Perfumes / Reviews

Nobody Knows this Little Rose

I will admit that since the trees and flowers began blooming early this year, I’ve had flowers on the brain.  All of my oud, amber, benzoin, and leather scents are going to be stored away with my cashmere and wool, and I’m breaking out the roses.  Rose is one of the few flowery notes that I enjoy, and my small collection of perfumes already has a few examples that are quite different from one another:

  • Secrets de Rose by Parfums de Rosine: a dark, musky rose that says “Temptress” to me. I wear it when I want to seduce (not necessarily between the sheets, I might add.  Seduction’s powers go beyond the bedroom.)
  • Rose Absolue by Annick Goutal: a blend of many roses that brings out the best of the whole idea of the smell.  It is dark, light, frivolous, and mature, all at once.
  • Rose 31 by Le Labo: spicy rose, with huge whiffs of cumin that bring me into a Middle Eastern spice market.  It’s a florally gourmand that both men and women can wear.
  • Rossy de Palma-Eau de Protection by État Libre d’Orange: This iconoclastic perfume house takes roses to another level.  Made for the Spanish actress who epitomizes the strong, androgynous female characters of Pedro Almodovar’s imagination, this rose perfume reeks of drama and power on the first level.
  • Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle: The real winner is this one, la grand dame of rose perfumes. Rose, patchouli, incense, oud, berries–all of the things girls love, while being incredibly sophisticated.  Portrait of a Lady makes me feel more than a lady.  I am a woman.  The atmospheric sillage fills a room and people always ask what I am wearing.  It’s absolutely DIVINE!

Portrait of a Lady by Frédéric Malle. My all-time favorite rose perfume.

I leave you with this heartbreaking poem by Emily Dickinson, whose poems often featured flowers as a symbol of fleeting beauty:

Nobody knows this little Rose-
It might a pilgrim be
Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee.
Only a Bee will miss it-
Only a Butterfly,
Hastening from far journey-
On its breast to lie-
Only a Bird will wonder-
Only a Breeze will sigh-
Ah Little Rose-how easy
For such as thee to die!

What is your favorite rose perfume?

UPDATE 4/24/2012:  As SmellyThoughts reminded me below, I forgot to mention By Killian’s Incense Rose, which I love to roll around in while I’m in bed (SMILE), and Comme des Garçons Series 2 Red: Rose, a spicy and fruity rose that perks me up in the morning!


9 thoughts on “Nobody Knows this Little Rose

    • I don’t think I could ever really be bored of rose scents because I grew up with bushes of them in the garden of my childhood home and will always associate positive memories with the smell. It’s also one of the most accessible floral smells–you can always identify a rose even if you can’t identify any other flower smell.

    • I’m so glad! Rose perfumes are instant mood-lifters for me. What makes Rose 31 and Portrait so special to me is that the rose is very much in the center of the spotlight, but there are other very strong notes that float around it without competing with it. Genius!

  1. I had the pleasure of sampling Malle’s Portrait of a Lady in Hong Kong last February and I agree that it is a magnificent scent. I kept the sample strip,and to this day, it still smells wonderful albeit different from when the SA sprayed it on the strip. It evolves, I guess, and I like that in a scent. 😀

  2. It’s not my favourite floral note, but I can appreciate a good one.
    Many are the ones you’ve mentioned, I’ll also add Tauer’s offerings though:
    I adore Incense Rose – tart and sparkling which then tumbles into dark frankincense with specs of jammy rose, it’s gorgeous.
    And also his Une Rose Chypree, which pairs the spicy rose with a strong bay leaf note, fascinating but a bit too mature for me right now I think…

    • It’s so funny you say that about Tauer. I realized only last night that I had forgotten about my bottle of Incense Rose, and how much I love it! I actually sprayed it on me as I got into bed to allow its mellow loveliness to envelope me as I fell asleep. Am dying to try Une Rose Chyprée–my first great chypre love is Aromatics Elixir, that also contains rose. Thanks for the comments and for reading!

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