Six Dark Roses Or Perfumes For Femme Fatale
Deep, deep, very deep down inside exists my inner vamp. She wears long, silk black dresses that hug her like second skin. The long cigarette holder looks very natural in her hand with its long, dark-red nails. Her lips are devil red. She calls everybody dahling. She doesn’t give a damn. She’ll push and pull you down if that suits her purposes. She leads stylish, jet-setting la vida loca….We don’t get in touch very often. In fact, I hardly ever see her. She thinks my boring life is no place for her fabulous self and I agree. Still, I cherish and pamper her. I buy her gifts. Things I have nowhere to wear: fishnet stockings, dresses with awesome décolleté, killer stilettos…dark rose perfumes that smell like danger, like night, like excitement, like everything I am not and probably am really too cowardly and too lazy to be.
L’Arte di Gucci. Dark Rose Chypre extraordinaire, L’Arte is unapologetically luxurious. Some scents smell expensive, L’Arte di Gucci smells very expensive. When I smell it, the line from Pretty Woman always comes to my mind: “Just how obscene an amount of cash are we talking about here? Profane or really offensive?” And the answer to that is, “really offensive”. L’Arte is voluptuous, heady; it is a scent of excess. The darkly-luscious fruity top notes prepare the entrance for the floral heart in which the pitch-black rose reigns supreme, spiced up by geranium and sweetened by tuberose… The seductive, passionate blend culminates in a honeyed drydown of patchouli, leather, musk and oakmoss. If you weren’t charmed by the nocturnal fruits and the stunning rose, this drydown will have you wrapped around its bejeweled finger. L’Arte is a demanding scent. It would not go with a casual outfit of old jeans and a t-shirt, it absolutely should not be carelessly spritzed on before going grocery shopping in weather-beaten flip-flops, with hair pulled back in a humble pony-tail . L’Arte must only be worn with an outfit that makes you look like a million bucks (and if it costs that much, all the better).
Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens is, to me, closely related to L’Arte. In fact, they smell remarkably similar to my nose. Rose de Nuit, dark and sumptuous as it is, is, however, a little subtler, a little drier. L’Arte flaunts its riches and is a center of attention wherever it goes; Rose de Nuit prefers to appear mysterious and to smolder enigmatically in the corner with a couple of choice suitors in tow. The apricot note is quite apparent here and it softens the composition considerably, in the beginning and the middle stage. Without it and without a certain honeyed, woody accord in the drydown, Rose de Nuit would have been rather austere, perhaps too dry for my taste. As it is, it has a little bit of a Goth and a lot of Glamour, and is, on the whole, just perfect.
Black Rosette by Strange Invisible Perfumes, on the other hand, is 70% a Goth and 30% a voluptuous vixen. It is indeed strange, what with the alluringly bizarre, slightly minty, astringent beginning and a smoked tea note that is as apparent as the rose and at times even more so. Compared to many other Strange Invisible Perfumes, however, it is not, for me, a very challenging scent to wear. SIPs are notorious for their borderline unpleasant top notes, but Black Rosette is completely wearable and enjoyable from its minty top, to its black-rose heart, to the smoky leathery, lapsang-souchong-heavy drydown. This is the perfume to wear when playing a role of a villainess in a film noir, the odder and more noir, the better.
Rose en Noir by Miller Harris (the limited edition scent created to celebrate the opening of the new Liberty Beauty Hall) starts deceptively innocently, with a note that smells like raspberry jam. Although that delicious fruitiness never disappears completely, the blend grows steadily darker and more “fatale” with every second. The middle stage is all about the sultry, woody, slightly bitter rose and the drydown is leathery and has a very appealing sweet-tobacco note. Not as “noir” as the previous three scents on this list, this lady is still a vamp.
Rose Barbare by Guerlain is one of the L'Art et la Matière scents, and is as misnamed as Angelique (Not Really) Noire and (No) Cuir Beluga. There is nothing whatsoever barbaric about this rather sweet, fruity, completely adorable rose. Still, it has a wonderful, mossy, honeyed, slightly leathery, dark drydown that qualifies Rose Barbare as a scent for a femme fatale.
Rose 31 by Le Labo is marketed for men, and therein lies its attractiveness for any self-respecting vamp. To take a “masculine” scent, to wear it with something slinky and sexy and to make it feel more feminine than Joy is a challenge a femme fatale cannot resist. The beginning of Rose 31 is sharp, dry and quite austere. But then the sweet, spicy rose comes, followed by the dirty cumin, and the picture changes completely. The drydown of Rose 31 is dark, earthy and has the kind of disheveled, sexy-unwashed feeling about it that comes after a night satisfactorily mis-spent doing things I won’t dare to mention on a family blog.
L’Arte di Gucci has been - unforgivably! inexplicably! - discontinued. It is right now available at Imagination Perfumery, $29.99 for 1oz, which is an amazing price, especially compared to $74.99 for the same size at 1stperfume; and if I didn’t have a bottle, I would have snapped it straightaway…come to think of it, I still might. Rose de Nuit is a non-export scent and retails for €100.00 at Salons Shiseido in Paris. Black Rosette can be found on the frustrating SIP site, for the staggering price of $185.00 for 1/4oz. Rose en Noir might still be sold at Liberty, UK, for £85.00. Rose Barbare, €140.00 for 75ml, can be ordered from Guerlain’s 68, Champs Elysées boutique in Paris. I believe it might also be sold in Bergdorf Goodman. Rose 31, $45.00-$180.00, is available in Le Labo boutique in New York or on their website. If there is a conclusion to be arrived upon here, it is that femme fatale scents are appropriately hard to get and they do not come cheap.
Most images are from Allposters.com.