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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Six Dark Roses Or Perfumes For Femme Fatale

The femme fatale will generally try to achieve her hidden purpose by using her feminine wiles (beauty, charm, sexual skill), and thus she is typically portrayed as exceptionally well-endowed with these qualities (…) The femme fatale is sometimes portrayed as a sort of sexual vampire; her dark appetites were thought to be able to leech away the virility and independence of her lovers, leaving them shells of their former selves. On this account, in earlier American slang femmes fatales were often called ‘vamps’” (Wikipedia)

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


Blogger lilybp said...

Great reviews! My favorite here is Rose de Nuit, which I adore! I also love Czech & Speake Dark Rose (come back, all is forgiven!), and most of the Montale Rose Aouds (my favorite being Rose Petals). I know you can't do Montale Aouds, but I have had no luck with SIPs, so we're even! I tried Black Rosette again--and tried and tried! I WANT to love it; it sounds perfect for me! But sorry, uh-uh, no go:( And I have unbelievably! unforgivably! not yet tried the Gucci. Apparently, I must:) Sigh.

I do like the Le Labo a lot, Rose en Noir quite well, and Rose Barbare well enough--just not as much as the ones in the beginning of my post. But I wear them all happily (or I would if I had more Rose en Noir)!

12:26 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I find rose to be one of the most difficult notes: it's so easy to smell the real thing (and the real thing is a panlopy of different related scents, related like cousins), and there are so many awfully cheap sprays out there that any rose scent has two strikes against it already.

The only one I've sniffed out of these was Black Rosette, and it was wonderful: Goth and Vamp, as if someone decided to make a biopic of Theda Bara starring Fairuza Balk; timeless yet modern. Like most SIP's I've encountered, it's rather fleeting. A true Vamp wouldn't care: she'd re-apply, knowing that there would be another hapless male to provide a refill.

I however, can bat sooty eyelashes from here 'till doomsday, and I'll still have to buy my own. I will sadly pass on all until I can conjure my inner vamp and entice fatally someone to buy for me (sounds of crickets chirping).......hello?

2:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great reviews featuring one of my favourite notes in a slightly different manner. right now, I'm all about cosy, rich, autumnal roses, such as Safran Troublant, Tuberose Indiana, Ta'if. however, I think I might need one Vamp Rose to match my chanel Vamp nailpolish, Scarlet lipstick and black fishnets that I occasionaly wear... ;-)

ps: I wish L'Arte was so great on me as it is on you. I was feeling like a premature 60-year old in a ridiculous mink coat when I tested it. luckily, it found a much more loving owner :-D.

3:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My inner vamp sends airy kisses to yours! She loves meeting kindred spirits and languidly adds her two cents' worth.... She (gesticulating with her cigarette holder) seconds Czech & Speake Dark Rose, the best dark rose ever (I wrote them in her name, and the lady who wrote back "understood it would possibly be re-issued in a year". What kind of commitment is that???!) She also favours Schiaparelli Shocking (vintage): makes her don that sequinned dress and sable stole and sashay out to the Rolls and Cary Grant to steal them from under Mae West's nose....

3:31 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally I don´t like rose scents at all - they are so overwhelming & last & last on my skin (impossible to wash them off) until I hate to smell them...
So I´m still searching for a rose that smells good to me, I haven´t given up, yet :)
I think a rose must be dark & a bit spicy, more of a mix that includes roses, not a soliflore, to be loved by me.
Black Rosette & Le Labo sound really interesting to me!

7:35 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Lovely one of the Baltics-

Our brooding Eastern European slip is showing...

Love Black Rosette, which frightens many- and haven't had the opportunity to sample the Rose de Nuit [though I long to].

I must admit, I'm a Black Aoud fan, as it softens to a chypre of rare beauty and subtlety [ it takes its time, though, so faint-hearts need to be patient OR keep a reasonable distance from critics...]

A pleasure to read your thoughts- be well, and loved !

7:45 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

My type of roses - dark and w/ a twist! If I ever write "The Lazy Girl's Guide to Accessing Her Inner Vamp," wearing these will be rule #1. Brilliant reviews! Love every one that you listed. L'Arte di Gucci and Black Rosette are sadly undermentioned and both are divine. Went into a panic, however, when you said that Rose en Noir "may" still be available at Liberty's. May??? Yikes! Was still waffling over having to fork over for the horrendous shipping from Liberty's, but I need to call and check on amounts today.

7:55 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

So glad to hear other opinions on the Gucci. I do have Soir de Lune, which I adore, so I feel less deprived now!

7:56 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Just called Liberty. They still have plenty Rose en Noir in stock and the SA I spoke to doesn't see them running out any time soon. Phew!!!

8:00 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

L: I think I mentioned before that Lyn Harris is coming to the October sniffa. I explained the Rose en Noir situation to Karen (the organizer) and she said she would ask Lyn about possible availablity here. I don't have much hope, since it was supposed to be an exclusive, but you never know. . . Maybe she could smuggle in a couple of bottles:) If so, I will let you know!
Also wanted to 2nd Dinazad's vote for Shocking!

8:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Firstly, I can't believe I haven't sent you a sample of L'Arte, that is just not possible! What a mistake on my part! Well, if that VERY good price of $29.99 won't tempt you, I will send a sample. You will love L'Arte.
Secondly, I *knew* that Dark Rose will come up :-) The things is, it just doesn't work on me, at all. It smells sour and not that dark at all. And Montale rose Aouds...they smell all the same on me, again, kind of sour. Such unfortunate skin chemistry!

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I imagine that something might be finer than L'Arte, i.e. more refined, but it couldn't possibly be any "richer". :-) I do, however, have to finally try Soir de Lune!

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

So funny about sooty eylashes and crickets. They are chirpring here too, loudly. And I agree about the lasting power of Black Rosette, it is not spectacular. Unlike that of L'Arte, which lasts forever.

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

When I wear it, I am my *cough*29 year old *cough* self in a ridiculously expensive mink coat :-) I am so thankful to you for L'Arte, it is such a beauty.

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dark Rose does not work for me, but Shoking definitely does and it is certainly a vam scent, dark and honeyed. Mmmm.

8:29 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dark and spicy, Black Rosette and Rose 31 would definitely fit that description. Also, have you tried Rose Poivre by The Different Company?

8:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Black Rosette isn't scary at all, right? I don't know what people are afraid of :-)
I like Black Aoud too, one of a couple of Monatel's Aouds that works for me. But it is all about wood not me, not rose.

8:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, I just thought, since it was a LE, maybe it's all gone now...but then perhaps it's not the kind of scent that would fly off the shelves. I mean the beginning is accessible enough, childish even, but then it shows its dark and twisted side :-D

8:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Do get that $29.99 bottle at IP, I swear the price is right. And you will love the scent, I just know it.

8:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

If it's popular enough, maybe it would join the permanent line and will eventually come to the States. Fingers crossed.

8:36 AM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

I love rose, and these all sound especially yummy. Most of the rose scents I've tried have been either dreamy or zesty (PdR Ecume de Rose or Rosa Flamenca) or incensy (Loukhoum or Shaal Nur). And of course, there's Lipstick Rose, always, which is a vamp of another kind. The only dark rose I've tried is TDC Rose Poivre. I found it a little too heavy on the pepper, but dark enough to be intriguing. I've made a list from your reviews...time to cruise eBay! ;)

8:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, how these reviews come at the right time! I have been on the market for a rose perfume for quite a while, it's the one thing missing from my collection. I am blonde haired and blue eyed and very freckly. And sometimes feel as though I can't pull off most rose scents but this Miller Harris sounds like just the thing. Come on Columbina, say one more great thing about it and send me over the edge and I'll be calling Liberty ASAP!!

8:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Happy hunting on eBay! Lipstick Rose is definitely a wily vamp, but it hides it so well. It likes to apear innocent, doesn't it? :-)

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Anonymous,
OK, here goes...I think you should get Rose en Noir, because its duality is very appealing. There is that jam that's so innocent and adorable, and then there is that vampy drydown that is sultry as all get out.

8:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did it Colombina, I'm calling....Does anybody else need a bottle??!!

8:53 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I love the Rose Poivree too- it really doesn't go wee-wee- wee on me, the way it does for some, although I admit it's an aquired taste for many... but I wouldn't call it noir !

Shocking- now, that's noir !
[Go Dina, go Dina!]

Also, if you wany nasty chypre with rose in it [not predominantly rose itself] ,go Sortilege,'s SO hot !

[ Click on]-
It won't break the bank, has great sillage, and you get stalked...

8:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful review as always. I love the pics you chose for each scent. I am not a femme fatale, though I may dream of being one once in a while. ;) As such, I have only tried one of the six you write about--Rose de Nuit. This is the only chypre (besides Mitsouko) that truly tempted me, and strangely, this did not strike me as a "femme fatale" or goth scent. To me, it was a soft, elegant rose, dark only in the sense that its beauty was enclosed within the lush darkness of moss. If this were more readily available, I may be tempted to buy it.
Rose Barbare sounds like it would be more my kind of scent, but since that is even harder to get, I don't even allow myself to think about it.
I have tried Montale Aoud Damascus, which I really liked, except I found it a little soapy. Again, no femme fatale there.

I wonder what you think of Agent Provocateur, which always strikes me as a femme fatale scent. Nobody mentions it here, so I'm wondering if I'm the only one who thinks of it this way.

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Please do let me know if she brings some over! *Totally* in love w/ it. And it was your posting about it on MUA that got me curious about it in the first place. Grazie!
And just wanted to add my vote to those for Shocking and the Montale Ouds. Swoon.

9:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

My work here is done :-)

9:27 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I even saw some real stuff on ebay I should finally get some Sortilege, thank you for the recommendation!

9:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Agent Provocateur is certainly a vamp scent, on the right skin chemistry. On mine it is sour and sharp. Now, AP Eau Emotionnelle is works much, much beter on me, and is quite vampish too.
I *think* Rose Barbare is sold at Bergdorfs. And I heard they are going to have $25 off a $100 purchase...Just sayin' :-)

9:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree about Shocking. Montale roses...not so much :-(

9:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me with my fluffy Teint de Neige today, and you with your vicious femme fataleness. ;D Quite a combo! I feel like an Easter bunny. But, hey, I love all of these scents. OK, I must confess L'Arte de Gucci didn't quite produce the same reaction, and I'm yet to try Black Rosette but Rose en Noir, Rose de Nuit? I simply adore them. But I think I'm lacking slightly in the fatale department.

10:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ina, Zaychik :-)
I am lacking in that department too. I still like these kinds of scents though. But, you know me, I like fluffy too. And wear the more often then the "fatal" ones :-)

10:24 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

A wonderful list. The SL is particular favorite, dark and delicious. The only thing I can think of I'd propose for your list is the Rosine Pour Homme, which has a sexy-Guerlain feel, at least to me.

10:41 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


Are you calling her a bunny? Too funny...

Miaowlettinas, you do yourselves a disservice...

You only lack confidence, not "fatale"ity...

No Baltic Beauty could EVER be referred to as less than a love goddess-

And I've no doubt that your DH's would agree heartily with me...

It's simply that life, on occasion, has been known to knock the stuffin' out of us, and our self-confidence along with it.

I'm a poster-child for low esteem, myself, sometimes.

When I'm not riddled with self-doubt, however, my favorite pastime is trying to figure out how I can evolve into Lakshmi, or Parvati,and grow me some extra arms [quite useful, really] while reveling in my breasts and hips, like a proper sucontinental deity should !

[Try it, you'll like it...]

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love the concept of Dark Rose scents but have yet to find one that works on me, I tried Diptyke Olene (definately "no"), love the scent of AP but find that it always puts me in a weird emotional discomfort zone (one of the few fragrances that can), so I keep searching but this list will definately help.

12:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

well, she caled herself an Easter bunny :-)
You are right, that's how it is. Given a chance, in differetn cirsumstance we'd be as vampy as it gets :-D

1:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Sexy Sadie said...

And no one of them can you buy here in Norway. That is so 1983.

But rose is a great note, ever tried Love in paris?

1:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Rose d'Homme is definitely worthy to be on this list. I just realzied that I left out another truly dark rose, Une Folie de Rose by Rosine. Darn! :-)

1:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

AP does not work for me either, at all. AP Eau Emotionnelle, on the other hand, works like a charm! :-)

1:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah...several of them you couldn't buy here either :-(

Love in Paris is by Nina Ricci, right? I tried it a while ago and thought it was lovely.

1:32 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Hey, what about Ombre Rose?

I put it on this a.m. before I went outside, the bees loved it. (Duh -- mental note: no florals before gardening.) However, the Big Cheese called it Aggressively Frumpy. Hmmmph. Is not! :-(

2:07 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I'm with Big Cheese on that one. Besides, it gives me a headache every time I attempt to wear it :-(

2:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh you wicked, wicked woman. How you make me lust in my heart for Rose en Noir and Rose Barbare. Alas, my credit card is overheated. We will wait, but it will be hard.

All kidding aside, great post. I never cease to learn from you. Thank you.

4:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

And while you are waiting to buy those, why not treat yourself to a nice cheap bottle of L'Arte? :-) Which really is my most favorite out of these six.

4:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Jenny said...

Funny you mentioned L’Arte di Gucci, I was wearing it today and not dressed up like a femme fatale but just to work. Well it's true it's not a perfume to wear on a normal occasion like work. Someone said to me I was wearing a strong heady perfume, she liked it but find it too strong and a bit of a complex smell.
But I can't help it, I like to wear different perfumes, not only because I like them but also to study them, to find out what makes them special. And special it is.

6:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It is special! And I am realy not that serious about where to wear or not to wear scents. If mood strikes me I'd wear L'Arte in my favorite pajamas :-) But it would smell great worn with an evening gown :-)

6:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, when I tested Rose Poivré, I fell immediately in love with it. Honestly, it´s the first rose fragrance I really like & will purchase someday. The other one I adore (though I really hated it at first)is Le Maroc pour Elle.

8:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Rose Poivre is so-so on me, but I love Le Maroc pour Elle!

8:42 AM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

I loved that you used that Henry Clarke photograph - it's a picture of a Fath model :) (If I'm not mistaken, I believe the model wearing Fath's lovely hat is Anne Saint-Marie.) Yay!

I really enjoy Dark Rose, too - too bad it's not right on you... Although, on me it wears as a rather chilly fragrance, so while I can appreciate it as a deep sexy rose, it doesn't register that way to my nose naturally.

I've never heard of L'Arte de Gucci. Or else I had and totally forgot. But likely the former rather than the latter. I'm thinking I may need to pick it up sometime. That sounds simply stunning.

1:48 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caron's Or et Noir should be on any dark rose list. It is ravishing....

6:07 PM EDT  

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