The 15 Best Rose Scents
Getty Images; Design: Perri Tomkiewicz
The rose is perhaps the most classic ingredient in all of perfumery. A symbol of love dating back to Greek and Roman mythology (with a first mention in artistic motifs in Asia around 3000 BC), the flower is as irresistible as it is timeless. Cleopatra was said to fill a room with rose petals a foot deep when she chased Mark Antony. Sophia Loren wore Emanuel Ungaro’s famous sultry pink creation, Diva. Even Rihanna’s favorite perfume (before the launch of her own Fenty perfume, of course), By Killian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy, contains rose.
Roses are the cornerstone of many of the best perfumes, present in approximately 75% of perfumes marketed to women. But while they’re ubiquitous, they’re far from monotonous. A spring rose, for example, grows in a particular type of soil, explains Carole Biancalana, flower producer for Dior’s rose fragrances. “[This] will bring its notes of honey, lemons and spices”, she explains. “It’s a rich, multi-faceted rose, which makes it unique.”
The facets of rose fragrance and the creative potential surrounding it are almost limitless. “There is so much positivity around the flower,” says master perfumer Honorine Blanc, the nose behind fragrances such as Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy Noir and several AERIN fragrances, and one of four perfumers who gave us YSL Black Opium. “[Some] people would prefer something heavier, more contrasting. For me, serenity, joy [of rose] is so important,” Blanc says, adding that the range of pinks offers shades. “You have thousands of roses.”
Aerin Lauder, granddaughter of the legendary Estée Lauder and the mind and heart of Aerin, who turns 10 this year, turns to roses for their femininity, as well as their unifying quality. “It’s the idea of romance,” says the expert. “Everyone loves roses when you receive them as a gift or go to a beautiful rose garden. [The rose] it’s pretty, it’s feminine, it’s attractive, it’s not polarizing. It is also, suggests Lauder, a comforting scent. “The world is in such disarray, it’s a time when people yearn for something that feels familiar, safe and appealing to them.”
In the end, the rose can be anything you want. “The scent of the rose is both the scent of love, that of great love, and it is also very enveloping like Mama’s arms,” says Biancalana, adding simply: “The rose is really the base of all the great perfumes”. Below, our 15 favorite rose scents, including the latest noteworthy releases.
Miss Dior Essence of Rose Eau de Toilette
The centifolia roses in the just-launched Miss Dior fragrance are grown biodynamically at Domaine de Manon in Grasse, France. There’s something particularly romantic and, frankly, inspired about this fresh, very natural scent with layers of musk, patchouli and vetiver adding a woody element beneath the rose.
“Like Catherine Dior, in her time, many producers under contract with Dior were women. I like to think that where she comes from, she’s proud of the women who came after her,” Biancalana says. “Over the years, perfumes have become more and more modern. Miss Dior Rose Essence is the expression of a modern and dynamic rose.
Pure Rose Eau de Toilette
A beautiful rose scent with traditional appeal. It is delicately feminine, light and ideal for those looking for something deeply classic.
Young Rose Eau de Parfum
Ben Gorham’s cult line features a growing selection of rose scents. Perhaps the most popular is Young Rose, a contemporary take on the classic Szechuan peppercorn layered over a dewy Damask rose.
Georgette Eau de Parfum
Luminous, energetic, sensual, intoxicating, Georgette de Vyrao is the creation centered on the rose intended for self-love. Its notes of Turkish rose oil, violet leaf absolute, sandalwood, pink pepper and black tobacco come together for a smoky and powerful atmosphere. Named after Vyrao’s founder Yasmin Sewell’s grandmother, each bottle features a special Herkimer diamond crystal that has been “energetically charged” for positive vibes.
Evening Rose Eau de Parfum
An ode to the Bulgarian rose, Evening Rose was created by Blanc with juicy blackberry, centifolia rose and, of course, rose. It also features hints of cognac adding a warm and luxurious layer.
Portrait of a Lady Eau de Parfum
Over the years, perfume legend Frédéric Malle has gifted us with several iconic rose scents. Perhaps the most beloved and stubborn is Portrait of a Lady, a decadent and opulent fragrance comprised of hundreds of Turkish roses, cassis and raspberry accords.
“Roses are to perfumery what the nude is to drawing,” Malle once said; Portrait of a Lady sums up this interpretation. It is a pure and bold fragrance, designed as much to celebrate the universal beauty of women as the rose itself.
Spicy Rose Eau de Parfum
No “best of” fragrance list can be complete without a fragrance from Tom Ford, the master of heady, intoxicating scents. Rose Prick is inspired by Ford’s private rose garden. It’s a lush, forward-thinking offering with an unexpected “thorn” (Szechuan pepper) note, perfect for when you want to be noticed for all the right reasons.
A playful and effortless fragrance inspired by Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter ego of Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp. It is enlivened by Sicilian lemons and layers of vanilla orchid and springtime musk.
Rosa by Cultus Artem is a warm, earthy rose, with elements of honeysuckle, tuberose and Indonesian clove. A bonus: this Texas-based boutique line is made with all-natural ingredients. The fragrances are also vegan and developed with sustainability in mind.
Black Musk Rose Eau de Parfum
This new rose scent has a charged and luminous quality that is perfect for a night out. Layers of plum and Italian bergamot give it a sweet, lush quality, while pink pepper adds a fresh note.
Absolute Rose Attar Perfume Oil
Traditionally, an attar is a natural fragrance oil derived from a botanical source; this one distills Indian rose centifolia, macerated for 100 days with sustainable sandalwood oil to impart a rosy, seductive scent. It is an ode to Mughal Empress Nur Jahan, who is said to have created the first rose aroma after noticing the mist emanating from a palace moat covered in rose petals.
A La Rose Eau De Parfum
The fragrance from Maison Francis Kurkdjian offers a playful twist on a beautiful classic rose. Notes of pear and lychee bring a light and surprising touch.
Dolce Rose Eau de Toilette
A new addition to the feminine and floral Dolce & Gabbana collection, Dolce Rose is a celebration of the rose in its most joyful and luminous form. Green apple, white peach and tangerine give the fragrance a lush essence.
Rose Eau de Parfum
For the rose purist, Diptyque Rose was developed in a special limited-edition collaboration with bespoke Los Angeles florist Maurice Harris and features unexpected and subtly refined notes of chamomile and artichoke.
One of two rose scents in the Belgian designer’s recently launched beauty line, Raving Rose is a rebellious and ironic take on the flower. Top notes are pink and black pepper, creating a spicy, playful and utterly modern offering.
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