I like to think that I’m relatively objective when it comes to reviewing perfumes. Sure, I don’t see the sense in trashing something completely and if I don’t like it, I’ll politely and constructively say so, or I’ll leave well alone. The same goes if I like something, I’ll be as positive as I possibly can be, after all perfume is meant to be fun, isn’t it? There is one perfume however, that I simply cannot be objective about, and that is Stella McCartney’s STELLA, for the simple fact that it is the signature scent of my wonderful sister.
Now, I’m going to go off-piste slightly and give you a brief history lesson on my sister and me. I was born a mere 11 months after my sister (yeah, my parents were busy in the ‘80s – the less said about that, the better) and right from the moment I was born, we were the best of buddies and still are today, except for on my birthday, because that means my sister and I are the same age for a whole month, and she gets grumpy (and has a tendency to bite). In short, we are very close and I love her very much, even when she is mean to me on my birthday…
So yes, it is true that I cannot be completely objective when it comes to STELLA, but on this occasion of bias I am lucky because STELLA is in fact, a very good perfume. Originally launched in 2003, Stella McCartney’s eponymous fragrance was created by perfume Jacques Cavallier, the man who was responsible for such gems as; Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey, Yves Saint Laurent’s Elle, Nu & M7 and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique – perfumes which are classed as some of the great modern classics. His talent shines in Stella, and he takes the most familiar of perfume notes – the rose – and turns it into something new and entirely unfamiliar.
After a brief disappearance, Stella has been re-launched in new packaging and with a funky ad campaign fronted by model, Lara Stone. The perfume remains unchanged; a fact that I’m sure will be comforting for many of its fans, and is still the same “homage to the English rose” as it was upon its launch, it has just had a bit of a face lift – that’s all.
Rose, Mandarin, Peony and Amber
How Does it Smell?
Rose perfumes are some of the most diverse in the business. From one flower, a perfumer can craft English country garden roses (Sa Majeste la Rose by Serge Lutens), pretty photorealistic roses (Rose by Paul Smith) blood red roses (La Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens), dreamy roses (Idylle by Guerlain) and even more abstract roses. STELLA definitely sits in the abstract camp and presents a genderless rose with a multitude of interesting nuances.
STELLA opens with a citrus-tinged rose accord. There is a subtle sense of tension between the sharpness of the mandarin and the powdery feel of the rose (which is most definitely the more dominant part) that creates a dynamic that doesn’t feel either masculine or feminine, in fact, STELLA straddles the gender lines quite comfortably for a rose fragrance and one can imagine it being a suitable perfume for the likes of David Bowie and Grace Jones – the king and queen of androgyny.
As STELLA develops it becomes much warmer and transitions into a base of wood and amber. Again, tension and contrast plays a key part, with the plush sweetness of the amber creating a warm shadow to the sharpness of cedar. The rose carries through of course, and it remains powdery but the difference in the base is that, as it settles, the effect is more finely milled and iris-like than the opening, presenting a greater sense of delicacy. These notes – the powder of the rose, the sharpness of the wood and the warmth of the cedar – are all beautifully linked by a patchouli note that gives STELLA a sour and almost-human-like funk that is akin to the smell of hot skin. The remarkable thing however, is that the fragrance never smells ‘sexy’, instead it feels more like a glamorous and rebellious take on the rose that isn’t afraid to be a little bit challenging.
STELLA is a beautiful fragrance, and I can see why it is the signature scent of my sister. At first it may seem unassuming, even shy, but with time you realise that there is a complex and beguiling personality beneath the skin. It is this complexity and duality that makes it seem so in tune with the character of my charming sibling. STELLA also masterfully takes a genre utterly and completely associated with femininity and turns it into something altogether more genderless. It is simply a rose like no other, and for that reason you should give it a sniff.
Congratulations to our winners Kate P, Theresa P and Kathleen B!
We have 3 Stella McCartney 50ml Eau de Parfum Sprays (RRP £58) to give away to 3 lucky readers!
To enter, simply comment below and tell us the story behind your signature scent. The competition closes on Wednesday 1st October. Good luck!
No purchase necessary. A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. Contest begins 24th September 2014 and ends 1st October 2014. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on or about 1st October 2014. 3 prize winners will receive the items stated above. If the winner doesn’t respond within 7 days, the competition will be redrawn. Prizes must be accepted as awarded; not redeemable in cash or credit.