With Valentine's day right around the corner, roses, especially red ones, seem to exert a magnetic pull on one's psyche. It is like the three drops of ruby red blood which suddenly fell onto the white snow in a medieval tale whose title I can't remember right now but whose imagery still lingers in my mind. Red on white is a fascinating combination -- I also remember admiring a white sari with a simple red border in a music concert in New Delhi - and red is for passion of course -- sources of pigmented and human warmth.
In 2009 American Beauty launched Beloved Red Rose, a variant on the floral bouquets appearing in that franchise. Red rose petals are so iconic and red has its own power of attraction, petally or not. So I took home a flacon of Red Rose then and didn't open it until now (well, just to take a picture once)...
Ashley Judd, the face for American Beauty perfumes was called upon to express her thoughts on red roses. She obliged by saying that she thought that "nothing is as romantic as a red rose". The brand players behind intimate "Experience the fragrance of rich, romantic love". Finally, we are told that it was "Designed with input from one of the country's favorite Southern belles, Ashley Judd, this sweet fragrance mimics its creator with soft floral notes and bit of spicy, sexy kick."
Now if you look at the bottle, it looks coy, pretty and romantic with its ribbed flanks and red gros-grain ribbon. Nothing could be more misleading. What strikes you when you smell Beloved Red Rose - at least it has that effect on me - is how much suggestive of the red lights district it is. This is in no way a demure scent, but on the contrary very Nana, as in Emile Zola. That bottle is there to keep up appearances but the perfume itself is perfect to suggest a busy Madame ambiance, or in a more upscale setting, the women the French liked to call "demi-mondaines" or again, the "belles horizontales".
The composition turns out to be really a red-rose and white-gardenia accord. In that sense it bows to the American love for gardenias and represents well the Southern taste for the flower exemplified by Ashley Judd. The slightly winey and liquorishy notes of red roses are soon subdued by the onslaught of white gardenia freshened up with green notes, violet and freesia. In the gutter of it all, it is the musk note mixing with the gardenia indoles which really make you feel like you are taking an indiscreet peek into the completely messed up bed of Nana in the morning while her skin exudes a provocative scent.
So that in a way you could deconstruct the perfume as being really a musk-as-musk-can-be scent hiding inside a white-gardenia scent which itself hides behind the coded romantic top notes of red roses and the eponymous label. In the end what you get is a good dose of improper musk with suggestive accents of violent brothel perfume. Not that there is anything wrong with that since impressions of perfumes and bedroom-accords are not regulated contrary to ingredients, yet who knows? One day, we might get censorship of emotions conveyed by perfumes. One day, the intent to seduce will be traced back to a sillage. Until then, let u just say that It is just not what you expected behind the mask of propriety.