Miller Harris Rose En Noir is, as I expected from the brand, excellent quality. From the name I was expecting an enigmatic Gothic Rose, and that is what I got. And it’s rather wonderful. The Rose in Rose En Noir is immediately likable, but noticeably different. Its intensity sets it apart from other rose scents for a start, but there is something else- some unusual note that makes this unique.
The opening of Rose En Noir reminded me a little of Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar in that the Rose has been magnified and almost candied to give it a gourmand kick: so intense that it borders on the medicinal. Imagine sugarless Turkish Delight concentrated by a hundred and seasoned with black pepper. The note I was trying and failing to identify really surprised me: it was cumin. Yes, that mainstay of curry and chilli has been used to mouth watering effect here by adding a touch of savoury to what is normally an impossibly feminine note.
Normally if you said “Do try this rose and cumin perfume” I’d try it with no expectations of liking it and then go and drown my sorrows in a bottle of Une Rose Chypree to cheer me up (Vero Profumo Rubj had a similar effect on me). Incredibly, the cumin note does not smell spicy, but more like a richness, like honey. In fact, smelling this blind I thought it was a combination of rose, honey and yellow flowers.
There is a cosy warmth to it, like spiced rose petal tea. The notes include no other flower other than Rose, and I like that about Rose En Noir. Using only spices and dried leaves such as cumin, coriander, pepper, tobacco and violet leaf, Rose En Noir remains a centre stage Rose enhanced by a spiced heat.
Nothing is dominant, but everything combined creates a warm cloak about this classically recognisable flower. The base is a patchouli, rose and tobacco-y blend that lasts for around nine hours. It’s very sniffable and smells like nothing else I can name off the top of my head. If you like your rose but don’t want to run with the pack, this is for you.
I love that Lyn Harris has found yet a different approach to a flower that has been used in perfume so many thousands of times, and still found a new and interesting angle. Rose En Noir was created for Liberty in 2006 and is available from John Lewis, Escentual, and Miller Harris.