Yesterday morning before I walked the dog I fortified myself with some strong, hot coffee, reattached the hood to my parka, found my ski gloves, and went upstairs to put on some perfume. I knew which one it would be – Frederic Malle Une Rose. I´ve decided it´s time. It´s time to get over my rose phobia. Reviews of rose fragrances keep popping up on my favorite perfume blogs, and I sit there on the sidelines, grinding the toe of my sneaker into the dirt and sulking. I love roses – I grow them, a variety of them, selected just for their perfume. I cut them and bring them in all summer. I have a rugosa that can perfume an entire room with a single bloom. I have a climber, Darlow´s Enigma, that blooms in tiny white flowers most of the summer, even in the shade, and you can smell it before you´re halfway down the driveway.
But I can´t reconcile myself to the idea that a rose perfume – no matter how lovely and breathtaking it is – doesn´t smell like a fresh rose. If there is one, I haven´t found it yet – one that smells like a rose, and its stem, and a bit of pollen courtesy of a fat, lazy bumblebee, and sunlight, dew, a hint of fireflies from the night before, and a drydown that reminds me of the sound of crickets chirping under the back porch at midnight.
But yesterday was the day. I knew I had a large vial of Frederic Malle Une Rose by Editions de Parfums. Frederic Malle, which I´d ignored because I assumed (correctly) that it probably smelled like a rose. I told myself, listen, missy, you will think of this as a FRAGRANCE, not as a ROSE. And I dumped the whole vial on.
Wow. Frederic Malle Une Rose is not a light, timid little thing, is it? Particularly in the first few minutes. But who cares? I´m going to die of cold in the woods anyway, my corpse might as well be perfumed.
I crunched across the frozen mud, over the icy bridge that crosses the river with the chunks of ice, and through the barren trees, my breath streaming out in front of me like a dragon´s plume of smoke, and I smelled the Sultan´s harem, a palace built of rose petals.
Cribbing directly from boisdejasmin, who very politely made me realize I needed to get over myself regarding rose perfumes, on Frederic Malle Une Rose: “The top notes spill into luscious red rose petals, touched by dew. Rose is accented beautifully by geranium, which emphasizes the voluptuous quality of the central accord. A dark honeyed aspect is thrown into relief by the vividness of the rose as it unfolds slowly… A moist earthy note envelops the composition gently, lending it a somber quality and turning an opulent vividness of rose into a streak of sun drenched sweetness that adds an elegant contrast to the truffled facets. What comes as a complete surprise is a rich layering of animalic notes over wooded amber, which petrifies any remaining traces of rose silkiness and radiates warm glow over the base.”
Now, I am fascinated by the comments on that particular post of hers, because here clearly people are having wildly different experiences with Frederic Malle Une Rose. A number said the rose disappeared rapidly into a woody drydown. “Sinister” was another frequent adjective. It is described by V herself as “more of an impressionistic rendition than anything found in nature.”
But Anya described it as “a literal rose” and “just pure rosebush,” Julian as “the most earthly rose,” which is precisely the experience I´m having – nothing tricky, nothing sinister on me.
Finally. I have fallen in love with my first rose fragrance.
And I am blissfully happy to report that a full 12 hours later, on a bitterly cold night, I am still reveling in the illusion of a single summer rose somewhere in the house, the ghost down the hall, making me smile as I fold the laundry.
Frederic Malle Une Rose, created by Edouard Flechier, is available at Barneys New York and the Frederic Malle Website.
My Summer Porch, Frances Shaw
Honeybee on a Rose, Tushita.com