though.

    Does Sa Majeste la Rose have a lot of honey notes, is it too sweet? I tried it only once and I cannot remember. It was a horribly hot day too, I might have got something wrong 🙂 November 21, 2013 at 1:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not too sweet, no. It’s citrus and sharp at first and then it softens later. But it’s a close to the natural honeyed rose oil, so if you want something even cleaner and brighter, something like Goutal’s Rose Splendide or Rose 4 Reines is better.

      I think Marni limited edition even came with a little doll. November 21, 2013 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Gina: I’ve never been a huge rose lover, but I always feel the need to bring Yves Rocher Rose Absolue to the table when the rose topic arises. I love the fresh rose with slight bit of dirty patchouli. And so cheap it’s almost free, at least when I bought it. November 21, 2013 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning this underrated gem, Gina. I also think that it’s wonderful, and I remember being told that the formula for Rose Absolue is more expensive than the price might lead one to expect. November 21, 2013 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Jillie: Gina, I’ve just seen your comment and had to tell you that I am really fond of this too, but the sad news is that it is discontinued. So, if you are able to find any, stock up! November 22, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

    • Jillie: The nearest perfume to YR’s Rose Absolue is Lancome’s Mille et Une Rose, but that’s gone too. November 22, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I don’t know Mille et Une Rose, but now there is Mille et Une Roses, I smelled it in Amsterdam. Lovely fresh roses, blue liquid. November 22, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

        • Jillie: Cornelia, I suspect I should have given its name an extra “s” – this sounds exactly like it, right down to the blue liquid! November 25, 2013 at 7:34am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Jillie! I think you were right: Lancôme made ”Mille et Une Rose” celebrating the new millennium in 2000 or 2001: The 2000-rose.
            The millennium went further on and the name has been changed in ”Mille et Une Roses”.
            I hope I remember it well, the story was something like this.
            anyway, that rose or roses smells lovely, but is rather expensive! November 25, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: p.s. I don’t know whether Roses smell the same as Rose: I never smelled the first issue. November 25, 2013 at 8:16am Reply

              • Jillie: At the risk of completing a circle, Mille et Une Rose smelt a lot like YR’s Rose Absolue!!

                Which is rather like a Turkish delight rose – soft, powdery and pink. It’s not a fresh or sour rose. There’s a hint of vanilla, but not tooth-rotting.

                Must now search the net to read up about this new version, so thank you!

                x November 25, 2013 at 11:27am Reply

  • Jan: Thanks so much for this. I hope to be going to a conference in Japan in mid 2014 – my first visit. I love roses, so the shopping tips are perfect.

    Poking about in pharmacies is one of my favourite things to do in a foreign city. November 21, 2013 at 3:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Japan is like no other place, and if it’s your first visit, you’re in for so many exciting discoveries.
      I love visiting drugstores and markets in different places. Even supermarkets in other countries are fun! November 22, 2013 at 7:49am Reply

  • annemariec: Rose is not my favourite perfume genre but I’m intrigued by the idea of rose and tuberose in the same blend. Is there any tuberose in the Jill Stuart fragrance? Can you think of another perfume that balances rose with tuberose? I wonder if Sophia Grojsman has done it? November 21, 2013 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: Liz Zorn’s Rosa sur Reuse is a dark rose and tuberose blend with spicy notes, very rich and very unusual, though the tuberose isn’t prominent to my nose.

      Bond No. 9 also did a Saks en Rose which was sort of like Carolina Herrera with rose notes — only tried it once but it was nice at first sniff. Dita von Teese also has a rose/tuberose vibe. It’s a very nicely done floral. November 21, 2013 at 8:07pm Reply

      • annemariec: Thanks for the suggestions Elisa. Dita von Teese is not widely distributed where I live (Australia); I saw it once in Target but when I went for a second look, it had gone. Dita herself my be visiting soon, so that may give the perfume a boost. November 22, 2013 at 4:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t know how much the real flowers suffered for the sake of Jill Stuart. It doesn’t smell like it.
      Creed Fleurissimo, Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs, Fracas, Givenchy Ysatis have both rose and tuberose notes. Those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head, but there must be more. It’s not an unusual accord, especially since a citrusy rose note can do so much to lift up the heavy, creamy tuberose.

