I have a confession to make, and I fear that my perfumista card is just about to be revoked, but here it is: I don’t like Frederic Malle’s Une Rose. Cue horrified gasps.
I know, I know. You don’t have to say anything. There’s already a sort of Greek chorus going back and forth in my head every time I wear it, and it goes something like this:
Une Rose is the most photorealistic rose in the world.
Yeah. It is. It is almost hyper-realistically real, especially in that first hour when it explodes onto your skin, all huge and red and dripping with dew. But here’s the thing. Despite the fact there are thousands of different cultivars of rose, about a hundred different species, and over four hundred separate chemical compounds or ‘flavonoids’ that make up a rose scent, my unsubtle mind persists in linking the smell of a damask rose with the bottle of cheap attar of roses my grandmother had on her vanity table for more than three decades. To me, the smell of the Bulgarian damask rose, when not mixed with other notes as in a chypre or oriental, will always be the old-fashioned smell I associate with closed-up front rooms, handkerchiefs scented with rose oil, pressed flowers, and powdery, grandmotherly bosoms.
Une Rose is the best soli-rose in the world. It’s the most ROSE rose ever.
That’s part of my problem. I find rose soliflores a bit boring. I love rose when it’s part of a massive oriental, like Amouage’s stunning Lyric for Women, in dark, slutty rose chypres, like Serge Luten’s weird and waxy Rose de Nuit, and smothered in dark patchouli, like Malle’s own masterly Portrait of a Lady. I like cheap and cheerful roses that are mixed with vanilla, like Tocade by Rochas, and roses battling it out with oud, like Black Aoud by Montale. I love roses, me. I really do. But Une Rose has taught me that I love rose only when it’s paired with something else. Une Rose is ROSE writ large. It’s rose rose rose. It’s too much rose.
But Luca Turin said that Une Rose is “a remarkable, angular, uncompromising fragrance endowed with the alarming beauty of an angry Carmen.” That sounds amazing!
It does sound amazing. However, look closely at the words he uses – “angular”, “uncompromising”, “alarming” and “angry”. His description is spot on, but whereas he sees these attributes as a plus, I personally do not. I can live with the blowsy, over ripe rose in the first hour. But there is a sharp, citric green edge to this rose that grows ever sharper after the first hour – probably the geranium and citrus notes. These sharp green notes seem to gather force with time, and Une Rose soon approaches the acetone hiss and sting of Chanel No. 19 EDT and the damp, poisonous powder feel of Guerlain’s Chamade or Gucci’s No. 3. It’s a bitterness you can almost taste. So, I see what Dr. Turin means about Une Rose having that angular, angry tone. This rose has thorns and they taste of acetone. But I’d rather not have my roses spank me, thank you very much.
Une Rose is so truffly!
First of all, we have to agree on the type of truffles we are talking about here, because it’s not clear to me whether it’s chocolate truffles we are talking about, or the kind that pigs dig up and cost a bazillion dollars to shave over your risotto. The reviews on Fragrantica and Basenotes show that nobody else is sure either – some people mention chocolate, some the other kind. Luca Turin never says which it is either, but mentions that this accord is earthy and creamy. In any case, I agree – there is a lovely earthiness and creaminess to Une Rose. But here’s my big problem – all this lovely creaminess is detectable only in the sillage of this perfume, meaning that it is the others in your wake that will get to enjoy this aspect, but not you. Putting my nose to my wrist, I could detect no earthiness or creaminess at all. In fact, Une Rose smells rather ugly up close and beautiful from afar. I think that it’s terribly bad form of a perfume to smell gorgeous and creamy to other people, but a tiny bit vile to you, don’t you?
Une Rose smells winey and deep! You love wine! You love deep!
Yeah, I love wine when I’m drinking it at ten O’ clock at night with my husband on our balcony, after the kids have been put to sleep (which rather sounds like we took them to the vet – I’m sorry). But I love it far less in the morning when I’m staring at the curdy dregs in our unwashed glasses. It smells of regret and furry tongues and short tempers. Une Rose has this sour, slightly tannic edge of wine dregs in last night’s glasses. It’s winey alright. Just the wrong kind of winey, that’s all.
