Tag Archives: Rose

A Rose By Any Other Name – Perfume Lovers London, 21st July 2016

This was the first “business as usual” PLL event hosted by Lizzie (Odette Toilette), Laurin and Callum at the October Gallery in London since taking over the group.

 

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The wonderful Nick Gilbert

 

Leading us through this rose themed evening was fragrance expert, Nick Gilbert. If you haven’t already checked out his YouTube channel Love to Smell with Pia of Volatile Fiction, you really should. Nick runs his own consultancy business and couldn’t be better placed to present us with the aromachemicals used to create rose scents along with examples of how each has been used in a particular perfume.

 

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Below is a rough reconstruction of some of the perfumed proceedings after an introduction by Lizzie.

 

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Lizzie, radiant in orange.

 

Nick: The reason I chose rose for this evening is because although there are are 300 molecules in rose absolute, there’s only 4 that humans can smell. That makes it an easy introduction to aromachemicals. The way a rose smells, whether fruity, earthy or citrusy, is all down to these molecules.

 

Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol

Nick: Phenyl ethyl alcohol is the main constituent of most rose extracts (oils and absolutes) but it’s not the most powerful. Perfumers use it to add a fresh, petal-y effect to floral perfumes. It can also add a sense of space. It’s very gentle and not very impactful. It’s not particularly rosy, it’s more vaguely floral. It gives a naturalist impression. Paul Smith Rose exemplifies this.

Paul Smith Rose

Laurin: This is what I’d expect a rose to smell like. Nick told me they used headspace technology to recreate the scent of a rose from Paul Smith’s garden.

Nick: It’s one of the best representations of rose in perfumery.

Audience member: It has a lot of petal-y freshness and there’s some green too. It reminds me a bit of bubble bath.

 

paul smith

 

Citronellol

Nick: This particular citronellol has a pronounced geranium aspect. It’s a little like bug spray.

Rosewater, Marks and Spencer

Nick: Citronellol is used by perfumers to add an uplifting, zingy effect.

Laurin: I picked up this rosewater from the food section of M&S. I thought it would be good added to fizzy water but it was disgusting.

Nick: Rosewater is a by-product of the distillation process and is used in cookery, especially sweets. I thought it would be interesting to see if we can spot the citronellol in it.

 

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Nick and Laurin

 

Damascone (Beta)

Nick: It’s not massively present in rose but it’s very impactful. It adds a berry, sweet facet to rose perfumes. Some roses can smell like raspberries.

Audience member: It smells a bit minty.

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.20

Nick: This has that gently fruity aspect. I’ve been spraying this one a lot ,especially in the hot weather. It’s quite smooth.

Audience member: It reminds me of those sherbet sweets, flying saucers.

Laurin: There’s a lot of pink pepper in it.

 

liz earle

Rose Oxide

Nick: A lot of people find this very unpleasant. It gets to the back of your throat.

Laurin: This is disgusting. It’s like the bottom of a rusty skip with some sludge in it.

Audience member: It’s a rose shot out of a cannon.

Nick: It has a metallic tang, it’s a post-apocalyptic rose.

Audience member: “Terminator Rose”

Audience member: Perfumer Mark Buxton used it in quite a few of his perfumes for Comme des Garcons.

 

Mad Madame, Juliette Has A Gun

Nick: You get the metallic tang of rose oxide in Mad Madame. It’s kind of a bitchy rose.

 

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Geraniol

Nick: Without geraniol you wouldn’t have a rose with scent. It’s used by perfumers to create the leafy impression in rose, but not too much or you end up with geranium. It has a nice mint effect.

Audience member: It’s so green.

Nick: It’s very crisp.

Geranium pour Monsieur, Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums

Nick: Here you get the minty effect played up with peppermint. It’s like geranium toothpaste, in a great way.

Lizzie: It’s very good when it’s frosty. I love it.

geranium pour monsieur

 

Ionone (Alpha)

Nick: This is more violet-y with a green effect. It’s used at high dose in YSL’s Paris. It’s quite powerful – you only need to use a little to get a violet-y rose. Ionones were discovered in the late 19th century and so violet fragrances became wildly popular at that time.

Lizzie: There were so many violet scents, perfumers usually had more than one in their line.

Nick: Penhaligon’s had four.

Lizzie: Violet was the oud of its day. [Much laughter]

Lipstick Rose

Nick: Lipstick Rose is the example I’ve chosen for a violet rose. It’s very traditionally French.

Audience member: It reminds me of my grandmother’s lipstick.

Audience member: It reminds me of Shalimar.

Nick: It does have a vanillic undertone.

lipstick rose

 

This concluded the guided sniff-along portion of the evening. As usual we were then free to try a wide variety of rose fragrances and request a sample of our favourite. We were very helpfully given a list of those available.

 

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I was so pleased Nick decided to talk us through some aromachemicals because it’s topic I know very little about and I found it extremely interesting. I hope there will future talks on this subject.

Huge thanks to Lizzie, Laurin and Callum for keeping the group going and continuing the fragrant fun. I’m really looking forward to seeing where we go from here.

 

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Are you a fan of any of these rose fragrances? Are you interested in aromachemicals?

