Perfumer Trudi Loren
The rose is often maligned among fumies. It’s quaint, it’s prosaic, it’s the low hanging fruit of floral perfumes. It’s lovely on the bush but uninteresting in the bottle. Perhaps the rose’s greatest sin among the cognicsienti: it’s common.
I see it differently. The rose’s ability to play the common denominator makes it the ultimate contextual note. Whole genres are created through the rose’s affinity with woods, ambers and resins, fruits and mosses. Rose notes make the most beautiful chypres, fruity florals, florientals and woody florals. It has so many intuitive pairings because there are many facets to rose that are enhanced by other materials and notes: patchouli, oakmoss, cedar, citrus, musk, labdanum, vanilla, berry. Rose perfumes can be woody, jammy, sweet/dry, bright/dark, soft, garish, innocent or skanky. Rose is to flowers what sandalwood is to woods: the broadest, most encompassing example of its genre. The best analogy I can come up with for the rose is blood types. Rose is the AB + blood type of perfumery: the universal recipient. The rose can be paired with just about anything.
And here is the trap.
Many fumies disdain rose perfumes because, where’s the artistry in a note that can’t help but smell good? What good is beauty if it’s common? My counter to this line of thinking has two parts. 1) There have been terrible rose perfumes, so quality isn’t guaranteed. 2) Smell Amouage Lyric Woman, Vero Profumo Rozy or Paco Rabanne la Nuit and tell me that rose lacks character.
Aramis Calligraphy Rose takes full advantage of the rose and uses oud to make a woody rose/floriental hybrid. A hybrid/hybrid. The rose springboards off a light oud note to create a heady, jammy, boozy perfume with lush sillage and a long arc. Aramis clearly sees the perfume as a market-expander, a foot in the door of an Arabic sensibility and demographic. The marketing strategy is simple to the point of crass, especially compared to Amouage, a comparison Aramis would desperately like the consumer to make. But the perfume is lovely. It steps straight into the line of fire of the rose critics by being a ‘feel good’ fragrance. But passing the Guy Robert ‘smell good’ test is only the first hurdle of any perfume. From there, a perfume must then be considered in light of criteria such as coherence, balance and thoughtfulness, and Calligraphy Rose rises to the occasion.