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When it comes to fragrances, would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? As spring bursts into bloom, that is the question posed by a new bouquet of floral scents, such as Viktor & Rolf’s latest Flowerbomb La Vie en Rose (£55), Fendi’s L’Acquarossa (£63), Armani Privé’s Rose d’Arabie (£190), and Balenciaga’s Rosabotanica (£40).
Today’s more sophisticated perfumes, however, have little in common with the traditional rosewater that might come to mind. These roses – pardon the pun – have thorns. Take Evening Rose by Aerin Lauder (£85), with its unlikely pairing of rose and cognac. Or Roses de Chloé (£52), for which perfumer Michel Almairac says he mixed rose petals with a spring bouquet “to recreate the smell of freshly cut roses”. Then there’s Tom Ford’s Café Rose (£140), which Ford describes as “descending into a hidden labyrinth of darker pleasures”, and his Oud Fleur (£140), which evokes the Middle Eastern Damascus rose.
“Rose has held a classic and noble status in perfumery,” says Ford, “so I like pairing it with very unexpected and unusual ingredients that exaggerate, elongate and even slightly distort it into something lovely and shocking – it is a little twisted.”
Trudi Loren is senior vice-president of corporate fragrance development for the Estée Lauder Companies, whose latest creation Marni Rose (£68) includes spicy Bulgarian rose oil. “The past was rose absolute,” she says; “now we’re accenting the more dewy aspect of rose. There’s a little more clarity to the signature of the fragrance.”
Elizabeth Musmanno, president of the Fragrance Foundation and owner of New York-based luxury public relations company the Musmanno Group, links the rise of rose to equally nostalgic qualities in current fashion and make-up trends.
“Like comfort food, the rose is a comfort scent that conjures up good memories,” Musmanno says. What’s more, rose (like vanilla, gardenia and patchouli) provokes instant sensory recognition. For example, Jo Malone’s enduringly popular Red Roses instantly evokes a walk through a rose garden. The many facets of the flower also play perfectly to a variety of global markets: from light and floral in Asia to depth-heavy, rich and waxy in the Middle East to a balanced blend in the US and sophisticated sensuality in Europe.
“A rose can be fresh and cleansing, and it can also be lavish and sexy,” says Frederic Malle, who is behind bestselling scents Lipstick Rose (£145) and Une Rose (£195). “It is as surprising, multifaceted and mysterious as a great comedian. The perfumer just has to be a great director to make the best of it!”
According to Francis Kurkdjian, whose Oud Silk Mood (£275) is a blend of roses from Bulgaria and Turkey with notes of oud wood – one of the most precious and expensive natural raw materials: “Perfume reflects its time. Our taste has evolved and more [advancements in] chemistry give a perfumer new notes so he can express himself in a modern way.”
Floral spectacles: Wake up and see the roses
Petals are not just for making perfume – they’re now giving eyewear a floral update, writes Emma Firth.
Images of flowers that have been frozen and shattered using liquid nitrogen appear on chef Heston Blumenthal's latest range of glasses for Vision Express, out this month, and it is the first time that this quirky technique has been used on spectacle frames.
Blumenthal is known for using liquid nitrogen in the kitchen, and for wearing bold glasses – and now he has fused these two trademarks in a 16-piece Signature Collection of frames for men and women (from £209.)
Blumenthal says, “I have a little tub of nitrogen, stick the flower head in for 10 to 20 seconds, crush it, and then it explodes and shatters.” The colourful patterns are then photographed and moulded into acetate to create a distinctive effect. Colourways include violet gerbera, amber orchid and pink tulip.
Kitchen implements are another source of inspiration: the studs on the sides of frames are inspired by the rivets in chef’s knives.
These frames are an unusual alternative to classic colours. Like finding a signature fragrance, Blumenthal says, “your glasses can actually say something about you”.