One of the first things I noticed when I first arrived back in England, standing in my parents’ garden in the early morning light, my mother’s great love and a place just overflowing with flowers, trees, and plants – was that roses really smell like roses. 





While the place I am lucky enough to live in here in Japan, Kamakura, is certainly not devoid of smell stimulations – osmanthus, jasmine, wisteria in particular can be especially hypnotic when blossoming in spring and autumn; the plum blossom and narcissi at the end of winter piercing and heartrending; the gentle, pale pink drifts of sakura cherry flowers the very quintessence of Japanese beauty, at the same time, that most English of flowers – the rose, while grown here in many houses’ gardens here, is unscented.









I will often see a stunning looking rose on a stem here on my way home and lean down to smell it, but usually there is nothing, or merely a hint of a very faint, overcultivated rosiness, almost as if, just as with the cruel mastery of the bonsai, the roses have been deliberately bred to have no scent.  As with much in Japanese society, the visual and the conceptual always supercede the olfactory. It is the correctness of the rose that counts, not its fragrance.









Admittedly, when grown in profusion – in the sea-front rose gardens of Yamashita park in Yokohama, for example, when the breeze blows from the city or the sea across the heads of the flower tops, standing afar you may then catch a glimpse of true rose perfume and remember what the flowers do smell like, but this is still nothing like the wilder and thornier, raspberry-gleaned beauty of the ragged-edged sturdiness of the roses I encountered in my garden back home which were actually replete, and lush, with the full-bodied, emotionally irresistible scent of full blown roses in English summertime – a smell that almost seems, to me,  to contain the entirety of life itself, a secret just waiting to be unlocked.






































The majority of recent rose perfumes, in my view,  have been terrible. Either the perfectedly commercial, synthetic sweetnesses I intuitively reject for their ‘wedding day’ primness and banal and ugly sexual conservatism; the hystericality of all the metallic, purity-pinkness that I always abhor; or else over-egged wood and oudh puddings pillaged in slavery and patchouli. Unable to breathe, or bloom. Thick set. The rose essences struggling. Dead.





















Rose Parfum, by contrast, a very pleasing new release by Roja Dove, seems to have instinctively realized these concerns of the true rose fancier, flowering off in a totally different direction to the majority of contemporary roses, both veering in a saporously classical direction, while simultaneously revivifying the note into something fresh and new. I really like it. Unfolding, this perfume comes across like a slightly bitter green hybrid of Nahéma and Nº19; the peach-soft down rose of the former contraposed against the verdurous iris galbanum of the latter, a dew velvet poise that took me immediately by surprise ( I had forgotten that new perfumes can still actually smell beautiful ) and which drew me to immediately wear the perfume on my first few days back in England. It was perfect for long train rides and staring out of the windows on green fields and old memories.







While certainly not as magical as either of those ultra- classic perfumes (which I consider to have achieved perfection in the art of perfumery), Rose Parfum nevertheless also has a more distinctly English quality to it than its more languorous French counterparts. Though it may lack the typically suffusive Parisian powderiness and musk, it also has a certain crispness and briskness, a sense-lifting pleasure, a brightness, like rose buds themselves when they flower in the bud-green mote beams of dawn. And though the perfume’s dry down might not have been quite as well developed as the opening, veering into a slightly pot pourri sourness, on my skin at least, at the same time, neither did this truly ever irritate. I wore it comfortably, all through the day , and if you are a rose lover ( I had forgotten, almost, that I am), I most definitely would recommend it.

















Filed under Flowers, Rose

14 responses to “ENGLISH DAWN: : : :: ROJA DOVE ROSE PARFUM (2016)

  1. I grew up with a father who was a rose lover and actually won an award from the American Rose Society. His roses always had a beautiful fragrance. In my later years my social life has immigrated into the city where vendors walk into music venues trying to pawn off their roses to people who don’t look like they’ve known each other for years. At the end of the evening, either one of the vendors or employees of the Club may buy a rose and give it to me. These roses look as perfect as any rose can look but never have an aroma. It could be that they are treated for longevity and then lose their fragrance, or it could be that they are of a non-fragrant rose species, which I know exists because my Dad had a rose bush that produced the visually beautiful roses one could ever see but they had no fragrance. I guess we all have assets but no one can gave everything. “A rose is a rose is a rose”.

  2. Lilybelle

    I can smell that pink rose in your photo. I know exactly what it smells like, and no petfume can possibly come close. One of the things I miss about living in Ohio is the Columbus Park of Roses, which had hundreds of varieties, each with their own unique rose scent. It was absolute heaven! It must have been lovely to smell the English roses at home again.

  3. Once again, your writing has so much in it that I feel overwhelmed even thinking about leaving a reply. It would rightly be as long as this piece of yours! But just let me say that I loved it. Whew. Feeds my soul. Every word, each idea. Thank you, Neil.
    Roses, to me, have a mythic, epic quality to them, as though they are made with finer ingredients and greater artistry than the other blooms in the garden. The visual progression from tight bud to overblown bloom is poetry. And the scent. Ric goes down to an old abandoned summer cottage a few country roads away and snips me a vaseful of heirloom grandifloras of a burnished, almost metallic-velvet apricot/yellow/pink that change in colour through those tones as they bloom. They smell like peaches, nutmeg, kumquats and gardenias along with a heady, bright rose. I always choke up when I put them to my nose and inhale.
    I also love rose above all as a floral note in perfumes. I have some elderly My Sin, one bottle in particular, that is crammed with absolutely superb, dark but clear rose, with still-fresh top notes and that particular Lanvin cat-fur musk and wood base. Ahhhhh. I read that a sample of vintage My Sin was run through some modern chemical tests and was discovered to possess rose oil in particular abundance. I knew it.
    Thank you for letting us know that you’ve found a modern beauty and for sharing your mum’s English garden with us. I will wear vintage Nahema extrait this morning – how dare Guerlain discontinue it – and share your joy.

    • This is also very beautiful to read indeed and is full of evocations. Those roses sound quite gorgeous. And Nahema! I absolutely adore it .

      Funny you should mention My sin, though, as they were talking about that on Perfume Posse yesterday. I have a vintage extrait but have never been able to ‘read’ it or work out its theme. I need to sit down with it again. To me it seemed like a musty, fuzzy musky gardenia-like thing (perhaps the one I have is off), but I will now be searching for the rose.

      • You give us so much that it seems unfair! Glad to tell you how much your writing appeals to us.

        I have quite a number of bottles of My Sin and they’re all different to my nose. I’ve gotten that musty, fuzzy musky gardenia-like thing myself in one or two, and a nice whack of rich rose in a few, spread out over all the concentrations. Hit and miss: with vintage, hey, what else is new?!

      • So what was it SUPPOSED to smell like?

  4. Wish I knew. I didn’t experience it when it was in production. I’d imagine that those rose-rich bottles come closest, but only someone who knew My Sin originally would be the arbiter. It would be like the original Roudnitska Femme to me; no matter how many vintage bottles I get my paws on, only a few have retained the same very specific, addictive note – a dark BITE is the best I can do to describe it – that defined Femme and was part of its genius.

    • I tried it again last night and nope – mine doesn’t have any specific character – just some kind of pink naughtiness.

      • Hey, naughty is nice enough.
        For some reason – and thinking of those rose-dominant bottles of My Sin – the colour that I “see” (like the colour purple with Une Fleur de Cassie, which doesn’t make sense in terms of the notes, but there you go) is black, black velvet. Damn, fragrance is a beautiful world to inhabit, isn’t it?

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