Continuing boldly our exploration of recent & new rose perfumes market-wide (here too), today I turn to the latest from masstige standard-bearer The Body Shop, and to White Musk Smoky Rose in particular, which they released in two concentrations, eau de toilette and eau de parfum. I choose to review the first because I find it more interesting. Guess what, it's the most popular version in France, according to the brand website...
The composition is presented as a spin-off on White Musk their very best-seller although admittedly it's more of a hat tip in its direction than a real flanker. The fragrance is more about a rose, with a twist. Perfumer Sophie Labbé of IFF signed both. She's a veteran nose; a previous rose composition of hers is Cacharel Amor pour Homme, a rose fragrance for men.
White Musk Smoky Rose EDT opens on a slightly shampooy ambery accord but quickly segues into something more satisfying, officially a "smoky rose" accord buttressed by tobacco flower which in principle smells something like smoky jasmine and is also known as "jasmine tobacco." Here it smells a lot like everlasting or immortelle with its nuances of roasted pecans, licorice, chicory, caramel, honey, tobacco, maply syrup, even butter, all of those nuances that the flower absolute likes to play upon. It immediately adds character to this rose composition. And this is the reason why I prefer the EDT over the EDP. The latter may be more intense but it is also a bit banalized by a hum-ho vanilla note as well as heavier powdery musks to enhance its oriental facet. With the EDT, Sophie Labbé offers a pretty and sensual modest little perfume with warm fall overtones which are welcome in this season. She's said in the past that one of her favorite smells is Cognac, and this is playing to her range of predilection.
The floriental develops as a skin scent grade 1 (1 inch above the skin as opposed to 0, on the skin - my own idiosyncratic take) which is warm, comforting and on the gourmand side. It does not have huge projection but it is pretty persistent and pleasantly deepens its dry, caramelized tones overtime. When it does, the musk which surfaces is more dark than white thanks also to the addition of a black cassis note.
At this level of distribution of the market, and without over generalizing, you see that attention was brought to a new rose perfume to make it smell a little original but also easy to wear. There is a comfort factor too. The composition is more witty than unquestionably qualitative. It lacks oomph and real complexity in the formula, the latter being replaced to some extent by a multivariegated material - again, we say everlasting flower although tobacco flower exists as an essential oil.
We'd recommend it as a warm office scent as opposed to a clean one. It's gentle enough to be polite yet makes a point about how nice it is to wear a less common range of notes, those pyrogenic or "smoky" ones. "Smoky" does not mean incensey or foggy in this case, but rather alludes to this range of burnt pyrazines notes as in burnt toast or burnt caramel.
The rose is not much of a central, obvious figure, rather it adds roundness to the smoky range. Et voilà, a rose perfume with a touch of brainy French chic niche is born. If you want to step away for a time from the roses with peonies or lychees, this is a change of scene which is easily accessible and easy and pleasant to wear. Quintessentially easy to wear is actually not a common quality in perfumery. It requires a lot of métier and intuition to achieve this result.
Notes: bergamot, cassis, pink peppercorn, tobacco flower, smoky rose and orange blossom accord.