Rose perfumes have a bad reputation, and I think that’s unfair! I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken to a person about perfume, and they have boldly declared that they don’t like roses in their fragrances. They then list off some of their favourite scents, many of which contain rose or are, in fact, just straight-up rose fragrances. You see, people think they don’t like roses because they associate them with something matronly or old. But in reality, roses are a vital thread in the fabric of perfumery – they are everywhere.
There are predominately two types of fragrant rose: rose centifolia and rose damascena. They each have a distinct odour profile, with the centifolia leaning more citrus-fresh and the damascena being more fruity-jammy. The oils extracted from roses are massively complex and filled with several chemical compounds that contribute to the flower’s odour.
• (-)-cis-rose oxide: an intensely rosy odour
• beta-damscenone: jammy, rich and rosy
• beta-ionone: the sweet earthy smell of violets
• nerol: the hissy citrus aspects of rose
• farnesol: a white floral-esque smell
• linalool: a smell between lavender and bergamot
• geraniol: the minty freshness of geraniums
• eugenol: that clove-y smell of carnations
• (-)-citronellol: the fresher, more floral and cleaner aspects of rose
Roses are wonderfully multifaceted flowers with a nuanced odour profile that can be pulled in many directions by clever perfumers, which is why they are a perfumery staple. But with so many rose perfumes in as many different styles, it can be a little confusing. So in this guide, we aim to demystify the rose. Here you’ll find eight roses, each showcasing a different facet of the flower (and yes, they all made it into our #EscentualScents Perfume Blind Trial for February 2022). Which rose is yours? Read on to find out!
Scent A: The Photorealistic Rose
Paul Smith Rose Eau de Parfum
What’s amazing about Paul Smith’s Rose is that it smells exactly like a rose on the bush. Now, you may be thinking that for a rose perfume, that’s pretty standard, but in truth, it’s quite the technical marvel. You see, the oils extracted from roses are filled with a multitude of chemical compounds that smell very rosy. Still, they don’t smell like the actual flower in bloom, so whenever a perfume smells like crisp, dewy pink roses (as Paul Smith Rose does) it’s a very clever construct made by a talented perfumer. If you want roses straight-up and freshly-picked, there are none better than Paul Smith’s.
Scent B: The Jammy Rose
Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Rose & Rose Eau de Parfum Intense
Now, if you want something fruity and delicious, the best kind of rose for you is the jammy rose. These rose fragrances amplify rose’s sticky, berry-like facets, giving them a delicious sheen, somewhere between a fancy lip gloss and a scoop of berry compote. No jammy rose is greater than Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Rose & Rose, which pairs Bulgarian and Damascena roses with tart osmanthus (think apricot jam and fleshy petals) for a juicy, delectable affair.
Scent C: The Peachy Rose
Lancome Tresor Eau de Parfum
Tresor is one of those fragrances that feels like it has always been around, but it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Created by perfumer Sophia Grojsman (YSL Paris, Estee Lauder Beautiful) in the ’90s, it features a beautiful dusty rose, shimmering with the juicy freshness of peach. The result is a comforting embrace of a fragrance that shows the softer, more motherly aspects of the rose. There’s a reason why it’s a classic!
Scent D: The Fruity Rose
Miller Harris Rose Silence Eau de Parfum
Roses have a naturally fruity vibe, with wonderful facets of blackcurrant, citrus and lychee. This fruitiness gives rose its freshness and sweetness, and in Miller Harris’ Rose Silence, the vibrancy of fruity notes amplifies the sublime beauty of roses. Out of all the roses in the world, I think this may be the prettiest – it smells dewy and sweet, with watery, fruity nuances carried upwards in a delicate trail of musk. Rose Silence is like a beautiful pink jewel gleaming in the morning sunlight.
Scent E: The Supporting Act Rose
Ghost The Fragrance Eau de Toilette
You could easily smell Ghost’s iconic signature fragrance and not perceive it as a rose, and that’s because everyone’s favourite flower is a supporting act here. It’s a great example of how rose can be used as a background player, not the main event. In Ghost The Fragrance, rose is blended with incense and musk to create an entirely harmonious scent with the texture of silk blowing in the breeze. Yeah, it’s rose, but not quite as you know it.
Scent F: The Spicy Rose
Moschino Toy Boy Eau de Parfum
Don’t let the little BDSM teddy bear bottle put you off (I fully recognise that it may also be the main draw for this fragrance because it’s cool – I offer no judgement) because it’s a cracking take on rose. Boasting a juicy, zingy and mouth-watering grapefruit note (which always works so well with rose), Toy Boy blends rose with spices, woods and musks to create a refreshing, holographic sort of rose drenched in cardamom and pepper. It smells sexy in a fresh, mouth-watering way and delivers none of the leather and kink the bottle may lead you to expect. Don’t let the “boy” in the name fool you; it’s totally genderless.
Scent G: The Vibrant Rose
Initio Atomic Rose Eau de Parfum
With a name like ‘Atomic Rose’, you may expect this to be a grand, vivid fragrance with a nuclear half-life, and to some extent it is. But the beauty of Atomic Rose is the duality of its bold character and airy tendencies. This is a bold rose that paints vibrant colours in the sky – deep, fruity reds and thorny, stem-like greens, each one disappearing on the breeze like a fine mist. How can a rose be bold and brightly coloured, and delicate and airy all at the same time? I’m not sure, but Atomic Rose achieved it!
Scent H: The Masculine Rose
Amouage Lyric Man Eau de Parfum
Amouage are known for creating some of the most opulent perfumes on the planet, so it will be no surprise that Lyric Man, their masculine ode to the rose, is as luxurious a rose as you’ll be able to find. Lyric Man is dark and brooding. It’s green and thorny with hints of galbanum, but also rich and smoky, thanks to sandalwood. Vanilla adds a plush base to a rose that smoulders with handsome abandon; this is a rose for the connoisseurs.