Southern Gothic – Kerosene Whips and Roses

Kerosene Whips and Roses

Photo courtesy of Flickr

I love this Kerosene Whips and Roses. Truly, I do. I ordered a small decant (as I am not generally a floral girl) and as soon as I tried it wished I had ordered a much   bigger one. As soon as it touches my skin, I feel like I am watching a story unfold. So, if you will all bear with me, I will attempt to share that story in a somewhat coherent manner… 

Setting: Springtime in the Louisiana bayous, dusk

Scene 1: A young man pulls up beneath the flickering neon of a roadside gas station. The air is so still and quiet you can hear the neon sign humming. He gets out of the car, an old roadster of indeterminate make and age, and heads inside, the service bell pinging as the door pushes open. The young man heads for the flower display and stands a moment, considering. He finally choses a bouquet of white roses, releasing a dank smell as the water they rest in is disturbed. Heading for the front, he catches the attention of the young girl at the cash register – she notices his dark wavy hair and his curiously light eyes, which are the yellow-green of a cat’s. The man’s leather jacket creaks as he reaches for his wallet and he looks her up and down, saying nothing, as he waits for his change. The bell dings and he is gone, taillights fading into the distance.

Scene 2: A young woman sits on a creaking porch swing in front of a dilapidated wooden house, watching the road through the trees of her yard. Behind her, the windows have turned to mirrors, reflecting her silhouetted by the glow of the dying sun. She is wearing a lace dress, clearly vintage with its demure neckline and full circle skirt. If you looked closely you would see the fraying hems and the marks of discolouration from the passage of years. The woman has taken care over her hair and her makeup, accentuating her slender neck and topaz eyes. A faint scent of powder and roses rises from her skin, mingling with the verdant scent of the nearby bayou. Lights spark through the trees and gravel crunches. He’s here.

Scene 3: As she approaches the car, her stomach tightens. He opens his door and comes round to greet her, holding the bouquet of roses out to her. She smiles and steps forward to take them, burying her nose in the blooms. Their scent is somewhat strange, sweet with a fetid tinge and reminiscent of something just at the edge of memory. Before she has time to think on it further he is in front of her, bending to kiss her hand, the scent of his skin and his warm leather jacket coiling around her.  He puts his hand on her back to guide her to the door of the car, steering her firmly forward and closing the door behind her with a solid thunk. The man gets behind the wheel and they drive off.

Scene 4: The young man and the young woman are inside a shadowy bar, filled with smoke, mirrors and amber lights. People seem to be merely wraiths moving through the gloom and the music is haunting. The man escorts the woman onto the dance floor and wraps his arms around her, inhaling the innocent smell of powder and roses. She in turn leans into him and feels his strength and warmth, the leather rough against her skin. As they sway together, she realises two things; 1) the smell at the edge of her memory was funeral roses and 2) in the mirror, she is dancing alone.

Still with me? …Thanks for hanging in there.  Amateur hour, I know, but I really wanted to share how Kerosene Whips and Roses made me feel. The elegance of the roses and leather with the undercurrent of decay really captivated me and fired my imagination.  Do any fragrances tell you a specific story? Do tell!

Notes on Kerosene Whips and Roses via Fragrantica: bergamot, blood orange, rose, jasmine, gardenia, iris, sandalwood, musk and leather.  Whips and Roses Perfume Samples available at Surrender to Chance.

By the way, in my mind, the music in the bar is this: ‘Jezebel’ – Iron and Wine






  • Teri says:

    Every scent tells a story, but not everyone has the talent to put it to paper.

    Congrats! Job beautifully done.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Thanks you Teri! It is really great to hear that people are enjoying the story-hopefully it will encouraged them to sniff this and have their own olfactory adventure…

  • Cheryl says:

    Well this stuff sounds fantastic…!…and exactly what I hope perfumes can do…weave a story…AND this one has some of my most coveted notes in it…where I’m still searching for a perfume that gives the full beautiful expression. Hooray!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Then I really hope this works for you, Cheryl! It’s is unique and well worth a snifff to start you own story. Let us k ow what you think when you have tried it!

  • FearsMice says:

    javascript:zaazuemoticonsclick(‘:Approve:’) [Tricky little suckers, those emoticons…]

  • FearsMice says:

    Wow! Loved your story. As a native Southerner, I’ve always maintained that there’s no such thing as Southern “fiction”: it’s all true — the ghosts, the decay, the crazy aunts in the attic, all of it. You’ve described the reality perfectly! Approve:

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Oh, I am so pleased to hear that! I love New Orleans and the surrounding areas as well as Savannah, Georgia and it’s environs so I am glad I’ve done the South justice in my description. To me, it has such a bittersweet vibe of genteel decay, constant hope and perserverance, pervasive sadness and historical memory. The pasts and the present just seem SO finely layered, separated by mere tissue. Aaannnyway, sorry for the tangent and thanks for the comment!

