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Rose d’Homme – Pick this one! (December 13, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

I am a rose hound. It is always my inclination to reach for the roses first whenever I’m presented with an array of frags. More than once Kay and I have been scent shopping and she has seen my eyes blink and my hand shake as I reach for a bottle. “It’s the rose thing again, isn’t it?” she asks. Easy for her to say, she doesn’t have a rose-monkey on her back.

My attraction to rose scents is almost cerebral. I mean, roses smell beautiful, look gorgeous and are iconic in many ways, but if it isn’t done right, it smells like old lady. I mean, the two benchmark scents when I was growing up were lavender and rose. Lavender and rose soaps, sachets and salts – the things you gave your music teacher at Christmas. I get the collywobbles just thinking about it. So, while I am a sucker for rose frags, I am very discriminating when it comes to slapping down the plastic. In fact, the last rose scent I bought was Rose d`Homme by Les Parfums de Rosine.

Located at the top of the of the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, not far from Serge Lutens actually, is Les Parfums de Rosine shop. The line was launched in 1911 by Paul Poiret, a Parisian fashion designer and innovator known for introducing draped clothing, as opposed to tailored designs that effectively freed women from having to wear corsets. (This already makes him a hero in my books.) And, he was  the first designer to launch a fragrance. But time and circumstances were not kind to M. Poiret, and after WWI his business went bankrupt, and he died in poverty.

Fast forward to the 1990’s and a woman named Marie-Helène Rogeon. Born into a family of perfumers - her grandparents and great-grandparents had been fillers for Les Parfums de Rosine  -  she developed an interest in relaunching the line despite the fact that virtually no written formulae existed. Working with perfumer François Robert, they reconstructed La Rose de Rosine, and in 1991 she opened the doors to Les Parfums de Rosine. Today, there are over 21 scents in the line, all based on roses. I’ve smelled them all and while there are some great stand-outs in the line, the one I took home was Rose d’Homme. ‘C’mon, a rose-based scent for men?’ I hear the naysayers, ‘It can’t be done!” Oh, yes it can, and done very well thank you.

It opens with citrus and rose. Not a blast, but quietly. A note of jasmine appears and gives the rose a floral lushness.  Vanilla adds a note of sweetness before lavender comes forward. Uh-oh, the dreaded old lady rose/lavender combo – but here they work together beautifully, the lavender adding a soapiness and a crispness to the blend is decidedly not old-lady or very feminine for that matter. As it blooms leather, patchouli and vetiver appear – adding warmth, depth and a duskiness. Rose is the star here, no doubt, and is present throughout, but it never dominates, never becomes sweet, too cloying or too feminine.

Rose d’Homme is a chic, elegant mature fragrance that is unlike any other. And, while it says ‘homme’ it really is unisex. My eyes are blinking, my hand is shaking….
Today, we’re adding Rose d’Homme to our fragrance samples offering. Samples are $4.00.