Sometimes I read reviews or comments about fragrance that I just don’t understand. Take, for instance, cumin. Many commenters smell cumin as “sweaty” or dirty. I never understood that, because I like to cook, and sometimes I cook with cumin, and it never smelled sweaty to me. Until I tried Le Labo’s Rose 31.
Le Labo is the niche brand (now owned by Estee Lauder) that markets itself as a sort of in-store fragrance laboratory, where the sales associates mix up your fragrance in lab-inspired bottles right there at the dedicated Le Labo counter. Each fragrance’s name is said to refer to the most prominent note and the number of notes in the fragrance. So Rose 31 is meant to be a scent in which rose is the most prominent, accompanied by 30 other fragrance notes. I haven’t found anywhere a list of 31 notes, though. Fragrantica has the following: rose and cumin; middle notes are rose, vetiver and cedar; base notes are musk, guaiac wood, olibanum, labdanum and agarwood (oud). The incomparable Kafkaesque lists Grasse rose, caraway, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, cedar, ISO E Super, frankincense, amber, labdanum, vetiver, guaiac wood, animalic notes, and agarwood (oud). It is an eau de parfum.
What I smell when I first apply Rose 31 is sweat. I was really startled! Then I read the notes list and saw cumin. Aha! So that’s what other people were talking about! I kept sniffing my wrist. Every time, for several minutes, I smelled both spice and sweat. Then, luckily, the sweat disappeared and the spices stayed. Next, I smelled cedar. That’s it. No rose, no vetiver — cedar. I assume that’s the ISO E Super, but unless/until I get a sample of just that aromachemical (or one of the fragrances that claims to be nothing but ISO E Super), I can’t know for sure.
Apparently I am not alone in not smelling any rose at all in Rose 31. Kafkaesque reports two entirely different scent experiences with it, the first without a hint of rose. On her second try, the rose was much more apparent to her. Luca Turin gave Rose 31 only two stars and labeled it as “not rose” in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. (He also called it “aldehydic carrot juice,” but I don’t smell any aldehydes or carrots!). The scent dries down to a pleasant, light woody fragrance with a bit of spice left. I can see it appealing more to men than to women, but really, it is a unisex fragrance and a perfectly nice one. It is not, however, a rose fragrance. So it that’s what you’re after, Rose 31 won’t scratch that itch, as they say here in the South. Make sure to test it before you consider buying it! And now I would say that about any Le Labo fragrance, because suddenly those names don’t seem very reliable.
What do you think about Le Labo’s fragrances, this one or any others?
Featured image from http://www.harrods.com.