Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rose and Cavalier About It

Boys, as you recover from a day spent in front of your 52-inch LCD watching instant replay and the consumption of much beer and questionable snack foods, hear me loud and clear: come the warmer days of late April and May, stand out and blend in. “Stand out” as in, I’m not taking 45-minutes to get dressed but I’m not ashamed to wear some color. Hopefully by now, if you have a decent-paying job and a social life, you know that you need a personal shopper at one of the better stores or, at least, a salesperson who can set things aside for you. Too many guys rely on their girlfriends or boyfriends to do this work for them, and quite honestly it just isn’t fair to either party. There’s too much invested. (In fact, industry-secret here, so listen up: if you show a salesperson you’re serious about looking good and you have a budget, they’ll take care of you. Truly, they will.)

Despite the fact that there is tremendous variety in Spring ’08 menswear, there are three things every man should have in his wardrobe for spring: a light grey or umber suit, a faded rose shirt and a scent with some rose in it. A crisp pink shirt under a navy blazer is classic, undying style; but, this season, a man can relax with the lighter colors and doesn’t have to run the risk of looking like a fop. That faded pink shirt can work with jeans, with shorts, with a khaki linen vest, and it doesn’t need to be discreetly hidden under a blazer... but the key to the look is not to iron it. You want it to absorb the light not reflect it. You want to say something like, I dress this way all the time. It’s easy.

I’m a firm believer that sex appeal derives from self-assurance. Think back to your sophomore English class and the character of Phineas in A Separate Peace. Neither a pink shirt nor a tie belt –– for all their RL-coöpted status nowadays –– was going to make anyone rethink this guy’s masculinity. Which brings me to the rose note in fragrances... Like carnation, rose is one of those notes which people might think old-fashioned, but, truth be told, most people don’t know that there are rose scents beyond grandma’s mystery fragrance or the little soaps that people put out in the guest bathroom. Rose has a plethora of expressions, and in many part of the world it is considered a masculine note. There are green-herbal-smelling roses, animalic roses and spicy roses. One of my favorite spicy renditions is Le Labo Rose 31 (reviewed here) by perfumer Daphne Bugey. But there are also: Rose Poivrée by The Different Company (rose with black pepper and the slight dirtiness of civet), L'Artisan Parfumeur Voleur des Roses (with sandalwood and patchouli), Le Sirenuse Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose (with incense and rare woods), Parfums 06130 Lierre Rose (v. green with ivy and cardamom), Etat Libre d’Orange Eau de Protection (a new rose chypré), Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfum Une Rose (geraniol at off-the-charts intensity, truffle and woods), Arabian Oud Prestige Arabia (Tai’fi rose with Laotian oud, saffron and honey) and Ajmal Aquhawan (reviewed here).

By and large, the rose note in the Middle Eastern scents is more subtle than what we are accustomed to smelling. In the West, rose absolute is blended with ylang ylang, jasmine and peony and billed as rose soliflore, and, while the effect can turn heads, it does a disservice to people’s scent memory. Distilled roses are much more complex and green. They capture the terroir and give us a multifaceted picture of the place from which they came.

A guy’s personal style isn’t that different. Proud of his roots, complex, and fearless of putting the shirt on or revealing what he’s got underneath it. Hopefully, the scent of self-assurance and a heart of gold (though I’ll settle for silver any day...)

Image credit: Bottega Veneta S/S 08 Menswear Collection. Courtesy of (Marcio Madiera)


Blogger carmencanada said...

I live with a red-headed Brit. A Brit will blush violently when four-letter words are uttered. But then he'll try to steal your Tubéreuse Criminelle (I hung on to it screaming like a banshee -- had to let go of my Bornéo though). So a Brit should be able to a/ wear a pink shirt (unironed is the only way any shirt will come out of this house anyway) and b/ try the rose samples in the house. Paestum Rose, Rosine Rose D'Homme and Rose Twill, Ormonde Jayne Isfahan and Ta'if. Thanks for the idea!

