Rose 31 (eau de parfum) by le labo


The kingdom of Pepper was sometimes affectionately called by its old, Norse name: Pepper & Pink. It wasn’t a vast land, but every square inch seemed khổng lồ be populated by various forms of pepper. From the biting burst of freshly ground Malabar nuggets lớn the cedar trees which swathed its flanks from North khổng lồ South & the great lakes of ISO E Super which dotted the landscape. It was ruled by a king called Ginger who was a chef at heart, willy-nilly tossing in spices off the royal balcony to lớn his people below. For the most part, his subjects were a homogeneous people, descended either from the tribe of Pepper or from the royal house of Ginger. A small minority hailed from the nomads called Pink Rose. They were a demure lot, always dainty and shy, reeking of the pinkest, lightest, most translucent rose that was to lớn be found. They were so quiet at times that haughty critics lượt thích Luca Turin sneering called them “Not Rose,” while others though they were mere myths and didn’t even believe they existed. Certainly, they were far outnumbered by the Peppers, with their fiery bite, và by the more rambunctious royal Gingers, but all of them were all ruled by the vast plains of cedar trees and the large lakes of ISO E Super.

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The issue of not smelling like what it is named is something that actually comes up quite a bit with regard to Rose 31. Fragrantica classifies Rose 31 as a “floral woody musk” and says it was created by Daphne Bugey. Some of its 31 notes — as compiled from both Fragrantica, Luckyscent, & my own nose — are as follows:

Grasse rose, caraway, cumin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, cedar, ISO E Super, frankincense, amber, labdanum, vetiver, guaiac wood, animalic notes, and agarwood (oud).

I tested Rose 31 twice, to lớn slightly different outcomes in terms of the opening burst. The first time, the perfume opened with almost entirely peppered, woody and spiced notes, followed on only much later by a minute trace of rose. The second time, the rose was upfront, and present from the start. I’ll cover both beginnings.

During that first test, Le Labo’s opening consisted of galloping amounts of pepper, sharp & backed by peppery cedary woods, và what felt lượt thích a light dash of ISO E Super. For those unfamiliar with the aroma-chemical, you can read my full description of its pros and cons here, especially as I’ll be mentioning ISO E Super quite a bit in this review. In a nutshell, though, the synthetic is used most frequently for two reasons: 1) as a super-floralizer which is added to expand & magnify many floral notes, along with their longevity; & 2) to lớn amplify woody notes and add a velvety touch lớn the base. It seems khổng lồ be particularly used in fragrances that have vetiver or, to a lesser extent, other wood notes like cedar. ISO E Super always smells extremely peppery and, in large doses, has an undertone that is like that of rubbing alcohol, is medicinal, and/or astringent. Lớn those unfamiliar with the synthetic, all they detect is “extra, extra pepperiness.” Some people are completely anosmic khổng lồ the note, while others get extreme headaches from it. (Ormonde Jayne fragrances, and others like Lalique‘s Encre Noire or Terre d’Hermès are particularly egregious in that respect.) I don’t get headaches from ISO E Super, but I cannot stand it in large quantities and I can detect its peppered element with its rubbing alcohol base a mile away.


Source: Girl’s Gone Child at (Link embedded within. Click on photo.)

Both spices giới thiệu equal space on Le Labo’s stage with heaping cups of ginger that is, simultaneously, both freshly pungent and spicy, và slightly crystallized & sweet. There are whiffs of nutmeg that subtly showroom a sharp, bitter edge khổng lồ the perfume, along with the spicy, red-hot kick of cloves. The whole thing is covered by a heavy veil of pepper that feels as though a chef just emptied an entire bottle of Malabar peppercorns with the rest of the spices into a sauté pan to roast, bringing out their bite, their fire, và their subtle earthy woodiness. In the background, there are flickers of white smoke from frankincense.

The dominance of the cedar, underscored by the ISO E Super, và the pepper ensures a perfect balance between woods và spices. Rose 31 never feels lượt thích a dusty, spice shop, but nor does it feel lượt thích a purely woody fragrance either. Well, at this stage, anyway. The powerful ginger that threads its way throughout much of Rose 31’s tapestry also ensures a subtle freshness and zing lớn the scent. When you showroom in the beautiful frankincense smoke — never cold, musty, earthy or dank, but sweet & almost earthy — the result in those opening minutes is utterly fascinating.

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The oud is merely a muted backdrop player at this point, along side that other shadowing ghost, the ISO E Super, & all of them subsumed under the powerful ginger note. As time passes, the latter feels incredibly dominant, bringing back some memories of Versace‘s Crystal Noir in which pepper và ginger also perform a key duet. (Its vị trí cao nhất notes are pepper and ginger, with cardamom in lieu of the clove & nutmeg here.) Then, finally, at the end of the first hour, the rose makes its hesitant appearance. It’s slight, far from heavy in texture, & never feels jammy or fruited; instead, it’s almost watery & tea-rose lượt thích in nature.



Unfortunately for me and my joy at that wonderful opening, the 90 minute mark ushers in a strong wave of ISO E Super. Words cannot begin khổng lồ describe my disappointment as that annoying subtext of rubbing alcohol begins its steady thrumming beat in the background. There is still heavy amounts of ginger, pepper and frankincense, but the growing force of the cedar woods and ISO E dominate. Even the oud & guaiac seem lớn have grown a little in strength — just two more sources of peppered woods that soon overtake the entire perfume. By the over of my second test, I felt almost browbeaten into submission but that constant, one-note, drumming beat.

