After finishing my original piece on Shay & Blue I couldn’t stop thinking about their Amber Rose perfume and just went ahead and ordered it along with a 30ml bottle of Blood Oranges as well. I love a rose fragrance, it’s just something that’s crept up on me over the years, a mixture of nostalgia, the deep sensuality of the bloom itself, its ability to surround and lift the senses and also strong emotional echoes of my childhood travelling in the Middle East, the scent and taste of rose in halva, water, hair, clothes, pastries and skin.
To be honest though, much as I love a rose, it was the mention of dulce de leche in the heart of Amber Rose that really enticed me. The sweet caramelised cooked milk confiture de lait that has become increasingly popular in recent years, flavouring ice cream, biscuits, cupcakes, coffee and now it seems fragrance. I love the stuff, it’s a jar and spoon thing for me, a fix from the fridge; yes it’s a great flavouring, but nothing quite beats the indulgence of scooping it out and licking the spoon clean. And like so much gorgeous sweet sexy stuff, you know it’s bad for you. It tastes of melted demerara sugar, and creamy bubbling of condensed milk about to burn. It has a great nutty aroma, toasty-sweet and smooth. I always think of Matin Calin by Comptoir Sud Pacifique when I open a jar, a huge blast of condensed milk memory, student flats, boarding school childhood, night-munchies; it’s lacteal and a little weird. I don’t think I have come across it yet in fragrance and combining it with rose just grabs me.
Amber Rose uses Rose de Mai as its main note, it smells so shimmering as to be almost transparent. When you first spray it on, it feels like someone is whispering rose rose rossssssse rossssssssss……sses in your ear ever so softly. The petals of these roses are pale and translucent, floating and laying themselves down on your skin with mannered beauty. White amber and woods are listed in the base notes. There is so much light shot through this delicate skein of notes. The woods are soft and creamy and the amber seems to glow like dawn. The melting sugared heart is divine, not sweet as such, but a tempered pouring of toffee-ness, lifted by the pistachio like quality of the milky rose. The deftness of touch is admirable. Massé and De Vetta obviously felt the collection needed a strong floral and what else but a portrait of Queen Rose. However their interpretation is playful and deeply beautiful. Twenty minutes into the drydown my skin smelt extraordinary. Polished, dusted with a delicate yet persistent scent of warm musky rose and a lick of caramel.
The clarity and couture application of the roses remind me of the Nagel rose constructions for the Cologne Intense series at Jo Malone. Both Velvet Rose & Oud and Rose Water & Vanilla share the same delicacy and sense of glittering reverence for this most radiant of blooms. However Amber Rose does something a little different, it echoes the roses of Chanel with reverence, but the nod is there in the fluttering powder, the nacreous atmospherics. It will not convert those who consider roses old-fashioned as there is something at work in Amber Rose that tugs at the memory of a thousand scents, however, for those of you that truly love this most extraordinary of flowers, this is a delightful and poignant addition to a collection.
Blood Oranges was quite a shock. It is the perfume from the Shay & Blue Collection that is getting the most coverage and the one that Dom de Vetta recently picked as a potential brand cult scent. I have never liked citrus fragrances; they bore me and can often trigger severe migraines. Neroli and I have a very troubled and conflicted relationship. But the sheer drenched juiciness of Blood Oranges is quite stunning, painterly and shouting with colour and fire, almost fauvist in its intensity. Blood oranges are a pomelo/clementine hybrid and have a rich and ruby taste, oozing sun and crimson juices.
Instead of bolstering and potentially submerging this gorgeous orange feeling with other citrus notes, Julie Massé has opted to wash over darker aspects of olfactory burnt umber, using charred woods, leather and musks. The result is a landscape of shifting effects, very cleverly arranged over the dominant sanguineous orange personality. The perfume opens like a sunrise, dazzling and fresh, grabbing the senses and then opens out into a warm generous embrace of, smoked woods and the occasional zephyr of juice to remind you of how well the note has been painted. As the day winds to an end, the sun drops and traces of sunshine linger in the leather and musks. It is odd for me to like such a blatant citrus scent but the mimosa cocktail charm of the orange is so perfectly married to the drifting scent of charred woods. The leather lends mystery I think, a sense of something just off scene, shadowed and deeply sensual.
I am still being surprised by Blood Oranges each time I wear it. The longevity of the orange note is very good indeed; even three or four hours into the drydown I can still inhale oozing traces of juice. It has tremendous warmth and a sense of renaissance gilt to it. I stand by my previous mention of Velasquez’s court paintings in my other Shay & Blue blog piece. There are shards of glitter and gold in the scent, varnished in age and aloof beauty. Strangeness too, sensual detail buried in the interplay between citrus, embers and tanned skins.
It makes me smile inside, as if I have discovered a dark scented secret I will keep to myself. I wore it yesterday layered with my beloved Vanille Absolument and the combination was amazing, a caramalised dessert aroma with a strange salacious drydown. Skin-provoking and glorious.
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