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Romantic Notes
Published: Volume 22, Issue 2, February, 2014
Irresistible, sweet, fresh, sensual – just as it is impossible to describe the scent of a rose, it is difficult to capture it in a bottle. Aparna Gupta explores the myriad moods of this enthralling flower as it gets captured in fragrant flacons....

Elegantly opulent, a rose in bud or bloom, has an easy regal air around her. I write ‘her’ because a rose is undoubtedly the queen amongst flowers. The fragrance of a rose and the romance surrounding her is legendary. Cleopatra’s rose-infused milk baths and how she supposedly entertained Mark Antony in a room filled with 18 inches of rose petals is the stuff romance is made of. Mughal queens intoxicated by the scent of roses are known to have had rose petals stuffed in the garden canals. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet,” Shakespeare immortalised the signature scent of a rose in his play Romeo and Juliet.

But, ‘noses’ in the world of perfumery swear by the many facets of this fragrant flower. Though best known for its somewhat overwhelmingly sweet fragrance, a rose has a spicy, musky, citrusy and fruity side as well, depending on the colour, type, blooming stage and the part of the rose used. In general, the most highly scented roses are ones that are either darker in colour or have thick, velvety petals. Red and pink roses are most likely to smell like a ‘rose,’ while white and yellow ones lean to orris, nasturtium, violet, or lemon. Orange-shaded roses will usually have scents of fruit, orris, nasturtium, violet, or clover, experts believe.

Rose oil, often seen as “attar of roses” or “rose otto”, was probably first made in 10th century Persia. This was the first import of roses to Europe, leading to the subsequent growing of the plants there. Mira Kulkarni, Founder, Forest Essentials, points out to the legend of Noor Jehan that mentions that ‘Attar’ was discovered by her, when her bath of warm water was filled with rose petals, only for her to discover one day, the fragrant oil on the water’s surface. In producing the essential oil or ‘otto’, care is taken to maintain the fullness of the scent. Flowers are picked early in the morning and then distilled as soon as possible. One kg rose oil is obtained from 3000 to 4000 kg of damask rose petals, which are the highest yielding flowers. Because of her versatility and exclusivity, the rose has held on to her royal status in the inner circles of olfactory. So when Forest Essentials decided to make its debut in the world of perfumery, it came out with two quintessentially Indian and regal variants – Rose and Jasmine colognes. Indian Rose Absolute is a heady scent, with intoxicating rich full bodied roses from Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh, India, famed for its rose attar.

Any feminine fragrance, which is quintessentially romantic and hopelessly addictive, has been incomplete without the presence of a rose. Cultivated in Grasse, the Rosa Centifolia or May Rose – named after the month in which it blooms – has a delicate, powerful and recognizable perfume similar to mimosa.

Emblematic of Christian Dior, the rose is omnipresent in the label’s perfumes. It is particularly present in J’adore l’Or. Rose Essentielle, Bulgari’s seductive interpretation of the iconic Pour Femme, which itself has attained cult status in the arena of classical romantic fragrances since its launch in 2006, pays homage to this beautiful flower. A bouquet of opulent and deep Turkish rose and rose Prelude with pure, greenish aroma opens the fragrance. In the heart, the fruity notes of blackberry are softened with delicate violet and jasmine.Givenchy takes its love for roses to another level as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Very Irresistible perfume (launched in 2003) with the new limited flanker Very Irresistible Collector Edition. This celebratory edition is a composition made of 10 different types of roses: Bulgarian Centifolia rose, Moroccan Damask rose absolute, Turkish Damask rose absolute, Moroccan Centifolia rose absolute, ‘rose anise’ (anise), ‘rose pivoine’ (peony), ‘rose fantasia’ (fuchsia), ‘rose emotion’ (a kind of pink rose), ‘rose passion’ (a kind of red rose) and ‘rose mochata’ (musky rose hip). It offers a palette of notes ranging from the most delicate to the most carnal, for a spontaneous, sensual woman. A collector’s delight, the bottle features 10 roses delicately embossed on its flacon.

