One Thousand Scents

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Disciplinary Action: Le Labo Rose 31


The main thing you need to know about the names of Le Labo scents is that the number is the number of ingredients in the scent (although in perfumery any such contention is usually suspect), and the word is the core note around which the scent is constructed (although from what I've read this is not necessarily the case, but that is also true in the world of perfumery in general: a scent named after tree whose flowers are said to smell of milled flour might smell instead mostly of pretzels dipped in iris cologne, while the delicious-sounding Peppermint Sherbet could smell like hatred and bile).

The main thing you need to know about Rose 31 is that it's pretty horrible. It's an attempt at making a masculine rose scent, which in this case means removing everything that makes a rose the most beloved of all flowers — nothing creamy or plush or honeyed, nothing beautiful, nothing that might, god forbid, be associated with a traditional rose scent, as if the very suggestion that men want to smell good would somehow be insulting — and keeping only the sharp and sour elements (not even a citrusy sour but a damp-kitchen-rag sour), supplementing that with a whole lot of pointy cedar, astringent vetiver, and rough-edged spices, none of it pleasant, all seemingly chosen for unimpeachable masculinity rather than attractiveness. It's masculine, all right, in the same way that a punch in the face is masculine.

I was going to say that it's a rose scent for people who don't like roses, but there's too much rose in it for that. It's a rose scent for people who think that the enjoyment of fragrance deserves some sort of punishment.

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