Elie Saab burst onto the fragrance scene in a blaze of golden glory. His debut perfume ‘Le Parfum‘ was penned by none other than industry veteran, Francis Kurkdjian and it presented a radiant woody floral that utilised a solar orange blossom note to capture the unending beauty of Saab’s couture. This perfume kick-started a genre of radiant, glowing fragrances such as Carven’s Le Parfum (also by Kurkdjian) that now permeate the department store shelves, and it has deservedly found quite a following and spawned a number of flankers.
This year, Elie Saab and Francis Kurkdjian have teamed up once again to do something new – specifically to release a more exclusive collection of unisex fragrances entitled ‘La Collection des Essences’. Consisting of four perfumes, Essence Nº1: Rose, Essence Nº2: Gardenia, Essence Nº3: Ambre and Essence Nº4: Oud, the collection has been created to showcase “perfumed expressions of haute couture”, and unlike many exclusive collections (most of which are yawn-worthy and blatant money spinners), this one does exactly what it sets out to do with four fragrances that certainly capture the spirit of ‘Eau de Couture’.
“La Collection des Essences expresses a supreme elegance, a concise refinement that melds light and colour, depth and subtlety, volume and transparency. Four bold and exclusive statements with precise, dense and dazzling formulas.”
– Elie Saab
I have managed to try the whole collection and I must say that I am impressed, as I expected to be – I am, after all, a bit of Kurkdjian fan-boy. The Gardenia is a sharp, green and fuzzy take on the flower that sits somewhere between photorealism and abstraction, whereas the Ambre is a spicy, cosy and piquant amber, in a similar vein to Byredo’s 1996, and the Oud avoids the typical rose/super-spicy cliches as a woody and animalic oud that wouldn’t feel entirely out of place within Kurkdjian’s own collection. It is the Rose however, that has me hooked with its beautiful gourmand tones, that really are quite striking, despite their simplicity.
“Voluptuous and enveloping like layers of precious fabrics”
– Elie Saab
Centifolia Rose, Damascena Rose, Turkish Rose, Bulgarian Rose, Rose Absolutes from Grasse and Turkey, Vanilla and Cedar
How Does it Smell?
Over the last year or so I have become obsessed by roses. My house is now always filled to the brim with bright red, pastel pink, violet or orange tipped variations of the flower, and I try my upmost to try anything on a menu, drink or food, that has a rose flavouring. There simply is just something utterly irresistible about the complex look, smell and taste of this most familiar flower, and seeing as I am a complete sucker for temptation, I cannot ignore the utter deliciousness of the rose.
As you may have guessed from the name and the theme of this post, Essence Nº1: Rose, is all about, well, rose. It really is a true rose fragrance and whilst it may not be a soliflore due to its gourmand character, it really is a rose through and through. Essence Nº1: Rose opens with a subtle rose bouquet that is crisp and fresh, calling to mind freshly picked rose heads from the garden. This quickly, and smoothly transitions into something much sweeter and evocative of delicious rose-water.
From then on, Essence Nº1: Rose is fairly linear. The rose blends seamlessly with a sweet and creamy vanilla that is unusual in its airiness. This creates the impression of a delicious and lightly-whipped rose cream that is full of air and delicately flavoured. It is undeniably gourmand, yes, but it is beautifully wearable at the same time, and whilst one may feel like they are bathing in rose-scented milk, things never become cloying or so obviously edible that people will be tempted to take a bite.
The balance in Essence Nº1: Rose is spot-on and wearing it, one imagines a silk gown coloured in the boldest pink and made from the most weightless of silk fabrics. This gown floats down the runway effortlessly in a haze of volume that catches the eye and holds it with complex, and intricate detailing. If you sniff but one fragrance from Elie Saab’s Les Collection des Essences, make sure that it is this most sublime of roses.
In summary, Essence Nº1: Rose is absolutely blooming delicious and it seems to perfectly capture the complex gourmand facets of the rose – those flavours that make rose macarons, marshmallows and meringues so darn irresistible. I for one, feel that it fills a niche that I haven’t been able to plug within my collection, that of the edible rose without any other additives, and it is so successful in achieving this because it balances sweetness with an almost weightless vanilla that is never cloying or calorific. It is divine.
Essence Nº1: Rose, and the other fragrances in La Collection des Essences, are available exclusively to Harrods in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £160.
Sample, notes and quotes via Elie Saab. Image 1 is my own. Image 2 via Ladurée.