The composition of Carolina Herrera’s CH Eau de Parfum Sublime, much like the bottle itself, is inspired by old vintage scents of the 20s, made with a twist of modernity. It has a strong and distinctive character provided by rose, patchouli and moss, modified with contemporary accords of passionflower. The fragrance opens with fresh and exotic notes of bergamot and passionflower. Rose and orchid are placed in the heart, followed by the base of patchouli, moss, leather and amber. The unusual pairing of rose with leathery notes in a feminine fragrance gives it a seductive, modern appeal.

The Lancôme Trésor family celebrates the classical spirit of rose – romantic, voluptuous, deeply sweet and seductive. In Trésor Midnight Rose, rose, the olfactory signature of the Trésor fragrance, becomes sweeter than ever before. It is often described as a delicious fragrance like a “candied rose of love”. It embodies mischievous femininity: rose becomes playful, driven by deliciously tangy raspberry tones, wooden shimmers and voluptuous vanilla notes. From the very first moment, it’s love at first sight between deep, intense rose absolute and vibrant, bold raspberry. The caress of jasmine and peony meet fresh blackcurrant bud absolute and intense pink pepper. For the final touch of seduction, the drydown – Virginia cedar essence, vanilla and musk – warms up the floral notes in an absolutely addictive and modern trail.

Contrary to common belief, not all rose scents are heavily floral or deeply gourmand. They can smell fresh, green, spicy, sparkly, sweet, fruity, woody or earthy. And in recent years, noses in haute couture perfumery have given this mythical flower a fresh, luminous yet unmistakably feminine character.

The moment you mist Paul Smith Rose, you smell something fresh, airy yet addictively delicious with just a hint of sweetness. Romance much like the rose that bears the designer’s name lies in its heart. “My wife, Pauline, created a wonderful birthday gift – a rose cultivated specially for me. This proved to be an inspiration for the fragrance,” says Paul. The Paul Smith Rose, a potently fragrant, cochineal pink bloom, with a tight peony centre and full outer flower, rambles and scrambles all summer long. Antoine Maisondieu, the perfumer who worked with Paul on its creation explains, “I wanted to combine an airy quality with a soft, velvety feeling on the skin. I blended Paul Smith rose with Turkish rose oil and green tea, adding a sparking halo of magnolia flowers. A woody accord, with touches of clear cedarwood, provides depth and structure, which along with soft musks, gives it an addictive quality.”

Born in 2008, Chloé’s signature Eau de Parfum took the classic rose and reinvented it with a modern edge, much like the way that Chloé fashion playfully twists notions of femininity. When you wear this perfume, you don’t feel like you are carrying a bouquet of roses but that you are walking down a Parisian rose garden. In this whiff, the rose is gentle, sparkling, enticingly green and woody! Damask rose accompanied with magnolias and generous peonies gives it a modern touch while the white musk and amber leave a seductive woody trail. This fragrance transfigures the mythic flower, infusing it with a resolutely urban spirit. The family got its members – Eau de Parfum Intense, Chloé Eau de Toilette, Chloé Rose Edition, Chloé L’Eau and recently Roses de Chloé.

Floral, rosy yet with modern luminous notes, Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Florale offers a fresh take on the iconic orginal L’Eau d’Issey. Just as the trademark conical flacon gets a nude pink hue, the notes capture the transparent freshness of a budding rose, reminiscent of a dewdrop. This floral alchemy, where delicate rosebuds get closer to yellow ginger lily and luminous orange blossom accents, is breathtakingly fresh yet utterly feminine. Much like the brand and its runway creations, the scent exudes understated luxury and evokes universal appeal. It’s something that you wear not to seduce attention but to simply feel like a woman.

Diamonds and rose – romance’s eternal symbols – meet in Emporio Armani’s sparkling fresh fragrance, Diamonds Rose. At its heart lies the radiance of the rose in the first light of morning, sparkling with dewy freshness and surrounded by delicate white flowers. It opens with gourmand notes of litchi and raspberry before revealing its signature heart of rose, freesia and lily of the valley. Its base is sexy, a fusion of woods and amber. Bulgarian rose wrapped in notes of freesia, contrasts with velvety deep notes of vanilla bourbon.

The rose is defined by the company she keeps. Combine rose with citrus and green notes for a fresh whiff, get her closer to jasmine, gardenia or orange blossom for a seductive cocktail, or blend her with spices such as black pepper for an intoxicating scent. Men find it impossible to resist the smell of rose and musk, no wonder this is the most winning concoction in the category of feminine fragrances.

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