Monday, February 11, 2013

12 x Roses

In the last few months, I find myself constantly reaching for roses. Be it fresh, simple rosy body products, rice milk pudding with rosewater and orange flower water (otherwise known as malabi), rose chai, or full-blown romantic and mysterious rosy perfumes - I'm there. And with Valentine's Day a mere couple of month away when all this rose obsession took possession of me - I've decided to invite a few of my perfume blogging friends over for a big, rosy blogfest!

1. Parfum Sacré was the first Caron that I fell for. And hard did I fall. It stroke a deep chord with me, the way only really great perfume can do. That feeling of familiarity and magic; a lost memory not only being retrieved but being re-lived. In this case, my first perfume of all times, coinsiding with my first true love: Abishag (made by the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem, and shortly after its introduction was discontinued). Parfum Sacré  got nothing in common with the latter's green top notes, but a very similar base and dry down. It's surprising that something so luxurious came out of a very sparse period as the 1990's. It has all the characteristics of days of yore, when no one ever suspected that musk ketone might someday become illegal...

2. Nuit de Noel, also by Caron (but from a much earlier period when its founding perfumer was still alive) has all the makings of a great love story: beautiful pitch-black bottle, the enigmatic Mousse de Saxe accord which relied on isobutyl quinoline - one of the very first man-invented synthetics (aka: not naturally occurring); and more importantly: the innovation and genius of Ernest Daltroff coupled with the love of his life, Félicie Vanpouille, whose fondness of Christmas Eve is told to be the inspiration for this perfume. But what I find most inspiring is how dedicated was this couple (who never married, despite Daltroff's repeated proposals) to the art of modern perfumery in the West, which they pioneered. From the perfume design itself, where Daltroff incorporated bold, uncommon, innovative, and often difficult to work with raw materials - to the bottle and box design - these two worked together to create what I feel was authentic multi-media pieces of art. Nuit de noel is one rose that will I will always keep in its ink bottle on my desk: If I were to ever write a love letter this would be my ink.

3. Tocade
 by Maurice Roucel for Rochas is a flirty, easy to wear but not as easy to forget scent. The delicacy of roses is played up here with notes of magnolia (Roucel's signature note, reappearing in many of his creations). It has such a distinct, recognizable character that is the definition of a good perfume. And it's one of the first linear compositions, abandoning the serious evolution from top to base through heart for a structure that is more in line with the fast paced modern lifestyle; yet without compromising innovation and originality. There's a lot to learn from Tocade!

4. Agent Provocateur was one of those intriguing scents - a little too much of everything. Yet somehow it just works: saffron, rose and musk - all in large doses, and although this might sound "oriental" or even with an Arabian theme - the result if one of the early Pink Chypres, also known as the hard-to-believe phenomenon "The Moss Who Wasn't There". Well, while I find such a notion to be sacrilege - perfumes such as Agent Provocateur, that do it well, do deserve respect. The musk teams up with dry, woodsy vetiver and sweaty coriander to create a bombshell, Femme Fatale fragrance that  should be reserved for special occasions (example: blogging about Valentine's Day perfumes, or something more risque if you live outside the computer).

5. Kashmir Rose Whipped Body Butter by Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery is just like they say - you have to feel it to believe it. It's like dessert for your skin. And with only the best things on earth: virgin coconut oil, cocoa and shea butters, and, of course - pure rose essence from Kashmir. Just goes to show you that mother nature does not need a lot of help to be amazing and nourishing.

6. Bedouin by Persephenie is a simple, elegant, pure rose - with a twist. But of course! Otherwise I wouldn't love it so much. And that twist is cardamom, and botanical musk from ambrette seeds. Bedouin smells luscious, fruity almost, distinctively rosy yet not nearly as boring or sharp as so many rose soliflores tend to be. "Not your garden variety", as they say...  Another great example for how simpler feels more luxurious.

7. Royal Couple candle Gabriel’s Aunt is as good as it gets. And it's true, it's not all roses - there's jasmine too! Nevertheless, when it comes to candles, this is about as rosy as you can find. And like everything that Nikki Sherritt makes - it's all natural, and made with love. If someone were to turn Joy into a candle, this is how it would have smelled.

8. Rose Bohème by Providence Perfume Co. improves on the theme of spicy rose patchouli oriental to the point that it's really hard to say anything more than that. The key here is not just using top quality naturals (we already know that's important, right?) - but also the balancing act of making fussy notes such as rose yield to the uncompromising personality of patchouli. And to make this balancing performance even more impressive - there is also exotic saffron and stubborn cloves. Classic spicy oriental at its best.

