Memory lane Monday: Ombre Rose

ombre rose 1 Hopping aboard the wayback machine today for Ombre Rose, a fave of mine in the ‘80s. I remember owning and loving that little opaque black mini bottle with its round, clear-glass stopper. It just looked so chic and French sitting on my dresser. And I loved holding it in my hand as much as wearing it, as the bottle’s mix of smooth and raised textures was a tactile pleasure.

The scent itself was the perfect blend at the time: soft, creamy, elegant, yet comforting (and my-then-rose-hatin’ self didn’t detect enough of that note to set off any alarms). I’m sure I was also partial to the vanilla, LOV and ylang-ylang. Which, while we’re going back in the day, I have many happy memories of from one of those Coty Sweet Earth ombre rose 2solid perfume compacts. Anyone remember those?

I wore Ombre Rose during my very enjoyable college years, so it holds pleasant olfactory associations. It offered a cozy counterpoint to louder, more outspoken scents such as Giorgio, Poison, and the like, fragrances that I loved in moderation but didn’t want to wear too frequently.

I think Fleurine over on Basenotes put it just perfectly: “Old-fashioned but not Old Lady, with a softness that seems to reference Guerlain. Hard as it may be to believe, there was at least one whispery soft treasure from the 1980s, Ombre Rose. A must for any powdery fragrance fan.”

This is one of those scents that you could wear anywhere, at any time (save for triple-digit summer heat, perhaps) and it just creates a cloud of warm, happy comfort around you, or at least it did for me. I’m not sure about its reformulation status, but I got a dab sample vial recently from Surrender to Chance and it didn’t strike me as markedly different, but who knows?

Notes and info here from Surrender to Chance: “Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose was introduced in 1981. Created by Francoise Caron with notes of coumarin, vanilla, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, rose, orris, sandalwood, musk and honey. Ombre Rose is one of fragrances from the last 100 years that Roja Dove believes to be the true classics of their decade.”

This is one ‘80s scent that’s worth revisiting, although similar fragrances came along later. With all the big-gun scents dominating that decade, what softer, more low-key fragrances from that era that captured your heart?

Photos borrowed from Fragrantica


  1. I wore this in the eighties also. It was a distinctly different scent from what I was usually wearing at the time. Mostly white florals such as Sung. Felt like a scent of distinction. I still have the empty beautiful clear glass bottle on my dresser. Maybe it is time to wear it again.

    • The bottles in this line were so beautifully done, weren’t they? I’m temped to get a bit more to wear myself.

  2. I still love–and still have a half-full bottle of–Eau de Givenchy. Not as soft as Ombre Rose, but it and vintage Cristalle really take me back to the days when the world offered nothing but possibility.

    • Ginny, I’ve not tried the Givenchy but adored the Cristalle. One of the best scents to come out of the ’80s, no doubt, and still much-loved today.

      • Cristalle was so beautiful. Alas, it also made me very, very melancholic so I had to think long and hard before spritzing that one. This time of year brings out the scent-memories, doesn’t it? Wonder why? I have been looking at Guerlain’s Jardins de Bagatelle, wondering if I want to walk down that rose-strewn path again….

  3. Ah, my first real perfume, given to me as a teenager by my godmother. I remember liking the shape of the bottle and the scent. Probably will re-visit for old time’s sake. Very classic scent.

    • Wow — what a great first perfume! Good taste all around. Do give it a try again and see if the magic is still there. I’m going to as well.

  4. The 80’s to me were all about Coco. It still brings me back to a time where I was open and learning and alive. Maybe that’s why it suits me no longer. Sigh….

    • Coco was a big part of my fragrance life in the later ’80s, too (didn’t discover it until well after college). Thank heavens, it’s still pretty great today. And your love of perfume now and interest in the fragrance blogs shows that you’re still open to new things and learning. That’s the great thing about our hobby; it’s always changing and interesting and keeping us on our toes. 🙂

  5. I was born in the early ’80’s but I always remember my mother wearing Pour Monsieure (Chanel). I really didn’t pay much attention to perfumes until Debbie Gibson released Electric Youth. For the life of me, I can’t really remember what it smelled like but I remember owning a bottle.

