Rose for Men and The Freedom to Choose Your Perfume

The arbitrary nature of gender divisions in fragrance becomes obvious as soon as you examine scent habits around the world. Both men and women splash themselves with sharp citrus colognes in Spain. Jasmine attars are shared in India, while rose is a favorite essence among men in the Gulf countries. But try to convince a lad in North America to don some flowers and you are met with a quizzical look. Aren’t roses just for ladies? Of course, this won’t hold true for the regular Bois de Jasmin male readers on both sides of the ocean, but gender associations with fragrances can be hard to break.

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Francois Robert, the perfumer behind the niche line Les Parfums de Rosine, doesn’t think so. Les Parfums de Rosine is devoted to fragrances based on rose, and it includes a dizzying array of roses in all guises, including roses for men. Rose d’Homme is a rose in soft focus blended into leather and patchouli. Rossisimo wraps the red blossoms around a zesty accord of bitter orange and bergamot, with a dash of lavender for a cavalier spirit. Both fragrances require a willingness to experiment, but the classical masculine scents like leather and citrus take so well to rose that the outcome is refined rather than radical.

This versatility reflects the multifaceted nature of rose essence. When you smell it pure, you notice not only the heavy fruity notes and honeyed sweetness but also the bright citrus accents, along with green and metallic nuances. While research has yet to determine all of the components in rose essence, it shines in a variety of compositions.

For instance, Paco Rabanne’s best-seller One Million uses rose to augment the sweetness of its herbal apple accord. The contrast between the bright fruit, moss, patchouli and musk gives perfume its unmistakable signature—and its virile character. Flowers are similarly important in classics like Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel and Houbigant’s Fougère Royale, with rose starring in both compositions.

Citrus colognes lend themselves well to floral notes, not only because rose essence is naturally zesty but also because it can add warmth and complexity. In Ex Nihilo’s Rose Hubris, a cologne is updated with an infusion of rose. Jo Malone Tudor Rose and Amber takes a similar approach, but with a bolder dose of flowers and warm balsams. The fragrances are marketed as unisex, and their appeal wouldn’t be lost on anyone who enjoys modern citrus blends.

There are also plenty of gentlemanly roses on the feminine side of the fragrance counter. The name, Portrait of a Lady, shouldn’t put away men from trying one of the best offerings from Frédéric Malle’s Editions de Parfums. It’s a scent heavy on woods and amber, and it has an aura of well-tailored elegance. Another intriguing option is Etat Libre d’Orange’s Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection. It’s gothic, mysterious, and moody. It’s irresistible.

Any other interesting roses to add to the list?

Charles and Georges Durand Ruel by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

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54 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: Oud Ispahan by Dior has a beautiful rose. What a pity it’s so expensive. November 5, 2021 at 7:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s too much so. November 13, 2021 at 9:32am Reply

  • Fazal: I love POAL from Malle and, as mentioned many times already, La Fille de Berlin from Lutens. I also enjoy Nombre Noire but that is the kind of perfume you can only wear on rare occasions, given how scarce and expensive it is.

    I also enjoy Stella. I have the edt and parfum from the original release but have not smelled the re-release. One rose composition I hoped to like but could not is John Galliano’s signature perfume, given how avant garde he has been as a fashion designer.

    Btw, have you ever tried Acteur from Azzaro? It is rarely mentioned on the internet. Another rarely mentioned perfume is Tauer’s Une Rose de Kandahar. November 5, 2021 at 7:42am Reply

    • Emily: Noticed that Tauer’s PHI Rose de Kandahar is currently available on the site in 5ml miniature bottles that somehow had no shipping fee to the States. There was a bit of fussiness at checkout: for the site to accept a state for the shipping address you need to deselect then reselect the US as a country.

      Believe I saw elsewhere that he recently received his last shipment of rose oil from Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, so something to jump on for lovers of this scent. November 5, 2021 at 11:50pm Reply

      • Fazal: Oh, I didn’t know Tauer has received his last shipment for the foreseeable future. I have one bottle and I think it will last me a long time since it is only an occasional wear but yeah, someone, who loves it or wants to experience it, should hurry before it is gone for good. November 6, 2021 at 12:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Acteur, or at least if I did, I don’t remember it. But it doesn’t surprise me that you find Azzaro interesting. They have a mix of commercial and edgy fragrances and the quality is quite good. November 13, 2021 at 9:33am Reply

  • Nick Steward: I think our London perfume (cucumber/rose/leather) has more male customers than female. Men tell me it’s a very masculine scent – so perfume really is subjective. N November 5, 2021 at 7:57am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s an excellent perfume! November 13, 2021 at 9:34am Reply

