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Rosa Flamenca – Olé! (September 12, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)

Once when I was driving with my cousin from France to Spain, we stopped to have a coffee in a Spanish town just across the French border. I said it would be my treat and suggested he grab a table while I got the java.

I suppose the change in country hadn’t really registered so when I got to the counter I ordered two café au laits. What I got were two expresso coffees with milk on the side. Huh? I wasn’t in the mood to ask, discuss or argue, so I just took the coffees to the table where my cousin was sitting, put one down in front of him and took a seat across from him.

He looked at his coffee, he looked at the milk then he looked at me.

I just shrugged my shoulders and said “I asked for café au lait and this is what I got”.

He looked at me and said, “You asked for café au lait and she gave you café olé!”

We both had a good laugh and enjoyed our coffees before hitting the road again.

Nice memory of Spain, but I doubt it would inspire a perfume. Perhaps in the hands of a skilled nose like Marie-Héléne Rogeon it could be something. After all, it was after visiting the rose gardens of Andalusia – that province of Spain known for its eastern influenced Moorish-style architecture and where the blood sport of bullfighting and hot, passionate flamenco dancing originated – that she was inspired to create that little gem of a fragrance, Rosa Flamenca.

Marie-Héléne Rogeon was born into a family of perfumers. Her great-grand father, Louis Panafieu, created eau de cologne for Napoleon III. Her grandparents created fragrances for Paul Poiret, the first designer to produce a line of perfumes called Rosine, after his daughter. Sadly, Poiret’s house closed in 1929 and his perfumes went out of production. A talented nose in her own right with as passion for perfumery, Mme. Rogeon is also fascinated by roses.

Well, having a rose fetish myself I totally understand her fascination with them. Did you know, for example, that every rose has a different scent? That’s right. There are over 7,500 different varieties of roses and each one has a distinct scent! Thorny roses, dirty roses, woody roses - the possibilities are endless - somebody pinch me!

In 1991 Mme. Rogeon combined her love of roses with her knowledge of perfumery and re-launched the Rosine line with rose-based fragrances and renamed it Rose de Rosine. Today she sells over 20 frags in her charming little boutique in the Palais Royale.

I confess that I’m a sucker for this line, still I do have my faves and one whiff of Rosa Flamenca and I was a goner!

It opens with orange blossom and sweet, honeyed neroli with a backbone of green, woody orange petit grain. The neroli has a slight metallic edge that is given a raw bitterness from the addition of green orange peel. The different aspects of orange are here – blossom, stem and peel, yet it doesn’t smell sweet/fruity/orangey. Instead, it smells slightly sweet and softly exotic - a reminder that oranges originated in Southeast Asia.
This impression stays as it moves to the heart where roses, big bouquets of ‘em, show up and stay for the duration. But too much of a good thing can be too much, so white jasmine is there to temper the rose by giving it another floral dimension. Just as you are trying to find a word to capture this sublime scent experience so that you can store it in another part of your brain and relive it later, fig wood appears and adds an animalic note. Now, it becomes a soft powdery rose scent warmed by hot skin – olé indeed - until sandalwood and soft musk at the base mellow it out.

Rosa Flamenca sounds like it should be all peppery heat and spiciness, but Rosa Flamenca is not as crude or predictable as that. It’s the experience of the eastern influence, the dance and the roses unique to Andalusia that are distilled and expressed in this refined, elegant and sensuous scent. That’s what makes it so wearable and so memorable that you keep going back to it.

Rosa Flamenca is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

If you'd like to know where you can buy a bottle of any of the scents we write about, just email us, telling us where you live and we’ll tell you where you can get it.