I love rose. Seriously, it might actually be my favourite perfume note/genre/ingredient. You may think of me as a white flower kind-of-a-guy but at heart, I’m a beautifully blooming rose (humour me here, people). I can’t get enough and my collection is ever-expanding with gorgeous roses across all olfactory families. So, when Penhaligon’s announced that they were relaunching their famous Elisabethan Rose, I must admit that they had me at ‘rose’. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit?
Elisabethan Rose was originally launched in 1984 and it was a perfectly pretty, if not a tad too light, rose with a prim attitude. I didn’t care for it particularly, nor did I hate it. This Elisabethan Rose however – the Elisabethan Rose of 2018 – is an entirely new fragrance and it would be fair to say that Penhaligon’s have brought it bang up to date with a very modern composition that plays with the classic idea of a rose but injects the sweetness and spaciousness demanded today. They call it a rose “fit for a Queen” with “a most commanding presence”. But is this a stoic rose fit for the pale-faced Elizabeth I or something softer and more corgi-friendly a la Elizabeth II? There’s only one way to find out…
It’s taken about two years of intense rose-sniffing but I have become wholly and completely obsessed with rose perfumes. I’d even go as far saying that rose is my favourite note. In fact, I’m going to say exactly that: rose is my favourite note in perfumery. I simply cannot get enough and whilst I’ve already written a guide to rose perfumes and even battled them on Fume Chat, I feel as I haven’t quite got my adoration for the note out of my system yet. So with that in mind, here’s a bit of a different approach to an article that allows me to wax lyrical about roses once more.
Roses are one of the most versatile ‘notes’ in perfumery. I say ‘note’ but there really is a vast array of rose materials used in perfumery, some to give a rosy impression and others to add complexity to other compositions. I want to celebrate this versatility of rose but instead of just compiling a guide to roses I’ve decided to showcase the many gradients of rose by creating a day of roses. The idea is very simple: these are roses for morning, noon and night and if you want, you could simply pick one for the time you need it, or if you’re adventurous you could transition through all nine during the day. Whatever you choose, I hope you’ll agree that there really is a rose for every minute, moment and mood.
We’re back again with another battle of the bottles and this time the theme is one close to Thomas’ & Nick’s heart: roses. That’s right, we’re battling our favourite rose perfumes with a wonderful selection of rosy goodness. Our judge this week is the iconic Josephine Fairley, journalist and co-founder of The Perfume Society, who moderates the battle with panache and brings her own rather surprising rose perfume to the table. So put on your rose-tinted specs and get ready for The War of the Roses!
I think I may have said it before but I’m going through a rose thing at the moment – this moment being the last two years, in fact. I’ve always appreciated rose, but over the last few years I’ve amassed a collection of rose fragrances ranging from the beautiful simplicity of Acqua di Parma’s Rosa Nobile to the gourmand delicacy of Elie Saab’s Essence Nº1, and all that’s in between. So it’s not too difficult to convince me to sample and fall in love with something chock full of rose. Enter Origin by Aqualis.
Origin is one of four fragrances from new niche brand Aquãlis (the others being Coda, Utopia and Freedom). The brand is the brainchild of Steyn Grobler, a South African native who has spent his career working in the luxury realm, with brands such as Boadicea the Victorious to name just one. For his own fragrance brand, Grobler has created the ‘Evolution’ range which, through olfaction, expresses significant moments in his life. Origin, the stand out in the collection, pays homage to his half-Namibian origin and is described as a “galactic explosion of matter”. Sounds intriguing, huh?
The brand new fragrance from Hermès, ‘Galop d’Hermès’, is an interesting one on a number of levels. Firstly, and most importantly, it is the first fragrance for the brand by Christine Nagel since she became in-house perfumer (she previously created their Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate whilst Jean-Claude Ellena was still the nose-in-residence), but it also shows the house of Hermès firmly looking back towards their equestrian roots. Galop d’Hermès is a fragrance that many will look at to ascertain whether this new collaboration with Nagel will see their distinct house style put to bed in favour of a new one, or whether it will be maintained as part of the Hermès heritage. Galop d’Hermès is the first indicator of what is to come in the future and therefore, a very important fragrance.
Galop d’Hermès is an essay in two ingredients: leather and rose. Housed within a stirrup-shaped bottle, which is adorned with a smart leather tie, in vivid Hermès orange no less, the fragrance, presents itself as a scent that captures the very essence of the house, right from the overarching concept to the individual notes of the perfume. Leather is an integral element within the Hermès DNA, finding its way into many of their luxurious accessories, whereas rose has been a key ingredient in many of the brand’s illustrious fragrances over the years. Together these two notes are presented in a pure parfum that is undeniably Hermès but also entirely exciting and new.
“At Hermès, I discovered all the femininity of leather. I composed Galop d’Hermès like a painting with two main colours…two raw materials that are emblematic to Hermès and to perfumery: leather and rose.”
Under the direction of Christopher Chong, Amouage has positioned itself as a renegade perfumery that creates daring yet luxurious perfumes. Where many perfume houses at the top end of the scale are content putting any old juice in a fancy bottle, or just a juice that is likely to please many, Amouage seek to drive the face of perfumery forward, always developing fascinating, novel and unique fragrances. Of course, not everything they do is going to appeal to everybody, but that’s exactly the point and being divisive is always a key element in being truly great. So with Amouage it’s not guaranteed that one is going to fall in love with a fragrance however, what can be relied upon is that whatever they create will never, ever be boring.
The Library Collection is where Christopher Chong really stretches his legs. The collection now consists of ten fragrance, with this tenth edition, ‘Opus X‘, entering the fray as yet again, something entirely different. So far we’ve fallen asleep in a wistful dream of mimosa and violet in Opus III, reimagined our memory of amber in Opus VI, donned a cracked leather jacket of emerald green in Opus VII and inhaled huge waves of jasmine silk in Opus VIII. To say the journey of the Library Collection has been incredible is an understatement and with this tenth instalment in the series, one is treated to something incredibly special.
Opus X was created by Pierre Negrin, a familiar nose for Amouage’s most recent creations and Annick Menardo, the legend behind Dior’s Hypnotic Poison, Lolita Lempicka and YSL’s Body Kouros, to name just a few. I’m just going to say it: this is a dream team of perfumers and it shows in the results. Opus X is an intelligent take on rose that is not afraid to be evocative of unconventional things, specifically; blood, varnish and metal. It’s a rose like no other, one that is awe-inspiring in both its size and its uniqueness. As Persolaise says in his review, Opus X is ‘striking’.
I’ve been a little bit behind in putting a link to last week’s Escentual column up here, and for that I apologise! Anyways, the centrepiece of the article was Acqua di Parma’s Acqua Nobile Rosa, an Eau de Toilette incarnation of last year’s Rosa Nobile. Now, if you remember my review from last year, you will know that I was more than a little bit taken with Rosa Nobile, and I’m pleased to say that this new EDT is just as good, if not a bit lighter. Rosa celebrates the more ethereal, jammy and citrus-like facets of the rose and it’s a good alternative for those who want something less present. Click here to check out my review.