  • Nikos: I just love my roses! Aramis 900 (or it’s almost identical aromatics elixir) is to me the quintessential masculine/unisex rose. Another rose that comes to mind by Etat Libre d’Orange is Afternoon of a faun, where rose is lightly smeared by immortelle. I wish it was a bit dirtier though so I never committed to it. Costes is another unisex rose perfume I really enjoy.
    Now I have to try both the one by Malle and Rossy de Palma. They sound very good I just hope I won’t like them cause I’m soon to be broke!
    By the way Grey Flannel is another one I have and enjoy but to my nose it’s all about the narcissus.
    Any thoughts on Penhaligons elixir? November 5, 2021 at 8:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Elixir is really nicely done. I do like it. And Costes is a little gem. November 13, 2021 at 9:34am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for this post.

    It is interesting and exciting that not all of the notes of rose are yet known.

    I like the fact that “La Fille de Berlin” by Serge Lutens is marketed to both men and women – at least it says so on Fragrantica! That has rose in the top notes, not to mention a divine rose colour.

    Although not a rose fragrance per se, Habit Rouge has rose in the middle notes, and it is great on women, although marketed to men. November 5, 2021 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Habit Rouge is a good example. It can be easily worn by both men and women. November 13, 2021 at 9:35am Reply

  • James Drysdale: Amouage Lyric Men. A very lush rose scent. Also Armani’s 900. November 5, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

    • James Drysdale: Aramis not Armani! November 5, 2021 at 10:03am Reply

      • Eabrit: I read an article/interview (can’t remember where) with Henry Golding. POAL is one of his go-to favorite scents to wear. November 8, 2021 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree completely! November 13, 2021 at 9:35am Reply

  • Alityke: I think either Amouage Lyric can be worn by everyone as can OJ Ta’if.
    Chanel No 5 is reputed to be worn by many men. Rose is in there but in reality it’s an abstract fragrance easily worn by anyone, just find your preferred version.
    Gothic Roses such as L’Artisan Voleur de Roses & almost any rose/patch as long as it has a good whack of patch or dirty rose/musks can be happily worn by all. NR ranges bring good examples November 5, 2021 at 10:04am Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: Lyric and OJ Ta’if are both wonderful, you’re right! November 7, 2021 at 8:38am Reply

    • Victoria: I like No 19 on men! November 13, 2021 at 9:36am Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: Ooh, I love rose fragrances! First, I love roses, period, and I grow several kinds. Second, rose fragrances are so infinitely varied; they’re fascinating! Two rose scents I find very unisex are Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, and Grès’ Cabaret. Two years ago, I did a blog marathon when I posted daily about rose fragrances; I called it my Roses de Mai Marathon. Dozens more rose fragrances to peruse, too many to list here! November 5, 2021 at 10:13am Reply

    • Alityke: Oh my I forgot Calligraphy Rose. So so beautiful November 5, 2021 at 10:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that must have been fun! 🙂 November 13, 2021 at 9:36am Reply

  • Cole Dano: Good article Jasmin.

    I enjoy quite a few rose fragrances. When I didn’t have much money, I’d use plain ole’ rose water as fragrance all the time.
    IMO a lot of the issue for men is in the composition, but rose on it’s own is just elegant to me. November 5, 2021 at 10:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Rosewater is always a great option and so versatile. November 13, 2021 at 9:36am Reply

  • Katherina: Mon époux a utilisé Fille de Berlin de Serge Lutens. Ceci crée des souvenirs. Il adore, moi j’adore car homme de mes rêves n’est pas un brut:) November 5, 2021 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Oui, je suis d’accord. C’est un beau parfum pour tous ceux qui aiment les fragrances nuancées. November 13, 2021 at 9:41am Reply

  • Tati: This is my favorite category to wear. In addition to what’s already been mentioned, I love Paestum Rose by Eau D’Italie, which is roses with dry spices. I also love Galop d’Hermes, rose and leather, which is perfect in cold weather. New favorite is Exit the King, by Libre d’Orange, a fresh, earthy chypre. November 5, 2021 at 1:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: So many nice choices here! November 13, 2021 at 9:41am Reply

  • Rickyrebarco: Rose Anonyme by Atelier cologne is a good one and Smolderos, a smoky rose by American perfumer John Biebel are great unisex rose fragrances, along with aTa’if by Ormonde Jayne. November 5, 2021 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Rose Anonyme is a great dark rose. November 13, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Thank you and bravo, Victoria, for this excellent post! I really admire how—seemingly out of the blue—you come up with these timely posts again and again.
    (PS: A wonderful portrait of the brothers Durand Ruel!) November 5, 2021 at 5:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m glad that you liked it. November 13, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

  • Aurora: You are right, rose in men’s perfumes is more often used than we might think.

