VERO PROFUMO :ROZY EXTRAIT (2014)

 

 

“I HATE RESPECTABILITY. GIVE ME THE LIFE OF THE STREETS, THE COMMON PEOPLE”.

 

 

(Anna Magnani)

 

 

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(by Olivia)

 

 

 

 

A couple of years ago, I attended the launch of Vero Kern’s latest perfume at Bloom Perfumery in London.  In this small, intimate place just off London’s Spitalfields market we were introduced to Rozy, a tribute to the dynamic Italian actress Anna Magnani. Magnani was, by all accounts a force of nature, ‘La Lupa’ – a fiery, dynamic she-wolf with a ‘loud, overwhelming and tragic laugh.’ Winning an Oscar for her part in the 1955 film ‘The Rose Tattoo’, an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, Magnani was – at a time when in many parts of the world, idealised femininity was iced in pastel pink and wrapped in Tupperware – possessed of a total lack of timidity. Self assured, confrontational and unconventional, her domineering presence was Etna-like in its fiery expulsion.

My abiding memory of that evening is being handed a smelling strip dipped in the base accord. An intense honeyed labdanum, opaque and lacquer-like, it oozed off the strip in unguent, spoonable reams. Heady and thick, it was utterly irresistible to the little bee in me (I am a complete devotee of honey in perfumes.) At the time, only the Eau de Parfum and the Voile d’Extrait – an effervescent interpretation of the Extrait, were in production. As with all Vero Kern’s perfumes, each fragrance is translated into different concentrations: the same idea, played in out not only in terms of the differing strengths traditionally associated with EDT, EDP and Extrait, but reinterpreted so that in each the notes play greater or lesser roles; understudies shine in lights where elsewhere they bolster main accords, who in turn swell to crescendo starlit by only glints of notes elsewhere writ large. Seen as a triptych body of work, they are like the different refractions of light in a jewel: the glinting coloured variations of one stone (or idea, in this case.) I though, wanted more of this base accord. I wanted to be entombed in honey and beeswax. I wanted the Extrait.

Rozy, the extrait, is not necessarily an easy perfume. Like its muse, it is tempestuous, bolshy and fiery. Applying it unleashes a whip crack of spiced tuberose and currant buds, camphorous and bistre notes that swell and skid across the skin like gathering storm clouds. There is a tang of kerosene in the air, shadows race, the air thickens. A sense of foreboding looms. The tuberose here isn’t a creamy wash of tropicality, but to me it’s the same earthen, boot-brown hue as it is in Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle: its petals have been similarly bruised and crumpled to the colour of tea stains. Only here it’s missing that searing wintergreen slap and is folded into the blend, only to be glimpsed every now and then as the dervish twister licks around you. As many other people have written, despite the name this perfume is not really rosy. The rose is there, bloody and puce, but it lends a more a sense of fleshy velvet more than its likeness. There are thick petals, pregnant with pollen and laced with that slick of motor oil into a dense, arabesque weave – there is a great sense of texture, of minute detail amid the operatic whole. There is a sense actually, of fine detail blown up, zoomed into and viewed on the big screen: a drama played in microscopic close up. Even if it isn’t always easily warmed to – I personally couldn’t throw this opus on unthinkingly every morning – the attention to detail and the delicate balancing of such boisterous notes is beautiful.  It seeps, opaque and attar like, and is woven into the flesh like tattooists inks being laced with the skin.

Finally, slowly, redemption is offered from the dusky bruise raging up top. Like caramel thickening in a pan, bubbles of light begin to rise from the fire pit – a thick slew of waxy, nutmeg flecked honey forms and bleeds across the skin.  Luminous bands of gold stream through the air in lustrous, liquid effulgence. This is Etna’s lava bleeding like molten sunshine through the ashy brimstone, spitting solar spears. This isn’t one of those cop-out cosy bases though – the animalic qualities of honey are all on show here, gussied up by that smoky, balsamic labdanum. This is the smell of skin, of people, pungent and sticky – bodies thriving in the heat of life, sweet and dirty and real.

