Apparently I'm hosting my own little Rose Parade for Spring 2015, since there have been so many new rose fragrance releases lately that I feel the need to try each and every one. The scorecard so far: I'm very fond of L'Artisan Parfumeur Rose Privée and Divine Spirituelle (reviewed by Angie), less captivated by Aerin Rose de Grasse and Maison Francis Kurkdjian A la Rose.
Flipping back to last year's somewhat shorter list of rose releases, however, I just noticed one perfume that I meant to cover and almost forgot until now. It's Van Cleef & Arpels Rose Velours, from the jewelry brand's Collection Extraordinaire fragrance line. Rose Velours is "a sensual and opulent take on the Rose...adorned like a jewel with materials that sparkle over time," developed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. Its composition includes notes of bergamot, violet leaves, rose absolute, orris absolute, honey, benzoin, ambroxan and cedarwood.
On my skin, Rose Velours starts off with deeper, darker notes and turns softer and sweeter over time. The bergamot top note passes in the blink of an eye, and then the ambroxan (a synthetic substitute for ambergris) leads the way with its musky-woody facets. There's a bit of aldehydic "lift," too, which is a nice effect, and a green edge of violet leaf. The rest of the composition develops very slowly and gently, shedding the woody notes and subtle earthiness and revealing its red rose heart. The honey and resins lend some sweetness, and in the dry down the rose turns slightly jammy with a hint of spice. Despite its moderate sillage, Rose Velours doesn't overwhelm, and it could easily be worn from fall through spring.
As you can tell from this description, Rose Velours does not belong to the ever-expanding pack of fresh/light/dewy/youthful rose soliflores. Of course, if you're a diehard perfume obsessive who cherishes dramatic and/or "dirty" rose fragrances, Rose Velours may not be quite big enough for you — you won't mistake it for anything like Frédéric Malle Une Rose or Guerlain Rose Barbare. That's fine, though; Rose Velours isn't trying to be a heavy-hitter in that category. Instead, it succeeds very well at being a tasteful, elegant (but not stuffy) scent for women (not girls) who are willing to embrace the more indulgent aspect of roses.
Van Cleef & Arpels Rose Velours is available as 45 ($125) and 75 ml ($185) Eau de Parfum.