The most memorable compositions are often times the simplest compositions. They focus on one dominant theme, but the execution of such compositions is far from simple. Their concise nature calls for strong contrasts, ideal proportions, and minimal embellishments. A salient example would be a rose theme, for rose essence can be a very good perfume by itself, so any rose compositions must exceed that expectation, let alone transcending its peers.
Enter La Fille de Berlin (Serge Lutens, 2013), a composition by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. It is what I would imagine the perfect red rose to be. The plot is simple, but it is done with such mastery that its cogent essay on a crimson rose is most convincing. For the first ten minutes, all I can smell is a majestic rose: opulent, jammy, slightly fruity, and slightly green. It has a soft cloud of violet sweetness that lends a gilded quality. Also, an interesting accent is the metallic lustre and green of rose oxide. It infuses the accord with much vigour so that the rose of La Fille de Berlin never wilts. Smelling it, I have the sensation of gliding my fingers along the red velvet cushion of the opera house with all the anticipation for the second act.
And it does not disappoint. In the subsequent act, the green rose is juxtaposed with black pepper. Its spicy puffs lend contrasting clarity to the opulent floral notes. The result is an intense signature of metallic and peppery rose. The composition sustains this combination with passion and tenacity.
The clarity of its rose is also preserved towards the dry down. Sandalwood provides the soft cushion that rounds off the bright metallic and peppery accord. Indeed, its rose never fades like most florals do. But surprisingly, it is low key for such an opulent flower.
La Fille de Berlin is a rose, but its quality and personality distinguish it from other rosy brethren. The idea of a crimson rose is executed with such brilliance. I am in awe of how luxurious the rose in La Fille de Berlin feels and how its lustre remains through to the dry down. Even if you are not a rose fan, I highly recommend smelling it to see just how a short parable can be just as powerful and memorable a story.