It is changeable though, and spins on a sixpence. I don’t always get the sweet honeyed sap so soon with this perfume. The other day when I wore it, over time I was pricked by a disconcerting sensation – something almost imperceptible, a sooty tint toward the edges of my day. Something prickling, slightly familiar but also out of reach and not strictly of me – instead, a sensation of something misty gathered along the way or embossed silently onto me (indeed, tattoo-like.) The feeling, I realised, was something akin that of having been up all night: the lingering scented shadow that a night out leaves on your clothes, your hair, at your fingertips. A ghostly, grubby lick of cigarette smoke and the sweet traces of booze, of the chill of night in your hair and of pewter spun moonlit air. An ashy shawl, laced with the densely sweet animal warmth of a body that has been moving for hours past bedtime. A memory of heavy lidded eyes and woozy limbs as you strike for home in a milky dawn: the scent of that swarthy, nocturnal world, and the creatures of the night as they melt again in Aurora’s rosy radiance.

I suppose it is in essence a floriental – it certainly has the heft and lusty presence of some of those big 80’s perfumes, and is exuberant and flamboyant in the same way. There is perhaps, something of Poison about it in its burlesque prima donna drama and slash of indecency. But Rozy is far more leathery, heated and enraged: there is Latin temperament scoured through its heart. At times wearing it has also brought to mind the raunchy honey of Shocking de Schiaparelli and, to a lesser extent, Miel de Bois. These are bawdy, risqué scents that flaunt taboos and court bad taste with glee. Mischievous and wanton perfumes that on the right skin work a smutty magic that straddles the salty/sweet borders of decency. But while Rozy borrows the allure of this ambrosial tang, it is less floral than Shocking (and more modern), and more leathery than the Lutens. It is absolutely its own thing, as a perfume that is a totem of independence and rebellion should be.

Rozy is lupine and snarling, defiant and warring. But that nectarous base behind the claws, with its piquantly silken sweetness is reassurance that behind the protective growl is the nurturing maternal lick of a cub’s cheek. Rozy, in extrait, can be difficult – there is I think though, a place in all collections for perfumes such as this: a disturbing, occasionally even uncomfortable but meticulously crafted and brilliant perfume. For all its scattered, mannish accents (the leather, the kerosene), this is a resolutely womanly scent that wears like Amazonian armour: a ‘fiery eyed maid of smoky war’ (Henry IV, Pt. 1), a thrumming Bellona of a perfume.

A couple of years ago, I attended the launch of Vero Kern’s latest perfume at Bloom Perfumery in London.  In this small, intimate place just off London’s Spitalfields market we were introduced to Rozy, a tribute to the dynamic Italian actress Anna Magnani. Magnani was, by all accounts a force of nature, ‘La Lupa’ – a fiery, dynamic she-wolf with a ‘loud, overwhelming and tragic laugh.’ Winning an Oscar for her part in the 1955 film ‘The Rose Tattoo’, an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, Magnani was – at a time when in many parts of the world, idealised femininity was iced in pastel pink and wrapped in Tupperware – possessed of a total lack of timidity. Self assured, confrontational and unconventional, her domineering presence was Etna-like in its fiery expulsion.

My abiding memory of that evening is being handed a smelling strip dipped in the base accord. An intense honeyed labdanum, opaque and lacquer-like, it oozed off the strip in unguent, spoonable reams. Heady and thick, it was utterly irresistible to the little bee in me (I am a complete devotee of honey in perfumes.) At the time, only the Eau de Parfum and the Voile d’Extrait – an effervescent interpretation of the Extrait, were in production. As with all Vero Kern’s perfumes, each fragrance is translated into different concentrations: the same idea, played in out not only in terms of the differing strengths traditionally associated with EDT, EDP and Extrait, but reinterpreted so that in each the notes play greater or lesser roles; understudies shine in lights where elsewhere they bolster main accords, who in turn swell to crescendo starlit by only glints of notes elsewhere writ large. Seen as a triptych body of work, they are like the different refractions of light in a jewel: the glinting coloured variations of one stone (or idea, in this case.) I though, wanted more of this base accord. I wanted to be entombed in honey and beeswax. I wanted the Extrait.

