A ROSE REMEMBERED
HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR ROSES? Pale, crisp and citrussy? Storybook red and strawberry-scented? Or fat, frilly-skirted and smelling of face powder? If anyone knows how multifaceted the rose can be, it’s Edward Bodenham. As perfumery director of centuries-old fragrance and grooming brand Floris (and descendant of founder Juan Floris), he’s worked with many varieties in his time, but even he was unprepared for the intense fragrance of the Moroccan blooms when he visited the rose fields there. ‘Roses are part of our heritage at Floris, there’s something so eternal about them. But where English roses are greener and more delicate, these had a hypnotic quality and a spicy warmth unlike anything I’d ever smelled before. I was captivated.’ Back in London, Edward began piecing together the remembered scent of those Moroccan roses, hoping to create a contemporary eau de parfum that would take Floris’s traditional love affair with roses on a new course. ‘Obviously I started by sourcing a Moroccan rose oil, but in an unexpected twist, the oil that arrived at our London perfumery didn’t smell quite rich enough. It wasn’t until I added Turkish rose, which has a deeper quality, and Bulgarian rose, which is fruitier and has a hint of citrus, that the formula started moving in the right direction,’ he says.
A rose left alone smells pretty enough, but to create a scent with atmosphere and longevity, Edward would need to layer notes using an array of perfumery ingredients. He introduced patchouli to bring out the dark heart of the rose, vanilla for softness and Darjeeling tea (actually not tea at all, but part of the rose molecule that has a tea-like note) to recreate the drier element of the flowers he’d been so fascinated by. ‘I also added cassis, which is the leaf of the blackcurrant bush. It’s a lovely ingredient to work with as it brings in a green and sparkling feel, which then gives way to the deeper, darker notes.’ Then came orris, or iris root – powdery and almost lipstick-like with a hint of violet, which Edward used to smooth together the different elements of his formula so far, followed by sandalwood for what he describes as a buttery warmth. ‘Each new note brought out a different element of the rose’s character, though some took me too far away from what I was trying to capture.’
For six months, Edward worked on four different prototypes, painting an olfactory picture that brought him closer to the Moroccan rose fields with every tweak. Four prototypes became two, then one, and with a final pinch of smokey, incense-like oud, he had his formula. ‘I sat in the perfumery in the Floris shop on Jermyn Street with those few drops of liquid, and for a few minutes I was back in Morocco. Very happy. Very happy indeed.’
£160: a rose to remember, bursting with smoke and spice. Floris A Rose For… Eau de Parfum,