Actually, the rose is quite well represented in the catalogue of the Edition de Parfums: 'Une Rose', a full, juicy rose solflor; 'Portrait of a Lady', a rose worn by patchouli and frankincense, and - no rose, but the scent of Geranium is closely related to it - 'Geranium pour Monsieur', the rosy-minute freshness for men.
Now 'Rose & Cuir', a fragrance that marks Jean-Claude Ellena's return to the circle of perfumers around Frédéric Malle. Angélique sous la Pluie', 'L'Eau d'Hiver', and the two Bigarade fragrances are due to him, 'Rose & Cuir' fits in seamlessly: a typical Ellena, through and through.
As already with 'Cologne Bigarde', respectively 'Bigarade Concentrée' he manages to let his central note shine in such a way, only slightly accentuated by fresh, green and discreet light-woody accents, that you don't want to stop sniffing at the scented skin area.
The rose here (actually no rose, but rose geranium again, as in 'Geranium pour Monsieur') smells so natural - as if you were holding your head directly in a bouquet of blooming geraniums.
Wow, that's great, I love the smell of geranium!
But, and this must unfortunately also be said: the fragrance does not give off much more. Anyone who thinks that leather, the supposed second protagonist of this fragrance, has a say in the matter is unfortunately mistaken. Leathery nuances are there, yes, they also appear more clearly in the course of the fragrance, but ultimately they hardly play a greater role than the finely chiselled traces of vetiver and cedar.
Frédéric Malle writes about it: "...vetiver and cedar forms an earthy bed of dark, mysterious leather with IsoButyl Quinoline at the center - an intensely bitter molecule, largely forgotten since its use in the daring perfumery of the Jazz Age."
With IsoButyl Quinoline Germaine Cellier has enriched her legendary 'Bandit' and in her fragrance you can still experience it today in all its bitter-leathery facets - but in 'Rose & Cuir'? Well, well, there it is, and right at the end of the fragrance process I actually smell it quite clearly. But the first three to four hours I have always wondered: where please is the 'Cuir'?
I think you shouldn't make the mistake - and I probably did - of assuming that the leather notes à la 'Knize Ten' or their reinterpretation, Marc-Antoine Barrois' 'B683' are overly clear and penetrating. Rose & Cuir' simply doesn't wait up with them, he is too committed to the flowering freshness of the geranium.
Another fragrance I had to think of when I read that Malle was launching a fragrance with such a name was good old 'Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme'. Also here, a strong rose surrounded by rich leather notes - but in what x-fold potency!
Well, I might have known: Jean-Claude Ellena is, and remains, as it seems, the master of sublimation. Under his hands everything is much finer, airier and more transparent without losing presence.
So also here: the rose, respectively the geranium, is far away from the full heaviness of the rose in Fléchiers 'Une Rose', as well as the leather, which only constitutes the breath of intensity of the leathery funds of Bandit/VC&ApH.
Probably you have to resort to an old scent by Jean-Claude Ellena herself to find a comparably constructed and composed scent: 'Rose Poivrée' for The Differnt Company. Also here a wonderfully naturally fresh rose chord, characterized by slightly peppery nuances, but above all by a few hearty drops of civet secretion. Later, the proportion of civet was significantly reduced, roughly to the level that 'Rose & Cuir' uses leather today.
So far, so good. One should just know that 'Rose & Cuir' is a typical Ellena fragrance. My last acquired scent from the Editons de Parfums was 'Music for a while': also a scent that focuses on two protagonists - lavender and pineapple - but so lushly and richly staged that you miss hearing and seeing.
No, Rose & Cuir is not such a caliber, of course. But a wonderfully radiant, rosy Geranium scent, with finely sublimated leathery base, for men as well as women, best suited and blessed with really good durability and pleasant projection power - that's already!