my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Les Parfums de Rosine

When I undertook Les Parfums de Rosine ... thinking it would be an interesting study in a range of roses, I had no idea of the complexity of the house, much less the fragrances.

I think I better give you the summation up here, because I'm not sure how long I can hold you through the mass of Rosine fragrances: it's a rich and colorful pageant.

The house feels a bit incoherent, like its history, but it forms an extremely interesting tapestry of scent with a theme, for the most part, of rose. Many, many takes on the Rose.

If you have any inclination toward this note, at all, you will find something to like in this line (and I hope you comment on your experience of them).

Symbolism of the Rose (according to the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust)

  • The Roman phrase sub rosa ("under the rose") is derived from unspoken knowledge that when roses were painted or carved on a ceiling, anything said or done in the room would be considered confidential.
  • To the Persians, the rose was a symbol of life: its beauty the perfection we should strive for, its thorns depicting the difficulties we all come against, recurrent blooming representing that our efforts should be faithful, with the flower confirming that we will in the end succeed.
  • In the Middle Ages, the rose became the Christian symbol of Mary, Mother of God. It was also significant to Persians and Muslim Arabs who intensely cultivated it; when the Crusades began, the rose was a prize brought back to Europe where it then was cultivated.
  • Again in Christianity, the rose is symbolized by the rosary, the string of beads (possibly initially made from dried rose hips or carved from rose wood) used for counting prayers.
  • The rose became a secular symbol by the fifteenth century, one of human love but also of royal power, best represented in the War of the Roses with the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster united as the Tudor rose (a small white rose upon a red).
  • The rose to the Victorians symbolized love, but its varying colors spoke in the language of flowers: a yellow rose indicated "a decrease in love" while a white meant "I am worthy of you."

In 1911, Paul Poiret created the brand Les Parfums de Rosine in the name of his eldest daughter, technically making him the first French fashion designer/perfumer ... although he never affiliated his design house with the scents of Les Parfums de Rosine.

Initial perfumes were composed by Emanuel Bouler, Maurice Shaller and Henri Alméras (Shaller later created Carnet du Bal for Revillion (1937); Alméras created Joy (1930) and other fragrances for Jean Patou).

François Coty is said to have tried to buy the company, which did well until the stock market crash of 1929.

Les Parfums de Rosine brand was reintroduced in 1991 by Marie-Hélène Rogeon, who had previously worked for Givenchy and Pierre Balmain, with new fragrances created by François Robert.

Modern Rosine creations

Rose d'Ete
Initially a tart apple, it morphs into something synthetic and sweetly, rosily sharp. Notes of galbanum and bergamot, yellow rose, linden blossom, mimosa, lotus blossom, ambrette seed, musk.

La Rose de Rosine (original 1912, redesigned by François Robert in 1991)
Pretty, with a lovely vintage feel. Notes of violet with marigold and an indolic tinge of jasmine and ylang, also Damascan, Turkish, Bulgarian and Greek roses(!), musk, tonka bean, benzoin and balsam. Tovah of Basenotes likens it to FM Lipstick Rose; to me, Lipstick Rose is more powder, a bit softer .. while La Rose pushes its whole weight against you.

Ecume de Rose
"Rose foam" is a martini-like alcoholic scent quickly supplanted by a not-quite-aquatic but salty nonetheless "roses at the beach" feel. Notes include blackcurrant leaves and waterlilies, dune roses, attar of rose and rose absolut, strawflowers and St. John's wort, vetiver, amber and white musk.

Un Zeste de Rose
A circus of a sugary rose-citrus blend with mandarin, lemon bark and orange blossoms, bergamot, cedar, dried fruits, Bulgarian rose, tea rose, jasmine, rose absolute, gardenia, white musk, gray amber, smoked tea leaves. Chewy, I think. Like one of those orange-slice candies.

Poussiere de Rose
Step into a dark church of the Ancien Régime ... smell the wafting incense with its notes of rose, frankincense, tea and cinnamon. Still more notes weigh in: prunes, apricot and ylang ylang, before the fragrant dust settles into sandalwood, cedar, opoponax, benzoin resin, amber and musk.