The great nuances of the opening start, the complexity of the notes, the fascinating juxtapositions, và that perfect balancing act are all gone — thrown asunder by the top-heavy, unbalanced cedar-pepper-ginger-ISO E Super combination. Sure, there are flickers of other things that occasionally pop up: vetiver makes a late appearance with a darkly rooty, earthy accord; bitter nutmeg & honeyed labdanum dance around the far edges once in a blue moon; and subtle muskiness is a quiet vein underneath. But, they are tiny in nature & degree. Instead, for hours & hours và hours, it’s primarily just various sources of dark, peppered woods. The drydown doesn’t make me happier, either, because, five hours in, Rose 31 turns into an abstract, amorphous, generalized woody scent, with a hint of gingery rose & the start of soapiness. Eventually, that soapiness starts khổng lồ take over until, in its final hours, Rose 31 is nothing more than a vague, musky, woody, soap scent. What a huge disappointment after that first glorious hour!

All in all, Rose 31 lasted just a wee bit over 9.5 hours on my perfume consuming skin. The sillage was initially excellent, though it quickly dropped after the first hour to lớn become just a few inches above the skin. The perfume became a skin scent around the 5th hour, the same time when the drydown began and Rose 31 lost its shape entirely. On Fragrantica, the overwhelming majority of votes puts the sillage at “moderate” và the longevity at “long-lasting,” though there are a handful of votes for “poor” and “moderate” as well.

As noted earlier, Luca Turin is not a fan of Rose 31. In Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, his short, succinct assessment is incredibly harsh:

This aldehydic carrot juice was, unaccountably, composed by the brilliant Daphné Bugey, of Firmenich, who did Kenzo Amour & four sensational (and as yet unavailable) Coty reconstructions. Is Le Labo some sort of rehab where perfumers go when their noses are tired?

Ouch! Well, I rarely agree with Luca Turin, & I certainly won’t start now. I think the perfume is better than he believes, though I’m not sure that’s saying much. Clearly, Rose 31 is far from my personal cup of tea. As a side cảnh báo about Daphné Bugey creating Kenzo Amour: that fragrance is listed as one of the perfumes with the most amount of ISO E Super, a whopping 48% according lớn the Perfume Shrine. As a result, it is often mentioned by people as a fragrance that gives them a searing headache. But ignoring the headache-inducing qualities of the ISO E Super, Rose 31’s eventual tidal wave of the synthetic — & the parallel way in which the pepper chú ý is created by every possible source — suddenly makes a lot more sense. Perfumers who love ISO E Super just can’t seem to let go of it. (Geza Schoen, I’m staring straight at you!)

General review of Le Labo Rose 31 seem evenly split between those who find the cedar lưu ý to be unbalanced & overwhelming, & those who love the fragrance. A number of those in the latter category repeatedly phản hồi on how the opening of Rose 31 reminds them of Caron‘s much beloved Poivre Sacré. I haven’t tried the latter, so I can’t help. But perhaps a sampling of Fragrantica opinions on the perfume will provide some light on whether you’d lượt thích the perfume or not:

Although I absolutely vị not enjoy this fragrance, I need lớn give credit where credit is due. Immediately, the rose is detectable upon the initial spray/splash of the đứng đầu notes & for me, that’s all I detect. It’s a very subdued yet masculine rose that exudes something very sensual but as the basenotes appear, that all changes. One thing, out of all the rose scents that I’ve encountered, this one has khổng lồ be the most natural but when the cedar arrives, it ruins the whole aura of the scent. The cedar is too overpowering/cloying & masks everything the rose is trying lớn present. The two blended extremes almost seem lớn be competing with one another only the cedar always has the upper-hand. <…> The vị trí cao nhất notes are very peppery in the same vibe of Caron’s Parfum Sacre, but then the cumin & cedar take top places, I find quite nice but I think suits a man better because of the cedar & have a very wood basenote.Perfumes containing rose và spice are always dark, heavy, và complex. Rose 31 seems unnaturally crisp & ethereal. I think it contains a lot of Iso E Super, which usually smells so synthetic, but it seems khổng lồ work so well here. <¶> The rose is a clean, magenta rose that reminds me of the Enchanted Rose in Beauty and the Beast that is protected under a crystal dome–perfect and sparkling in a way that only a fairy tale could be. <¶> I don’t smell cumin. Instead I smell a something like a translucent cinnamon hard candy. <…>there is hardly any rose in it, it is a very nice woody fragrance thoughDark prickly aldehydes & musk & woods. Like most Le Labos they seem to lớn have forgotten lớn put the main ingredient in. <…>There’s no rose in this perfume. NO Rose. Period. <¶> What IS there? Well, there’s musk, woods, some kind of flower & some kind of vegetable, and more musk. Clean musk. Nothing spicy, nothing dirty. If one uses his imagination, it could be described as “dark”, I guess; but I wouldn’t.smells lượt thích soap in bad way

Confused? Well, as I mentioned at the start, the main issue seems khổng lồ be whether the rose lưu ý appears or not. Và the bottom line seems khổng lồ be that — even for those who do smell it — the cedar và woodsy notes eventually take over and, then, fully dominate. Whether you smell the ISO E Super (and yay for one Fragrantica poster who smelled loads of it!), the musk, the soap, or the other spices, the main thing you’re bound khổng lồ take away from the fragrance is dark, peppered, cedary woods. You may have noticed that the photos of the woods in this review have gone from: rosy, warm, and multi-faceted; to gold-tinged and autumnal; to lớn dark sepia; finally ending with dark black with soapy white. That’s very intentional. It’s really how this perfume feels lớn me in large part.