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Stella – Still one of the best - March 10, 2016


I love sunshine. We’ve been teased with almost-Spring sunshine over the past few days, and while walking in its warmth on the sunny side of the street this afternoon I heard my inner voice say, “This is soul-restoring. This moment could not be better”. But no sooner were the words in my head than a wave of fragrance wafted up from my scarf and I heard “Correction. This moment just got a whole lot better!”

My SOTD is Stella, one of my favourite finds from a New York visit a few years ago, a signature fragrance from fashion designer Stella McCartney. Stella is a rose, and if you’ve spent any time on our website and done a search for “ROSE” you’ll find pages and pages of posts, listings, and references to the rose note from the perfumes we’ve written about.

The scent of rose blossoms in nature is recognized by most people and is a gorgeous floral fragrance all on its own. The rose absolue note in the art of perfume-making is iconic, regarded as one of the goddess notes, and is often found nestling in the heart of many fragrances for both women and men. Why? Simply because it is so strong and distinctive, but also because it is malleable and so agreeable to blending with other notes to become something “other” - citrusy, fruity, green, earthy, woody, peppery, salty, sweet, boozy, lush, warm, smoky, sexy, or downright dirty.

So which rose ”other” is Stella? It opens with rose essence, crisp sweet mandarin citrus and spicy peony, a gentle accord which feels dewy and transparent rather than juicy or sparkling. The soft natural rose becomes stronger as it flows into the heart, now more lush and velvety with the addition of rose absolue which has a quiet rather than dramatic opulence. In the base, rose is paired with warm woody amber, an accord which repeats the transparent sensation of the opening and which perfectly highlights the natural rosy floral in the heart of Stella.

Stella is all about the rose, not rose “others”, and it feels a lot like the way Stella McCartney’s clothing designs look: classic, sleek, tailored, with a non-gendered vibe. Its sheer quality makes it appealing to modern noses. Indeed, Stella is a floral that can easily be worn by both sexes, who want to appreciate the beauty of a classic note but prefer to experience it in a subtle format.

According to an interview with Stella McCartney, she “wanted to capture the fragility of the high summer rose when the petals are just about to fall off. It's not about skipping around the country in a frilly skirt on a summer day.”

Perfumer Jacques Cavallier (Kingdom by Alexander McQueen, YSL Nu, L’Eau d’Issey, among many others) captured that fragile quality of the summer rose to perfection, and delivered to Ms. McCartney her signature fragrance that has stood the test of time. The original Stella EdP was launched in 2003, remains a best-seller and has inspired 14 more fragrances, mostly iterations of the original Stella’s rose heart.

I think Stella EdP is still the best of the bunch, and one of the best modern roses you can find.

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