Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Ways of Love and Roses
One way I know that something is going to be good – irritate, challenge and finally enchant me – is that I can’t stand it at first. This applies to music and art, and sometimes people. I’ve learned, finally, to embrace this odd form of judgment, to trust it, because it doesn’t fail me very often.
There was a time I thought I hated rose, even as an ingredient. But I thought I’d give it one more chance. I’d read about the Les Parfums de Rosine line, and, strictly at random, I ordered a sample of Une Folie de Rose.
I know that many, perhaps most, of you have had the experience of fragrance-lust at first sniff. (Others haven’t been so lucky, yet, but keep trying. I wish it for you.) I’d only had it once before, several years ago, with Bulgari’s Eau Parfumee au the Vert (which I now know contains rose). You know what I mean. When you just have to have it. For me, sniffing Folie was like falling hard.
I sampled on, and found one other Rosine I craved, Poussiere de Rose. By that time, I had been around the Rosine block, so to speak, with a glittery little organza bag full of samples. My initial love for Poussiere wasn’t quite the all-encompassing passion I’d felt for the Folie. It was more…comfortable.
Une Folie de Rose is a Chypre. I don’t know what it is that the Chypres do for me, or why, but it is the combination of sharp, sweet and finally bitter-edged that appeals to my senses like no other fragrance family. The odd thing about my instant had-to-have-it impression of Folie is that I had no idea it was a Chypre. My power of analysis disappeared with first sniff. Without going into romance-novel prose, it was a lot like that stranger-across-a-crowded-room phenomenon we all know and, like the reasons for other choices of that kind, never really understand. In other words, I wanted the Folie. I didn’t give a damn what was in it.
With the Poussiere, I wanted to know. It was a different kind of attraction, the kind that is, well, smarter, but maybe not as much fun. I found out that “Poussiere” means “dust.” I even figured out how to pronounce it. I researched the notes and the fragrance’s history. I studied the plummy, lush top notes and considered similarities to perfumes I already owned. I even ordered a second sample – I had to be sure – and then I started shopping for the best price. I ordered the 50 ml bottle instead of the Folie’s 100. When it arrived, I didn’t rip the package open and spray madly, as I had with the Folie. I tried bits here, a little there. Tried it on skin, fabric and even my hair. I got to know it gradually. Then I put the seat back and got ready for a nice long ride.
It has occurred to me that these are the two polarities of loving fragrance – and of love.
I have a bunch of other Rosine samples and I plan to write about them. But these two will be the bookends.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’d love to know what your first gotta-have-it fragrance was. Tell me in the “comments” and I’ll do a drawing: one lucky winner will get samples of “Une Folie de Rose, Poussiere de Rose” by Les Parfums de Rosine and “Eau Parfumee au the vert” by Bulgari. Deadline is March 1st, midnight U.S. EST.
The illustration is a photo composite of the Georgia O’Keefe painting “Abstraction White Rose 1927” with an overlay of red silk, by (you guessed it) me.
The notes for “Une Folie de Rose” are those of the classic Chypre: coriander, bergamot, ylang-ylang, jasmine, iris, sandalwood, oakmoss (listed as “evernia prunastri extract” on the box, which I believe is real oakmoss), vetiver and patchouli. The rose notes are tea rose, Bulgarian rose absolute and Turkish rose absolute.
The notes for “Poussiere de Rose,” classified as a “Woody Floral,” are plum, apricot and ylang-ylang, rose, incense, tea, cinnamon, sandalwood, cedar, opoponax, benzoin, amber and musk.