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ManRose – Rosy and elegant and man-worthy – April 25, 2018

Red Rose - Wikimedia Commons - D. Sharon Pruitt

One of the questions that Kay and I are often asked is: how do you develop a great sense of smell. I was reminded of this when I came across an interview with nose Mathieu Nardin:

“The most important thing is that people become more aware of what a great sense smell actually is. Taste and sight always seem to come first and people aren’t so focused on their nose. What perfumers do is to close their eyes and focus on that one sense a lot – I mean all the time, not just at work. There are so many studies that say the nose is so closely linked to memories and images, it’s incredibly intense. But you have to explore it deeply. When you smell something – lavender, a particular perfume, a cooking ingredient – you have to forget what it literally is and instead link it a personal feeling, whatever it makes you feel. The more you analyse those emotions and link that to personal feelings, the better you become at smelling more and memorising those smells. This is how we learn at perfumery school. It has to be personal or it has no meaning.”

Mr. Nardin knows what he’s talking about. He was born in Grasse, into a perfumers’ family and is now a perfumer at Robertet Group, where he’s created fragrances for niche lines Miller Harris, Houbigant, Perris Monte Carlo and Etro, among other houses.

The key here is linking a smell to a personal feeling. For me, one of those links is rose-based scents. Here’s a recent example.

I was in Florence a couple of weeks ago and I was on a mission. There were perfume stores there that I’d targeted and I wanted to visit ‘em all. With my list in hand and my sturdy walking shoes on, I meant business. By the time I sat down for my first prosecco break, I had visited Santa Maria Novella, Merchant of Venice and Profumeria l'Ó (what a mecca for niche fragrances that place is!), AVERY Perfume Gallery and Profumeria Inglese. Refreshed, I pressed on.

As I was walking towards the Duomo, I passed a small cosmetics store. The door was open and the smell of a full, rich rose caught my nose. I went inside. What I had smelled was ManRose, created by Mathieu Nardin for Etro. A sales woman had just spritzed it on a male customer. I asked her to spritz me too. She hesitated and gently said, ‘It’s for men’. I looked her in the eye and smiled and she sprayed my arm. And in a moment, I was a little girl being swept up into my Dad’s arms. His neck smelled of roses - my mother’s perfume, which had gone on to him when he’d nuzzled her closely, after coming in the door from work. The scent of him layered with her rose perfume is a deep scent-memory forever attached to loving memories of my father, and the masculine nature of ManRose just sparks those memories beautifully.

It opens with a note of fresh Calabrian bergamot. The bergamot here is elegant and suave, more like smelling the peel than getting a blast of the tart fruit. It’s warmed by Sichuan pepper and aromatic, resinous, spice-tinged cardamom, rounded out with a gentle note of piney/green elemi. All of this ushers in a thick, lush, rich note of Turkish rose. This is not a romantic rose or a delicate rose or a coquettish rose. This is a heady, intoxicating, voluptuous, dark rose. This is the kind of rose a Roman soldier would wear in a corona obsidional romana – yeah, it’s that man-worthy, thanks to geranium and incense. The base is decidedly masculine with patchouli, vetiver, leather, musk and precious woods, but the virility of the base is tempered by the rose which persists to the drydown and a little sweetness from amber.

Yes, this is called ManRose for a reason, but let’s be honest – a woman can totally wear it. Not just because I think it’s unisex, but because a man’s skin chemistry is different from a woman’s and the scent will smell differently on her. But the memories ManRose evokes, or the scent links it creates, well, that’s all up to you.

ManRose is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.