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.”

13 thoughts on “Here Lies a Rose – Rose perfumes for those who can’t wear them

  1. Oh wow, what a fantastic post with great writing and wonderful images. How frustrating that although you’ve managed to find a good few roses that don’t go sour on you, they’re mostly discontinued!
    LOVE the message from L’Arte Gucci. I’ve been forever curious about that one but refuse to risk falling for a vintage.

    • Well, the discontinued thing is almost ok, as I have got bottles, but still… And I agree that falling for L’Arte is not a good thing, it really was a lucky find for me or I would never have blind bought it. I must say it completely lives up to its bad rep. 😉 I’m quite contend with my rose-haul now, and have really been having a summer of roses 🙂

  2. Love your comment on L’Arte di Gucci! 😀 Now I have to go and smell it again.
    And I just realized, I haven’t worn a rose perfume in quite a while. I don’t count Narciso Poudre because that’s not a rose perfume per se. At least, I don’t see it like that.

    • Ooh yes do Ines, I’d love to hear what you think. I was truly very surprised at the broody L’arte. all that talk of ‘dark roses’ when I smelled no darkness at all had me believe such a thing as a ‘dark rose’ didn’t exist. But in L’Arte I get it, a true darkness.
      I agree that Poudre isn’t a real rose perfume.

  3. Haha, love your comment on L’Arte Gucci 😀 I have a hard time with roses as well and have yet to find a rose that calls my name. I found Ecume de Rose by Rosine nice, interesting and wearable but it is a long time ago that I have smelled it.

    • Hi Marie, I feel for you. It’s a weird thing not being able to wear roses. It wasn’t until after I learned that perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz had a problem with roses too, that I felt I wasn’t just making up things 🙂 it’s quite individual of course which roses end up working, but the Caron’s in general seem to be good. Good hunt.

  4. Still smiling at the marvellous phrase ‘I ghost smell’…rose is my favourite floral perfume note, and I can take it pretty much as it comes. Sounds like there is a lot more to explore that I was aware of, though thanks to you I did get to smell the very wonderful Or et Noir – just before postal communication between our countries became too problematic. ;( I like your image of that one very much, haha.

    L’Arte de Gucci I got as far as buying a mini of, then selling it off again. I really really wanted to bond with it as I loved its vibe that you have so perfectly captured in your post – but in the end I only liked it some of the time and never felt I could wear it out because I didn’t think anyone would want to smell it on me. There was a retro, almost ‘fusty’ quality to it. I’d say the same about Scent, actually, as regards the retro aspect and its maybe not appealing to others around me, though I do agree it is a fine example of a diva perfume. Must give it another whirl in the comfort of my own home now the weather is cooling down…

    • I know how roses smell on other people’s skin and I can imagine that with both Scent and L’Arte the fustyness could be too much at times on ‘normal’ skin, but on me it’s nicely balanced because of the rose. At the moment I’m positively addicted to both 🙂
      He, to the ‘ghost’ smell, and if you find me ghosting at the moment, it’s just a bit hectic in the job front, I apologise 0:-)

  5. This is a fantastic post, Asali – you had me laughing all the way through it! (Especially your noting of the Theo Fennel Scent, that it is “Notorious for getting a 5***** review at Mr and Mrs perfume Godfather.”) 😀

    And also your note about Amouage Opus V – how it behaves “on the day it works” and on the day it doesn’t – which is so, so true about that one. I sometimes smell it and think, how was it that I was so besotted with you? And then some days, it purrs back at me and I remember why.

    L’Arte di Gucci is one I own, though I’ll admit that I don’t wear it as much as other rose perfumes. My favorite roses are still Amouage Lyric and Amouage Epic Woman.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 and opus V, I can’t wait to get it out for the warmer autumn days, which is when it’s usually at its best. I have tried with lyric and epic a million times, and they just won’t work for me, but now that I have other roses that do work, I’m no longer upset about it.

    • Oh, and I know the amouages smell amazing on you.

  6. Loved the post and giggled through several passages (and my vSO, who looked over my shoulder as I was reading it, complimented on the illustration, which is a lot when comes from him, so I thought I’d share 🙂 ) though I’m familiar just with a couple from your list. I would love to try those that I haven’t tried yet (especially after reading some of your comments 🙂 ).

    I love rose perfumes. They love me back not at the same rate, but my biggest problem with those that don’t work is that they turn awfully soap-y on me. My favorite roses are Amouage Lyric, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amor, Lancome Mille et Une Roses and Frederick Malle PoaL.

    • Thank you for all the lovely compliments <3 soapiness, I know of that too, but mostly from others. Mille et une Rose actually does almost work for me too, I should give it another try. I believe that the Caron roses might be worth a try for you, as I know you like classic perfumery, as for the rest, I'll see if I can help 😉

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