Thursday, September 20, 2012
Mini-reviews, rosy edition: Rose Splendide, Rose Anonyme, La Vie en Rose
I am drowning in perfume, guys – a pretty sexy way to die, no doubt, but practically, I'm running out of storage space. I often hang onto a half-empty sample or the last few sprays in a decant because I think I may want to write about it someday. But I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'll never write at length about most of them; secondly, if I decide I need more of some perfume or other, I can always get another sample. So in the interest of clearing out space for new arrivals, and using this stuff before it evaporates or turns, I'm going to try to do more in-brief reviews here on the blog.
First up, a few rosy perfumes I acquired over the summer months. When I first started collecting perfume, tuberose was my favorite floral note, but at some point in the game, rose pulled into the lead and now I've got tons of them. By the way, "rose" perfumes seldom have the full-fledged scent of actual fresh tea roses, a very complicated smell that can't be re-created with rose absolutes alone, and which, incidentally, isn't really in fashion these days. Most of the time I experience rose notes more synaesthetically; they tend to give a pink or red cast to a composition. Roses can also be recognized by how they play against other notes: rose and violet are a classic combo that together smell like candy and old-fashioned lipstick; rose and jasmine create the golden ur-flower effect in voluptuous florals like Joy and Chanel No. 5; rose and patchouli and/or oakmoss make for a "dark rose" as in Knowing and other rose chypres, which smell sweet and earthy at the same time.
Annick Goutal Rose Splendide: I feel like Annick Goutal's perfumes are weirder than they're given credit for, perhaps because the line has such a prim image. She has a penchant for soliflores, and this is one of a few rose-centric perfumes in the line. What's weird about it is that the rose accord is pleasantly sour, like underripe mango. Some people will hate this quality, no doubt, but if you like the fermented, tangy funk of kombucha, you might find it strangely addictive. What saves it, I think, from feeling like it's just a mistake is the sweetness of the musky vanilla base, which provides balance, even if it seems dangerously close to toppling over into vinegar territory. It feels like a perfect spring-morning kind of fragrance: bright, dewy, pink and green, full of promise that you somehow suspect will never be delivered upon.
Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme: I swear this goes on smelling like chocolate-covered strawberries – in a sophisticated way! Rose Anonyme is exactly the kind of rose fragrance I love, both bright (with a full, fruity, almost boozy red rose accord) and dark (plenty of patchouli in the base). It bears a family resemblance to Rossy de Palma, my so-far-all-time-favorite rose perfume. Their listed notes are very similar (Rose Anonyme: Calabrian bergamot, Chinese ginger, Turkish rose, Somalian incense, Velvet oud, Indonesian patchouli, Indian papyrus, Laotian benjoin; Rossy de Palma: Ginger, black pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, benzoin, incense, cacao and patchouli), but both are very smoothly blended – I don't pick out citrus or ginger per se in either composition, for example, but both have a delicious quality, an almost syrupy intensity. The only problem is staying power; Atelier's "cologne absolue" concentration is supposed to be comparable to an eau de parfum in strength, but it feels more like a light EDT, fading to a faint skin scent within an hour. It's not "full-bottle-worthy" for me for that reason, but I'll race through my decant.
DSH La Vie en Rose: La Vie en Rose is one of five perfumes that were inspired by the YSL retrospective that recently came to the Denver Art Museum, this one being an interpretation of the rose-violet accord central to the original Paris by Sophia Grojsman. I like Grojsman's work a lot, and Paris is one of those perfumes that I "wanted to love," as they say, it being a modern classic and all, but it's far too sweet and powdery and aldehydic for me; in my 2010 review I described it as "bathroomy." (Sorry.) It's probably sacrilege to say so, but I think La Vie en Rose is better than Paris. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has shifted the balance away from rose and more toward violet, and freshened it up with lily of the valley, creating a much more delicate effect. It's present but diaphanous, with a tender sweetness but some green herbal bite (blackcurrant bud, violet leaf) to keep it in check. There's a sophistication to Dawn's recent perfumes that has really blown me away, and this is perfectly representative of the shift. I used to think her (hugely expansive) line was a bit hit-or-miss, but I bought three of her 2012 releases on the spot, and they strike me as being up there with the best of what's coming out of niche and indie perfume houses today. Impressively, her prices haven't increased accordingly. If you like Rose Praline from Parfums de Rosine, I suggest you try Dawn's Pretty & Pink (I've used more than half of my purse spray in just a few months, a rare feat when you've got as much perfume as I do), and Sweet Dreams reminds me of the heavenly vanillic lavender in By Kilian's (much more costly) A Taste of Heaven.
All of the above were my own acquisitions.