A Rose for Beacon Free (Soivohle)

Intense, determined, soft, velvety. These four adjectives have been used by Liz Zorn to describe her sweet feline friend Beanie, whose extraordinary story is well-known to Soivohle fans. Cat-parents of all stripes (and mackerel spots, and tortoiseshell patches) can relate to the love that compels Zorn to pay tribute to her kittyboy. A Rose For Beacon Free is that tribute, and quite a charmer it is-- much like its namesake, no doubt!

Zorn has explained that there have been several versions of ARFBF since its initial conception three years ago. Each incarnation has utilized the signature Soivohle amber base as its launchpad and an intense red rose as its theme. (The original version relied on Bulgarian rose; Zorn has since switched to rose de Mai.) Laced through these foundations are a garden's worth of flowers and spices, the sum of which is a perfume that takes the common rose in an uncommon direction.

My husband's preference in rose perfumes runs to the gourmand; he wants them liberally laced with raspberries, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or some combination of the above. Of the two of us, I alone like the leathery, smoky, aromatic, WEIRD roses-- that is, when I like roses at all. This one I like, but not for a reason to which my husband can relate. He calls ARFBF "mothbally". I reply, "And the problem is...?"

Beacon Free's rose is one of the driest, most brilliantly fluorescent roses I've ever come across. It has the head-clearing aromatic quality of rosemary or tea tree, and the icy-bright quality of camphor or mint. It's so crisp it almost hurts. I find myself reminded strangely of the fresh red rose which our high school science teacher dipped in liquid nitrogen before our eyes. She then whacked it against the desktop; to our consternated delight, it shattered exactly like a fallen icicle, scattering in glittering flecks of rose-colored frost all over the classroom tile.

The two samples of this fragrance which I now hold -- one gifted to me by sweet lady Lisa, the other coming directly from Soivohle -- smell very individual, but related through that "mothbally" rose in the background. Wearing one on each arm, it's easy to detect the differences. Liz's sample has a more distinct hawthorn note, a sweet, powdery almond-heliotrope that combines with the rose heart to evoke a sugar-dusted square of rahat loukhoum. Lisa's sample, on the other hand, emphasizes jasmine and contains an interesting thread of something spicy and aromatic that made me think of kümmel, my favorite sweet caraway-seed liqueur. So: both gourmand, but definitely in a "specialty" vein; each cushioning its respective rose's prickles with complex layers of sweet-soft-spicy scent.

It has taken a number of consecutive wearings to discover that I can't decide which ARFBF I like best. I suspect it may not really matter, because ARFBF is a story not yet drawn to a conclusion. It has changed before; it could change and change many times more. But rather than reformulation, this is evolution-- and it's amazing that we get to watch it stage by stage.

Keep this rose growing!

Scent Elements: Bergamot, apple, red berries, Rosa centifolia, Rosa damascena, carnation, warm spices, frangipani, hawthorn, orchid, jasmine absolute, caramel sugar, balsam Tolu, balsam Peru, labdanum, benzoin, oud, vanilla, ambrette, orris, brown oakmoss accord