    There is rose in Noir Extreme and I enjoy it more than Noir for women which I find less interesting. November 6, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here. It smells blander to me. November 13, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

  • rosarita: Excellent writing as always, V.
    I love rose perfumes and you mentioned one my favorites, Rose d’Homme. So many great perfumes have been mentioned already so I’ll add a perfumer who has a deft gift for creating gorgeous roses, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Her American Beauty is my favorite rose soliflor, Inner Sanctum is a wonderful dark rose and incense. Both smell great on my husband. November 6, 2021 at 10:05am Reply

    • Silke: ‘Rose d’homme’ is also one of my favorites – für everyone. A very natural rose with soft leather an a bit lavender. November 7, 2021 at 10:06am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, there are so many choices. Just reading your comment I remembered that I missed mentioning Inner Sanctum. November 13, 2021 at 9:43am Reply

  • Mark Bieraugel: I enjoy Tea Rose by Perfumer’s Workshop, an inexpensive but really nice rose. Don’t be put off by the low price, give it a try! As with others I enjoy the Rose d’Homme, Calligraphy Rose, and occasionally Paris by YSL. November 6, 2021 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s wonderful! A classic for a reason. November 13, 2021 at 9:43am Reply

  • Nataliya: Dear Victoria and fellow perfumes aficionados, I would like to ask for your advice. I live in the countryside literally cornfields in US so the nearest perfume boutique is far far away. Reading your comments and articles inspires me to try the new perfumes or rediscover the forgotten old friends. As I cannot go to the boutiques in person, what are the trusted websites you purchase your perfumes from? Thank you very much for your kind help. November 6, 2021 at 1:25pm Reply

    • Shirley Picardi: I live in soybean fields. My personal approach, if you are sure you want an entire bottle, is to purchase directly from the manufacturer. For perfumes I am unable to buy because I live in the US, I go to Luckyscent for samples and full bottles. November 6, 2021 at 4:50pm Reply

      • Nataliya: Thank you very much, Shirley, for your advice. I will try this site. November 6, 2021 at 10:22pm Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: Hi Nataliya! Luckyscent is great. I have sometimes bought samples at Surrender to Chance, with good results. If I want to explore scents by an independent perfumer, I usually try to buy directly from their website if they have one, like DSH Perfumes (dshperfumes.com), so they keep more of the purchase price (I have no connection to any of these sellers). Some will have holiday specials, so it’s worth getting on their email lists. There is a website where you can get discovery sets and samples of artisan perfumes that can otherwise be hard to find in the US or too expensive to ship from Europe: indiescents.com (I have no connection to them either). And I’ve had good luck on Amazon, believe it or not, especially when I have some Amazon points I can apply to a purchase! November 7, 2021 at 8:51am Reply

      • Victoria: And you’re right on Surrender to Chance. They are also great. November 13, 2021 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely Luckyscent and Aedes (I don’t know if they do a sample program, but they once did.) Perfume Court is a decanter website, but it’s reliable. November 13, 2021 at 9:44am Reply

  • Nataliya: P.S. What do you think about the currently available Fidji? Is it as impressive as I remember this perfume years ago? November 6, 2021 at 1:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not really. My mom bought it and kept it just for the bottle. The perfume is no longer the same. November 13, 2021 at 9:46am Reply

  • Dino Abrams: Laboratorio Olfattivo’s Rosamunda is an amazing Rose scent November 7, 2021 at 7:11am Reply

  • Nataliya: Hello, Old Herbaceous. Thank you very much for all recommendations. I will certainly explore these options. I appreciate your comment about Amazon as I was somewhat reluctant to purchase perfumes from Amazon. Have a good Sunday! November 7, 2021 at 9:46am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: My rose today: Nuit de Longchamp, Lubin. November 7, 2021 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that’s beautiful! November 13, 2021 at 9:46am Reply

  • Fleurycat: I am reminded of how much I loved Tauer’s Rose Delight Body Oil. An absolutely heavenly, swoon worthy fragrance. delightful to apply (as an oil it melded into the skin and felt both subtle and powerful! A little went a long way. He no longer makes it, and I am so disappointed! Please let me know if anyone has some they would like to part with. I have goods to trade! Maybe I will try the PHI Rose de Kandahar, but I usually have a negative reaction to the predominant Iso E Super in most of his fragrances, which is why the Rose Delight Body Oil was indeed such a delight for me! November 7, 2021 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, that sounds amazing. November 13, 2021 at 9:46am Reply

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