Avoiding the Dry Down – Le Labo Rose 31 Perfume Review

Le Labo is a line that I’ve not paid much attention to, possibly because I’ve heard mixed things about the fragrances but also because the whole idea seems a little ‘gimmicky’ to me.

For those of you not familiar with the line, the basic idea is that each fragrance takes it’s name from its main component and its number from the number of ingredients used; so we can assume that Rose 31’s main component is rose (duh) and it contains a total of 31 ingredients. All Le Labo Fragrances are mixed to order at the Le Labo counter and the labels are personalised to include details such as the customer’s name and the store it was mixed in.

Rose 31 is marketed as a masculine and seems to be one of the most popular Le Labo fragrances, now that I have my hands on a bottle It seems a good opportunity to see what all of the fuss is about.

The Notes

Rose Absolute, Rose Essence, Cumin, Olibanum, Cedar Wood, Cistus, Gaiac Wood, Musk, Oud Wood and Vetiver [1]

How Does it Smell?

There seems to be a lot of mixed feelings about Rose 31, some people believe that it’s not a rose fragrance at all, others disagree. To me, Rose 31 is most definitely a rose fragrance, sure may not be a blatant rose in the same vein as fragrances such as Nahéma by Guerlain but it is a rose none the less.

Rose 31 has a very complex opening, there is a lot going on! The rose is very prominent in the top notes, it’s sweet and slightly powdery. Along with the rose there is a huge amount of spice, I smell ginger, cardamon and a lot of cumin. Now, when I say ‘a lot of cumin’ I don’t mean anything like the amount used in Kingdom by Alexander McQueen which is famed for it’s overdose of cumin, in Rose 31 the cumin is used at a much more tolerable level and it blends really well with the rose and the other spices.

Despite there being a lot going on in the top notes, Rose 31 never feels over the top or messy, it’s pretty well blended. After the spices subdue the oud really comes through in all it’s sour, medicinal glory. What I like about the use of oud here is that this fragrance is not oud-centric so it’s used with a very subtle touch and is allowed to just compliment the rose and the spices.

Luca Turin described Rose 31 as ‘carrot juice’ in The Guide and as much as I respect his opinion (c’mon he’s Luca Turin!!) I have to disagree, there is nothing ‘carroty’ about this fragrance, it’s warm & spicy and I would go as far as saying it’s a little bit edgy.

The top and heart notes are absolutely fab but as you may have guessed by the title of this review the dry down is where Rose 31 disappoints.

I feel that it’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not a big fan of cedar wood, I find it to be too dry and harsh in a lot of fragrances and the only cedar fragrance I enjoy is Féminité du Bois. In Rose 31 the cedar is especially harsh and dry, it doesn’t work with the oud and the overall effect of the dry down is quite jarring.

It’s a big shame that the dry down is such a disappointment because I really enjoy the first few hours of Rose 31, it is after all a very interesting take on a spicy rose. I like it enough to own a bottle (through a trade not a purchase) and I solve my dislike for the dry down by reapplying the scent regularly throughout the day thus avoiding the dry down completely.

Rose 31 is marketed as a masculine fragrance but I do think it would work really nicely as a feminine (my mantra with all fragrances is ‘wear what smells good’ so this is no surprise). If you’re looking for an interesting spicy rose and you LOVE cedar then Rose 31 is absolutely worth a try.


Rose 31 is available in made-to-order 50ml (£90) and 100ml (£132) Eau de Parfum. The Le Labo line is exclusive to Liberty in the UK and fragrances can be purchased in store or online.


This review is based on a bottle of Rose 31 from my own collection.

[1] lelabofragrances.com

Image 1 agent2magazine.com