Winter Roses. Comforting East: By Kilian Rose Oud, Keiko Mecheri Attar des Roses
"You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!"
Roses by George Eliot
I woke up on January 1, 2011 with a craving for rose perfumes. I don't know where it came from, when for a couple of years I have been suffering from an affliction similar to that of Bulgakov's Pilate ("More than anything in the world the procurator loathed the smell of rose oil, and everything now pointed to a bad day, since that smell had been pursuing him since dawn.") and shied away not only from rose "soliflores" but from blends as well. Wherever the cure of my anti-rose "disease" came from, it clearly was a part of some kind of larger phenomenon, since other incidents of rose-perfume-cravings were reported simultaneously in the beginning of this month, for example, by our own Donna and by Victoria of Bois de Jasmin. Also, birds were falling from the sky and fish were washed ashore...
In any case...Victoria is also to thank for my discovery of Rose Oud. My reluctance to try the new By Kilian was threefold: a) it had a prominent rose note (see above), b) ouds have become trite c) rose ouds have become even more trite. What new can something unimaginatively called Rose Oud add to the genre, I wondered. As it turns out, not much, really, in terms of breaking any kind of new ground in the oud land. But what it does add is delight to the life of its wearer. It is just so...pretty and wearable and delicious, it's impossible not to like it. Nothing complex here: roses + oud + a gourmand undertone, but each of the three components is impeccable, done just right. The roses are dark-pink and oozing nectar. The oud is not going to knock you over with the sharp animalic feel I usually look for in ouds, but it does possess just enough of the beast to serve as a perfect contrast to the beauty of the rose. And then there is this soft, fluffy-creamy...something, a certain edible characteristic not unlike that of White Aoud, perhaps in the mix of cardamom and vanilla...something that makes you unsure whether you want to sniff the spot on your wrist where you sprayed Rose Oud or gnaw on it just a little bit. Like White Aoud, it is a comfort scent to me.
Keiko Mecheri's Attar des Roses is also comforting. Less creamy/vanillic, it still has a fairly edible feel about it, due to the wonderfully "candied" quality of the rose accord. It is as if the petals received the same delicious treatment, which slices of citrus fruits often do, by being generously coated with little crystals of sugar. The accord is set against a drier, leathery one, and that prevents the blend from becoming too sweet. The ambery drydown retains some of the leather and a lot of the rose, giving the composition a nicely rounded effect, both in conceptual and olfactory terms. It is more floral, compared to Rose Oud, and might be a great option for someone not comfortable with ouds (or the price), but seeking the same mood and feel.
Rose Oud is available at Luckyscent, $395.00 for 50ml, Attar des Roses at keikomecheri.com, $115.00 for 75ml.