    • Oh, yes — I remember that one! Can still see the bottle, but can’t recall the scent either. Maybe it’s worth getting some for old times’ sake, to refresh our noses, eh?

  6. Even if the juice was no longer any good, the bottle is still a thing of beauty! Luckily, the scent is too, particularly for a powder lover like myself. It’s really nice to be reminded that the 1980’s weren’t all about lofty hair and loftier shoulderpad perfumes!

    • So true, Cheryl! Ombre Rose was definitely a nice alternative to those humongous scents. I always felt very ladylike when I wore it.

  7. I wanted a bottle of this in the worst way. I remember when I’d go to the mall I’d stop by the fragrance counter and give myself a spritz. I never did get a bottle of it. I think I saved my pennies and ended up getting Jardins de Bagatelle instead. I remember liking K de Krizia and Calandre too. I did get the Calandre for Christmas one year.

    • Hi, Poodle! Glad you liked it, too. The Jardins was quite nice, also, and I adored the Krizia (must re-try this one soon). Don’t think I ever sniffed the Calandre but heard good things about it.
      BTW, when you get a chance, do send your address on to the Posse as you won a sample giveaway recently. Thanks!

      • I remember K de Krizia! I wore that one for years, a couple of decades or so ago. Unfortunately, although I have one of my own vintage bottles and it smells fine in the bottle, it no longer smells very good on my skin, but I like to sniff the bottle and reminisce.

      • I did send my address but if you didn’t get it I will send it again. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. I’m a pushover for ylang-ylang and vanilla so I’m going to try to get a sample. Not a big rose fan so the fact you didn’t notice it gives me hope.

    I missed out on perfume in the 80’s. Between budget issues and demanding allergies, I steered clear of perfumes, scented candles, etc. I get a bit sad thinking about how much was missed scent-wise but trying to make up for it now.

    • Tiara, I know how you feel, as there were a few years back in which perfume was off my radar. But don’t fret, it’s never too late to rediscover great scents from the past, thanks to samples and generous perfumistas!

  9. I didn’t wear this, but not because I disliked it. Now, I’m not sure why I didn’t have a bottle. The bottle itself is still very appealing to me. About those Sweet Earth solid compacts: I had one and loved it. I think it contained vanilla and sandalwood and I can’t remember the other. Were there 3 or 4 different scents in a compact? My mother liked it, too, and would ask to use it. Also, I had a bottle of Styx. It came in this sort of ugly, chunky black bottle with white lettering. Another Coty perfume, I believe.

    • Yay, Martha — another Sweet Earth fan! I think there were three scents in the compact. The flowers compact had ylang-ylang, honeysuckle and hyacinth, and the woods one had sandalwood, patchouli and amberwood, according to the Vermont Country Store site, which carried them, but now says “product currently unavailable” — boo! 🙁 And I think in the original rollout there might have been another set or two.

      • P.S. Don’t remember trying the Styx but I think I recall that bottle. Oh, and one of the other Sweet Earth compact was called grasses, I think, and had hay as one of the solid perfumes.

        • I knew that Vermont Country Store was offering them, but hadn’t checked in recently. I wonder if they get them only around the holidays? Next time I will buy at least one compact! Thank you for mentioning them. They were fun to use.

  10. I graduated in 1987, so I was firmly in the “lets prove I’m an adult” phase. No powdery perfumes for me, my idea of adult was Obsession, Poison and Opium. Of course when I grew out of that all I would wear for a while was Casmir. Then I dumped all the others. Wow, what I wouldn’t give to go back and tell dumb me “hey, put those in the back of the cubboard and hang onto them!”