February 4, 2008 at 6:01 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

D., thanks for making me laugh this morning after the most horrendous commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan imaginable. I have never smelled OJ Isfahan... but Ta'if was anticlimactic, very tame. I wanted more saffron, less pink pepper and orange blossom. Your red-headed Brit seems like a handful... but not w/out a certain charm.

February 4, 2008 at 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened upon this thread covered in Rose Poivree and Rose Barbare, drinking a cup of Takashimaya Rose Tea and wearing a rose colored t-shirt, I kid you not.

What does all of this mean?

Love most everything you mentioned. Rose 31 just doesn't thrill me like I expected it to. Maybe one day I'll go back and revisit but I rarely do that - too many fish in the sea to get hung up on one. Une Rose is on my list for the Spring - the lasting power, or should I say half-life is something worth discussing - it boggles my mind. Twill Rose and just about all of the Rosines make me very happy. And then there is Rose Barbare - it empowers me everytime I wear it. Im fortunate to wear florals and in particular tuberose and rose incredibly well.

I also have to mention something everyone should own - Santa Maria Novella Rose Water. This is a STEAL. I am still amazed its priced as it is - around $28 for 8oz. It really is worth at least double that. I hope to God SMN isn't reading this and if they are, I dont mean a word of what I just said. Anyway - its the best deal you can get from SMN and the product is amazingly versatile - toner, tonic for after shower, a few drops in the iron water, mist the pillows and sheets - possibilities are endless. I've often been tempted to just drink it, too...

February 5, 2008 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Markdavid, how auspicious this rose-world all abloom! I hope it signals a time of healing or, at least, some happiness. The other day, I wore Rose Poivrée and really enjoyed it, but Turkish rose is my favorite rose note (it's oiliness and latent green-ness**)and Une Rose may very well make it to the top of my list. I, too, wear tubereuse and love it, esp MPG Tubereuse. I'm a regular at the Tea Box but have never tried the rose tea. That must change very soon! Merci.

February 5, 2008 at 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive not smelled the MPG Tubereuse - I'll have to seek it out. I probably overlooked it b/c Ive yet to meet an MPG that likes me so Ive sort of abandoned the line entirely. I think Bahiana is the only exception to the line. I wanted to love Iris Bleu Gris.

For me, Carnal Flower is the be all and end all of the tuberoses, but Im also absolutely smitten with Tubereuse Criminelle and Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse.

Get that tea! Whats your favorite from Tak, then?

February 6, 2008 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Dear C,

good post (and I also set for silver): rose is such a derisive note, isn't it?
But on a man it takes a different veneer, unexpected!
May I also rec Rose d'Homme by Rosine, Montale Crystal Flowers, Rose Barbare, Avicenna by Annette Neuffer and Ta'if by OJ.

February 6, 2008 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Markdavid, I love Tak's finest Formosa Oolong and their Egyptian chamomile (all apple-y goodness). Carnal Flower is a definitive hit, yes. But I have never had the pleasure of TC - hoping to correct that when some friendly fellow enthusiast decants me a sample.

E., anxious to try Montale CF and Avicenna by AN. Ta'if just ain't my cup of tea. Too much else going on in there and not enough power to make it homme-worthy...

February 6, 2008 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ill seek out the oolong - definitely my favorite kind of tea. The rose tea is black, Im not sure if they have others, I'll have to check on that too.

Im down to my last drop of TC and am desperately trying to figure out the best way of getting more. Otherwise Id send you some - its just amazing. Have you tried Sarassins? That I can send. I notice a lot of similarities between that and TC, actually. But, as Im not a fan of jasmine, Ill stick with the former - it really sings on me.

Ugh, I have such a list for the Palais Royal - Mandarine, ISM, Encens Lavande, TC, Santal de Mysore, Rose de Nuit...I'll have to sell a kidney. Which, Im really not above doing. Have you tried anything from Neil Morris?

email me:

February 7, 2008 at 8:17 PM  
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