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Annick Goutal Rose Splendide

For an English rose, I am most definitely not a rose fragrance person – but I’m prepared to make exceptions.  Personally, I’ve never found a rose fragrance that comes close to the scents given off by the rose bushes I’ve nurtured in my own garden.  There’s Double Delight (blowsy, almost lemon-tangy on the nose – and also, as it happens, the favourite rose of Evelyn Lauder, which she has blooming quite a few storeys above Fifth Avenue in her rooftop apartment garden).  Souvenir du Docteur Jamin:  deep purple-y claret, happy to grow in shade (and therefore extra-precious to a rose grower), with a bury-your-nose in me classic muskiness.  And then there’s the good old hedgerow Rosa Rugosa, which marches slightly thuggishly where it will, yet has the purest, most delicate rose scent to its magenta petals.

By contrast, most rose fragrances have as much allure as a bunch of garage forecourt blooms, for me – and then along comes something like Rose Splendide to blow my prejudices away.  Powdery but dewy all at once, it has almost icing sugared topnotes, bouquets of roses and magnolia at the heart – and undertones of musk, for va-va-voom.  If you’re a fan of Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose – which it always amazes me has never been copied – then you’ll like this, with its sweet tea rose resonances.  Despite the powderiness, and the drop of pear – more sweetshop pear drop, I’d say (a fruity fragrance ingredient we’re going to see and smell more of this autumn), it’s actually quite green.

But Rose Splendide is soft as marshmallow.  Or a goosedown pillow.  And you know those cherubs in Venetian paintings…?  The puffy clouds they’re frolicking on would surely be scented like this:  airy, uplifting, and a wee bit naughtily sensual.  It’s a girly girl’s fragrance (which is why The Scent Critic’s beautiful assistant, who has the prettiest collection of vintage dresses on the planet, is basically staring over my shoulder, panting quietly while she waits to get her hands on this).  As such, it may not be a ‘keeper’ for me – but I can still appreciate this in the way I admire Alice Temperley’s sequined dresses, or Christian Louboutin six-inch heels.  Doesn’t mean they’re making their way into my wardrobe any time soon – but they still fill me with admiration.  This is a fragrance for tea dances, for gentle seduction, for playfully romantic moments.  And anyone who’s passionate about rose fragrances may want to stockpile this limited edition, because it’s splendide indeed.

In a bottle tied with the prettiest pink satin ribbon, Rose Splendide was confected by Camille Goutal – Annick Goutal’s very laid-back-chic daughter, who I visited last year at home in the Ile de Ré – and ‘nose’ Isabelle Doyen.  It’s a lighter tweak, we’re told, on Quel Amour! And Rose Absolue, which were created by the late Annick – a serious rose-lover – herself, before she died 11 years ago.  Poignantly, the company will be donating five euros from the sale of each bottle to AVEC, a French charity which promotes ‘living with hope in the fight against cancer’, for each and every Annick Goutal fragrance sold between 1st September and 31st October 2010 -presumably in memory of Camille’s so-talented maman.  During my Ile de Ré weekend, I had a real goosebump moment visiting the bedroom where Annick kept her ‘organ’ and had played with some of the harmonies for fragrance legends like Les Sables, or the eaux she named for her daughters:  Charlotte and Camille.  Like a great book or a piece of music, a classic fragrance is a form of immortality – in which case, the spirit of Annick Goutal most definitely lingers on.

But it’s kind of a reminder, I guess, that we all need to take time to smell the roses – real, or captured in a bottle – while we can…

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1 comment to Annick Goutal Rose Splendide

  • I have just got my hands on a sample of this and your review sums it up perfectly. It is delicate and beautiful. And I am in awe reading of your invitation to the Goutals!

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