 

 

 

 

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Opus X by Amouage

Passion and pain

 

Notes: Rose Centifolia, Bloody Rose Accord, Rosebud, Rose Oxide, Geranium, Varnish Accord, Leather, Ambrarome, Ylang-Ylang, Laotian Oud, Metallic Accord

 

I recently went with my pal Kirk to the elegant Amouage stand-alone store in Knightsbridge, London. He purchased the excellent amber, Opus VI which I  think is particularly great on the fellas. It’s fun to see “a civilian” sucked into our fragrant little world.

While there I tried the brand new Opus X from The Library Collection. The mainstream line is full of well constructed, full-bodied perfumes with a capital P. The Library Collection is more exclusive with scents which are often more challenging.

Opus X is a rose-centred fragrance so I was initially disappointed when I inhaled it on a paper strip and it came across as rather jarring. The Sales Assistant suggested trying it on skin because the high percentage of natural oils means there can be quite a difference.

Sure enough, a spray on the back of my hand and it was a different story.  The sour aspect was dialled right down and even the friendly SA was surprised at the dramatic change it took on me.

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I’m always complaining about perfumes being too sweet but the beginning of Opus X has sharp, slightly metallic greens surrounding the central, multi-layered rose. I picture a dark fairy-tale scene of long, malevolent creepers twisting around and almost strangling a partly-opened rose of the deepest crimson.

 

Creative Director, Christopher Chong found his inspiration for Opus X in the 1998 film, The Red Violin. In it, a violin is crafted in 1681 by a grief-stricken Master Violin Maker who infuses the varnish with a little of the blood from his recently deceased wife.  The movie then follows it over the next four centuries to Austria, the UK, China and Canada; telling the stories of the people who own it.

I really want to see this film

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Fittingly the mood of the fragrance is a mix of harsh bitterness, mysterious darkness and deep passion. The varnish on the violin is present, providing a sheer overlay to the many-petalled rose. The lacquer creates a disturbance, but knowing why helps me appreciate Opus X, even if I can’t love it. The widow’s loss means everything can’t be rosy.

This artistic response to another’s creative work has been composed by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Annick Menardo.

The base is distinctly Amouage, as all traces of greenery, metal and varnish disappear. The texture becomes reassuringly velvety thanks to a low whisper of the smoothest oud snaking through a gorgeous amber accord.  Here at last, the sensual side of love and life is exposed and quietly celebrated.

As we’ve come to expect from this luxury house, the longevity is outstanding. Opus X isn’t as voluminous on me as their other perfumes, but that seems to fit: it’s not a showy, outward-looking scent, but a very personal tale.

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Still from The Red Violin

What do you think of The Library Collection? Have you seen The Red Violin?

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Rose of No Man’s Land by Byredo

Red rose of hope…

Notes:  Pink pepper, Raspberry blossom, Turkish rose, Papyrus and Amber.

Byredo is a relatively well known Swedish niche brand but I only just found out that the name comes from the Old English word for “redolence”.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately considering their price point – I’ve yet to connect with any of the Byredo fragrances. Although what niche brand is these days?  Maybe their 2015 rose release will win me over.

Rose of No Man’s Land was composed by perfumer Jerome Epinette as an homage to the nurses who worked at the front lines of the First World War. So I was pleased to read that a proportion of the profits from the sale of this fragramce go to Doctors Without Borders.

“Their story is one of selflessness and compassion.

The perfume is like a soothing balm; sophisticated elegance envelops the skin and strengthens the backbone.” – Byredo

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Rose of No Man‘s Land is unlikely to sway anyone who is not fond of rose perfumes because it’s essentially a rose soliflore and a rather linear one at that.  However, it’s definitely worth exploring if rose scents are your thing.

It opens up with a pleasant zap of pepper and a touch of red fruit which for once, isn’t too sweet. It features a very fine, subtly spiced, fruity Turkish rose which I find to be one of the most swoon-inducing aromas in the world. In that way, it’s hard to fault.

I like the fact that it’s relatively sheer and lacking in patchouli. I seem to be moving away from earthy roses of late, although I still enjoy Papillon’s Tobacco Rose  in the autumn.  Rose of No Man’s Land showcases the soft, spicy facet of Turkish rose in a subtle way and uses the flowers own dry leaves as accents

If you’re looking for a rose soliflore with a modern feel but unadorned by patchouli or oud, Rose of No Man’s Land could be the one for you. It doesn’t feel at all old-fashioned and has just a light smattering of soft powder.  I find the sillage to be lightweight but with a moderate amount of throw, while the lasting power is excellent.

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There is an argument for letting a material as beautiful as Turkish rose oil shine and not over-complicate matters. However, I have a demanding nose these days and I need a bit more. Therefore it won’t displace my two current favourites, both by Serge Lutens: the violet-powdered rose of La Fille de Berlin and the fur trimmed rose of Rose de Nuit.

The quality is certainly first rate and I find it enjoyable but it doesn’t capture my imagination or spark my emotions. All the same, as rose soliflores go, Rose of No Man’s Land is an extremely good one.

 

Do you own any fragrances by Byredo?

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