l’Artisan Parfumeur Rose Privée, 2015

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Stéphanie Bakouche’s sensational Invasion Barbare for Parfums MDCI is a hard act to follow, and it’s worth considering that early-career success is not without its downside. The expectation following a Luca Turin 5-star rating of a first perfume is stratospheric. Rose Privée is Backouche’s second perfume, released a full ten years after Invasion Barbare and co-authored by Bertrand Duchaufour, cited by l’Artisan as Bakouche’s mentor. In the intervening years she’s been at the heart of the l’Artisan Parfumeur line, first as a Trainer and then as a Fragrance Development Manager and Perfumer.

The opening of Rose Privée is pure color. Pink rose, silver-green violet, white and pink grapefruit, green basil. But mostly pink, as in pretty. Not as unabashedly pretty as Drole de Rose or as self-possessed as Safran Troublant, Olivia Giacobetti’s two roses for l’Artisan, but Rose Privée is charming and fits the l’Artisan aesthetic. Rose and violet, a classic ‘makeup’ pairing, hint at lipstick but Rose Privée is far from the plumped and ready-for-battle lips of Incarnata‘s cold violet.

The rose of the topnotes is brief but bright, creating an olfactory effect similar to a cinematic lens flare followed by a hazed washout. The eau de parfum fades to violet via lilac, all the while suggesting a range of watercolor pinks and purples. The topnotes are gentle but as they meld into a sweeter, sharper lilac-magnolia accord, the rose seems more fragile than soft. The directness of the synthetic tone easily outpaces any attempt at a full-fleshed natural appearance, which is not necessarily a failure in a perfume. But for one that puts “Rose” in klieg lights and sells itself as a rose de mai, the transition from the topnotes to the musky-berry heartnotes has the feeling of deflation. Streamlined, abstract tones take precedence over verisimilitude to rose and the topnotes blow away in the breeze. Post-rose, the perfume is linear.

The ‘basenotes’ are a better indicator of the perfume’s intention. A calibrated woody-musky shape forms the skeleton of the fragrance. It recalls a softer version of the the finish Duchaufour has applied to many of his woody-florals like Dzongkha or Sienne d’Hiver, but without his signature incense. The odd thing, though, is that unlike the radiance and durability that the Duchaufour treatment usually gives a perfume, evanescence is Rose Privée’s chief trait. The whole experience of the eau de parfum lasts about 2 hours, after which it’s gone without a trace.

If you’re looking for a long-lasting or thorny rose, Rose Privée won’t suit you. But worn as a buoyant, floral version of an eau de cologne, it fits the bill. The rose de mai burns off like the citrus of an eau de cologne and the musky sweetness floats until it fades.

(image source unknown)

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