The Essence Of Femininity

One of the most exalted olfactory ingredient, the rose flower is redefining the perfume industry.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
One of the most exalted olfactory ingredient, the rose flower is redefining the perfume industry.
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For centuries, the exotic rose has been venerated, flaunted on coat of arms, stamped on coins and has filled boudoirs in seduction rituals. It’s been at the centre of all things passionate and exotic, from religion to romance.

In the world of perfumery, it sits on the highest echelon when it comes to proclamations of love and femininity— as far back as the 14th century when the art of soaking florals with alcohol to distil their essence was perfected.

As Valeria Manini, Managing Director of Bulgari Parfums puts it, “When a perfumer uses roses in his creation, it is something major, like a composer working on a symphony.”

Perfumers have traversed the world in search of that perfect rose: From Grasse in France, to Damascus in Syria, to Kabul in Afghanistan, vying with each other to find the essence to define the woman behind the scent—through the genus of the flower, its structure and the exacting extraction process.

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Whether it’s the May rose flowers at the heart of Chanel No.5 that define the very essence of femininity; the honey rose accord in the Rose Couture update that gives Elie Saab’s ultraintoxicating Le Parfum an understated appeal; or the opulent Damascena rose, which sits at the heart of Bulgari’s newest addition to its arsenal of floral fragrances, the Rose Goldea, the idealogy that a rose grown in any other region would smell just as sweet has whole new undertones in the fragrance industry.

In the case of Bulgari, Master Perfumer Alberto Morilla drew inspiration from the beauty and exoticism of Cleopatra while delving on her “softer side.” “We wanted a rose with contrast, one that’s powerful but delicate, which is very modern,” explains Manini.

The fraction of Damascena rose used in the Rose Goldea is well-rounded in itself, and doesn’t at all smell like what you’d expect of the many petalled bloom. For his enamoured version of the Egyptian Pharoah, Morillo altered the composition of rose absolute and rose oil that went into it— he wanted to capture “the natural freshness, youthfulness and luminosity of the flower.”

He also chose another of Cleopatra’s favourite blooms— the voluptuous Jasmine Grandiflorum, which grows on the banks of the river Nile. Extraordinarily creamy and fragrant, the richness of the jasmine notes blends seamlessly with the delicate nature of the rose. Introducing a soft and luminous touch are pomegranate and the nectar of musks.

Rose Goldea, $232 for 90ml,  Bulgari
Rose Goldea, $232 for 90ml, Bulgari

At the base, the finest frankincense— an aromatic resin derived from the Boswellia tree sap—becomes noticeable. Utterly prized, this incense adds a blanket of smoky warmth, almost like being enveloped in a delicate veil of hypnotism.

Lastly, marking her most beloved milk bath ritual, sandalwood milk helps pull the rest of Rose Goldea’s ingredients together, intensifying the scent’s sillage on skin. Its woody-musky characteristic adds depth for a multi-faceted finish that echoes the modern-day Bulgari woman.

It is only apt that the flacon of this luxurious scent gets the royal treatment as well. The Rose Goldea’s beautiful flacon comes encased in Bulgari’s signature rose gold hue, which the Italian jeweller reserves for only its most extravagant pieces.

Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti motif (coincidentally Cleopatra’s favourite ornament to wear and a symbol of her power) adorns the flacon, so it sits like a jewel in your palm.

 If you are a traditionalist, get your man to present the Rose Goldea to you—like a rose to declare his love, a scent to proclaim his devotion and a jewel to show his fidelity. It encapsulates pure romance in a bottle. Who would have thought of that?

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