rose: 39 posts

Perfumista Bait

Elisa talks about types of perfumes that never fail to grab the perfume lovers’ attention.

My good friend L, who years ago worked at a perfume counter, is suddenly, newly obsessed with perfume. We frequently email about her exploits in the rabbit hole. One day, she half-bragged, half-complained to me about spending hundreds of dollars on a single sample order – all 1-ml vials! As she works through the samples, she’s tracking her impressions in a spreadsheet; there’s a Guerlain she describes as smelling “like a girl’s clean underwear drawer where she has been stashing her rancid Turkish delight and wet markers.”

Recently L asked me what perfumes I think of as “perfumista bait.” I had never heard the phrase, but I knew exactly what she meant – perfumes that us jaded connoisseurs are instantly drawn to and still get excited about.

The quintessential perfumista bait has something about it that’s rare and perhaps difficult – it’s both a delicacy and an acquired taste, like sea urchin. Below are a few of the categories that I think are especially appealing to us perfumistas.
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Rose Jam Kyiv Style

If I had to select a few ingredients that define Ukrainian cooking for me, it would be tomatoes, pork and roses. Tomatoes are essential for borsch, stuffed peppers, ragouts and salads. Pork is eaten in all guises, from lightly salted belly fat to roasted ham and garlicky sausages. Roses, on the other hand, are all about sweetness. Almost every yard in our small village near Poltava has a shrub of the so-called jam roses, usually the rosa damascena variety. Rose jam fills the Christmas pampushky, sweet doughnuts, strudels, crescents and crepes. Best of all, it’s eaten alongside a cup of black tea, a taste of Ukrainian summer at its most opulent. (Despite the common stereotypes, Ukraine is not covered with snow for most of the year. Not only is it large enough to contain different climatic zones, the summers are long, hot and bountiful.)

Ever since I’ve revived my great-grandmother’s roses, I’ve been trying different rose jam recipes, such as this delight I shared two years ago. This summer’s experiment is the Kyiv style rose jam, a variety of preserve made without a drop of water. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries and cherries are the most common fruits used in Kyivske varennia, Kyiv style jam. The fruit is cooked in syrup and then drained and rolled in fine sugar. The result is more of a sweetmeat than the usual runny conserve. The rose jam Kyiv style is different, however. The rose petals are crushed with sugar and no cooking is required.

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In The Rose Capital of Iran

“The ancient Iranian city of Kashan is sometimes eclipsed by its more famous neighbour, Isfahan, but as I wander around Bagh-e Fin – a vast garden turned into an architectural jewel by the 16th-century Shah Abbas I – I fall under a spell that only Kashan could conjure, with its sandy beige Agha Bozorg mosque, winding streets and remarkable rose plantations. Indeed, roses are the main reason for my trip.” The rose capital of Iran, Kashan, inspired the latest article for my FT column, Radiant Rose Perfumes.

I visited Kashan during the off season for flowers, but nevertheless I had a chance to meet rose distillers and sample perfumes and fragrant waters. The aroma is sweeter, fruitier and warmer than that of Bulgarian or Turkish essences with which I usually work. I’m not the only one who found Iranian rose essence extraordinary, and I discovered that Émilie Coppermann and Francis Kurkdjian were among the perfumers who were fascinated by this material.

In my article, I describe the roses of Kashan and fragrances that remind me of my visit. To read the full piece, please click here.

If you were to do a scent trip anywhere in the world, which places would you have liked to visit? (Let’s dream and pretend that neither time, money nor visas are an issue in our trip planning.)

Photography via FT, a rose distillery in Kashan

Geranium Notes: The Other Rose of Perfume

What do Elizabeth Bennett and geranium share in common? Elisa explains.

I’ve never heard anyone call geranium their favorite flower. Compared to the more photogenic blooms found in bouquets and floral arrangements, geranium might seem like a workaday houseplant.

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Cheery sidewalk geraniums

If rose and geranium were sisters in a Jane Austen novel, rose would be known as the pretty one and geranium as the sensible one. But geranium, like Elizabeth Bennett, has her own beauty, and is indispensable in rose fragrances!

When we refer to geranium notes, we’re usually talking about the oil of the pelargonium graveolens, also known as the rose geranium. Rose geranium oil contains over 50 organic compounds, but primarily consists of geraniol, nerol, and citronellol. Nerol, so named because it was originally isolated from neroli oil, has a fresh rosy scent and can be found in lemongrass and hops. Citronellol is the familiar pungent citrus smell often found in insect repellants – but it’s also important for creating realistic rose accords. Geraniol, one of the primary components in rose oil, smells – you guessed it – rosy and is also commonly used in fruit flavorings. (I’ve noticed that adding clove to a fruity rose can conjure up a raspberry note.)

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Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa : Perfume Review

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Roses have been on my mind a lot lately, and not simply in the form of rose jam and rose tea. I received a small challenge to compile a list of fruity rose perfumes for a project, and the trail behind me has been rose scented for the past two weeks. It was a challenge, because rose paired with fruit is such a common pairing that any comprehensive list means hundreds of fragrance tests. Why so? Rose essence naturally contains many nuances reminiscent of raspberries, strawberries, red currants or apples, depending on variety. Highlighting them with richer fruity notes makes for a harmonious blend.

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Harmonious is fine, of course, but how do you make it distinctive? This is the question I’ve posed often when testing fruity roses, and in particular, the latest from Guerlain, Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa. The conclusion I’ve reached is that it’s possible if the perfumer wants to go big, bold and glamorous (think Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose with its dark raspberry) but more complicated if the aim is lightweight and pretty. Flora Rosa is all air kisses and smiles, a charming blend of red currants and pink roses.

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Latest Comments

  • rox in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: I adore gingerbread!! I always buy some at my local German market because my family isn’t crazy about it, so I don’t need to bake a ton. I love L’Artisan’s… February 23, 2018 at 10:41pm

  • Emilie in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Woods-and-cola. It sounds like a fun new category of scent 🙂 It could rival the fruitichouli craze! I’m not sure I love the cola accent but would like to smell… February 23, 2018 at 5:31pm

  • Emilie in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Ah, thank you Victoria. I will have to build up the courage to ask the SA at David Jones if I may try a little of the pure parfum (they… February 23, 2018 at 5:25pm

  • Kate in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Yes, I agree about the cola aroma! The ultimate woods-and-cola for me is Donna Karan Black Cashmere, of course 🙂 February 23, 2018 at 5:24pm

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