One of my greatest inspirations when I first began in perfumery was the now infamous story of Francois Coty and his first great perfume triumph, La Rose Jacqueminot. There is something supremely romantic to me about the name itself although it is actually a perfume named for a war hero, the then famous French General Jacqueminot (for whom a special rose had been dedicated).
I have an ongoing fascination with Francois Coty the man and more importantly to me, his perfumes, especially his earliest ones. His thought process, his new use of materials and his collaboration with René Lalique all fill me with passion again and again for the Art of Pefumery. So, when I got the idea of creating a small Perfume Museum here at the studio you can imagine that Francois Coty, along with Guerlain, Caron, and Molinard (and Ricci, and Weil, and…) were on my mind. Since those first glimmerings of imagination, the Perfume Museum has begun to take shape and this summer, along with all of the other special projects, we’re cataloguing and getting ready to build; well, mostly paint and essemble. It will truly be a dream come true. But back to my original story here: the rose.
Many perfumers come back to rose again and again, partially I think because roses are so varied and are also surprisingly challenging. You might think that rose, since it is common to find a rose perfume, would be easy but the process is quite deceptive. To create a good, maybe great, rose perfume takes skill and time to develop. It can’t be rushed; you must use true rose ingredients (!!!) and it takes thought, consideration, more thought, more editing… and on.
A few years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to plant a rose garden (well, I hated the plants that were here when we moved into our house, anyway) so as to have true roses to consider when designing rose perfumes. The rose garden has been another great labor of love and so worth the time to research and plant. Of course, I started with an actual ‘La Rose Jacqueminot’ bush. How could I not pay tribute to one of my heros (bit of a meglomaniac as he was… so like another hero? fascination? of mine and relative of his, Napoleon I) and plant a bit of perfume history in my garden? It’s one of my joys and I’ve looked forward with relish to it’s blooming every summer since. (I actually have rose tributes to Napoleon I in my rose garden as well but that is for another day…)
The scent of my La Rose Jacquminot is an old rose aroma, even though it is an early hybrid tea rose, with geranium/violet greenness, citrus’ freshness (white grapefruit, lemon/lemongrass elements) and a distinct underpinning of creamy musk, benzoin and tonka bean. I can also sense where a perfumer could shift this rosey-goodness into the aldehydic floral range for there is a wonderful sharp brace to the very first whiff and if you close your eyes and feel the last breath you could go for the dark, mossy, animalic powder finish that so many early aldehydic perfume possess.
That is where this later revival of “La Rose Jacqueminot” Coty perfume from the 1980’s goes with it’s aldehydic chypre feel. It’s much less ‘rose’ than I suspect the very original design might have been.
(Although this original 1906 bottle (I think, maybe 1903) is one of my absolute favorites of the collection, it sadly is ‘sans jus’, so I don’t have an early sample to test against…) I do love imagining the true fragrance of the rose blossom in that gorgeous Lalique bottle encapsulated for all time and posterity to show generations to come what beauty can be.
I’m wishing you an inspiring day~
Read Full Post »