  • Stacey says:

    Thanks for this review…so beautifully and mysteriously told. Now I must sample it! And I loved that you picked one of my favorite Iron & Wine songs to support it. Fantastic!

  • Ann says:

    Wow, Ms. M! What a review and what a story! I had chills after reading it. Very nicely done. And as Tammy and Jillie noted above, we’ll all be looking forward to your novel.
    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve just lately been coming around to leather, and this one sounds like a must-try, and also the Copper Skies. Thanks again!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Aww, thanks Ann. If I ever do write a novel the Posse would get advance copies!
      Do try it, it’s not an in-your-face leather and watch this space on Copper Skies…;-)

  • annemariec says:

    As I read your story I had not heard of the perfume and, after hopping over to Fragrantica to check it out, I was surprised. From that brand and style of bottle, I would not have expected such a gentle, sweet/sad story. What often fascinates me in reading perfume blogs is how people find their own stories out of perfume that can be quite different to the style that the brand tries to conjure with the packaging and advertising. (YSL’s Cinema is a good example. No-one ever seems to get red carpet glamour out of that one, more like a cuddly night at home in front of the TV.) In the end it is the juice that speaks to you, more than all that other stuff.

    Anyway, thanks for the great story! I hope you keep writing. Finding something that inspires you is the key.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      My pleasure, annemarie! Thank you for reading and commenting! Perfume is endlessly fascinating, isn’t it? The variations, permutations and deviations that exist in its interpretation are astounding. I guess its just another indicator of the complexity of the human soul. The day it stops being fascinating, when everyone smells and experiences the same thing surely will be a sign of the apocalypse! :Wink:
      Do try this though, its not, to my nose at least, the industrial edginess suggested by the bottle. Copper Skies from the same line is also great. Happy Sniffing!

  • tammy says:

    MUST try this!

    And when will your novel be coming out?? Well done, madame! 😀

    • FragrantWitch says:

      You are too kind, Tammy! I am so pleased you liked it. And yes you must sniff this!

  • Poodle says:

    Nailed it!!! That’s the scent. All I bought was a sample but there is a larger quantity in my future. It’s not too flowery, the leather smells like leather, and there’s that dark undertone about it of something old with a touch of decay, but it’s just a touch. I’m guessing for me that’s the gardenia. Gardenia has that little hint of being just past it’s prime to me.
    Great review.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Thank you so much, Poodle! I think the gardenia is the decay for me as well. I prefer it like that, in the background, to any other iteration really. I need to save my pennies for a bottle!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    My music link is not working! Lets try again:

  • Jillie says:

    You have a new career writing gothic romantic novels ahead of you! Reading this made my Saturday morning seem so much less mundane, thank you. The perfume sounds good too!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Why, thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it. Try the fragrance if you get a chance – even if it doesn’t call your name it is very well done.

  • Great story! Congratulations, I love Whips & Roses too. And John Pegg, YUMM O!
    Portia xx

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Thanks! I think a bottle is on my future…love the automotive paint finish on them. :All-I-See-is-Love:

      • If you really are a FragrantWitch, is that a prediction? Could you please predict a bottle of R’oud Elements for me? Please.
        BTW Why do you think amateur hour? It was dislocating, I had to shake myself at the end.

        • FragrantWitch says:

          I’ve put it out there for the universe and now you just have too! Let’s hope for good perfume karma. 🙂
          Thank you for the great compliment on the story-I’m my own worst critic and it was my first ever full fragrance review!

  • Ninara Poll says:

    I happened to grow up in South Louisiana in the very late 70s, 80s, and very early 90s. One of my parents lived there late 60s on, the other early 70s on, and I have relatives on my father’s side who have lived there decades. My father and I did a lot of backcounty driving, also, and in some places, it was as though the earlier parts of the 20th century had not quite left. Needless to say, I have STRONG sensory memories of the state 🙂 I’ve been looking for something scentwise that might even come close to what I recall, and am incredibly eager to eventually order a sample of this! (I’m currently jobless and looking, but I live in one of the poorest parts of the US and finding a job here has been hard.) I hope it comes close to meeting my expectations….


    • FragrantWitch says:

      Hi Ninara,
      I really hope that when you get to sniff Whips &Roses it brings back some wonderful memories for you. Hang in there on the job front – something WILL come up! Let us know what you think when you do sniff. 🙂

      • Ann says:

        Hi, Ninara. Just wanted to encourage you in your job hunt. I was unemployed for nearly two years and then not two weeks after my unemployment benefits ended, I found something. So hang in there! You will be in my thoughts and prayers …