Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Sa Majesté la Rose

Many of us give and receive flowers for Mother's Day, and they're always a pleasure to receive, but how many of us also appreciate the flowers to come in a bottle of perfume? There are gorgeous bouquets and soliflores out there for our picking, and no, they don't have to be traditional carnations to be the right gift. Roses are beautiful, luxurious and appropriate for any occasion--plus this year, I happen to be mad about them.

I've smelled many roses on my fragranced life path, but one rose soliflore that stands out is a work of realism by Serge Lutens called Sa Majeste la Rose (2000). Now, as much as I love roses, I don't always feel like smelling of a pure, heady rose, because the scent can be strong and overwhelming, but this one is not only magnificently rich and velvety, so extraordinary in its charismatic reach, it's practically made for the red carpet, it's a textbook rose, almost too perfect to be so natural-smelling. The notes listed include Moroccan rose absolute, geranium and clove; maybe the natural aroma is thanks to copious amounts of eugenol, but that doesn't stop me from wearing it, because the positive responses don't stop.

Among the truly notable soliflores are Creed Fleurs de Thé Rose Bulgare (tea rose), Shiseido White Rose (rosa alba), JAR Golconda (carnation), Christian Dior Diorissimo (lily of the valley), Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa (tuberose) and Annick Goutal Gardénia Passion (gardenia); Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose belongs in the collection of single note beauties, for it shares with the others many true-to-the-flower details, such as a subtle nuance of dewy greenery accompanying the living flower essence, perhaps a hint of honey, but especially the element that instantly transports the smeller to a florist's cooler or, in an abstract sense of realism, a still life oil painting. With Sa Majeste la Rose, the effect seems ever more permanent, as the radiant scent doesn't change throughout the course of wear.

If I'm to compare Sa Majeste la Rose to Creed Fleurs de Thé Rose Bulgare (not to be confused with Creed Rose Bulgarie, a heavier, muskier rose), Creed's is lighter and more tempered with greener notes, while Serge Lutens' is deeper, borderline animalic in its natural rose carnality but still robustly fresh. If comparing with Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, a more recent launch featuring the rose, La Fille de Berlin is a similar type of rose to Sa Majeste la Rose but peppery, with a resinous dry down.

For me, the additional pink pepper doesn't make a rose more or less youthful or mature; both smell as virginal or carnal as one cares to perceive the masculine/feminine perfect flower that is the rose. Being the simplest type of perfume, the one note perfume with strength yet minimal dynamics, which fades out like a popular record, it can bypass the volatile virgin/whore dichotomy of attributes assigned to more complex perfumes, and smell androgynous, elegant in its simplicity, or maternal for its confident, enveloping, and timeless warmth.