Three rose fragrances compared: Le Labo, Hèrmes, Keiko Mecheri
I’ve a thing for rose perfumes. I don’t know why, but it’s a fragrance family I’m drawn to again and again. We’re not talking about the girly, light and fresh roses though – I like my roses heavy, deep and original. Here’s a comparison of three (high-end, niche) rose fragrances I love.
Let’s start with my newest acquisition that’s also the most mainstream and maybe the easiest to wear, then we’ll go to the one that’s most luxe for me and then end with the rarest of scents – an unisex rose fragrance.
The easiest one to wear: Leather and rose
Galop d’Hèrmes is the first perfume Christine Nagel created for Hèrmes (she’s the new house perfumer for the brand) after Jean-Claude Ellena made Hèrmes the byword for watercolour-like fragrances that mostly centred around one accord. Nagel did something very different and at the same time similar with Galop – first, Galop is an Eau de Perfum, while Ellena’s were Eau de Toilettes (lighter), and Galop centres around two notes, rose and leather. Nevertheless, Galop’s official notes are still much shorter than the majority of fragrances out there, naming only rose, leather, saffron and quince. Don’t be afraid of the leather, though – nstperfume calls it ‘more Birkin than stable’, and for two notes that are potentially heavy, this is an astonishingly light fragrance.
Elegant and close to the skin
The rose might be prominent when you first spray it, but it’s a very elegant one. After a while, the fragrance reminds me a lot of my favourite ‘I need to look accomplished and lady-like’ perfume: Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum (the original one), which is basically genteel leather (must be the leather note of those companies that make handbags for a living) and peach jam. The quince and the saffron give Galop both a bit of fruitiness and spice. The longevity is decent, but for an Eau de Parfum, nothing to write home about. Projection – very modest, close to the skin. At the end of the day, this is a warm, fruity leather that you’ll (or your significant other) smell when you bury your nose in your skin. Very well-behaved, easy to wear. Outrageously expensive though, even if it’s an EdP, but that might be due to the wonderful stirrup-like bottle it comes in. Is it a must-have? No. But I’m very happy that I own it.
At the moment, it’s mainly available at Hèrmes Boutiques and their own website. There’s also a refill bottle that’s much cheaper (stirrup bottle is 50 ml for $210, Euro 225, the refill is 125ml for $240 and 260€).
The grown-up one: A bouquet of flowers, oud and tonka
Keiko Mecheri’s Bal de Rose has a very special place in my heart. I was looking (don’t ask me why, the heart wants what the heart wants?) for a special rose fragrance. During a wonderful afternoon at Parfümerie Albrecht in Frankfurt (highly recommended if you’re ever in Frankfurt, as I mentioned in my shopping guide) I smelled about every rose fragrance they had. Bal de Rose won my heart at first sniff, and as I took a small sample home, it developed on my skin, and I loved it even more. And it broke my heart to discover the price. My wonderful not-yet husband gave it to me later, and I even wore it to our wedding. So. This is a special fragrance for me, especially as I can’t usually stand ‘floriental’ fragrances (composed of flowers and ‘oriental’ spices like oud). Oh, and usually I also can’t stand oud. Nevertheless, in Bal de Rose every note comes together just right.
Sexy with astonishing longevity
Rose here, in spite of the name, is just one flower among a whole bouquet. The official notes are Damascena rose, Bulgarian rose, Taif rose, petitgrain, white sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, benzoin. For me the fragrance, when first sprayed, is all about a big blast of flowers – it’s like being in a garden surrounded by roses, jasmine and tuberose. Together with the smoky and sweet and spicy wood accord that develops later, it’s a very sexy and seductive scent. It’s not for every occasion, though – I wouldn’t wear it to the office, but rather for going out. One reason for that is the projection Bal de Rose has – this is not a skin-scent. Naturally, this powerhouse of a fragrance also has awesome longevity – I can usually smell it on me the next day, also on all of my scarves and clothes and jackets I wore that day. A word on the price – one reason for that is the inclusion of Damascena Roses from Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. There isn’t a great amount harvested yearly, and voilà, there’s the reason to spend some serious money on Bal de Rose (if you’d need one).
I cherish my bottle and honestly think it’s the best perfume I own. (50ml for $220 at Luckyscent, 209€ at Parfumdreams and 229€ at Parfümerie Albrecht)
The unisex one: Wood, pepper (oh, and rose)
I’ve wrote about Le Labo Rose 31 before here. I encountered it during a vacation, went to a Le Labo Boutique and they mixed it for me there (flabbergasted!). This one is really an unisex fragrance (really!). Notes are Grasse rose, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, olibanum, cedar, amber, gain wood, oud, cysts, vetiver and animalic notes. So, this opens with a burst of pink, nearly fresh and citrus-y smelling pepper. Then, after the dry down, the rose appears. I read reviews saying that the rose notes remind them of dried rose petals, and for me, that’s not far off. After a few hours, the scent is all about warm and spicy wood notes for me. I don’t find the animalistic notes or the oud very prominent.
Wood and wood and spices (and then a bit of rose)
This one definitely isn’t for someone looking for a big rose fragrance, but rather for someone who likes spicy wood fragrances and isn’t averse to wearing scents that aren’t utterly feminine. Longevity and projection are great, but then, this is an EdP, and not an Eau de Toilette. I love wearing it. Unisex scents like this are, for me, a confidence booster in fragrance form. I can totally see why this is both the bestseller at Le Labo, and the fragrance perfume critic Luca Turin trashed as “not a rose”.
It’s available at Le Labo Boutiques, and their own website, for $175 for 50ml, and 140€. You can also get it at Luckyscent.)
Btw, if you like rose fragrances, have a look at Victoria’s blog EauMG. She just had a week of rose fragrance reviews! Also, if you want to brush up on your perfume knowledge, have a look at our perfume guide here and here!