The Rose in Perfume
The rose note has been part of perfume history for thousands of years. Ancient Indus Valley (where modern day Pakistan is) attar pots from 5000 BCE have been discovered with rose remnants. The Arabs perfected the art of distillation in the 800's with rose being a main aromatic material for producing rosewater and subsequently rose oil. Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian historians refer to rose being used as a natural perfume in the form of the whole flowers being strewn on floors for banquets and seduction. The mythology of Cleopatra conveys images of legendry seduction involving rose petals perfuming her boats and boudoir. Legend has it that rose bushes were introduced to Europe by Crusaders in the 12th century. Today the main producers of rose oil are Turkey and Bulgaria. Morocco, France, Italy, India, Lebanon and China also produce rose oil.
Natural perfumery is always seeking to create beautiful and beguiling scents. The rose remains an extremely beautiful natural ingredient of high cost. Due to its expense, rose is often synthesised from the known aroma chemicals that make up its aromatic profile. Cheaper rose synthetics may only have a few of these aroma chemicals. This produces a rose scent comprised mainly of sweet, powdery and overtly cloying, rosy tones. Because of its complexity natural rose is impossible to replicate due to the presence of unidentified aroma chemicals in the roses aromatic profile.
Real rose is stunning. With spicy and fresh nuances along side the quintessential rose notes, it has a depth and length that lingers for days and softens over time. When smelling real rose absolute or otto, I feel it straight in my heart, "like a sigh of relief that there is such a scent that smells like this".
Avicenna in the 11th century described rose as a remedy connecting the mind with the heart, healing the heart, calming the head and for all manifestations of anxiety. For the ancient societies before us, their anxieties, heartache and worry accompanied their lives just as these do for us today.
I use rose absolute from the Thrace Valley in Bulgaria where I source it directly from the grower and distiller. It is in most of my natural perfumes as part of the blend or as a feature note. It weaves its magic subtly or blatantly, coercing your senses and stimulating your spirit in the best ways.