Best Rose Perfumes, And Why We Love ThemDo you prefer rose-based fragrances? You actually might, without even realising it. Rose is a beautiful but tricky note, one that can dominate a perfume composition or stand quietly in the background, giving the whole image a subtly electrifying tone.
There’s something both pleasantly old-fashioned and timeless about a rose perfume. Your grandmother probably used to wear one, and chances are you have a rose-scented fragrance among your favourites as well. They’re just two clearly different species, one making itself known immediately, the other creating a mood more than a sense of something you chose to put on. Modern rose fragrances tend to smell clean, fresh and delightful, while still keeping some of the enticing magic of the old, heady perfumes.
Speaking of fresh-smelling rose perfumes, the Roses de Chloé Eau de Toilette is just that: A cheerful floral scent with a sweetness to it that is by no means overwhelming. While the rose itself is quite bright and straightforward in this young cousin to the modern classic that is Chloé Eau de Parfum, the fruity note of litchi gives it a certain depth and colour.
Everything about this perfume is wonderfully rosey pink - the lively top notes of the queen of flowers, the light sweet body of the fruit, and the plushness of musk in the drydown. This rose fragrance is perfect for a very young woman, perhaps even one who up to this point wasn’t a fan of rose-based perfume at all.
For the young woman that’s already in her twenties, something a little more sophisticated is probably in order. It’s a little hard to believe that Stella McCartney’s eponymous Stella has been around since 2003, but nothing about it, from the design of its bottle down to the juice inside, feels outdated.
The rose note takes on a more powdery quality in this perfume, courtesy of the amber that removes the fragrance from the strictly floral category and makes it more of an unassuming oriental, ideal for people who normally shy away from traditional orientals and their heaviness. This is precisely what makes it the best rose perfume for a young professional woman who has her head on straight, but still allows herself to daydream.
There’s another, less well known floral note that’s sometimes used by perfumers to give the rose in fragrances a kick, a slight nudge that would make it spin and reveal its beauty from every side. That note is peony, and you can find one of the best examples of its magic at work in the Rosa Nobile by Acqua di Parma. This brand is usually known for classically fresh scents suitable for the more conservative men and women who like their fragrance a little bit subdued, and Rosa Nobile is not really an exception, but it works by hinting at a little more complexity than you might expect from it.
Perhaps it could be best described as a stealthy rose fragrance, one that lures you in with citrusy top notes, only to gently tie you down with the rose, enhanced by peony, violet, and the tiniest sprinkle of pepper. Wear this one to a business meeting and you will leave an impression without coming across like you’re trying too hard.
What would the world of niche perfumery look like without Serge Lutens? It would certainly lose its Grand Mage, the one who stood behind some of Shiseido’s best fragrances and now enchants perfume enthusiasts with distinct compositions unlike any other. The smell of La Fille de Berlin (The Girl from Berlin) corresponds entirely with the bright colour you can clearly see through the glass.
This rose fragrance sits right between red and hot pink, it’s bold, it’s unapologetic and it’s unique. This girl might still be a girl at heart, but her audacious nature screams “woman”. La Fille de Berlin is rose through and through - no compromise, no fake smiles. She’s not the least bit worried if you like her, and that’s precisely what will make you fall in love with her.
Despite the cotton candy pink of the bottle paired with rather opulent gold details, Bvlgari’s Rose Essentielle Eau de Parfum actually isn’t a rose perfume that would smell too young, or even too flashy and superficial. Much like Stella by Stella McCartney, this rose fragrance has a powdery character, with a base comprised of clean woody notes.
What sets this rosey composition apart is the use of blackberry, which lends it a very welcome tartness and makes it smell a little less girly, a little more edgy. But don’t be put off if what you’re looking for is a joyful, uncomplicated rose scent. Rose Essentielle will definitely not disappoint.
We could not possibly make a list of modern rose fragrances without mentioning at least one that is so brave and so wonderfully potent that it almost creates a category of its own. Although technically, the combination of rose and the robust smell of agarwood (or oud) has been popular in the Middle East for ages, and it’s a firm staple of many niche perfume lines.
Midnight Oud opens with a hefty dose of saffron, smelling here a little more spicy than flowery, and the characteristic medicinal note of oud. Like the finest supporting actor, oud very quickly retreats and gives way to rose, but remains on the stage throughout the show, framing the whole scent and turning it into one of the most easily recognisable rose fragrances you’ll ever have the pleasure of sampling.
Whichever rose perfume you choose, let it emphasise your personality and wear it with pride. A rose scent is like the red lipstick of the perfume world - it might be intimidating at first, but what you need to know is that there is the right one for everybody.