Rosa Flamenca
Some heat with staccato notes of neroli, bergamot and mandarin, petitgrain, orange blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine. Rose absolute's entry is delayed, and softened, with accompanying notes of figwood, sandalwood, white musk and benzoin resin.

Une Folie de Rose (a descendant of the vintage Rosine Coeur En Folie of 1925?)
A medicinal note -- that must be the convergence of bergamot and coriander -- is fairly quickly rescued from madness by the florality of ylang, jasmine and tea rose.

Mea Culpa
Diverging from the rose theme, a tuberose fragrance created in 1924 and relaunched in 1994. Do I dare mention Fracas?

Additional Rosines (not a complete list of all past and present Rosine fragrances)

La Coupe d'Or (original 1919, apparently redesigned by Francois Robert in 1993)
Notes of orange, cinnamon, peach, red fruits, lily of the valley, rose, sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla.

Rose d'Homme
A rose fragrance for men with bergamot, citrus, patchouli and vetiver followed by vanilla, lavender and leather, jasmine, mandarin and rose.

Rose d'Amour
Ginger, galbanum, bergamot, aldehydes and rose bay, jasmine, narcissus and iris, moss, musk nut, pepper, vetiver, roseberry, chamomile, blackcurrant, rosebuds, turkish rose, sweet brier and raspberry leaves, sandalwood, iris.

Nuit de Chine (1913, originally Nuit d'Orient and created by Maurice Shaller when Paul Poiret controlled the house)
Includes a sandalwood note suggesting incense from ancient China; the perfumista Octavian has suggested that Nuit de Chine was the inspiration for Ernest Beaux's Soir de Paris.

Attribution and gratitude to


Blogger G said...

So a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet ... that's my unfortunate knowledge of rose scents or perfumes in general. I have some issues with strong scents becuase it seems I have developed some allergy of sorts towards perfume. Now I know this is a gross over generalization but the majority have given me headaches and I then experience nausea. Terrible. This "scentsitivity" seemed to kick in after my pregnancies when anything was likely to upset the apple cart, so to speak.

But when I read the breadth of knowledge that you offer on the topic well, makes me want to understand a little more. As it is I just put a nice fresh scented body lotion on after shower most days.

Anyway, very interesting indeed.

5:03 PM

Blogger NowSmellThis said...

There are many from this house that I need to revisit. For now, Ecume & Folie are the only ones I really wear. You don't say which ones are your favorites, M (?)

6:58 PM

Blogger mireille said...

G, maybe start with something lighter than these? Maybe something listed in the sheer scents post. And thanks for asking, R ... La Rose de Rosine and Poussiere de Rose, and I haven't tried, but think I'll like, Rose d'Homme. xoxo

7:09 PM

Blogger G said...

Thanks Mireille - I will check out that post.

7:06 PM

Blogger Jemima said...

I had read a white rose symbolised indifference, which caused a wry smile or two to rest on my lips when, after planting two bushes, one white, one red, the latter yielded a single weedy true-love bloom, and the white flowers flourished and expanded.

It's fair to say I can be a little on the reserved side in romantic negotiations.

I love roses and the smell of roses, I received a beautiful basket of roses (red and pink) carnations and chrysanthemums from a student last week. But it seems to me they are too often overlooked as both flower and scent, tired, old fashioned without being retro, done. Which is an injustice.

And that's as much as I'm ever likely to write on the topic of fragrance.

6:13 AM

Blogger elle said...

This was very much a hit and miss line for me. However, I do madly adore La Rose (my beloved peru balsam!!), Poussiere de Rose, Rose d'Homme and Mea Culpa (I remain puzzled as to why this one is so attractive to me). I definitely enjoy Ecume de Rose and La Coupe d'Or (well, mostly like this one when layered w/ a dark, woodsy scent). The only one I think is truly dreadful is Roseberry. Shudder!
Have you seen theimportsguy's Nuit de Chine for $999 (starting bid) on ebay? He has a smaller bottle for a mere $499 and an edc for $349. Your description makes it sound fab, but I shall have to wait till next inc. to purchase them.

9:00 AM

Blogger mireille said...

Only $999? xoxo

1:00 PM


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