Rozy, the extrait, is not necessarily an easy perfume. Like its muse, it is tempestuous, bolshy and fiery. Applying it unleashes a whip crack of spiced tuberose and currant buds, camphorous and bistre notes that swell and skid across the skin like gathering storm clouds. There is a tang of kerosene in the air, shadows race, the air thickens. A sense of foreboding looms. The tuberose here isn’t a creamy wash of tropicality, but to me it’s the same earthen, boot-brown hue as it is in Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle: its petals have been similarly bruised and crumpled to the colour of tea stains. Only here it’s missing that searing wintergreen slap and is folded into the blend, only to be glimpsed every now and then as the dervish twister licks around you. As many other people have written, despite the name this perfume is not really rosy. The rose is there, bloody and puce, but it lends a more a sense of fleshy velvet more than its likeness. There are thick petals, pregnant with pollen and laced with that slick of motor oil into a dense, arabesque weave – there is a great sense of texture, of minute detail amid the operatic whole. There is a sense actually, of fine detail blown up, zoomed into and viewed on the big screen: a drama played in microscopic close up. Even if it isn’t always easily warmed to – I personally couldn’t throw this opus on unthinkingly every morning – the attention to detail and the delicate balancing of such boisterous notes is beautiful.  It seeps, opaque and attar like, and is woven into the flesh like tattooists inks being laced with the skin.

Finally, slowly, redemption is offered from the dusky bruise raging up top. Like caramel thickening in a pan, bubbles of light begin to rise from the fire pit – a thick slew of waxy, nutmeg flecked honey forms and bleeds across the skin.  Luminous bands of gold stream through the air in lustrous, liquid effulgence. This is Etna’s lava bleeding like molten sunshine through the ashy brimstone, spitting solar spears. This isn’t one of those cop-out cosy bases though – the animalic qualities of honey are all on show here, gussied up by that smoky, balsamic labdanum. This is the smell of skin, of people, pungent and sticky – bodies thriving in the heat of life, sweet and dirty and real.

It is changeable though, and spins on a sixpence. I don’t always get the sweet honeyed sap so soon with this perfume. The other day when I wore it, over time I was pricked by a disconcerting sensation – something almost imperceptible, a sooty tint toward the edges of my day. Something prickling, slightly familiar but also out of reach and not strictly of me – instead, a sensation of something misty gathered along the way or embossed silently onto me (indeed, tattoo-like.) The feeling, I realised, was something akin that of having been up all night: the lingering scented shadow that a night out leaves on your clothes, your hair, at your fingertips. A ghostly, grubby lick of cigarette smoke and the sweet traces of booze, of the chill of night in your hair and of pewter spun moonlit air. An ashy shawl, laced with the densely sweet animal warmth of a body that has been moving for hours past bedtime. A memory of heavy lidded eyes and woozy limbs as you strike for home in a milky dawn: the scent of that swarthy, nocturnal world, and the creatures of the night as they melt again in Aurora’s rosy radiance.

I suppose it is in essence a floriental – it certainly has the heft and lusty presence of some of those big 80’s perfumes, and is exuberant and flamboyant in the same way. There is perhaps, something of Poison about it in its burlesque prima donna drama and slash of indecency. But Rozy is far more leathery, heated and enraged: there is Latin temperament scoured through its heart. At times wearing it has also brought to mind the raunchy honey of Shocking de Schiaparelli and, to a lesser extent, Miel de Bois. These are bawdy, risqué scents that flaunt taboos and court bad taste with glee. Mischievous and wanton perfumes that on the right skin work a smutty magic that straddles the salty/sweet borders of decency. But while Rozy borrows the allure of this ambrosial tang, it is less floral than Shocking (and more modern), and more leathery than the Lutens. It is absolutely its own thing, as a perfume that is a totem of independence and rebellion should be.

