I'd heard so much about Shiseido's White Rose Natural (1954), so I'm elated to finally know what it smells like. I'd been curious about this perfume ever since I read the glowing review by Chandler Burr in the Times, and I have to agree this is one luminous, delicate rose. It's also very well-rounded, soft, and "layered" as Chandler Burr put it, opening with a crisp white alba rose, then shyly revealing jasmine and other florals subtly woven into the balanced composition. Qualitywise, this is right up there with Caron for me. What's more, it's even better on--never astringent or losing the fresh, dewy character till it finishes as legato and with controlled diminuendo as a well-rehearsed and perfectly executed classical orchestral performance. Actually, it's not as stuffy-smelling as I make it sound. It's just a very beautiful, elegant, simple rose soliflore with a little more complexity, depth and charm than your average rose soliflore. Best of all--it's not perfumey or animalic in any way, and lives up to its name.
At first sniff, it reminded me of Floris White Rose which I have in lotion form. Although I doubt the Floris has the same natural white alba rose oil I smell in the Shiseido, I think both are clean and lovely roses that hold back on sweetness in the way Chanel No.22 does: No.22, a Floral Aldehyde with white rose mingling with tuberose and other fragrant, heady flowers, that somehow maintains a cool and collected vibe. While Floris White Rose is sopaier and much more focused on rose, Shiseido's parfum is delicately sweet and has the whisper of jasmine that makes it something like a superlight Jean Patou Joy. Stylistically, it might be closer to Estee Lauder White Linen without aldehydes. What I'd compare it to most of all is Caron Rose parfum, but without peppery notes, lighter and more translucent without any sweet vanillic tones, yet it's still sumptuous, and never, ever watery, but dewy. Something about the base reminds me of the scent of refined (tea ceremony grade) green tea. The sillage is so pretty and if I could, I'd bathe in the stuff. This is the first time in weeks I've wanted to wear something other than Nina for an extended period of time. I also hadn't been in the mood to wear any rose perfume till now. This is the stuff I imagine the Princess of Japan wearing.
I only have a small vial sample, so I'm nursing it little by little. This perfume is exclusive to Japan and very hard-to-find. I don't have a bottle here I could comment on in detail, but based on the photos, the visual presentation, handmade bottle with the box and all, is also beautiful. I'm really so grateful for the opportunity to smell it, and if you're interested in experiencing it, www.theperfumedcourt.com currently has samples and decants for sale.