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 sweet majestic rose: opulent, jammy, and satisfyingly dark. It evokes the luxurious sensation of red velvet cushions of grand opera houses.
It is a beautiful rose, no doubt, but what makes it memorable is the way the rose accord is minimally but strikingly embellished. Amidst the sweeping richness of it all is the contrasting clarity of pepper and green-metallic note, much like that of geranium. These facets of the rose are rarely observed, but here they are used to distinctive effect. The result is a rose larger than life.
And the composition maintains this signature towards the dry down, with only soft sandalwood and musk to round off the sharpness of its bright notes. Simple yet powerful, the quality and personality of La Fille de Berlin distinguishes it from its rose brethren. I am in awe of how luxurious the rose 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 gripping.