The most beautiful of all roses?
I did not think I'd buy this right on the spot when I started to stroll around the Düsseldorf perfume shops, together with the the other participants of parfumo's community meeting. I wanted to test Bois d'Armenie on my skin, but since the words "Armenie" and "Barbare" look quite similar engraved on the L'Art et la Matière flask, I confused them - and was impressed!
Aldehydes and peach - with these notes I do not feel addressed as a male customer. Surely, I would not have looked at it for good. But an eager clerk at Breidenbacher Hof hastened to assure me that in Paris, Rose Barbare was mostly requested by men...
Roses for men is a special topic, reserved only for exclusive and niche labels. In the perfume mainstream rose and the rose-like geranium often are not mentionioned in the pyramids at all, even if they are there (i.e. Michalsky pour Homme). But we do have roses for him, and in very different shapes: Newcomers will be enthusiastic about the dark and grand rose in Washington Tremletts' Black Tie, whereas Neil Morris' Flowers for Men: Rose provides a very laid-back rose feeling. Domenico Caraceni emphazises the depth of the rose with francincense. Only Amouage with its Lyric Man uses the rose to sell an expensive perfume to their customers that reminds of cheap skin cream.
Last but not least, there is Lumière Noire pour Homme by Francis Kurkdjian. He embeds his rose into a sexy skin scent - too sexy for Guerlain!
Anything we can describe with a few words, but with Rose Barbare - this is not as easy.
A wide arc is beeing traced - and we are taken on a journey through diffent landscapes of roses. All aspects of the perfumes mentioned before are touched during the development of Rose Barbare. At the start, the rose is almost lovely, amiable, brilliant and fresh. It is supported by a fine fruity note, which I would recognize as the peach note. With peaches in perfume, I always think of artificial aromas and additives as being used by the food industry - but nothing of that kind is in here. In fact, the mere idea of a ripe fruit appears that mingles most delicately with the rose scent and provides an unexpected, almost kittenish impression.
Now, this sounds like fun for little girls, but the rose-fruit is accompanied by something alcoholic, which is like cream liqueur to me. I think I know this - it reminds me of the top notes of Chanel No. 5. Is this the famous aldehydes? I always thought they should be transparent, light and ethereal! Anyway, it's a good contrast that makes curious about what is to follow.
By the way: this is the first perfume I know where peach is listed as a base note. I take this as a warning to the attentive customer. Rose Barbare has a good sillage on skin, but it really sticks to one's clothes. A little spritz on your wrist will permeate the sleave of your coat, and come back to you next day. So, Rose Barbare wants to be the only perfume of her owner, if she is not, you will have to use her with consideration.
Let us push forward to the heart! Now this rose develops some qualities of a true skin scent. It is becoming creamy, but in opposite to that Amouage perfume, this is highest quality beauty cream. A nice change! During this state, Rose Barbare unfolds its pleasant feel-good factor.
Over many hours, Rose Barbare then shades its complexion. The blossoms transmute from crimson dog rose to the most grand of all roses - a dark red, almost black splendour. Finally, one recognizes a kind of chypre accord, maybe with some vetiver added. Still, the rose is there. Very seldomly floral notes take it to the base notes of a perfume - but here, the perfumer obviously accomplished a miracle. This state of development shows us the masculine side of Rose Barbare.
In every respect, Rose Barbare satifies all demands that we have towards a high-level Guerlain perfume. The development is extraordinarily rich, and the scent ist most beautiful at any stage. Although a wide arc is traced, Rose Barbare never appears inconsistent or disrupted. And rose is always present as the leitmotif of this perfume.
Rose Barbare makes your heart beat faster. Getting aquainted with this perfume is a highlight for every perfume lover. Can this be done any better? I do not think so.