9. Rose Paka by Persephenie is hands down the best face cream imaginable. And I say so not just because Persephenie is my friend - but because I am very picky when it comes to any products that go on my face. And they most preferably would smell of roses. Rose Paka isn't just wonderfully rosy, and redolent of white chocolate (blame it on the cocoa butter) - but it also is nourishing without being greasy; fast absorbing without being useless. I rarely re-purchase creams, as I usually find one flaw or another in them, and easily develop sensitivities around my eye areas. But this is an exception. And what's even better - it doubles as a body moisturizer, which makes travel easier!

10. I did not expect to like Rosewater & Vanilla by Jo Malone. Nor did I expect for it to remind me of anything I'm familiar with. And definitely not to smell Middle Eastern. But it did remind me of malabi - that sickening, chilled dessert that is served with red grenadine syrup. But it made it smell all nostalgic, and actually very pretty. It's nice to discover new loves from time to time. And this is the only one in the "Cologne Intense" series that did not smell like it's trying too hard to smell "niche".

11. Ta'if by Ormonde Jayne
 is a Middle Eastern fantasy from a British perspective. And like all things good and British, it somehow involves floral prints - or gardens. In this case, the noble petals are embroidered with spice and desert fruit: saffron, pink pepper and dates. Somehow along the way - after you hit the drydown, you realize it's a happy medium between Parfum Sacré's spiciness and Tocade's powdery musky sweetness.

12. Qajar Rose by Parfums Lalun gets a notable mention for authenticity in a world that seems to have a lot of wannabes. Perfumer Maggie Mahboubian was born in Iran, and she sourced Persian roses to include in this lovely, mysterious spicy perfume, alongside saffron, cacao, coffee and wine-like fruity notes of pomegranate, strawberry furanone, davana and geranium. Parfums Lalun is an intriguing new line, inspired by Maggie Mahboubian's passion for creating her own natural beauty and cosmetic products - a tradition that was alive in Iran when she was growing up. I hope she continues to do what she does and inspires other women to live beautifully!

Now, I was going to share with you my new recipe for rosewater buttercream sandwich cookies which I served at my Broken Hearts Tea Party (aka my 4th Annual Valentine's Day Afternoon Tea); but I've already picked my dozen roses, so this will have to wait for another post, tomorrow. In the meantime, please scroll over to my perfume blogger friends, and get more rosy inspiration - and don't forget to leave comments with your favourite roses!

All I Am A Red Head
Katie Puckrik Smells
The Non Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
Scent Hive

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At February 11, 2013 9:37 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

First of all thanks for initiating this rosy project. It made me collect my rose-scented thoughts and put them in one place.

Secondly, we do have some overlapping. Not surprisingly, I'd say.

And last but not least, I am very much looking forward to hearing the buttercream and rosewater cookie recipe! Yum :-)

At February 11, 2013 11:08 AM, Blogger Ines said...

I enjoy reading about perfumes but I love even more when there is a cosmetic product on the list as well as I'm always interested in trying new ones. And that body butter sounds heavenly...

At February 11, 2013 2:10 PM, Anonymous Maggie Mahboubian said...

What a great celebration of the rose, they all sound divine. I always learn so much when I read your posts, Ayala, you're a veritable font of knowledge and you know how to pull it all together. Loved that story behind Daltroff and Nuit de Noel. Thank you for making Qajar Rose one of your dozen. I am so, so honored!!!

At February 11, 2013 3:37 PM, Blogger Melis said...

Ayala, I am actually wearing Tocade today. I loooove Parfum Sacre. I bought a bottle of Agent Provocateur unsniffed and I cannot stand how it smells on my skin, that'll teach me! I love rose absolute in any form but struggle with rose based perfumes in general. I think I like the two aforementioned perfumes because the rose doesn't dominate in either one for me. I get "powder" from Tocade and incense from PS. I really enjoy your Song of Songs body oil and wore it yesterday.

At February 11, 2013 11:40 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you for taking part in this rose-fest! So much fun to have you on board in these projects. It's always inspiring and that's a great way to discover gems in the increasingly chaotic world of fragrance :-)
The recurring theme seems to be rosewater on the face, rose petal jam, and relatives bringing Bulgarian rose oil as souvenirs!

At February 11, 2013 11:42 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you for not only participating in this blogging project - but also for taking the time to comment here!
I'm glad you found something new in my list - your list had not even one perfume I ever smelled. I'm still not sure if I should feel embarrassed, overwhelmed or curiously intrigued. Probably a little bit of each!

