Some roses for winter.





Nitobe Inazo, author of the classic (if highly supercilious) tome on Japan, Bushido, may consider the Japanese quite superior with their love for the evanescent fleetingness of the cherry blossom flower, a sweet but sorrowful bloom that symbolizes the ‘stoic’ samurai warriors’  desire to sacrifice their lives at the drop of a hat; while the gaijin, or westerner, ‘selfishly’ favours the rose that clings, with every last drop of its life, to the putrifying, stinking stem even when dead ….but I’m sorry, the rose is one of my very favourite flowers, and I imagine that I also will be clinging at my last; thorny and desperate, rather than plunging a sword into my gut and ripping out my innards, all for the sake of appearances and some dull and pointless idea of ‘honour’ (the code of the samurai is much more nuanced and spiritual than this, I realize, but you get my drift: I have never quite forgiven Nitobe for the disdain he shows the non-Japanese in that book, and the rose is an emblem I therefore adhere to even more passionately as a result.)

















Anyway, the rose is a tricky one.



Rose oil, or its synthetic reconstitution, is a component of the vast majority of perfumes, and there are  wildly different interpretations of this flower, meaning that although you may think you hate the rose if you have been brought up on granny talcs, or else Stella, and Paul Smith, and all those uptight, irritating contemporary roses, there still might be a perfume out there that might sway you if you deign to explore the rosaceous galaxy further.


Though none in my opinion has ever truly captured the exquisite beauty of a living, breathing flower (surely one of the most enthralling scents in the universe), a few come close, or take the theme to newer, unexpected places.



Rose is also, my view, a floral that is perfect for winter, not clashing with that touch of patchouli oil that is still hanging on to your jacket, remaining poised and stoic……an aroma of both piercing sorrow and hope; with a dignity, poeticism, and romantic attachment that make it far superior in my (not even remotely) humble view, to the puny, and nothingy, frou -frou cherry blossom.




Supremely expensive for an eau de toilette, Rose Absolue is a diaphanous, sense-delighting spray of real rose oils, with several of the most prized species in perfumery. The crisp, exuberant top notes are truly delightful, and come very close to smelling like a garden of roses on a summer morning. The middle and base notes lose something as the essential oils evaporate (making it a costly habit to maintain), but for a delicious rose spritz, this cannot be beaten.




The top note of the Nahéma vintage extrait is breathtaking: perhaps the most ravishingly gorgeous and complete rose absolute in perfume; a scent to make your heart swell, your diaphragm tremble. Whether you will fall for Nahéma or not though, (and it has its very faithful adherents), will depend on your liking roses romantic, full on, and sweet. Nahéma folds this stunning rose note in peach, hyacinth, aldehydes; ylang, vanilla and musk, and is deliriously rich, romantic – very Guerlain. If it is right for you, you will smell resplendent. If not, overdone.



ROSE/ CARON (1949)

If the roses in Goutal’s Rose Absolue are freshly picked, and the scent their breath, Caron’s is their blood; the enshrinement of a beauteous Bulgarian absolute (more regal, melancholy than Moroccan rose – the more ‘classic’ rose note) over a gentle bed of vanilla and musk. The extrait is beautiful; potent, emotive; a scent to be cherished. Almost painfully pure and beautiful.

For a similar, but somewhat chicer rose, try the other Caron rose perfume, Or et Noir: for sexual mystery, the house’s woody, musky incense rose, Parfum Sacré.




A centenary reformation of an aristocratic, very strange scent from Creed, this peculiar, haunting rose perfume evokes another time and place, leagues away from brash current trends. It is at once tender, reserved, unabashedly tasteful, yet with an undeniable whiff of madness: generations of interbreeding among the loopy upper classes. A dry, high pitched, almost saline bunch of Bulgarian roses over an insinuating natural ambergris: the smell of stately homes, the fragile, yellowing pages of old books.


A difficult, but rather brilliant perfume, to be placed on a dresser by a window over the lawns, on which to do ‘one’s toilette.’

Beyond, the reedy river, in which perhaps to drown…






A scornful rose. Dark swishes of crimson rose fragrance: grand, extravagant, a perfume of strength and beauty, but with ironic, opaque bitterness. Serge Luten’s rose is not romantic: his perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake, was presumably ordered to do away with such nonsense. Instead there is a stark regality here, just as the name suggests (a tart note of geranium, lychee and guaic wood sees to that), but also an elaborate heart of white roses, vanilla and honeyed Moroccan rose.  It is an effective, gorgeous perfume that will leave you feeling splendidly detached.






Perhaps the most vulnerable of rose perfumes, Ce Soir Ou Jamais (‘Tonight Or Never’) is a rich, breathy Turkish rose, unfolding in a tearful desperate embrace. It is natural, supremely feminine, and one of the most romantic perfumes you could ever wear.





As it says, opulent, gorgeous, red-silk Bulgarian roses, for high camp and rose adorers. Quite beautiful, with leafy green top notes gracing a subtly spiced, ambergris rose.




Exclusive to Barney’s New York stores, this is a mildly repugnant, dark  animalic rose with woody musk facets and top notes of jammy rhubarb.

