Rose Barbare (Guerlain)

Francis Kurkdjian is a very talented man. His range is amazing, yielding a portfolio with everything from Dior's coveted Eau Noire to Arden's easy-going Green Tea. The man also authored Le Male and flanker Fleur du Male, Acqua di Parma's magnificent Iris Nobile, and the notorious Grey Flannel clone Narciso Rodriguez for Him. In the early 2000s Guerlain commissioned him for their L'Art et la Matiere line, a series of perfumes based on different raw materials. His entry was none other than 2005's Rose Barbare.

His rendition of rose offers a smooth and well-rounded flower, dripping with honey and tempered by woody notes. I particularly enjoy how the woods fuse with the sweet rose and create a low-key, romantic, and genderless fragrance. It isn't particularly complicated, but this scent is the result of masterful craftsmanship. Thus far, after wearing several terrific rose perfumes and contemplating their strengths and drawbacks, Rose Barbare is my categorical favorite. The richness of the rose and sweetness of the honey and spiced amber is simply decadent, truly a work of olfactory art.

I haven't smelled them, but I'm fairly certain the rest of the L'Art lineup wouldn't move me. Cruel Gardenia reads like a poignant and modern white floral; Tonka Imperiale sounds like a redundant relative of Chanel's Allure Homme; Iris Ganache reminds me of how little I like white chocolate. Good thing I tried this one - it's feast or famine when it comes to Guerlain. Let's face it, this house isn't breaking new ground anymore.