L’Artisan Parfumeur is one of the first "niche" perfumeries that won my heart — in a sense, it was the brand that got me seriously interested in perfume, back in the 1990s when my mother was wearing Mûre et Musc and I realized there were fragrance options beyond the perfume counters at the mall. I'm a longtime fan of L'Artisan's two earlier rose fragrances, Drôle de Rose and Voleur de Roses, so I looked forward to trying Rose Privée as soon as it was announced.
Rose Privée celebrates the "rare and iconic" Rose de Mai of Grasse, and it's a floral fragrance (obviously!) with notes of citrus, black currant, basil and Rose de Mai; carnation, magnolia, violet, and lilac; patchouli and hay. It was developed in collaboration by perfumers Bertrand Duchaufour and Stéphanie Bakouche. It will be released in May, just the right season for a new rose fragrance (and we're getting a few of them this year!).
Rose de Mai is a fresh-and-dewy type of rose, rather than a lush rose or a fruity rose, and Rose Privée is true to that inspiration. The fragrance opens on a note of bitter orange with a greenish tinge. The citrus is joined by a tart black currant and an anise-y basil note that's more like basil essential oil rather than fresh basil leaves. There's also something woody-stemmy in the mix. So far, so good — this combination evokes a garden, not a florist's shop.
The "private rose" of the fragrance is a very natural-smelling rose located at the heart of the composition. The other floral notes in the list, particularly a powdery lilac and a creamy magnolia, are also very pretty; they don't emerge until the perfume's dry down. Overall, Rose Privée is not as"girly" as you might expect from the pink, rose-festooned packaging. (I have to say that the bottle decal is not quite as pretty in person as it looks in photos.) If you like airy, true-to-life rose fragrances like Annick Goutal's roses, Serge Lutens Sa Majesté La Rose, and Parfumes DelRae Coup de Foudre, you may also love Rose Privée.
The base of Rose Privée is reportedly a contemporary update of a classic chypre theme (i.e., oakmoss-free), and it's a bit subdued: the twiggy wood note extends for a while to meet the grassy hay note, continuing the green hints of the fragrance's opening, and the gentle florals blend with a very soft patchouli. I wish the dry down were a little stronger and longer-lasting, but I suppose Rose Privée is intended to be a spring fragrance with a lighter feel.
Overall, Rose Privée is less Rose-with-a-capital-R than I expected, but it's also more interesting than I expected. It tells a story, it feels true to its natural inspirations, and it will fit well with L'Artisan's classic collection of fragrances.
Bonus reading: for a personal account of a Rose de Mai harvest in Grasse (with beautiful photos), visit this post on Bois de Jasmin.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Rose Privée will be available in 50 ($120) and 100 ml ($180) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for L'Artisan Parfumeur under Perfume Houses.