Interesting, like someone unravelling at the seams.





Paris. Had I had any money left by the time I got to the Lutens boutique at the Palais Royal (having already ‘done’ Caron, Guerlain, and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier), this is what I would have bought from the astonishing selection of perfumes curated by the mysterious ladies hovering behind them. On myself I like darker, more menacing rose perfumes, preferably underscored by patchouli, and this really did the trick for me. Rich, effusive, and very outgoing, with a touch of jasmine, apricot, beeswax, and chypre. A rose for nighttime and adventure, to be worn with leather.




A gorgeous, dark, honey-drenched rose enveloped by rich notes of chypre, mimosa, and powerful patchouli, Soire De Lune is almost tailor-made to my personal olfactory tastes. It is diffusive, warm, sexy and of high quality; not dissimilar to the company’s fantastic Eau Du Soir, but in my opinion even better. A rounded, accomplished scent with presence, and a new alternative to such night time illuminaries as Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum and Voleur De Roses. I doubt I will ever be without a bottle of this.




The rose thief is a dark figure dressed in black, moving with stealth through the undergrowth, night soil underfoot; rose bushes standing erect and waiting in the moonlight, sensing they are about to be picked. A sensous, woody patchouli is entwined with a deep, rich rose and an unusual note of black plum, resulting in a very gourmand, intriguing scent worthy of its wonderful name.


Filed under Flowers, Rose

42 responses to “Some roses for winter.

  1. RVB

    Rose perfumes are my absolute favorite.And being a man, in addition to the “Roses for Men”,I’ve begun to branch out and explore some of the more traditionally “feminine” rose scents.Some of my favorites in my collection are Frederic Malle’s Une Rose,a dark thorny “angry rose”-Portrait of a Lady,my favorite rose and patchouli scent( and unfortunately misnamed as most find it quite masculine)-Eau de Italie’s Paestum Rose,a dark myrrh and incense infused rose with a feeling of stone and shadows-Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose and Une Rose Chypree,roses with the gorgeous “Tauerade ” base-Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir,a delicious dark combo of roses patchouli and dark chocolate-Neele Vermiere’s Mohur,a beautiful opulent Middle Eastern rose-Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Inner Sanctum and Dirty Rose-and Bond No.9 new York Oud,a powerful rose infused with oud and saffron.I’ve enjoyed reading your suggestions and look forwards to trying them.Rose perfumes are perfect for Winter

    • ginzaintherain

      A lovely selection! Judging from these I imagine you would enjoy the Soir De Lune and Voleur De Roses, but the others might be too feminine.

      I also adore Montale Aoud Rose Petals.Portrait of a lady struck me as stunning at first but then a little too ‘thick’ and insistent…

  2. RVB

    Thanks! I’ll definitely try those.Aoud Rose Petals has been on my list.I can see your point about Portrait of a Lady.I believe it’s the massive dose of Ambrox some have trouble with.For me it gives it a holographic effect and massive longevity.One of my major peeves is expensive perfumes with very poor tenacity.Have you tried Neela Vermiere’s Mohur? It’s a modern intrepretation of the classic Middle Eastern Rose Oud combo.I’d describe it as a floral oud with a leathery base but without the pungent medicinal punch that a lot of the Arabian attars have.It has a delicious middle note of an Indian pastry accord, like carrots soaked in almond milk.It’s opulent yet has a gentle side.

  3. emmawoolf

    would you class Annick Goutal’s Heure Exquise as a rose? I would put it in that category, but maybe the other notes are too prominent – would be interested in your views. Still adore Soir de Lune and agree that it is (slightly) superior to Eau du Soir – that hint of cold, slightly metallic (in a good way) rose makes all the difference. I have two samples (one from you, another from a nice lady at the Sisley counter at JL) that I am eking out, and save it for special occasions – wintry evenings out when I want to feel powerful!

    • brie

      I seem to remember Heure Exquise as being heavy on the iris. Neil is our perfume expert and he will help us out on this one!

      • ginzaintherain

        I am truly no expert, only a nutter.

        But to me it was always a lolling homage to No 19, only flangier and more irisy so yes, I agree. I was Emma the day she bought it (20 years ago?!)

  4. brie

    Oh dear…I must have been Japanese in another life time for I rather like Cherry Blossom (flavoring my green tea, admiring those delicate buds on the trees and in my perfume).
    I have never gravitated towards heavy rose scents. I bought a full bottle of Ce Soir ou Jamais when it first came out but it was not one of my favorite of the AGs so somewhere along the line I gifted it away.
    I do enjoy the discontinued Egyptian Bergamot Rose which incorporates amber into the base. And Rose Attar (Kieko Michieri-SP?) a FB that I won in a draw and was confiscated by mum and I am STILL trying to get back!
    However, the ultimate rose for me and one that I find I must have in my possession one of these days is Sonoma Scent Studio’s Rose Volupte (revamped rendition of the original Vintage Rose). It is divine..heavy on the rose yet there is this creamy element imparted from the beeswax absolute that gives it a sweet, honey shine. And yes, I still have some drops in my sample which, eventually, will be heading your way…….

