It’s not often that a fragrance lives up to its marketing. Vero Profumo Rozy does. Vero Profumo puts forward the gutsy, earthy Roman film goddess, Anna Magnani, as the fragrance’s inspiration. Despite the namby-pamby impression the name “Rozy” gives, the perfume is all glamour, attitude, and sweaty lip — and tenderness. Like Anna Magnani herself. You'd never call her attractive, but you can't get her out of your mind.
Rozy Eau de Parfum, created by the house’s founder, Vero Kern, includes notes of rose d’orient, lilac, peach, passion fruit, honey, tarragon, powdery notes and sandalwood. (Rozy also comes in a Voile d’Extrait, which has notes of rose d’orient, tuberose, cassis, honey, spices, sandalwood and labdanum. It also reportedly comes in an extrait, but I can’t find it for sale anywhere. If you've tried the Voile d'Extrait or Extrait, please comment!)
My first thought on smelling Rozy was that at last I’d found a worthy substitute for the discontinued Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Chéri par Camille. The fragrances aren’t twins by any means, but they both demand 1940s black rayon dresses that wear the way Joan Crawford only wished they would, with a power that is at once yielding and unflinching.1 Rozy is gentler and greener than Mon Parfum Chéri, but you have to take both on their terms, and the terms best suit film noir heroines.
Rozy Eau de Parfum starts out green and dry, with an undercurrent of rose, but it’s the rose’s crushed thorns that show up best. Or, imagine tearing into a tight rose bud with your fingernails until you reach the tightly packed stamens at its center. That’s the rose that shows here. It’s green and tannic and barely admits to being a flower.
Passion fruit — a common material in many of Vero Profumo’s non-extrait formulas — acts as the medium for the rest of Rozy’s muscular show. It creates a vaguely fruity body for the big characters Rozy entertains, including an intensely herbal body, wet lilac, and the barest hint of urine-like honey. Rozy’s herbal quality almost smells like pulverized marjoram, and it reminds me of the feeling I get smelling old chypres, the vicious chypres that no one (save Vero Kern, maybe) would dare make these days. Those “powdery” notes? I don’t smell them a bit. Rozy would eat them for lunch.
Rozy Eau de Parfum lasts all day on my skin, and it's strangely lighter the more I apply. It keeps its attitude, too, never devolving into a sweet, woody pillow like so many fragrances do. It marches on, demanding stiletto-heeled boots, irrational statements that make so much sense at the time, and the right to challenge whatever you say.
Madonna wanted to be Rozy in the 1980s, but she drifted with commerce. Lady Gaga might get there when she’s 80. Anna Magnani, though, she had what Rozy is all about.
Vero Profumo Rozy is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum ($235), 50 ml Voile d'Extrait ($250), and 7.5 and 15 ml Extrait. For information on where to buy it, see Vero Profumo under Perfume Houses.
1. Old rayon can be a nightmare, I know. It holds body odor in a way that should be studied by NASA. I swear, Bess Truman was in the White House when the stink on some of my dresses was manufactured, yet it is still going strong. After many years of experimentation, here’s what you to do rid old rayon of B.O.: Step one, spray the affected spots with vodka. Usually this won’t work, but it’s worth a try. Step two, hang the dress over your bathroom door, and twice a day for ten days, spray the smelly parts with Nature’s Miracle (a pet odor removal product). This will usually work with repeated applications. If this fails, here’s the 100% effective method: soak the garment overnight in strongly salty water. Then rinse it out. The problem is that you might have just shrunk the dress a size and created big, rusty patches.