Here Lies a Rose – Rose perfumes for those who can’t wear them

So dear fellow rose sufferers, you know who you are, the ones that all rose perfumes turn sour on in varying degrees, at least if they are ‘true’ roses.

The good news is, that after extensive research I managed to find some roses that work for me and might work for you (because I found that even if one rose works for a rose-rejecting skin, it doesn’t mean it works for the other). The bad news is, that a lot of them are discontinued…

Still I decided to write about my findings, and note that I’ll only add the perfumes that I consider to be true soli-roses, not perfumes like Parfum Sacre, Nuit de Noel etc. (both work very well for me btw)

Also a little note on the so-called ‘dark’ roses. The patchouli rose combo doesn’t translate as dark to me, it just reads rose-patch, it mostly smells hippie, (I ghost smell the henna, cheap incense and corduroy) and it makes my nostrils itch, metaphorically speaking.

Let me start by contradicting myself; a lot of Rose-Oud combos work just fine, in fact most do. However, I find most of them not really me, I also find these to be pretty samey, and only a few stand out so much I wanted to actually own them. I suppose there’s enough of them to warrant a post of their own, so rose ouds to follow sometime in the future.

Jo Malone: Rock the Ages Tudor Rose and Amber was a limited edition and discontinued like the rest of the few Malones that work for me. This one is light, but not as high-end home fragrance-like as most of the line (Sorry Malone lovers 😉 ) I’ve seen it compared to Stella, but apart from being an ambery kind of rose, I don’t really feel they are similar, but maybe I don’t smell half of Stella due to too much ambroxan or whichever molecule it is. Perhaps it’s the use of ginger which cleverly overshadows any sourness, and the clove which takes the rose in the ambery almost carnation-like direction which makes it so instantly pleasing. Although light, it has moderate staying power and sillage, and is an excellent everyday fragrance.

Damask and Tudor rose, ginger, pink pepper, clove, amber, patchouli and white musk

Les Parfums de Rosine Secrets de Rose: The note list plum, orange, rose, saffron, liquorice, magnolia, ylang ylang, rose absolute. jasmine, cumin, sandalwood, amber, labdanum, musk and moss and you would think from reading that, that’s it’s massive and thick. However, Secrets de Rose is a subtle spicy and quite sheer metallic rose. The cumin is not detectable and the liquorice and saffron not more that an afterthought. It all adds up to a light perfume in a deeply saturated rose-colour. One of my favourite everyday roses. It’s at the same time a no brainer as it’s satisfying and womanly.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose; what a surprise: a powdery rose, but a true rose and what a beauty. It came to me by chance from a Canadian perfumista, and I didn’t even give it much notice when I first sprayed thinking it would be another soli-flore rose of the cute sort – unwearable for me. Imagine my surprise when discovering a gorgeous warm rose. A dry and grown-up rose, but neither anachronistic nor old-fashioned powder wig. I suppose once again it’s the carnation which makes it wearable for me, and the lack of the usual make-up powder, which makes it very much about the rose.

Turkish rose otto, Damask rose, peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, amber, musk and vanilla.

Theo Fennell Scent: very difficult to get much info on. Notorious for getting a 5***** review at Mr and Mrs perfume Godfather.  Opens of a terrific rose, deep red and almost fleshy. What a stunning opening, it does quite quickly go into a mix of spices and bodily warmth. I’m a near cumin-phobe, thinking that cumin belongs in food, not perfumery, but here cumin is excellently mixed with a skin-like musk to become this stunning brave sensuousness. Most definitely carnal, and not for the faint of heart, or the ones who prefer their roses dainty pretty. Booty call Bootiliciousness in a bottle.

D’Ame de Pique a highly wearable jammy oriental rose which I wrote about.

Or et Noir– the gorgeous black and gold soli flore, a classic somewhere between ‘witness for the prosecution’ and damask velvet. I wrote about Or et Noir here.

Opus V: Iris-Oud-Rose. A quite stunning combination on the days it works. It gets together and becomes this warm sexy thing with nothing comparable to it. On the days it doesn’t, it starts to stray in all directions.

Last but not least the darkest bitch rose of them all, bade me post the following message:

Dear Youths (hipster girls),

How am I to be respectful of you? You wear the fashion of my days, yet, you do not seem to realise that it is highly unbecoming. That it was a mistake once, does not make it worth repeating. You want to be dark, feel deep, but I am looking at you with contempt and disapproval as on top of that mistaken outfit you wear a cloud of cupcake. The only darkness in 1994 was I. I am the diva of darkness and the evil fairy godmother you’re happy to never have had. I could not resent you more if I tried,

(Yours) sincerely fierce and scornful,

L’Arte Gucci


Ok, so maybe rather too cute for this post, there being no innocent roses around, none the less it has to be ‘Spectre de la Rose’ by Berlioz, text by Théophile Gautier. (if you’re interested this version of the same song is the equivalent of how roses usually smell on me ;-))

Soulève ta paupière close
Qu’effleure un songe virginal.
Je suis le spectre d’une rose
Que tu portais hier au bal.
Tu me pris encor emperlée
Des pleurs d’argent de l’arrosoir,
Et parmi la fête étoilée
Tu me promenas tout le soir.