    • I hear you, Beth — sure wish I had stuck a few bottles back in a dark cabinet to enjoy now. BTW, thanks for mentioning Casmir, I liked that one too, and it had a gorgeous bottle as well, if I’m recalling it properly — a flattish round bottle with a gold, onion-dome-style cap?

      • I recently discovered Casmir and really loved it this winter. Now that the weather is hot here it does nothing for me, but it’s good to discover an old beauty that I missed the first time around.

        • I meant to get a sample of Casmir and wear it again, but forgot. And it’s getting a bit too warm now, as you mentioned. Oh, well, there’s always next fall/winter, right?

      • Yep, you remember it right Ann. Funny thing about this one, I threw it out after a comment from a friend. He said “this one doesn’t say TAKE ME” … it says “TAKE ME home and I’ll bake you cookies”. Now I’m fine with that, but at 20, you’re not ;P

        • Too funny, Beth! It’s odd how things change with a few years, eh? And they say the scent of baking is sexy now, so it’s come full circle. Get a bit more sometime and enjoy it again — I know I plan to!

  11. I can’t think of any low-key fragrances from the 80s, Ann. Probably because I wasn’t buying perfumes for myself back then, but was mostly wearing what was gifted to me (Opium, for one). The other reason I can’t think is because you messed me up with that photo of the Ombre Rose bottle … *want*!! 😀

    • Hi, dear! Glad you like the bottles, too — clear, black, frosted — they’re all nice!

    • Mine, too! You can probably find one easily at a perfume discounter or on e Bay. I think the little parfum bottle would make a cool worry stone (empty, of course!). Enjoy!

  12. In the 80s I was foolishly faithful to Pleasures. Didn’t know other fragrances existed. I finished bottle after bottle. So strange to think back on that time now, because I haven’t finished a bottle in years.

    • Wait a minute, I wore Pleasures in the 90’s. Will have to think about what I wore in the 80’s.

      • Lauren, Pleasures is a great scent in any decade. Think I’ll pull some out for spring now. Thanks!

        • You’re welcome, Ann. 🙂 Still trying to remember what I wore in the 80’s. I know I wore No. 5, but can’t remember what other lovelies lived in my bathroom closet.

  13. Thanks for that trip down memory lane. I loved Ombre Rose, bought it for the bottles, kept it for the scent.

    And those Sweet Earth solids? I had nearly every one of them (there were more than just the Flowers, Grasses, and Woods – I remember a Rare Flowers and a Holiday one with incense, but there were others too) and wore them throughout my high school days.

    • So glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the info on Coty solids; I thought there might have been more than three but couldn’t remember. I don’t recall the holiday one but what scents were in the rare flowers one, do you know? Thanks!

      • Ann, if I’m remembering correctly, the Rare Flowers compact had jasmine, tuberose and something else – ylang? mimosa? gardenia?

        • I only remember the tuberose, so at least we got two out of three. Sure wish these were available again. Thanks!

  14. Count me in on the Ombre Rose love, too. I could never figure out why I liked this so much as it wasn’t anything like any other scent I owned. But it was a ‘zen’ perfume for me. It seemed to center me and clear my thoughts and bring me peace…quite an agenda for one small fragrance!

    I loved the Coty Sweet Earth scents. I had the grasses and the flowers set and my favs were clover in the grasses set and honeysuckle in the flowers set. They briefly made spray scents, too. I remember owning a spray of Clover during my high school years.

    • Teri, you summed it up perfectly — a “zen” perfume! Glad to find another OR fan and happy it helped you.
      BTW, I’d forgotten about the spray scents in the Coty series; I never had one, just a compact or two. Sure hope they bring them back again. Thanks!

    • They are beautiful, aren’t they? I’d love to get the clear glass one, too.

  15. I remember when I was a kid my older sister had bottles of perfume like this. Iused to sneak into her room and try them.

    • Too funny! Did you ever get caught? I used to sneak a little dab of my grandmother’s Evening in Paris once in a while. (But not too much or it’d be a dead giveaway.) Loved that blue bottle.

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