One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

His Turn: Rose d'Homme by Les Parfums de Rosine



Roses have historically been one of the most beloved of flowers: pretty much every culture that has ever encountered it has become devoted to its cultivation, and people worldwide just naturally find its scent beautiful, as if it were hard-wired into our brains. The rose is generally established in Western culture as a women's scent, but it makes an appearance in a great number of men's scents, though usually as a bit player and carefully disguised.

Les Parfums de Rosine is a century old but for the last decade or so has done nothing but rose fragrances (currently twenty in their catalogue): their Rose d'Homme places the rose front and centre in a men's scent. Theirs isn't the first such attempt, of course: the multifaceted beauty of the rose is just too irresistible a challenge. When a perfumer attempts the masculine rose, the trick is invariably done by allying it with large quantities of another element of perfumery that is indisputably masculine. L'Artisan Parfumeur did it in their Voleur de Rose by adding a big, dirty patchouli which many love but I found just too much: Rose d'Homme uses leather.*

The rose, heralded by a fresh citrus opening, is bright and dewy-wet with a soapy-clean undertone that shouldn't work but does. As the middle progresses, the brightness dims and the flowers take on a dried-rose quality which is even more attractive than the fresh roses; it feels comfortable, subdued, particularly when the leather emerges, smelling vaguely papery and vanillic like a roomful of leather-bound books. A little swipe of patchouli adds to the earthiness but doesn't overwhelm the leather.

The bottle is the Parfums de Rosine house bottle, replacing the signature tassel with a leather cord. I don't know if that's enough to make the curvy, frosted bottle seem masculine: I don't care, but for some people a rose-heavy men's scent would have to be in the butchest, most aggressively manly bottle possible to take the curse off it.

*If there's a men's tobacco/rose scent, I 'd like to know about it, because I suspect that those two things could smell fantastic together. I've never found one: maybe it can't be done, or maybe it was done and didn't sell. Basenotes lists fifty scents that contain both tobacco and rose, but I'm looking for something that is completely dominated by those two notes, with everything else just being support players or window-dressing.

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