Van Cleef & Arpels First Rosée d'Or (2015) {Perfume Review & Musings}


The new First Rosée d'Or by Van Cleef & Arpels is not just any flanker, it is a creative one, but also simply a beautiful one thanks to the modernized classical beauty of the rose it contains, that rose sung by so many poets over the centuries. If you forgot what the attraction of the scent of a rose might be after it's been peddled for eons, turning into a solid stereotype rather than a sensory dreamscape, please reconnect with its sheer, delightful and contemporary beauty here. Rosée d'Or is a perfume meant for rose haters, rose indifferents, and rose lovers. It will reconcile all camps...

The eau de parfum opens on a blast of clean, energetic and dry aldehydes wrapped up in fruity tones thanks in particular to the scent of a ripe-but-not-too ripe pear. As the perfume develops, it becomes even more "sec" like a dry white wine drunk here with a coffee spoon of dehydrated, pulverized mustard powder. It recalls to some extent the intriguing trigeminal sensation which appears in Serge Lutens L'Incendiaire and other precursors.

A Modernized Face Powder Accord

What is interesting on an immediate sensory level with this new composition meant to flank the original neo classic, aldehydic First (1976), is in how it plays with an impression of utter dryness, but also in how it modernizes the powdery accord. While the perfume singes your olfactory nerve a bit, there is perceptibly a renewal of that perpetual boudoir-perfume trope, the scent of a box of silken face powder harking back to the times of Coty in most recent memory.

That ultra feminine accord has been reshaped to smell edgy, a bit metallic, with little concession to sweetness, thus taking an opposite stand to the flocks of perfumes which emulate - or simply copy - Angel by Thierry Mugler.

It is also a testament to the ongoing work and maturing of thought of perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto who not only has been regularly and annually updating First for some years now, but has also devoted time to rethinking the face-powder accord in particular in Chloé Love, Chloé (2010),which was explicitly based on a retake on the epic era fragranced with Coty's makeup scent.

The "rosée" or "dew" we're talking about here is more about an ambiguous sensation hovering somewhere between extremely dry champagne fizz and face powder. It draws in the air a veil of chiffon rather than a thin veil of wet dewy drops.

A Jewel-Like Rose

But "rosée" can also mean touched with pink or rose and this is where the brief contained in the name of the perfume makes sense; Rosée d'Or smells of a ravishing and precious Bulgarian rose. Thanks to the delicacy of the composition which is both ethereal and energetic, that rose is like one you might smell in a garden of roses in winter covered with snow. A diehard rose has emerged still exhaling its natural scent. It is fresh, clean, sparkling, subtle, yet unmistakably enveloping.

This latest launch by Van Cleef & Arpels is a delight and a must-try for both lovers of aldehydic perfumes and rose perfumes - and of course First lovers, since its original signature - created by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena - is as present as ever in both filigree, and fundamentally. Aesthetically, you will rarely have an opportunity to inhale the scent of a rose which feels so jewel-like and set like a precious stone.

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