Today, we’re looking at a few of the fresher, lighter rose scents out there – L’Ombre Dans L’Eau and Eau Rose by Diptyque, Rose en Noir by Miller Harris, and Elisabethan Rose by Penhaligon’s.
L’Ombre Dans L’Eau by Diptyque
In January, 2013, alone in a small niche perfumery in Rome and armed with birthday money, which is free money, I made my first niche perfume purchases, among them Diptyque’s L’Ombre Dans L’Eau. I ended up selling all but one of those bottles (I kept Borneo 1834), and the first on the chopping block was L’Ombre Dans L’Eau. I always have a moment of hesitation before selling on a perfume, but not this time.
I had, of course, made the rookie mistake of falling in love with the fresh, green topnotes and not waiting for the dry down to arrive before getting my wallet out. The top notes are great though, if you’re into very vivid, naturalistic garden settings – this one is like walking through a lush, wet tomato patch, snapping the leaves as you go. The blackcurrant leaf note is particularly mouth-watering.
But what I discovered when I got home was a luridly pink, neon-lit rose that screeched and screeched in my ear until my last nerve snapped. I read somewhere that people think it would make a better room spray than a personal perfume, so before selling it, I gave it one last spritz around the bedroom. But that just made the room smell of L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, so no, that didn’t work.
Recently, someone sent me a sample in a swap, and I decided to see if my feelings about it have changed. Nope. It’s still pretty awful – that loud pink disco rose waiting in hiding behind the beautiful opening, poised to explode all over the pain receptors in my brain – Jesus, someone get this off of me, please.
Rose En Noir by Miller Harris
Noir my arse. It’s about as noir as I am, which considering I come from a race of people who are a shade of duck egg blue in winter, is not very.
Still, it’s a very pretty fragrance, this Rose en Noir, with its bright herbal top and prickly petigrain leading into a moderately peppery rose. The coriander adds a slightly soapy accent to the rose (but stops short of making it metallic or sharp), and violet leaf adds a watery, green feel to the background noise. I get discreet wafts of tobacco leaf here and there – at one point briefly turning ever so slightly smoky (nice!) – but it’s not really the main focus.
It is not a dark scent, nor is it animalic. You’d think that the use of black pepper and coriander puts you in the same general area as Rose Poivree and Une Fille de Berlin, but Rose en Noir is nowhere near as dramatic as these. It’s a bright but soft herbal tobacco-rose composition that doesn’t come down too heavy on any one note, so the overall impression is of lightness and sparkle.
But what could be seen as restraint or discretion in the use of notes actually turns out to be the undoing of the scent – everything is so muted and pale that it fails to rise above mere prettiness. It is very easy to wear, but so quiet that one tends to forget you’re wearing it after an hour or two. I suspect that Rose en Noir was tailor made to appeal to casual browsers in Liberty’s in London, women for whom fragrance is likely a pleasant afterthought rather than the all-consuming passion it is for me – the dark-sounding name will look cool on the dressing table and the scent itself won’t scare the horses. I’m clearly not the target audience here, and you know what, that’s totally cool.
Eau Rose by Diptyque
It has taken me a few years to try another Diptyque rose after my horrendous brush with the truly awful L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, but being the trooper I am, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and reached out my hand for the tester bottle of Eau Rose in Space NK on a recent trip to Dublin.
Actually, let me be completely honest with you here – I did not spray it on myself. My two-year-old daughter volunteered. You should have seen her manfully rolling up her sleeves and offering her teeny, tiny wrists to me, looking the other way, and murmuring “Do what you must, Mother.” (I swear this happened).
And you know what, Eau Rose is really nice! We both liked it a lot. It smells like small, pink roses freshly picked and strewn over a bowl of water – it’s very fresh, sweet (without being jammy or saccharine), and unlikely to offend anyone. What I appreciated about Eau Rose in particular is that it maintains its perky, full-figured character all the way through and never turns sour. I hate sourness in a rose – or excessive greenness.
The litchi and blackcurrant add a juicy fruitiness that tickles the tongue, and the geranium a hint of cool minty leafiness that plays nicely against the sweet, pink rosiness. In the dry down, there’s a quiet (white) honey and musk combo forming a cushion under the fruity rose, and it all feels quite natural and solid. I can’t tell you exactly how long it lasted because at some point my daughter’s wrists became smeared in seagull poo. Don’t ask.
Although a little too simple for my tastes, Eau Rose would be an excellent starter rose for anyone (well, honestly probably just those of the female persuasion) who wants a true rose without any greenery, woods, oud, or heavy gourmand notes to sully its purity. I suspect that it would also be brilliant for layering.
Elisabethan Rose by Penhaligon`s
I brazenly prized open the plastic box protecting this at Tk Maxx the other day, risking life and limb in front of one seriously pissed-off TK Maxx lady to see what exactly justified the princely sum of €69.99 when all the other perfumes were going for €40 or less, including some of the Penhaligon ones. Boy was the look on that lady’s face sour.
Not as sour, however, as Elisabethan Rose.
The one good thing I can say about the rose in this is that it does not disappoint you by turning sour later on in the development, because this one goes on sour, stays sour, and ends sour. It is at least consistent.
There are not enough descriptors in the world to convey how bad I find this to be. It’s soapy, fusty and very tea-rose-ish in the way that those straight-up rose scents from Yardley and The Perfumer’s Workshop are. Very old-fashioned and chokingly powdery. My personal vision of hell includes being chained to the bed, sprayed dripping wet in this, and being made to watch golf for hours on end.