That Which We Call A Rose Perfume

When it comes to perfume, what’s in a name? As Shakespeare wrote, that which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet… right? These perfumes all feature the note of rose, which the ancient Greek writer Achilles Tatius dubbed “queen of flowers.” We humans have loved roses for a long time, mesmerized by their beauty and romantic associations. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you call them; like these 10 perfumes, they’re going to smell amazing anyway.

Let’s start with the most hyperrealistic rose on this list–Aerin’s Rose de Grasse Joyful Bloom. A crisp rose with a slight hint of citrus, this features notes of Indian rose, bergamot, and sandalwood and smells like sticking your nose into a bouquet of freshly picked roses, cut from the ground only moments ago. Grasse, France, is the perfume capital of the world, so no wonder this rose is so divine. It’s a green, vibrant experience appropriate for all occasions; it’s also excellent for layering, as its scent profile is so pure. 

House of Bo’s Rosario, available at Bluemercury, is another fragrance that captures rose in her natural glory. This one is beautifully sweet and innocent–realistic and green, but a bit sweeter than the Aerin. I find this one to be refreshing and youthful, not in the sense that it’s for a teenage audience, but that it somehow captures the feeling of being young. With notes including pomegranate, rose centifolia, freesia, white peony, vetiver, and incense, this one makes me picture a picnic in a garden, a place of rose-flavored macarons before me. 

Another rose I’d place in this family is Rose of No Man’s Land by Byredo. This one is named after the nurses in World War I who saved thousands of soldiers’ lives in the unoccupied ground between the opposing trenches and is thus symbolic of compassion and selflessness. The scent is divine; it’s a comforting, earthy rose, sweet in the way that dried rose petals are. With notes of Turkish rose, pink pepper, raspberry bloom, and amber, it’s not too green, not too aquatic, not too powdery or even too hyperrealistic–this is a rose with her own life, her own agency, and nothing can get in her way–not unlike the nurses this scent is named for. It’s an easy signature scent. 

Roses Musk by Montale, available at Twisted Lily, is rather green on first spray, then settles into a lovely, musky, slightly powdery rose that is sweet and addictive. It reminds me of a fragrant pink cloud. Its notes are white musk and intensified rose, with a touch of amber and jasmine–the simplicity of this one is rather genius. If you’ve ever eaten one of those old-fashioned rose candies, that is what this one reminds me of–a powdered, sweet, floral, good enough to eat. 

You’re in for a treat with the next one: Maison Francis Kirkdjian’s’ À la rose. Sniffed from the bottle, this is a deliciously sweet rosewater; once sprayed, it becomes truly magical. To me, it’s a fresh rose with fluffy white powdered sugar generously sprinkled on top. With notes of musk, sweet pea, centifolia rose, Damascena rose, and violet, it’s coolly sweet, but not too honeyed or warm. It conjures up an image of one of my favorite movies, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antointette–think candy-colored ball gowns, powdered white wigs, elaborate cakes trimmed in pink frosting, landscapes awash in pastel color. It’s fit for a queen–well, Kirsten Dunst as a queen, specifically. I cannot stop smelling it. Also beautiful is L’Homme À la rose, a more masculine version with grapefruit and clary sage. 

For something more aquatic, consider two options. First, try Ouai’s Melrose Place. A velvety rose with notes of bergamot, lychee, cedarwood, and white musk, this is a fresh-out-of-the-shower rose–watery and ultra-calming. The signature scent of many Ouai haircare products, this perfume encapsulates the “clean girl” trend in my opinion–think slicked-back buns and glowy, minimal makeup. You know that amazing feeling when you’re freshly clean, hair has been washed, skincare is on? This is the perfume that epitomizes that, and I reach for it often. 

Another in this realm of fragrance is RRose by Ellis Brooklyn. Perfect for those languidly hot days when you can hardly bear the thought of wearing any perfume, RRose is another very fresh scent, with sparkling notes of peony, Sicilian lemon, centifolia roses, musk, and cashmere woods. It makes me think of dew on white roses, just-snipped stems ready to be placed in a vase. I’d love to wear this to a garden party, surrounded by the blooms, sipping chilled rosé. I think lovers of Chloé eau de Parfum will adore this. 

These last three perfumes are the deepest of the bunch–or the bouquet, rather. They’re for the lovers of jammy, dark roses. First, we have the gorgeous Delina Exclusif by Parfums de Marly. This is the original Delina’s wealthy, chic aunt, who has a driver to take her anywhere she wants to go. It’s feminine, yet has an underlying power hidden within; it’s sweet and alluring due to notes of pear, lychee, Damascena rose, and vanilla, but the bewitching, woody base note of evernyl keeps it from being too princessy. It also reminds me a bit of dark red fruits swirled in white cream. At risk of being too vague, I will say this smells expensive; it smells like luxury. 

Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud is the fragrance that proved to me that I can enjoy oud–a dark, rich, and woody note that can be quite polarizing. In this fragrance, it is so likeable; in fact, it is what makes this perfume a masterpiece. When first sprayed, it’s spicy from the top note of clove, but the following notes of Damask rose and oud take over soon after. These three notes swirl into a heavenly concoction that is somehow both sensual and comforting. It’s one of the most addictive on this list, and extremely unique. “Velvet” is a perfect descriptor. 

Finally, last but nowhere near least, we have Initio’s Atomic Rose. The name of this one is so fitting; it’s an evocative fragrance that will last you until your next shower. The opening of this one is a burst of mouth-wateringly sour fruit (it’s the bergamot), but it quickly sweetens into a mighty hit of Bulgarian and Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmin, and Madagascar vanilla. If you like Lush’s Rose Jam, you will love this; it’s the older, fiercer, sister. To me, this is a seductive dark rose–with thorns. It’s so addictively delicious, and I somehow picture Cruella de Vil wearing this (let’s face it–were she a real person, she would smell absolutely stunning).