When I first began to engage in “perfume tourism”, in 2015, I was lucky enough to be able to tag along with my husband on one of his business trips to London. I spent every day roaming London, visiting gardens and discovering perfumeries. One of them was Les Senteurs, a deservedly legendary perfume boutique that sells many niche fragrances. (If you ever get the chance to visit their store on Elizabeth Street, I highly recommend that you do! The staff are really nice, friendly, and knowledgeable, and the neighborhood is beautiful — plus, Jo Loves is right up the block!).
On that first visit, I told the helpful sales associate that I was interested in smelling some rose fragrances, as I had spent so much time in rose gardens that week. He showed me several and kindly offered samples, too. One in particular that he recommended was Tobacco Rose, launched just the year before, from Papillon Perfumery. He knew quite a bit about its founder, Liz Moores, whom he had met, and told me what a nice person she was! I follow Liz on Instagram — what an interesting person she is, and I love her photos of her pet owl, Ghost.
I own full bottles of a couple of her fragrances, Dryad and Bengale Rouge, but not Tobacco Rose. Sadly, as I exited Les Senteurs’ shop in their other location (now closed) that day, I took a terrible fall and broke my shoulder. True story. I had planned to live with the sample for a day and night, and return the next day to buy a full bottle if I loved it. The best-laid plans of perfumistas … Instead of buying perfume, I found myself in a NHS emergency room being x-rayed, after having taken a double-decker bus across London to get to my husband’s office. Yes, I was probably in shock.
That summer, the summer of 2015, was when I learned how to use WordPress and launched my blogs, as I was stranded at home all summer. I guess I was an early adopter of working remotely, lol! But back to Tobacco Rose. I enjoyed my sample, and later bought a sample set of several Papillon fragrances. My favorite so far is Dryad, and I love Bengale Rouge, but I’m always tempted by Angelique. I do enjoy Tobacco Rose. The website says:
A sensual blend of Bulgarian rose, geranium and Rose de Mai form an opulent backdrop of velvety rose notes set against a luxuriously rich and smoky base of French hay and earthy oakmoss. Soft animalic touches of ambergris and beeswax have been suspended in a sumptuous blend of musks, creating an enigmatic, alluring and unmistakable perfum.
That pretty much says it all. Tobacco Rose starts out right away with a smokiness that continues through its entire development. It is not heavy or overwhelming, it is more like tendrils of smoke that entwine a lush red rose. I don’t believe there is actual tobacco in the fragrance, I think the gentle smokiness comes from the hay, oakmoss and ambergris. Liz Moores has written that she wanted to avoid creating a “sweet, old-fashioned, pretty” rose, she wanted to create a scent that felt “as though one were breathing in not only the fading petals but the rich earth from which a rose grows.” She included mineral notes to achieve that effect, and they are discernible, although not listed elsewhere, especially during the drydown. They lend a dryness to Tobacco Rose that really appeals to me.
The oakmoss is also discernible but it is included with a light touch. It blends beautifully with the rose, ambergris, and musks. Tobacco Rose really is one of the best rose fragrances available; it was a finalist for the Fragrance Foundation Awards in the category of Best New Independent Fragrance.
Have you tried any Papillon perfumes?