Une Rose has amazing longevity and sillage!
Yes, it does. In general, you get what you pay for with Les Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle. His fragrances have top-notch materials and are fabulously well-made. His Une Fleur de Cassie is the one fragrance that always renews my faith in the ability of niche fragrances to produce original masterpieces. But the fact remains that unless you love Une Rose – and we’ve established that I don’t – then massive longevity and sillage are not the boon they usually are. This is a rose that just don’t quit. Unfortunately for me.
Yes, this is a real, sweet, velvety, true rose right off the bat. For the first hour or so, it has a kind of old-fashioned feel, although l'm not sure what note produces that "slightly on the turn" scent that l sometimes get from vintage perfumes. After this, though, that feeling disappears, & the deep, dark, wine-like red rose comes through in full force. This rose is stunningly beautiful, swoonworthy & seductive, underscored by something slightly earthy & animalic. The base accord smells to me like ambergris, & it reminds me a little of the "Tauerade". lt also bears a similarity to the base of Goutal's Un Matin d'Orage, but overlaid with the rose instead of those dewy white flowers. l don't know what truffles smell like, so l can't say if l smell them here, but l'm guessing that the truffle note is what lends this rose its earthy darkness. The scent lasts a good fourteen hours on me, & the rose is there right to the end.
l will say again; Stunning. Beautiful. Swoonworthy. Seductive. An absolute must-try for rose lovers; l cannot imagine a better one than this.
Dark opulent, and earthy rose
Beautiful. Une Rose is a soliflor, but not like most rose ones. Roses can be many ways. This one is not crisp, fresh or green. It's not clean, soapy, or powdery. This is heavy - dense and lush, dark and earthy. No lightness or fruit. Just a rich red rose in damp dark earth.
The rose is very realistic and natural, and the quality of the rose components seems very high. Supporting notes provide context, rendering the earth and roots, and give the rose its density and texture. Truffle, wine dregs, etc. They're like tints used to color in this rose more than separate ideas.
An amazing perfume.
Pros: Balanced, realistic, beautiful
A rose, roots and all, is how the person in the shop described it to me as I tried it on, and my first impression was of finding the holy grail of rose scents. Till date well over 400 aroma molecules have been discovered that comprise the scent of roses, so there is plenty of room for variation, and those who pooh pooh the idea of rose soliflores or of smelling like a rose should really know that a rose can be suggested in thousands of ways.
Une Rose made my senses tumble, it was like stopping after spinning round and round in a rose garden – the earth, the roses, the grasses, the leaves all seemed to weave in and out while I tried to steady myself. What fine drunkenness! I held on to that for over a year before finally buying.
Well, familiarity showed a somewhat different creature.
The earthy scent that had so captivated me seemed to be much more subdued than on first impression (or maybe it was an unfortunate difference in batches), a certain sharpness to the rose which brightened it considerably seemed to be more in evidence, and at times there was that uncomfortable feeling of tasting the perfume at the back of my throat. So, not quite the miracle I had waited so long for. But I have always loved the rose-geranium combination: it’s ballsy, piercingly sweet but with tart edges if done right. The geranium not only brings additional honey but foliage and refreshment. And in Une Rose, the wine dregs rounding the creation carry it so much further than the blended flowers of other, lesser perfumes. The woods in the base could have been better, with more depth, there seems to be something quite like Iso E Super lurking in there.
I can now see that this isn’t quite as perfect as I had thought. But love rarely is, and I still love this with a passion.
Une Rose opens with a blast of either authentic Bulgarian rose oil or something that approximates it very closely. The opening is stunning rose with a bit of citrus--even the clove and honeyed bittersweetness of the Bulgarian rose otto is present and last quite a bit of time (leaning toward my hunch that it is synthetic). But alas, the beautiful soliflore gives way to a discordant and synthetic white floral mess (muguet, magnolia, etc). For a purer rose, I would steer toward Creed's Fleur de The Rose Bulgare.