Roses de Mai Marathon: Killer Rose

For our next “Rose de Mai” (not really, as that is the name of a particular rose, Rosa centifolia — I’m just using the term because it is May!), let’s try 4160 Tuesdays’ Killer Rose. Here is what perfumer Sarah McCartney wrote about her creation:

Killer Rose ought to have been made in the 1980s when floral fragrances had no fear. It was a time of big hats, big hair, bright colours, glossy lips, shoulder pads and outstanding scents. They fell out of fashion, washed away by the fresh-light-watery trend.

We love making retro-scents, so we took one of our own rose blends and added it to a rich, smooth 80s style accord that Sarah named Felix Fixer (after her first tango teacher because he was so smooth and strong).

There are fruity notes, a dash of citrus, patchouli, vanilla, woods, even a drop of jasmine sambac, a powdery iris heart, and a bucket load of roses.

How I got my Killer Rose is an amusing story: 4160 Tuesdays’ new White Queen was reviewed on the blog “CaFleureBon“, and as so often happens there, readers were invited to enter a draw for a bottle of the fragrance. I entered and won! But when it came time to mail it, Sarah found that it wasn’t possible to get it mailed any time soon from within the USA, and it wasn’t feasible to mail the larger size bottle from the UK to me, due to postal restrictions, so she kindly sent me a 30 ml bottle of White Queen AND two smaller sizes, one each of Killer Rose and Tokyo Bloom. Oh happy day!

Killer Rose is interesting because to my nose, the rose is not as prominent as one might expect. I was relieved to see that I’m not the only one with that impression, because on Fragrantica, other readers have voted that six of the other notes are more perceptible than the rose. In order, those six notes are: opoponax, iris, labdanum, geranium, violet, and peach. I agree with all of those except perhaps the geranium, which I don’t smell very strongly. Killer Rose reminds me more of rose syrup, the kind of concentrated, sweet rose syrup one can use as a flavoring, than an actual flower. It is smooth and sweet, and it LASTS. If one did not limit it to a couple of small sprays, Killer Rose would be a huge scent, like the hats that came back in style in the 1980s, teetering unselfconsciously above one’s head with exuberant flourishes, frills and furbelows. Or maybe like this 18th century coiffure:

Illustration of fanciful 18th century French coiffure with roses.

Rose coiffure, French, 18th century.

Killer Rose is definitely not a rose soliflore, there are many other things happening in this fragrance. It is a delightfully frivolous fragrance, and I sense it might be even more appealing in colder weather, when we long for the floral exuberance of spring and summer. It would also smell wonderful on a man; its drydown reminds me a bit of the marvelous Aramis Calligraphy Rose. If it wasn’t obvious, I really like Killer Rose a lot!

Have you tried Killer Rose or Calligraphy Rose? What did you think?

Singers with giant flower hats and flowered dresses at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show, May 2019.


2 thoughts on “Roses de Mai Marathon: Killer Rose

    • Calligraphy Rose is really good. It’s more of a floriental than a straight floral. Prices have crept up, but it is still possible to find it at less than $60 for 100 ml, and it lasts so long that it is a good value.


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