(Image source unknown)
perfumer Michel Almairac
I know a couple of Michel Almairac’s roses, Voleur de Rose for l’Artisan Parfumeur and the inexpensive but spectacular Cabaret for Grès. Voleur is a beautifully simple-to-wear patchouli rose with and earthy/fruity bent. Cabaret is a long-lasting musky rose/incense and one of the best perfumes available for about 25 bucks. Clearly, the perfumer knows his way around a rose garden.
If you like West Side, it is a richer, more complex perfume than either of the above two. If you’re not fond of it, it’s just more complicated. West Side doesn’t have the transparency of Cabaret or the succinctness of Voleur, but it is a well considered take on the gourmand-floral. West Side is built on a woody rose/vanilla core that gets pulled this way and that by a number of modifiers, making it a difficult perfume to categorize. Peony pulls the rose in a loud, frazzled direction. A sweet milkiness, I assume a sandalwood analogue, pulls the rose in a woody/creamy direction. Vanilla takes the rose toward the gourmand, but it’s not a Willy Wonka over-the-top dessert frenzy. It smells a bit like a rich, creamy porridge with rosewater. If the ‘neither/nor’ thing bothers you, West Side might not be your cup of tea. But if you like the idea of a perfume that presents a different face to different perspectives, give it a go.
West side isn’t my bag, but I can dig it, baby. It’s nicely composed, it wears very well over time and has an unhurried, zaftig sensibility. It’s dense and cozy, more a ‘come hither’ fragrance than a sillage monster.