“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…
They don’t find it,” I answered.
And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”
Of course,” I answered.
And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince
There have been a spate of rose-dominated fragrance releases recently. These include Vero Profumo’s Rozy, which has been the talk of pretty much the entire blogosphere. I must confess that even at the point of writing this, I have yet to try it… so yes, I am a blogging deviant and you may stone me. But to make up for it, I’m working on a special review of Vero’s Mito Voile d’Extrait, which includes maenads and yes, ‘erotic’ poetry. Yes, yes, it’s been out for ages already, but what can I do – I do write rather slowly and only when inspiration strikes!
Anyway, I decided to review another rosy perfume instead – Ann Gerard’s Rose Cut. I was sent a sample of it sometime back by the lovely folk of Bloom Perfumery (thank you!). Since then, I’ve worn it on and off to determine how I truly feel about it. Now Fragrantica lists Rose Cut as a chypre floral, but I’m going to go out on a limb and state flatly that it ain’t a chypre at all. It’s neither a proper chypre nor a pseudo-chypre nor even vaguely chypre-ish. No. Rose Cut belongs, through and through, to the genus also known as the rose-chouli, to which other notable species include Juliette Has a Gun’s Citizen Queen (more fruity vulgar) and Frédéric Malle’s Portrait of a Lady (more incense, more heft, and less restraint). Does the world need another rose-chouli perfume? In short, my answer is emphatically: ‘Yes.’
The opening of Rose Cut was for me the most difficult to accept. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but it’s really not my style. Rose Cut opens with a bright, JAMMY and boozy rose. Take a handful of red berries, crush them, and stir in a lot of sugar. The result is a sweet and syrupy concoction that almost veers on a recipe for diabetes. Thankfully, the pink peppers give it the necessary lift that prevent the opening of Rose Cut from being one sticky, treacly mess. Strange, isn’t it, that even though I’m not a fan of pink pepper, I’m actually very glad that it’s used here? Also, enter the patchouli. I’m not a fan of patchouli when it’s used in the context of sweet (think Angel), but here it actually works fine, because the usually dirty and earthy patchouli has been strained and filtered that what pops out is really quite clean indeed. Hurray. I suppose it fits in with the whole idea of a cut diamond that sparkles, so kudos to Duchaufour and Gerard for consistency in terms of imagery. So to summarise the opening movement: a tad too sweet, a tad too fruity, but ultimately more interesting by far than Penhaligon’s uninspired Peoneve.
It gets better. The heart, for me, was pure, unadorned, unadulterated Turkish rose, a classic, elegant beauty à la Frédéric Malle’s Une Rose which was indubitably the star of the show. The rose was vividly etched on my arm and its velvety petals delicately unfurled before my nose. I appreciate the restraint shown in this phase and the decision to showcase the flower as it is, without being plagued by the usual problems such as the lemony quality that is usually observed in pure rose oils.
They’ve saved the best for last. The drydown is pure pleasure, a ravishing blend of vanilla, benzoin and patchouli. It is warm, comforting and elegant. I’ve got a thing for resins, and Rose Cut doesn’t scrimp on them. That said, they never veer into Serge Lutens territory, and maintain their polished, refined exterior. Many a time, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to sniff my arm, smiling contentedly as I do so; I’ve had some very pleasant dreams indeed.
If Rose Cut demonstrates anything, it is that the partnership between Ann Gerard and Bertrand Duchaufour works magic, especially since it comes after the sublime beauty that is Cuir de Nacre, which I adore. I began this post with a quote from one of my favourite books of all time, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In the crowded perfume world with its many roses, it can be hard to find what we’re looking for. We’ve got to look with our hearts. And I believe Rose Cut has my heart.
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince
You may find Rose Cut at any of the retailers listed on the Ann Gerard Parfum site. In the UK, it is available at Bloom Perfumery, where a 60ml bottle retails for £100. I highly recommend the discovery kit, which contains 4×7.5ml of each one of the fragrances in the range. In the US, it is available at the usual suspects Lucky Scent and Beauty Habit. You can also find it at Jovoy in Paris.
~ The Smelly Vagabond