In past years, I have done a “May Muguet Marathon” and tried to post daily in May about one of my favorite flowers and fragrance notes, the beautiful lily of the valley, or muguet. This year, I didn’t think I had enough new to discuss about muguet fragrances every day. So, dear readers, I asked and you answered. “Roses de Mai” it is! Thank you, NoseProse!
For my first Roses de Mai Marathon post, let us sample Nicolai Parfumeur Createur’s Rose Royale. The company’s website describes Mme. de Nicolai’s artistic intentions:
In June, the gardens of the Palais-Royal fill with flower scents. For the happy few who pass, no car, no bus…only borders of flowers, a proud central water jet and rose bushes with so many colours. I love garden roses! And it’s this specific scent that I wanted to catch and keep …
In their 2018 perfume guide, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez listed it among their Top Ten Florals of the decade. Ms. Sanchez’ review noted some disdain for rose soliflores and the “perfumery prattle” that is lavished on “the Queen of Flowers”, but also said:
Patricia de Nicolai’s take is a perfect soapy-aldehydic white-floral froth with facets of lemon and raspberry. If you are the sort of gold-rimmed-teacup gripping, pinky-finger-sticker-outer who will insist against all advice upon a rose soliflore uninterfered with by complicating ideas, here is a beautifully silly one for you.
Here is what Nicolai Parfumeur Createur has written about Rose Royale:
Real rose without any frills… simply the perfume of the rose at the end of its stem. A longing for nature becomes a scent of vegetation enhanced by blackcurrant and passion fruit, over an explosion of Turkish rose essence. Coriander and ambrette seeds enhance the fragrance. Bottom notes of guiac wood and immortelle strengthen the long lasting, lingering spell of Rose Royale.
The notes are listed as: top notes: blackcurrant buds, passion fruit and bergamot; middle notes: rose, coriander, ambrette seeds; base notes: immortelle, sandalwood, guiac wood, and musk.
On my skin, Rose Royale opens strongly with bergamot and blackcurrant buds, both of which instantly communicate greenness and freshness, not sweet fruit. I don’t smell the lemon and raspberry highlighted by Turin and Sanchez, but I do smell bergamot and blackcurrant buds, with some sweetness from the passion fruit listed, but not the tropical vibe that is often associated with passion fruit. I think the bergamot and blackcurrant are what smell like lemon and raspberry to others; and in fact, many living rose blooms do have notes of lemon, raspberry, plums, strawberries, and other fruity notes. In writing this post, I revisited what I had written about Rose Royale two years ago on this blog, and my impressions remain the same, including how much it reminds me of David Austin’s English Rose “Munstead Wood” (in full bloom right now in its pot on my front terrace — thank you for recommending it, Susan Rushton!). The central rose note quickly dominates, in a most elegant way. The aromatic greenness persists through the fragrance’s development, probably because of the coriander, ambrette, and immortelle.
This is a rose “soliflore” that has depth and, yes, complexity that matches the complexity of my feelings right now about the Palais Royal in Paris. A photographer named Georgianna Lane has a blog with the most gorgeous photos of the Jardin du Palais Royal. Right now, it makes me a bit sad to see them, as we had planned to revisit Paris this month for the first time since our honeymoon, with our kids, and the Palais Royal (with its perfumeries!) was high on my list. But, as I remind myself, the garden and palace have been there a long, long time, they have survived revolutions and wars, and I’m sure they will be just as beautiful when we’re able to reschedule our trip. One of the Palais Royal’s perfumeries is Les Parfums de Rosine, which specializes in rose-centric fragrances and which I can’t wait to visit! Another is the original Serge Lutens boutique, also a coveted destination. The freshness of Rose Royale gives me renewed hope that I’ll be able to visit all of these!
If you visit Ms. Lane’s lovely blog, you will see that one rose in particular grows throughout the Palais Royal garden. It is a soft pink rose named “Pierre de Ronsard”, also known as the “Eden” rose. I grow that one too, and it is truly lovely as well as fragrant. Its blooms look like silk flowers, but they are real!
Although my heart will always belong to Mr. David Austin’s English Roses, Eden is a worthy companion for them. If this is the reference scent for Mme. de Nicolai’s beautiful Rose Royale, I’m happy to have it in my garden.
Have you tried Rose Royale? Any other Nicolai fragrances?
Featured image from Heart of Gold blog.