This is a review based on a blind buy of an obscure flanker to a famous perfume, Tea Rose by The Perfumer's Workshop Ltd. (1972), a 70s hit and subsequent cult perfume...
Tea Rose Mesk appeared in 1999 with the immediate recommendation of its forebear and the precious mannerism of preferring to use the more convoluted "Mesk" rather than "Musk", making it sound more Arabic.
The perfume opens on a very sweet musk with a slightly sticky impression of amber but also then a layer of powdery musks that feel almost like aldehydes in their shimmering, fizzy quality. There is an old-school feeling to the fragrance going in the direction of vintage and animalic Miss Dior; another inspiration seems to have been Gianni Versace, another chypre, a fruity one, from 1981: it betrays the same heft and langorous quality that one gets from heavy pairings such as tuberose and myrrh in that 80s olfactory shocker, now discontinued.
So far, the rose note is nowhere as evident as in the original Tea Rose which is about a photographic reproduction in macro mode of a lush head of unfurling rose petals. The rose here is completely buried by heavy-lidded notes which play on the range of dark ambery-musky notes.
The structure of the perfume is not very diversified and you end up smelling for a good long while as if you had used a very perfumey soap.
The scent has a tendency to let its chemical nature be known by creating a tension in your head when you smell it for a while, a bit as when you are exposed to paint fumes although it is not that bad. Still, there is a suggestion of that.
If the rose does not unfold its petals one by one as in Tea Rose, you have to realize after a while that there is indeed a rose in this fragrance but it is slow and delayed. It also refuses to be naturalistic like it could have been possibly, thinking of its original inspiration. Instead, it glows on your skin with subdued rosiness and its treatment is that of a powdery rose. It is close at this point to an impression of Nivea cream, or talcum powder scented with rosewater.
As we've become interested in seeking out "Musk Plus One" scents, i.e., musk fragrances which are paired with another main ingredient, this one is one, but is not enough about musk or about a contrasted and harmonious pairing between musk and something else to retain our attention. It however fits in that category. The quest continues.
Persons who are most likely to appreciate Tea Rose Mesk are fans of powdery and vintage fragrances only with a simpler, cleaner, soapier edge. The accent was put on the "mesk" or musk side of the fragrance interpreted as powdery white musks and the rose of Tea Rose becomes rosy.
Do you have any favorite "Musk-Plus-One" scents?