8/22/12

Dark Rose (Czech & Speake)



Quality of natural raw materials. Quality of patented synthetics. Quality of note separation. Of composition, legibility, the divisibility of accords, the breadth of chemical evolution, its arch across time. Quality of synchronicity. The beauty of the inhale; the thrill of the exhale. The scent memory left behind.

These are all things a connoisseur factors into the experience of smelling a reputable niche perfume. It's different from smelling designer fragrances. With ubiquitous offerings, my standards are broader. I want to know if what I'm smelling is good, or bad, with Kouros, Cool Water, and Old Spice as comparisons. If it smells like it could keep company with any of those, then it has a shot with me. I don't go to tiresome lengths dissecting each accord, separating each note, ferreting out chemical synchs over seven-hour time frames. I just stay cynical about the top notes, and suspicious of the base, and if the top pleasantly surprises me, and the base doesn't kill the buzz, I have a good scent.

Niche, on the other hand, gets micromanaged. Especially the better niche perfumes, things from Malle, Creed, C&S. I expect a lot of things from those brands. C&S frags rarely disappoint me, so I'm always nervous when I first try one. Dark Rose was one of those moments - I knew their Rose was good, and I had heard good things about No.88, but really wasn't sure about Dark Rose. It seemed like it would be a love-it or hate-it scent. And it also seemed like something I wouldn't want to wear, even if I liked it. And I wanted to like it, and wear it. So I dragged my heels before trying this well-known rose/oud perfume.


I shouldn't have been worried. Dark Rose is enchanting. The top is a brassy incense accord, so rich and balsamic that I'm overcome with emotion just sniffing it. It's one of those, "Oh, Dark Rose, I want to live in your bottle" moments. I could definitely feel the quality in that intro, which was likely made of very high-grade synthetics with a generous sprinkling of naturals. It's persistent, but also shimmers, like fireworks that refuse to twinkle out. It's also long-winded, as I get around ten minutes out of that top structure. Very, very nice.

Then, enter the rose. It's a velvety, deep, brilliant red, full of rubbery nectars. Flanking it is a silvery medicinal note, which at first resembles dew on petals, but rapidly reveals its darker earthiness: the dry specter of oud. These two notes form a rich, intertwined accord, with the delicacy of wine petals swirling against hi-gloss onyx. It's feminine, but then it turns, and I'm struck by how unisex it feels. It's gorgeous, simple, and direct, but so utterly beautiful that I'm at a loss for words, especially as its amber drydown, glistening with animalic sweat, closes the show. Dark Rose does fade out completely on skin within a day - at least it did on my skin, leaving no perceptible trace after nine hours. As Marilyn Monroe once said, "A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left."

Wise girl.

















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