True Rose (Woods of Windsor)

Rose soliflores are rarely daring or exciting in any conventional sense - you're unlikely to wear one that suddenly changes into a tuberose, or a fougère, or a lactonic chypre with dessicated stewed-fruit notes, Rochas Femme-style. They just don't have those kinds of dynamic personalities. Most soliflores don't, actually. They're the most direct form of fragrance: perfume to be taken literally. Some people just like how certain flowers smell, and seek out perfumes that capture that smell as accurately and as pleasantly as possible. Rose happens to be a soliflore variety that I am interested in, because the "headspace" essence of rose often gives me a headache, and yet I truly like how it smells. My life's quest has been to find a rose soliflore that doesn't send me to the Tylenol and satisfies my rose cravings. I've had a little luck with that endeavor. But only a little.

Tea Rose by The Perfumer's Workshop is the finest rose perfume around for under eight quid. It is arguably the finest rose perfume ever made, but that's a discussion for botanists to clamor over. I find that it smells very rich and natural, with only the smallest clue to its budget lurking in its peripheral "rose oil" effect, that strange, plasticky aspect that plagues steam and solvent-extracted attars. Tea Rose has been called "the first niche perfume," likely because The Perfumer's Workshop is an obscure concern that offers quality soliflores in non-commercialized packaging, well outside the usual department store modes of distribution. Jump onto Amazon to grab a four ounce bottle, and see how plain and "niche-like" it looks.

True Rose by Woods of Windsor is a largely successful attempt to follow in Tea Rose's footsteps as a fresher, greener soliflore that also maintains a requisite rubbery twinge. Where it falls short, however, is in its blending: True Rose only partially masks the astringent, bitter odor of perfumer's alcohol, with a top note that veers dangerously close to hairspray. Tea Rose never smells thin enough to make that mistake, which is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you take your poison. I prefer seamless blending and full-bodied earthiness to the fresh, "sheer" approach, and therefore can't see choosing True Rose over others. I appreciate this fragrance as a decent casual rose scent, but next to Une Rose, Rose Barbare, Rose Absolue, and even Red Roses, True Rose doesn't really compare. Perhaps it'd be better served to break from tradition and offer its wearer . . . a twist.

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