Where do the best roses come from?

According to the nose of Kenzo Parfums’ new fragrance, they hail from the Rose Valley in Bulgaria. JACLYN GUNASILAN heads to the  elds there to check it out.

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The British brand has undergone a revamp,  so you can expect a little more poshness from it. JACLYN GUNASILAN reports from Bali. 

When I first heard that I was heading to Bulgaria for the launch of Kenzo’s latest fragrance Flower By Kenzo L’Elixir, my first thought was, “Why Bulgaria?” As it turns out, Bulgaria is home to the Rose Valley, where the main ingredient for this scent (yup, you guessed it – rose) is grown. According to Alberto Morillas, the nose of the new fragrance, Bulgarian roses are simply the best. “Turkish roses tend to smell a bit bitter and Indian roses sometimes smell a bit burnt, due to the hot weather,” he explains. “Bulgarian roses, on the other hand, produce premium rose oil, and the quality is quite consistent every year.”
Here, my adventures in the sprawling flower fields located 200km away from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

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I’m lucky enough to share a car with Alberto on the way to the fields, which he visits almost every year to (literally) smell the roses. The minute we enter the fields, he asks the driver to roll down the windows and the car is filled with the scent of fresh flowers. These flower fields span over16 million sq ft (roughly equivalentto the size of 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools).
The white roses on the farm have a lighter scent than the pink ones. They smell like a freshly brewed cup of rose tea.

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This is the rose species I travelled halfway across the world to see – Rosa Damascena. Used in Flower by Kenzo L’Elixir, the flowers have a subtle sweet scent – not unlike jam.

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At the distillery (run by the same family that owns the flower fields I visited), rose oil is extracted through the process of double distillation. Here, one of the distillery workers pours roses into a giant steel vat for distillation.

About 3,000 flowers are needed to extract just 1kg of oil. The rose oil collected can reach exorbitant prices – in 2014, it cost 7,000 euros (approximately S$10,580) per kilogram. The price varies from year to year, depending on how abundant the harvest is.

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When you’re in  such a picturesque location, surrounded by mountains and flowers in bloom (with nary a single skyscraper in sight!), it’s hard to pass up on a quick OOTD. 
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Flower By Kenzo L’Elixir ($195) is launched to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the original Flower By Kenzo EDP (which now has four other variations). And what better way to celebrate than with roses and chocolate? This might explain why the fragrance has notes of praline, rose essence, bourbon vanilla and raspberry – a delicious-smelling concoction. In fact, its perfumer Alberto describes it as a “yummy rose (scent)”. Next to the brand’s original powdery-floral Flower By Kenzo EDP, this floral gourmand is a sexier take on the rose. On account of its sweet quality, I prefer wearing it at night (it’s hot-dateappropriate), and I love that it lasts for about seven hours.