If I wanted to smell like the overheated dressing room of a 1950s Hollywood actress getting ready to go on the set or the stage, this is what I would wear. The new Dolce & Gabbana Rose The One captures more than the scent of a big, luscious and aquatic rose-peony-lychee bouquet with all its sails out, it also evokes fleetingly the rapid, inner sensations of a backstage beauty atmosphere.
In this setting, one can sense that the actress is slightly bothered by the artificial electric heat, the excitement of having to show herself to the world and one can smell her nervous musky perspiration, the body powder melting a bit on clean skin, the whiffs of makeup, nail polish, and of course, there must be a huge bouquet somewhere in the room with fluorescent roses and Madonna lilies smelling a bit of Marmite. Perhaps there is an electric kettle in the room to explain the slightly muggy, tropical quality.
I am reminded of distant smells from the past from classical dancing studios where chalk, sweat, dust and the scent of youth mingle. Perhaps if you added a fresh rose bouquet to a painting of ballerinas by Degas, it would smell a bit like this...
I don't know if this is a coincidence or not since the original advertisement of The One for Women fronted by Gisele Bündchen saw the model behind a makeup table in the commotion of a backstage runway show setting. I have not reviewed that one, but this one immediately transported me to an atmosphere of dusty, behind-the-scenes glamour-in-the-making. There is a quality of confined, packed air about it from the sensation of overbearing floral notes having quickly filled a small space, that is evocative.
Rose The One is thus, to me, less about perfect, sleekly coiffed femininity and more about the trepidations of preparations in the life of the working woman in the entertainment industry who has to merit the attention of her public. This woman is real and sweats. This is an idea, I realize better, conveyed by a deft dose of just the right tonality of musk to translate as the scent of a beautiful woman getting physically busy and slightly perspiry while wearing a gorgeous outfit in silk or satin. With this smell of feverish skin blending with a retro-neon-technicolor bouquet of orange-y coral roses and lilies, we are projected back in time, somehow. Thinking further about it, I see the form of White Shoulders appear, the parfum concentration, which may explain the subliminal retro voyage. Not that it smells literally like White Shoulders parfum, but there is something about it, perhaps the floral notes bordering on the succulent, the headiness, a certain vintage soapy yet non-aseptic quality that draw links of affinity between the two.
It is probably a great tool in the arsenal of a perfumer, here Michel Girard, to use a drop of scent of a long-forgotten soap accord in order to conjure up a retro sensation.
Then there is this image of a woman's shoulders that becomes more in Rose The One the sensation of taking an indiscreet peek at a woman's clean and powdered armpits. If we can see her armpits, this means that she is not picture-perfect but raising her arms to work on her appearance.
The rose-musk vertical accord is made even more feminine thanks to the musky facet of blackcurrant. Underneath the aqua, fresh aspect, there is sweet white vanilla and powdery ambergris. One finds in this scent the characteristic floral accord with Madonna lily, muguet and jasmine that was in The One for Women but with the addition of a fresh-from-the-florist armful of roses with green accents and watery notes of peony, lychee and muguet. The composition is not original but has a certain style and pleasant facets with a mix of freshness and boldness that one may find appealing over some other rose perfumes.
This perfume is more convincing when evaluated for its ability to set an atmosphere, for its projection and global effect than considered as a moment of aesthetic contemplation proper. For example, the ambrette seed note is not used to convey sophistication, elegance and even exquisiteness like in a Chanel perfume, but to better suggest skin. The scent signals femininity, signs a presence but is not meant to be admired for its intricate weaving of details, which is not really to be found. It may even give you a bit of a headache if you insist on sniffing the composition like a flower as some ingredients are a bit borderline in terms of quality. Don't! This fragrance is meant to be smelled as the aura of a woman and the imprint of her fugacious passage in your life. I see this as a perfume not so much for a personality as rather for an occasion or a mood or a florist rose craving.
Notes: blackcurrant, pink grapefruit, mandarin, muguet; Bulgarian rose, lychee, peony, Madonna lily; ambrette seed, sandalwood, musk, vanilla, amber.
Photos courtesy of bayswater97, Femina.fr, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Dorisday.net