I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.
Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.
Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.
Top: Hyacinth, Fig Leaf, Petitgrain and Grapefruit
Heart: Pink Pepper, Cardamom and Rose
Base: White Woods and Amber
How Does it Smell?
Rosabotanica opens all spicy and spiky with pepper, fig greens and rose. There’s a lot going on in the initial stages – sour fruits, sticky rose and lots of spice – but the effect is not cacophonous, in fact it’s remarkably well proportioned allowing for clarity between all of these disparate elements and tying them together with the bold central accord of a purple rose cast in many shades.
In my @fragrantreviews review of Rosabotanica I used the term ‘Floral Futurism’ to describe the scent, due to the fact that to my nose, this botanical rose is one crafted from sticky-back plastic and grown in a laboratory rather than naturally cultivated in a greenhouse. This space-age take on rose is wonderfully unique, but it’s also very wearable and balances the clash between spiky greens (the botanical) and test tube roses (the futuristic) beautifully. It really is nothing short of exceptional.
Rosabotanica becomes much lighter in the base, relying on white musks to carry the green and rose facets right through to the end. Not a huge amount changes in terms of how it smells (it’s relatively linear) but things become much more transparent and wispier with time. If I was being picky I would say that a little bit more development and a stronger emphasis on something a bit more robust (I cannot find the woods or amber) in the base would fit nicely, but Rosabotanica is very nicely done overall so it seems a bit mean to split hairs.
I was suitably impressed by Rosabotanica. It reminds me of the cool spicy rose of Marni but placed within stark green foliage for good measure. As far as roses go this one is pretty unusual and for that reason I think it’s worth a sniff, especially when compared to the designer fare with which it will be competing. Rosabotanica is also a damn sight more memorable than its sister scent Florabotanica, which may no be a mean feat in itself, but goes to show that this is a very worthy offering from the Balenciaga brand indeed.
Balenciaga’s Rosabotanica is available in 50ml (£53) and 100ml (£75) Eau de Parfum.
Sample via Escentual (I write for Escentual as their Fragrance Expert and am therefore affiliated with them – my views however, are my own.) Notes via Basenotes.net. Image 1 via gossip-dance.blogspot.com. Image 2 via thedieline.com. Quotes via Fragrantica.com.