      Thinking of rose and tuberose, I realized that Sophia isn’t big on white florals, and out of her perfumes, only Vanderbuilt has an obvious tuberose note. Lagerfeld Sun, Moon, Stars is her most white floral, I think, but it’s more like L’Heure Bleue than say, Giorgio. November 22, 2013 at 8:00am Reply

      • annemariec: I can’t go near Fracas, but the others all sound good. I’ve often been tempted by Sun, Moon & Stars, so maybe I will bite on that one. A friend wore Ysatis beautifully in the 80s. Of course it is said that it is not as good now as it once was. November 22, 2013 at 3:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: Nothing is the same, but the good thing about Ysatis is that it’s such a powerhouse that it’s hard to leave it completely characterless. Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain is also a very good tuberose. November 22, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: You can also find roses and tuberoses in J’Adore l’Absolu.
            And Sun Moon Stars is certainly worth trying: such a lovely smell of freesia, beautiful bottle and not expensive anymore. November 22, 2013 at 5:02pm Reply

            • annemariec: Wicked of you! I’ve been trying to resist a purchase of SM&S for weeks. Glad to hear it’s good. November 24, 2013 at 12:59am Reply

  • Charlotte: Love this! I am in tokyo right now , hurring Ginza and shiseido store today 🙂
    You just reminded Me to pick up some magazines ! November 21, 2013 at 8:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have fun, Charlotte! Would love to hear what you discover. 🙂 November 22, 2013 at 8:07am Reply

      • Charlotte: Bought Zen, old black/greenish bottle and saso!
        Very happy 🙂 wanted to love the White rose, as it would not be something I smell on others, but alas it was just too pretty for me! November 22, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

        • Victoria: For me, White Rose is just too expensive for something I would wear a couple of times a year when I have cravings for something so pretty like this. But Zen and Saso are stunning, complex and full of little surprises. Enjoy them! 🙂 November 22, 2013 at 11:36am Reply

  • Annikky: I’m fascinated by Japan and Japanese culture – the traditional paintings and prints, calligraphy and decorative objects, anime and manga, cherry and maple trees, street style and high fashion.

    But I must admit that this particular pretty-pretty aesthetic is just not for me – it’s too subtle and timid. It looks lovely on other people, “cute” is simply not a genre in which I excel.

    Same goes for roses, the ones I like tend to be darker and more statement-making. The lightest I’ve owned is Stella and I’m curious to try White Rose. November 23, 2013 at 5:24am Reply

    • Victoria: The most interesting thing is that if you do see girls in Tokyo really going for the pretty-pretty aesthetic, it’s far from timid looking!

      I think that this style is hard to pull off once people start calling you “madame.” Of course, Sweet, the magazine I photographed for this post, is aimed at women in their 20s and the name speaks for itself. It’s not my personal favorite when it comes to style or even substance, but the availability of Japanese magazine in Brussels is limited, so I read anything I can get my hands on. There are other less pink and frilly magazines, but the perfume selection doesn’t vary much across the board. November 23, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

  • Emma M: This article and discussion is fascinating; Japan is somewhere I long to visit and now I’m longing to try some of the Japanese products you describe.

    As for rose, it is my favourite note – though I am probably more enamored of the full-bodied fragrances (Nahema and Une Rose are favourites) than the ‘polite’, laundry-fresh roses. I’m intrigued to try the Marni one now though!

    Occasionally I enjoy the Japanese Rose body products from Korres, which have a soft, musky take on rose that fits well with the types of fragrances you describe here. November 23, 2013 at 1:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nahema, well, that’s a total rose perfection! I also very much enjoy Une Rose, especially since in one perfume you get to experience such a range of sensations–sunwarmed rose petals, earth caked roots, dry woods, wet leaves… And not all at once but in progression, which makes it even more exciting.

      Yes, Marni isn’t laundry fresh, so I think that you will find it more interesting than some others on this list. November 24, 2013 at 5:48am Reply

      • Alicia: Nahema, my beloved! November 24, 2013 at 4:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Extrait de parfum is especially beautiful! November 25, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

  • Alicia: First snow in upstate NY. Cold and windy. I wanted something to remind me of my rose garden in California, of its eartiness after a rainm but I suspect that the Japanese would not like the rose fragrance I am wearing today.
    It is a lush rose-pathouli creation: F. Malle, Portrait of a Lady. It delights me, Victoria, just as Carnal Flower does, but this Portrait touches my soul in a more intimate way. What do you think of it? November 24, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe, it’s not a typical Japanese rose, but Portrait of a Lady is fascinating and complex. I enjoy it very much, and every time I wear it, I feel like it smells differently. Une Rose is much more straightforward by comparison. Hmmm, maybe, I need to wear it today. November 25, 2013 at 10:32am Reply

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