At February 11, 2013 11:44 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

It was great to finally meet you in person and smell your inspired creations this past fall. Looking forward to meeting again and hear your stories from Iran. And to smell what else will come under your hands. You're gifted and original - and a kindred spirit. How's that for making the world a better place? XO

At February 11, 2013 11:46 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

It's always such a nice surprise to find your comments, and find out about yet another perfume in your collection (we need to compare our inventory one day LOL). I adore Agent Provocateur and was so obsessed with it at some point that I stocked up with enough bottles to last me several incarnations... It is so potent that a tiny bit will go a very long way...
So happy you're enjoying your Song of Songs body oil! I was wearing it yesterday too - for my Valentine's tea party!

At February 12, 2013 12:01 AM, Blogger Katie Puckrik said...

Ayala, I love reading your memories and associations triggered by smells and tastes. I am familiar with many of the perfumes you discussed here, but learning your background with them enriches my experience of them. And I second Elena's "yum": I'm also on the buttercream and rosewater cookie train.

Thanks for wrangling me in this rosy rodeo.

At February 12, 2013 12:10 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you for the rose-fest and for visiting SmellyBlog!
The personal stories behind perfumes are probably what intrigues me the most... True for essences as well - every story I hear about a perfume note makes my relationship with it deeper. Sounds creepy, I know... ;-)

As for the rose cookies: one thing the recipe shares with Elena's "bad habits" is that they are brushed with rosewater before being dipped in sugar. The rest will come tomorrow...

At February 12, 2013 12:27 AM, Blogger Illuminated Perfume said...

Ayala, much gratitude to you for putting this rose scented festival together! Its been such fun reading everyones list and experiencing a little bit of each individual. Each of us a petal in a the blossoming heart note of the rose.

At February 12, 2013 7:55 AM, Blogger Gaia said...

Ayala, you won't be surprised to hear that I'm craving Malabi now! It's been ages since I had any. Thank you for inviting to this rosy project. I had a lot of fun realizing once again that I do like quite a few roses.

At February 12, 2013 12:23 PM, Anonymous Scent Hive said...

I will echo Katie's comment that reading about your scent memories of these perfumes only makes them richer in my mind. Thank you for such thoughtful descriptions!

And a big thanks for including me in this wonderfully rosy event, I can' tell you how much I appreciated the invitation.

I think it's time to restock my dwindling supply of Kashmir Rose Body Frosting. That stuff is too good to be out of.


At February 13, 2013 6:24 PM, Blogger Melis said...

Ayala, how I wish I could have attended your Valentine's gathering. I read your blog almost daily but I am quite introverted and don't comment nearly as much as I think I should. I would love to get back to Vancouver at some point. We will definitely have to have a peek into each other's perfume collection one of these days.

At February 14, 2013 7:52 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

It's always so much fun to have these projects! Love your beautiful photograph and your beautiful rose essences you've chosen. Looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco next month! xoxoAyala

At February 14, 2013 7:56 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thanks for participating! Roses are timeless, and even though I love the scent of roses on my own, I prefer my roses with a lot of potent side kicks (musk and spices, please). Otherwise I find them too heady or sharp.
My faith in Malabi was renewed after trying to make my own at home based on a good Arab cook book. I find that the ones you buy have an icky aftertaste from the cold corn starch that's used to thicken it. The original recipe, supposedly is made from rice flour. So much better - either warm or cold. And you can top it with the rose petal jam instead of fake grenadine ;-)

At February 14, 2013 7:58 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Thank YOU for participating :-) It's a wonderful treat to see a new post on ScentHive!
Always happy to add to the collective consciousness of perfume. I had fun sharing these stories also at my tea party - brought some vintage perfume that were inspired by great (and usually tragic) love stories.

At February 14, 2013 7:59 AM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

But Melis, you're one of my most devoted commenters!
Check out my clanedar of events for increasing the chances of considering your visit here with a tea party. I try to host one every month. And yes, a sniffing fest will be in order when you visit next! XOXO

At February 16, 2013 12:38 PM, Blogger theperfumeddandy said...

Oh I do so love your list and it inspired me to create my own!
13 roses for men and women. Fascinatingly two overlap with your choicest picks... can you guess which.
I am now your devoted follower!
Yours ever
The Perfumed Dandy

At February 16, 2013 12:41 PM, Blogger theperfumeddandy said...

The Dandy's such an amateur with all things electrical.
Here are my baker's dozen roses I humbly present to you.
Yours ever
The Perfumed Dandy

At February 21, 2013 4:53 PM, Anonymous Victoria said...

Thank you for arranging this blog event!

You've included some real stunners in your dozen. I love Royal Couple!


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