Rose perfumes that are actually cool
If you have lingering memories of overpowering perfumes causing you to choke your way through an elevator ride, or associate certain scents with the types of heavy fragrance favoured by older generations, we bet we can guess the olfactory culprit.
Okay no, lavender, this time you get a pass, although you’re certainly responsible too.
We’re talking about rose scents. It’s likely they get their serious throwback connotations because of the fact rose petals were one of the earliest flowers used to make perfume, but we’ve come a long way from rosewater on a hanky, folks.
More recently perfumers have enjoyed extending their expertise using unlikely and unusual notes or expanding the realm of fragrance into unchartered territory. Beyond flowers, fruits, herbs and spices we now have salty, ozonic and solar notes and so on, as well as the completely obscure - like 'rain on hot concrete' - to spritz on when we’re feeling it.
They’ve definitely expanded our scent horizons but now those experts are also extending our expectations of more traditional perfume elements, like, yes, roses.
We wrinkle our noses at notions of rose being only feminine and romantic (outdated af) and fully embrace these new incarnations and their unique personalities.
Tom Ford Rose Prick 50ml EDP, $500
It wouldn't be Mr Ford without some slightly audacious elements. In the name yes, but also in a scent that's slightly unpredictable. The brand new Private Blend (always the most bold, daring and luxurious of the brand’s collection, hence the price) housed in matte pink bottle is created with a trio of Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose and the legendary Rose de Mai. You would think that would result in something overwhelming, but a twist of depth (patchouli and woods) and surprisingly tangy and sweet elements (like a sour lolly, or Turkish delight) make for a delicious and uplifting wear | Shop now
Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land 50ml EDP, $249
Far from powdery, this modern take on rose has been trending since its launch. Where once if you headed to a fashion event or the current chic bar for drinks, you’d encounter Byredo’s Gypsy Water, now, you might smell this. The initial ‘fresh-picked’ rose with pink pepper settles into a touch of amber and slightly dry, woody notes | Shop now
Floral Street Neon Rose 50ml EDP, $132
Floral Street founder Michelle Feeney describes this as a perfume that smells like a rose would, if it were neon. Freshly chopped jasmine and roses collide with crisp, green angelica for a bright, buzzy botanical infusion, and the price is pretty nice too! | Shop now
Penhaligons The Coveted Duchess Rose 75ml EDP, $449
'A translucent floral fragrance, an English rose with hidden sensuality and thorns.' So says the delightfully quirky British perfume house of this bright, exuberant scent that has a fresh, pastel-pink rose at its heart and zesty elements with a touch of musky wood in the base | Shop now
Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud 50ml Cologne Intense, $195
The one that’ll have you feelin’ yourself on a winter night out! Forget bright and pretty, here you’ve got the counterpoint, a dusky, dirty rose, with alluring intensity and depth. The softness and aroma of velvety crimson rose petals meeting the sweet, dark and woody scent of oud resin | Shop now
Van Cleef & Arpels Rose Rouge 75ml EDP $230
When you don't want to be shouty about it, this chic, dusky rose scent has a beautiful depth that lasts all day. It starts out a bit fruity and you’re well aware of the Turkish rose essence and rose essential notes but it quickly settles into its cocoa, vetiver and patchouli base.
Le Labo Rose 3150ml EDP $334
Another quirky-cool scent that aims to turn perceptions of rose perfume on its head with a clever mix of traditional Grasse rose from France with dark spices and woods including cumin, olbanum, cedar and amber, elements more traditionally used in scents geared towards men (but we think any perfume can be worn by anyone!) | Shop now
Dior Miss Dior Rose N'Roses, 50ml EDT, $155
Ever so slightly more traditional, this bright and beautiful perfume definitely still avoids feeling staid and stuffy. It was created to resemble the fields of Grasse roses in France that are harvested to make a number of Dior's famous perfumes, and you get a sense of that airy, sunny locale in the rose and bergamot zest combo.
Main image: @cafechloeprague