Masque Milano Love Kills is a punk rock name for an operatic fragrance. In this case, the music has to do with roses.
Perfumer Caroline Dumur developed Love Kills. Its notes include Turkish rose, geranium, ambrette, patchouli, cedarwood, musk and ambergris. (I’m not going to quote the fragrance’s description in Masque Milano’s press materials, because, frankly, I don’t understand it. It tosses around literary and musical references with vague observations about “a rose by any other name” and how fleeting life is.)
What I do understand is this: Love Kills is a Birgit Nilsson of a rose soliflore. It’s a rich scarlet rose — maybe an old rose that clings to stone walls and blooms only once a summer. When it flowers, it’s like a full moon. Bees become town drunks, and afternoons in the garden should carry warnings against operating heavy machinery. Girls shut themselves in their rooms and cry, and grown women eye the pool boy with startling interest. Cakes won’t rise. Sinners repair to the confessional, but the priest is unexpectedly away.
Love Kills is a soliflore. It’s not a rose “with” some other note, such as rose and patchouli (L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses is one of many) or rose and incense (Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady) or rose and stone fruit (Guerlain Nahéma) or a rose chypre (I don’t even know where to start, there are so many) or so, so many more. This doesn’t mean Love Kills contains only rose, but that it portrays only rose.
Tracy at Fumerie recommended the fragrance to me. “I love it,” she said. “It captures the full life cycle of a rose, from the blossom to when it dies.”
As Love Kills unfurls, it begins with rose (of course) touched with green. Soon, its sweet, juicy scent has turned to a young Bordeaux with a hint of the wine cellar’s dirt floor clinging to it, but it’s still rose. Here, Love Kills is rich and heady and nicely balanced with lots of body and a bare tingle up top for structure.
After an hour or so, Love Kills sweetens a tiny bit and gradually contracts into a dustier — but still undeniably rosy — fragrance of dried petals and earth. It has noticeable sillage and lasts until dinner, no problem.
The two grand roses I thought of right away to compare to Love Kills are Serge Lutens Sa Majesté la Rose and Frédéric Malle Une Rose. I didn’t have Une Rose handy, but my sample of Sa Majesté la Rose, which I’d always considered a rosy whopper, smelled surprisingly namby-pamby next to Love Kills. Sa Majesté is pinker and gives off more steam iron and potpourri.
I’m not in the market for a rose soliflore right now — when I want rose, I shift between Nahéma and Ann Gérard Rose Cut, depending on my mood — but if I were, Love Kills would be it.
Masque Milano Love Kills Eau de Parfum is $158 for 35 ml. For information on where to buy it, see Masque Milano under Perfume Houses.