A rose by any other name…

From the quintessential masculinity of vetiver, to arguably the most feminine, delicate fragrances of them all; rose.  A divisive note, the scent of rose can evoke two very different images for people.  While for some it can be quite an outdated, frumpy fragrance synonymous with matronly old ladies, for others, including myself, it’s a truly magical scent.  At the same time it’s complex and transparent; moving fluidly from a clean, fresh, lemony scent, to a luscious, opulent floral.  However, more than anything, it is utterly romantic and feminine.  So, this begs the question, can a man ever wear a fragrance where rose is not only an ingredient, but the hero? My answer is a resounding yes, yes, yes!  There is a long list of beautiful rose based fragrances for men (at the end of the blog post you can find my top 10), however for this entry I will discuss two of my favourites, Noir de Noir by Tom Ford and Indonesian Oud by Zegna.

Noir de Noir Indonesian Oud
Noir de Noir.jpg Indoneasian Oud.jpg

Saffron, Rose, Vanilla, Patchouli, Oud, Oak moss, Tuber


Bergamot, Oud, Patchouli, Amber, rose

While neither fragrance would be classified a true floral, they both contain rose as their only floral note, leaving no doubt as to the key player.   Similarly, both contain oud and patchouli which add an earthy, woodiness to both scents.  However, for all these similarities the scents are vastly different in my opinion and evoke very different emotions in me.  Noir de Noir is certainly the bolder of the two and could only be worn by a man who is daring and who likes to be different.  Conservative it certainly isn’t, and this one could be too cloying and feminine for those who like more traditional, masculine scents.  However, for me it is magical scent.  The oak moss, tuber and patchouli give it an earthiness that cuts the sweetness of the vanilla and rose, while the saffron adds an exotic flavour to the scent, reminiscent of spiced, rose flavoured Turkish delight.  In this case the name says it all, the scent is dark and luscious and if it was a colour it would be dead rose red.

Conversely Zegna has definitely produced a brighter scent, which doesn’t bring to mind a boudoir, but rather a lush red rose after a rain storm.  It too has an earthiness to it provided by the patchouli, however, it’s not the truffle like earthiness of Noir de Noir, but rather a wet, clean dirt. All in all, it is a much more natural, albeit less complex scent.  With a monster silage, a little goes a long way with Indonesian Oud, and some people may even find it a little too much at first.  But after a few hours, the fragrance settles down to show case the woodier, earthier notes.  For me, the name here is completely misleading.  If you’re into the heavy, medicinal/anamalic notes of some oud scents, this will be a disappointment, because even though oud is a player, it only has a small role.  Rose is the strongest note here and if you dislike rose, this is certainly not the scent for you.  Personally, I find both fragrances very unisex even though Indonesian Oud is marketed solely for men.  All in all, even if floral scents are not to your taste, there is no denying that these two fragrances have been masterfully blended to showcase both the masculine woody and earthy notes and the dark floral feminine ones.  In my opinion it is in this duality where the beauty of these fragrances lie.  However, for me it’s Indonesian Oud’s simplicity and elegance that wins the day.  This is a timeless scent where less is indeed more.  I sincerely hope that this will become a classic.   So now I pose my question to you, “can a man ever wear a fragrance where rose is not only an ingredient but the hero?”


Top 10 Rose scents for men:

Indonesian Oud by Zegna

Rose 31 by Le Labo

Rose D’Arabie by Armani

Ambre Nuit by Cristian Dior

Café Rose by Tom Ford

Majestic Rose by Yves Saint Laurent

Noir de Noir by Tom Ford

Les Notes De Lanvin Oud and Rose by Lanvin

Lyric by Amouage

Lumiere Noir by Maison Francis Kurkdijan