Rozy is lupine and snarling, defiant and warring. But that nectarous base behind the claws, with its piquantly silken sweetness is reassurance that behind the protective growl is the nurturing maternal lick of a cub’s cheek. Rozy, in extrait, can be difficult – there is I think though, a place in all collections for perfumes such as this: a disturbing, occasionally even uncomfortable but meticulously crafted and brilliant perfume. For all its scattered, mannish accents (the leather, the kerosene), this is a resolutely womanly scent that wears like Amazonian armour: a ‘fiery eyed maid of smoky war’ (Henry IV, Pt. 1), a thrumming Bellona of a perfume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Comments

Filed under Flowers

9 responses to “VERO PROFUMO :ROZY EXTRAIT (2014)

  1. Can’t wait to get my hands on your perfume collection, Olivia, this August.

    Somehow, though, I can tell I am going to hate this. It just sounds like too much hard work, as though it is fascinating, but requires way too much patience to just be a simple pleasure.

    Should you have bought the perfume in another strength? In a lighter concentration? Miel De Bois: such a weird perfume that I actually came to love. And Poison, too. Obviously. So maybe I WOULD like it. Can’t wait for some serious sessions, though, seriously, and I am totally thrilled that you have converted my sister to tuberose. xx

    • Ps. I also DETEST, really, respectability.

    • Olivia

      Ummmmm..would you hate it? Maybe. It might well not be your sort of thing but then again who knows. It’s certainly not what I would call a ‘simple pleasure’, but I do think it’s interesting and beautifully made. That said while I do enjoy facets of it, it doesn’t really have my heart the way some of my (our) favourites do. Yeah, the Voile d’Extrait is perhaps more legible, and I do like to spray (extraits are wonderfully luxurious, and I do love the Queen of Sheba style anointing thing they give you, but ultimately I prefer to spray/submerge myself. Some perfumes in extrait are just sublime though, as you well know: Feminite du Bois, La Shalimar, LOULOU.
      Miel de Bois I love. It’s the Bell I bought home with me from Paris last year actually (we whittled it down to that and Rose de Nuit, which I still would like, but the G preferred infamous cat-piss potion – he of the flowering currant worship, of course he did! I don’t really get the infamous moggy pong/pissy alleyway that people quiver over though. It’s just lovely and the right side of weird, and then every now and then: MONSTER MUSK.
      D smells sublime in Fracas. When you think of it, she makes sense in tuberose somehow don’t you think? It’s gorgeous on her. Can’t wait ’till August. It will be wonderful. Come play! Xx

  2. I love all of Vera Kerns creations. I have Rozy in the EDP and VdE. Now I want the Extract too.

    • Olivia

      Do try it if you come across it! It’s most similar to the Voile, and really quite different to the EDP which as you know is a much peachier, sunnier, nouveau Nahema type thing. If you get on well with Vero’s perfumes generally you may well love it.

  3. cookie queen

    Fabulous piece of writing, I love it. I own and wear every single Vero. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Olivia

      Thank you! Means a lot.
      Kiki is my favourite – in extrait especially it is the best lavender ever made. It’s just out of this world (and in terms of what I was saying above to Neil, Kiki is to me at least a very immediate, innate pleasure. Nothing to work through or come around to, just plumes of purplish gorgeousness from start to finish.)

  4. What a beautiful piece. I adore how you have portrayed Rozy and definitely it is spot on. I have the tiniest sample of Rozy and just adore it so very much, it is definitely an Opus of a scent. I actually enjoy all of Vero’s creations, I feel she is a superb parfumeur and true artist. Mito is one of my favorites, but Rozy is definitely a strong second.

    • You know I really have to delve deeper into this line. Everyone whose nose I respect seems to love all her perfumes. I have only sniffed them cursorily, but will have to examine them further!

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