Une Rose (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle)

Roses, it seems, are not red. They're lust, and not just any lust. They're neon lust. Or at least that's how they're supposed to smell, according to Edouard Fléchier. Une Rose, his 2003 entry into the esteemed catalog of Malle's Editions, boasts the lustiest rose accord I have ever encountered, second only to Tea Rose by The Perfumer's Workshop. 

Sniffing it off my hand, the second of two techniques is apparent here - there was no obvious headspace technology employed, but rather an enhanced impression of old-fashioned rose oil absolute. A similar tone is struck by Annick Goutal's beautiful Rose Absolue. This was how perfumers used to express roses in their works, blending precious concentrated distillations of thousands of flowers, enhanced only by complementary flower oils and aldehydes. Une Rose fits the general scent profile of an antediluvian rose perfume, but amping rose's natural rubber using phthalate-like synthetics loops the fragrance back into the twenty-first century.

Few rose perfumes defy the dreaded "soliflore" label, but Une Rose seems automatically transcendent. At first, everything is simple. The perfume hits skin in a dulcet pooling of pure rose, free of saccharine fruits and musks. A few minutes pass, and this semi-sweet essence unfolds its scented Pelargonium capitatum and synthetic rubber notes. 

The complexity of the floral components allows several olfactory illusions to come into play: first is a distinctly quaffable wine accord, with emphasis on drier Chianti grapes of the Sangiovese variety. Then the lush interplay of fruits and waxy roses elicits a self-effacing tension with the rubber enhancers employed by Fléchier. His goal with Une Rose was evidently to capitalize on the plastic aftertaste true rose oils leave behind, and here he's done a magnificent job of it. From the heart phase to the base's afterglow, the perfume deepens from lust, to fire brick, to burnt carmine, and beyond. 

I find myself imagining what peering into Une Rose would be like if it were an old house; someone beautiful and without her clothes would be beckoning from the shadows of an obscene room, somewhere south of indecently.

Une Rose is colorful but not sanguine, and has a certain je ne sais quoi about it that makes it both daring and darkly alluring. The plummy fruit notes, combined with a bitter green rose and what smells like a dusty record make for quite the treat. For a so-called soliflore, this has a lot of character. It's utterly unisex and works fine on a man, and on my skin the rubber accord really takes center stage. It makes me think of sex, and perhaps that's what Flechier was aiming for. Une Rose is en fuego!