Moss Roses in a Bottle: Une Folie de Rose by Les Parfums de Rosine
Several years ago I received a sample vial of a perfume with a bottle purchase, and I flipped over the sample; it was instant love. I don't even remember now what the bottle was, but I wore the sample until it was gone and I even kept the empty vial so that I could sniff it once in a while; it was Une Folie de Rose (2004) by Les Parfums de Rosine. It was unusual for a rose fragrance, because not only it was a true chypre style scent with a rose heart, it was also quite green, thus combining several of my favorite perfume elements in one distinctive composition. I recently got a decant of this in a swap, and I love it more than ever. If any rose perfume is going to tempt me to buy a full bottle, this is the one.
Now, some people may hear “green rose” and back away quickly, thinking it must something thin, sharp and acidic like too many inferior rose scents. Not so in this case; the rose (Bulgarian and Turkish) is rich, the green resinous and the chypre base with sandalwood, real oakmoss and benzoin keeps it warm and grounded. It opens with bergamot and a dry twist of coriander before the heart of roses and other florals (jasmine, ylang ylang and iris) expands. The unique mark of this perfume is the mossiness; in fact, what it smells like to me is the unusual buds of the old-fashioned Moss roses. These fragrant blossoms were so named because of the soft “mossy” coat on the outside (sepals) of their buds that secretes a highly resinous essence that is a cross between the classic rose aroma and something like an aromatic balsam fir, the result of a genetic mutation in this group of old garden roses. Rubbing the buds just as they are about to open releases this delicious fragrance. I have one of these wonderful plants in my own garden, and like most of the antique roses it blooms profusely, but only for a few weeks in early summer. With Une Folie de Rose I can enjoy this sensation anytime. I find it to be more interesting than most fragrances of the style that would usually be considered a rose soliflore, and it gets more so the longer I wear it. As it deepens into its chypre base, it gets darker and a little mysterious, and the longevity is excellent. The vivid feel of real, leafy green living roses remains throughout.
Traditional rose perfumes generally seem to fall into one of two broad categories – the simple, romantic and even girlish soliflores, which can be soapy and fresh, and the “sexy” rose scents which are often decorated with Oriental flourishes, such as the Montale rose and oud scents or Caron's Parfum Sacré and Amouage Lyric Woman, which wrap the rose in incense, spices, musk and vanilla. Une Folie de Rose finds its own path, standing out from the crowd with its air of chypre sophistication; yes, it's sexy all right, but it's not just a boudoir perfume, it's a fashion statement with an elegance that makes it suitable for wearing in just about any environment, and yes, men can wear it too. It's not cheap - starting at about $110 USD for 50 ml of Eau de Parfum - but it's far more reasonable than one would expect after smelling it; this is a top quality house that does not rely on celebrities or big advertising budgets to sell perfume and the materials are first class. (I also got a decant of the luscious saffron-infused Rose Kashmirie and it’s just as good, though entirely opposite in style.) The Rosine line can be purchased from their web site (have a Euro converter handy) or from better online boutiques such as Beautyhabit. My mission for the near future is to try all the Rosines but I am not sure if I dare; if the rest of them measure up to Une Folie de Rose and Rose Kashmirie, my pocketbook will be in serious jeopardy.
Image credit: Bud of an antique Moss rose from oldheirloomroses.com