When a brand releases an eponymous perfume, they make a statement. They say that this fragrance, which captures our spirit, aesthetic and character above all other fragrances, is the essence of our brand. It’s certainly a bold statement to make and can go either way. After all, many ‘flagship’ fragrances tend to be those that fall into the role – scents such as Nº5, Shalimar and Opium – they may not bear the designers name, but they certainly evoke their style. These fragrances wave scented flags for their respective brands, and they do it well.
One excellent example of an eponymous fragrance done right is Stella McCartney’s Stella. Stella perfectly encapsulates the paired-down style and muted colour pallet of McCartney’s designs, and, via the use of rose, perfumery’s most iconic material, the fragrance gives a subtle nod to the classic tailoring found within the brand’s clothing. Stella is a signature perfume for those that like a modern twist on classic themes. It’s a rose that feels neither masculine, nor feminine – a genderless floral oriental that courts with androgyny, but in a stealthy way.
I’ve always been very fond of Stella. My sister wears it, so in my life Stella is an incredibly familiar smell. I also think it’s a excellently crafted fragrance that tempers the intoxicating sweetness of rose with dry woods and amber. Having been discontinued and resurrected by the brand in short succession, Stella has now been re-interpreted in an Eau de Toilette concentration that aims to be “fresh, youthful and radiant”. So, does this lighter version of our Queen Stella bring something new to the table, or is it simply the same thing with a little less oomph? Well, read on, dear Escentualers, and you shall find out!
Top: Frozen Lemon, Freesia and Mandarin
Heart: Bulgarian Rose, Violet Leaves and Peony Petals
How Does it Smell?
Stella Eau de Toilette remains very faithful to the original Eau de Parfum. (phew) The difference however, is that the rich, powdery and woody signature of the original is seen through a prism here, refracting numerous beams of rosy light in a variety of hues. The first thing one notices that is decidedly different from the original is the luminous citrus in the opening. Stella originally starts with a sombre splash of citrus that is quickly swallowed by the velvet opulence of the rose, but in the Eau de Toilette the citrus is more vibrant, dazzling and strangely sorbet-like.
But what about the rose? Does Stella Eau de Toilette showcase the very same rose – the one crafted out of heavy velvet and in royal shades of rich purple? Well, yes and no. This may be that exact same type of rose, but the fragrance captures it at a different time in its lifecycle. If Stella is the ripe rose, verging on the overripe (always a good thing in perfumery, if you ask me), then the Eau de Toilette is that same rose, as it starts to unfurl from bud to bloom. This means that the impression given by the rose is lighter, dewier and more intensely transparent. The effect this creates is fresh, but not quite crisp, due to the silky softness of the rose’s blush pink petals. Most importantly, it’s undeniably pretty.
Stella, the Eau de Parfum, exists as the tension between rose powder and sharp, angular woods, with a touch of sweetly plush amber thrown in for good measure. The Eau de Toilette softens this tension to a more subtle pairing of textures, that seems to run happily in parallel lines, like strips of ribbon sewn together. The amber, which is more transparent and salty, is more prominent than the woods. It provides a delicate base for those fragile rose petals as they fall to the ground, and it is a perfect compliment to the overall weightlessness of the composition.
I find Stella Eau de Toilette very pleasing. Very pleasing, indeed. Rather than just diluting the composition to make it lighter and fresher, Stella McCartney has opted to reposition things to highlight new facets and nuances that showcase Stella as something dazzlingly fresh-faced. This new version of Stella feels youthful and ready to bloom into the sumptuous temptress that we know and love as the original. It’s a excellent crafted fragrance that feels as if it was made for day wear, and is as faithful to the original as it an be without being superfluous. Bravo, Stella McCartney, bravo.