  5. Eva S

    I adore rose perfumes, and to think I’ve only tried one on your list (the Sisley). My favorites are Amouage Epic, Mohur, Une Rose Chypree, OJ Taif and Guerlain Rose Nacree.
    I really must try SL Rose de Nuit, it sounds just the thing for me.

    • ginzaintherain

      Sorry, I had overlooked these comments. Rose Sacree struck me as beautiful when I briefly smelled it, and Taif is great as well. Rose De Nuit is quite nightclubby eighties in comparison to the others you mention, which are more dignified.

  6. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait ..

  7. jtd

    Wonderful topic and ditto to all of the above! I’ve been wearing some of my thicker roses lately. by Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses, ELDO Rossy de Palma (I find a strong line connecting theses two), EL Knowing, YSL Rive Gauche and Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose. I’ve been wearing Nahema often lately and it’s long been a cold weather treat for me. I’m not sure of the current health of some of the great inexpensive roses, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of the ‘cheap’ roses from a the 70s-90s that are better than most niche offerings. Rive Gauche, Calandre, Knowing, Paris, La Nuit.

    • Love em all.

      Calandre! Heaven! I have a vintage extrait upstairs, unsurprisingly. Should review it.

      Incense Rose…..the Tauers terrify me, but I do have a sample, and I should give it a whirl again. I remember it being extraordinarily tenacious, thick, and deep.

  8. Lilybelle

    ♥ ♥ ♥

  9. ooh nice post- I really need to try Nahema. And SL’s Rose de Nuit has been on list (to sniff) for ages. Also must sniff Soir de Lune.
    I like my roses dark and rich. My gateway rose was the L’Artisan. Though the first I loved was Black Aoud which is one if my favorite roses. Amouage Lyric is another favorite. I like L’arte di Gucci. I also really liked POTL’s AMAZE when I sampled it ages ago. If you haven’t tried it, I think you’ll like it.

    • I love this whole genre, so will take heed of these considerations! I once found a bottle of L’Arte and gave it to D’s mother as she rocks that kind of perfume like no other (she drained it in no time, sad to hear that she might never get it again!)

      Soir De Lune is a must try in my view. Really heavy, mossy, and rosy.

  10. Laurels

    Thank you for this list. I only recently discovered that not all rose-based perfumes smell sour and thin on me, and am excited to try some new ones. Especially Sa Majeste la Rose, as feeling “splendidly detached” sounds wonderful.

  11. Have to throw in a few more: Rose Volupte, the most in-your-face rose that I know of for days when one more nuance would send you screaming from the room, l’Arte de Gucci, an elegant creating in EDP and the best thing Gucci ever did, therefore promptly discontinued, and Lyric Woman, a beautiful spiced Rose smoked in incense and the only Amouage I really like.

    • Ditto the last two, though if you speak of The Different Company, I must say that that seriously makes me want to vomit.

      • Ana

        I think Feral Jasmine means Sonoma Scent Studio Rose Volupte.Have never tried it but it is being described as a true rose scent.I do like roses but I don’t go totally crazy for them. I own and like a lot Rossy de Palma and Geranium Bourbon from Miller Harris. The later is such a happy, warm rosy scent,uncomplicated really but it always puts me in good mood.Feels like a carefree snog in a full blown summer garden

      • Geranium Bourbon: YES!!

        I love it. A gypsy boyfriend or girlfriend in summer. Utterly underrated.


      • Geranium Bourbon: YES!!

        I love it. A gypsy boyfriend or girlfriend in summer. Utterly underrated.


      • Geranium Bourbon: YES!!

        I love it. A gypsy boyfriend or girlfriend in summer. Utterly underrated.


  12. fleurdelys

    I prefer well-blended roses, rather than rose soliflores (really hate Tea Rose from Perfumer’s Workshop). Thus my love for Parfum Sacree and Paris. Ungaro’s Diva is a rose chypre with a big dose of honey. Surprisingly, White Linen has what I perceive to be a holographic white rose floating in the middle.

  13. jtd

    One more to add. Wearing often lately: Amouage Lyric Woman. Unmistakably rose, but the rose is a more member of the chorus than Diva (yes, bad pun.)

  14. Bee Lan

    I wished I have the chance to try some of the Caron Roses. My fav is however, Federic Malle Une Rose – before they reformulated it.

  15. Lilybelle

    I’m wearing Molinard’s Rose fragrance today. I sprayed a little over a dab of vintage RL Polo that was growing into a beast on my wrists (don’t ask) and now the Rose seems to have tamed the beast. But we’ll see how the story ends.

  16. Absolutely adore rose, but only enjoy it in a few scents. Caron Or et Noir is one, Nahema of course, Coriandre and Paris also. Never much cared for Caron Rose though, considering I do adore so many of their other scents.
    Another rose scent that us glorious was actually done by my friend Neil Morris. It is called A Rose by any other Name, and it is amazing. I wish I still had some left, I would certainly send you a bit. I will have to try and procure a bit and send it off, it us really lovely.

  17. Actually the Neil Morris scent is called, A Rose is a Rose. Guess i was thinking Shakespeare instead of scent.

  18. katherinec

    If only, the Rose Absolue would be my choice!

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