Ô toi, qui de ma mort fut cause,
Sans que tu puisses le chasser,
Toutes les nuits mon spectre rose
A ton chevet viendra danser.
Mais ne crains rien, je ne réclame
Ni messe ni De Profundis,
Ce léger parfum est mon âme
Et j’arrive du Paradis.

Mon destin fut digne d’envie,
Et pour avoir un sort si beau
Plus d’un aurait donné sa vie.
Car sur ton sein j’ai mon tombeau,
Et sur l’albâtre où je repose
Un poète avec un baiser
Écrivit : “Ci-gît une rose
Que tous les rois vont jalouser”


Open your closed eyelid

Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream!

I am the ghost of the rose

That you wore last night at the ball.

You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls

Of silvery tears from the watering-can,

And, among the sparkling festivities,

You carried me the entire night.


O you, who caused my death:

Without the power to chase it away,

You will be visited every night by my ghost,

Which will dance at your bedside.

But fear nothing; I demand

Neither Mass nor De Profundis;

This mild perfume is my soul,

And I’ve come from Paradise.


My destiny is worthy of envy;

And to have a fate so fine,

More than one would give his life

For on your breast I have my tomb,

And on the alabaster where I rest,

A poet with a kiss

Wrote: “Here lies a rose,

Of which all kings may be jealous.”

Mojo Lost – Sweet Morphine Ex Nihilo (2015) and Bohea Bohème Mona di Orio (2016)

The weather outside is gorgeous, the perfumes… Well, let’s just blame it on me, I was a tad uninspired. Bloggers and forums raved about stuff I found disappeared after a few hours of uninventiveness. I’m not quite here but I can absolutely relate to all Victoria’s sentiments.

I got the mojo back after sniffing some excellent stuff at our local ‘drug’-store, the wonderfully curated and hip Crime Passionnel; the boozy range from Les Liquide Imaginaires consisting of Dom Rosa (Champagne and strawberry), Blood Wine (cherry, red wine and oak barrels), Bello Rabello (port and immortelle). Also, finding fougeres not the easiest of genres, I found I had skipped ever testing Fougere Bengale, a staple in the Parfum d’Empire line up. Apart from the lavender note up top, this one (as the enthusiastic Aivaras of CP pointed out) actually has a smokey, honeyed vetiver in common with the spellbinding Djedi.

Anyway, since I don’t have any of them, today is not going to be about these perfumes, that will have to wait for another time, it is going to be about a few of those I tried which stood out to me.

Always a lover of iris perfumes, and interested in lilac perfumes. I was attracted to the sound of Ex Nihilo’s Sweet Morphine by perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto. Top notes are lilac and bergamot; middle notes are iris, mimosa absolute and rose; base notes are vetiver, patchouli, bourbon vanilla, heliotrope and orris. image

You see double whammy of iris/orris, mimosa, rose and lilac, you need not know a lot about perfume to know that this will probably be powdery.

Sweet Morphine starts on a fluffy sweet lilac note, real pretty. Nothing heady or even soapy, just a downy puff of lilac powder dispersing itself into a purple cloud. I was reminded slightly of a more present version of Opardu, which to me is more nostalgic and softly soapy. Sweet Morphine is velvety and iris-sweet until the latter stage where the vanilla takes over and it becomes adult-gourmand. It’s quite delightful, even if personally I could have done with less of a sugar fairy ending and instead something just a little bit more edgy. Anyone who loved Opardu but found it too quiet should most definitely give Sweet Morphine a try.

Composed by Fredrik Dalman ‘Mona di Orio’ the house, has released Bohea Bohème, the second fragrance after the last of the late di Orio’s compositions had been released. The fragrance features bergamot, cardamom, iris, chamomile, balsam fir, boxwood, geranium, black tea, juniper, smoke, oak, sandalwood, beeswax, bay leaf, benzoin,vanilla absolute and poplar buds.


Smokey black tea is the sense of that first intake of air, there’s even a shortly a fresh sharpness, juniper I suppose, although my first thought was of a mix of spruce and eucalyptus. There’s the underlying spicy scent of fir trees, and the discreet mix of resins, benzoin and vanilla/ sandalwood softens the smoke and fir into an obedient and sheer unisex perfume, rather than a becoming a German sauna oil.

I like its easy wearable, even friendly, smoke and black tea, and I should dearly like to test this one sprayed lavishly, rather than from a sample, to feel if that would change the effect into something feistier. Even if deep, it’s more nice than naughty, and probably how most people prefer to take their tea perfume. I’m not most people, I like double espressos, and I should have like double up of BB too. However, if like me you were disappointed by the Jo Malone exclusive tea perfumes, and you were looking for black tea, not Chai latte, definitely give Bohea Bohème a try.

How do you feel about recent releases? Did you find beauty or boredom, or have you perhaps tried the two I mention above?