The rose may be the most classic ingredient in all of perfumery. A symbol of love dating back to Greek and Roman mythology (with a first mention in artistic motifs in Asia around 3000 BC), the flower is as compelling as it is enduring. Cleopatra was said to fill a room with rose petals a foot deep when pursuing Mark Antony. Sophia Loren famously wore Emanuel Ungaro’s sensual rose creation, Diva. Even Rihanna’s rumored go-to scent (prior to her own Fenty perfume launch, of course), By Killian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy, contains rose.
Roses are the cornerstone of many of the best fragrances, featured in some 75 percent of scents marketed to women. But although they may be ubiquitous, they are far from one-note. A spring rose, for instance, grows in a particular type of earth, explains Carole Biancalana, the flower producer for Dior’s rose scents. “[This] will bring its notes of honey, lemons, spices,” she explains. “It is a rich rose with multiple facets, and that makes it unique.”
The facets of rose’s scent—and creative potential around it—is almost limitless. “There is so much positivity around the flower,” says master perfumer Honorine Blanc, the nose behind fragrances such as Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy Noir and several AERIN scents, and one of four perfumers who gave us YSL Black Opium. “[Some] people would prefer something heavier, more contrasted. To me, the serenity, the joyfulness [of rose] is so important,” Blanc says, adding that the range of roses offers nuance. “You have thousands of roses.”
Aerin Lauder, the granddaughter of the legendary Estée Lauder and the mind and heart behind Aerin, which turns 10 this year, turns to roses for their femininity, as well as their unifying quality. “It’s the idea of romance,” the expert says. “Everyone loves roses when you get them as a gift, or you go to a beautiful rose garden. [The rose] is pretty, it’s feminine, it’s appealing, it’s not polarizing.” It’s also, Lauder suggests, a comforting scent. “The world is in such disarray, it is a time when people are yearning for something that feels familiar, safe, and appealing.”
Ultimately, rose can be anything you like it to be. “The scent of the rose is both the scent of love, that of great love, and it is also very enveloping like Mother’s arms,” Biancalana says, adding simply, “The rose is really the base of all great perfumes.” Below, our 15 favorite rose fragrances, including the latest standout releases.
The centifolia roses in Miss Dior’s just-launched fragrance are grown biodynamically at Domaine de Manon in Grasse, France. There’s something particularly romantic and, frankly, inspired about this fresh, very natural fragrance with layers of musk, patchouli, and vetiver, adding a woody element under the rose.
“Like Catherine Dior, in her time, many producers under contract with Dior were women. I like to think that from where she is, she is proud of the women who have come after her,” Biancalana says. “Over the years, perfumes have become more and more modern. Miss Dior Rose Essence is the expression of a modern and dynamic rose.”
A beautiful rose scent with a traditional appeal. It’s delicately feminine, light, and ideal for those looking for something deeply classic.
Ben Gorham’s cult line has a growing selection of rose fragrances. The most popular may be Young Rose, a contemporary take on the classic, layering Sichuan pepper atop dewy Damascus rose.
Bright, energy clearing, sensual, intoxicating—Vyrao’s Georgette is the rose-centered creation meant for self-love. Its notes of Turkish rose oil, violet leaf absolute, sandalwood, pink pepper, and black tobacco come together for a smoky, empowered mood. Named for Vyrao founder Yasmin Sewell’s grandmother, each bottle has a special Herkimer diamond crystal that’s been “energetically charged” for positive vibrations.
An ode to the Bulgarian rose, Evening Rose was created by Blanc with juicy blackberry, rose centifolia, and, of course, the rose. It also features notes of cognac adding a warm, luxurious layer.
Over the years, fragrance legend Frederic Malle has gifted us with several iconic rose scents. The most beloved—and headstrong—may be Portrait of a Lady, a decadent, opulent perfume composed of hundreds of Turkish roses, blackcurrant, and raspberry accord.
“Roses is to perfumery what the nude is to drawing,” Malle once said; Portrait of a Lady encapsulates this interpretation. It’s a pure and bold fragrance, designed as much to celebrate the universal beauty of women as the rose itself.
No “best of” fragrance list can be complete without a scent by Tom Ford, the master of heady, intoxicating scents. Rose Prick is inspired by Ford’s own private rose garden. It is a lush, rose-forward offering with an unexpected note of a “thorn” (Sichuan pepper), perfect for when you want to be noticed for all the right reasons.
An effortless, playful scent inspired by Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter ego of Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp. It’s brightened up with Sicilian lemons and layers of vanilla orchid and spring musk.
Cultus Artem's Rosa is a warm and earthy rose, with elements of honeysuckle, tuberose, and Indonesian clove. A bonus: This Texas-based boutique line is crafted from entirely natural ingredients. The fragrances are also vegan and developed with sustainability in mind.
This new rose scent has a charged, luminous quality that’s perfect for a night out. Layers of plum and Italian bergamot give it a sweet, lush quality, while pink peppercorn adds a fresh note.
Traditionally, an attar is a natural perfume oil derived from a botanical source; this one distils the Indian rose centifolia, macerated for 100 days with sustainable sandalwood oil to lend a dewy, seductive scent. It’s an ode to the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan, who was said to create the first rose attar after noticing the mist emanating from a palace moat covered in rose petals.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s scent offers a playful twist on a beautiful rose classic. Notes of pear and lychee add a light, surprising touch.
A new addition to Dolce & Gabbana’s feminine, floral collection, Dolce Rose is a celebration of the rose in its most joyful, brightest form. Green apple, white peach, and mandarin give the fragrance a lush essence.
For the rose purist, Diptyque Rose was developed as a special limited-edition collaboration with Los Angeles bespoke florist Maurice Harris and features unexpected, subtly refined notes of chamomile and artichoke.
One of two rose perfumes from the Belgian designer’s recently launched beauty line, Raving Rose is a rebellious, tongue-in-cheek take on the flower. The top notes are pink and black pepper—creating a spicy, playful, and utterly modern offering.