Today’s Advent calendar post was slightly delayed because I had to have an early morning appointment with my dentist to investigate an ongoing toothache. Ugh, I hate dental work although I like my dentist very much. Anyway, the SOTD is Rosa Nigra, from the UNUM line of fragrances launched by a lifestyle and artistic brand called Filippo Sorcinelli. Rosa Nigra was released in 2015. The name means “black rose”, but not a single rose note is listed. Fragrantica lists these notes: Artemisia and Anise (top); Peach, Sandalwood and Freesia (heart); Musk, Cashmere Wood, Amber and Vanilla (base). The brand’s website calls this fragrance “an olfactory paraphrase of the Assumption” and says “The Virgin Mary who ascends to heaven ‘in body and soul’: all the materials that compose her call to mind a rose that in reality is not present.”
Purple prose aside, the few commenters on Fragrantica claim to smell the rose that isn’t there. Rosa Nigra also got a favorable review as a “created rose” fragrance on the blog Fragroom. I don’t smell any rose. I do smell the herbal opening notes, artemisia and anise, which I like; I also get the peach and sandalwood heart notes, but no freesia. The drydown smells to me like a kind of mash-up of the listed base notes. It’s quite pleasant, but not distinctive. I don’t get or expect much sillage, as Rosa Nigra comes in an extrait format.
Of course, the name itself may be a giveaway of a fragrant sleight-of-hand, since there is no such thing as a black rose in nature. There are some very dark crimson or burgundy roses, that may even blacken somewhat as their blossoms age, but black roses are as fanciful as blue roses — figments of the imagination. Some florists may dye dark roses with black ink.
I like Rosa Nigra but there are so many other, actual rose scents, and other scents with better drydowns, so I won’t be seeking out a full bottle. Have you encountered any of the UNUM fragrances? And do you understand the brand’s prose??