Perfume Review by Chantal-Hélène Wagner
Rose Privée by L'Artisan Parfumeur, which will officially launch in April 2015, is presented as an homage paid to the costliest of roses, Rosa Centifolia also known as "May Rose" and "Cabbage Rose". The perfume house see the new fragrance as marking their entry into an exclusive club for the happy few, who can boast steady access to the rare floral ingredient. There must have been a good harvest last year as Estée Lauder are also issuing a new rose composition centering on the reputedly scarce ingredient, with Rose de Grasse by Aerin...
While I am partial to the scent of Bulgarian rose for its joyous quality, the scent of Rosa Centifolia is particularly delicate and precious-feeling - even if you did not have to pay a lot to get it. Yves Rocher, for instance, issued Moment de Bonheur in 2011, which features enough of Rosa Centifolia to allow you to partake in an authentic experience of refinement, as well as one of undeniable beauty, thanks also to the art of noted perfumer Annick Ménardo.
If L'Artisan Parfumeur Rose Privée sounds like a project influenced by what perfumer Michel Almairac has defined as the aesthetics of l'école de Grasse - which are inspired by natural ingredients rather than abstract accords - it turns out to be the best of both worlds. The composition is co-signed by duo of perfumers Bertrand Duchaufour and Stéphanie Bakouche; the latter is officially introduced as his apprentice, in the best artisanal tradition, on the occasion of the launch of Rose Privée.
The eau de parfum opens up on a tart rose accord - it is even a bit vinegar-y - tinged with melancholia, thanks to a deep purple-colored violet accord which gives it an unusual cast, as if you were smelling a violet-tinted sueded leather strip steeped in rose essences. The rose accord blooms, offering a fruity heft and muted metallic nuances with hints of astringent mustard. As the fragrance blends these elements, the sharper accents soften.
The composition remains quite purple-colored - to the point of smelling like purple roses - developping a velvet-like texture.
Intense and chypré, the perfume behaves more like a pure parfum as it stays close to the body, drawing a circle of intimacy. It reverberates away from the body later, then forming a glowing sensation rather than a kinetic sillage. It also smells a bit of honey and hay.
At first, the personality of Rose Privée seems to be that of a naturalistic rose offering a nostalgic, Romantic charm - you cannot help but think of ancient letters written with violet-scented and violet-colored ink. Of course, a vial of rose oil lies on the writing desk.
As you write these lines, travelling in imagination to the 19th century, the purple rose opens up even more, turning more vanillic, but also continuing to be strangely tinged with violet petals - wisterias or heliotropes - actually, lilacs, and actually, magnolia and carnation.
The perfume reprises a series of classic rose accords to design the facets of what is essentially a rose soliflore. It revisits a very classic accord of perfumery, the rose-violet one, but distanced from the more expected lipstick scents and Paris by YSL. There are violet leaves whose green scent is echoed by basil leaves and whose mauve floral scent is echoed by lilacs. It also reinteprets the heavily fruity rose motif, à la Nahéma by Guerlain. Finally, it pairs rose with cedarwood - a harmonious, contrasted accord found in rose perfumes.
This is a milky crème de cassis scented with rose - the constant interplay of roses and transfigured "violets" translates into a series of fleeting images with new creatures in them - beautiful monsters; I think of the literal Russian sense of meaning "out of the common order" - which are neither this nor that but new entities with ambiguous and synthetic characteristics - the latter meant in the sense that a synthesis shows something new, while an analysis by opposition only shows what is already there.
The rose accord of Rose Privée does not unveil what is already there unless that rose exists in a distant land where roses smell deep purple, sweet, and innocent. It does not even waft of ripe Burgundy grapes as is the most standard way of adding heft to floral accords, usually white florals adding a dose of easy depth. No, here, the crafting of the fragrance is much more sophisticated: it smells precisely of the color Violet of Manganese - and roses.
As the perfume develops more and more, you get deeper into the violet painted rose which feels as if it has been composed by a contemporary painter with an unstoppable urge to explore new layers of olfactory color and nuance - you think a bit of the unceasing, complex layerings of a Gerhard Richter.