Maison Francis Kurkdjian decided to make his interpretation of a rose soliflore with À la Rose (2014), entering a very crowded field (especially within the niche perfume realm) with this release, managing to deliver his usual quality if not originality, although I question if that is enough for the fickle hobbyist. To be honest, rose has been done, done again, and overdone to death, with many of these niche soliflore takes being in the hundreds of dollars and not smelling much more refined nor realistic (if at all) than good old Tea Rose by The Perfumer's Workshop (1973), but banking on the spendthrift nature of their target market. At this point, you won't really do much better than Tea Rose if bang-for-buck is what you want in this category, so all these niche takes mean to me is variations on a theme that tease at the purse strings with their individual "luxury" quirks. À la Rose goes more for a rose water approach than the smell of the whole plant root to flower, and has that "girly rose" smell for this reason, but rose is rose is rose regardless of gender so I went in for a full wear anyway. I usually don't give caveats with my reviews, but as both a person who shops for value and is a fan of rose myself, my full opinion might show signs of excessive pickiness, so keep that in mind as you continue reading.
The opening of À la Rose is pretty, being a light bergamot, lemon, and orange conveying the first salvo of Rose de Mai (aka centifolia or may roses). People familiar with Rose de Mai will know it as the powdery, sweet, dewy rose scent that is commonly used on soaps and bath products aimed at women, and may rose is the biggest rose export of Grasse, France. This lighter "conventional" rose is paired with the darker, jammy, more brooding Turkish rose (aka Damask rose) that typically is the star of rose-themed orientals, designer ouds, or masculine rose fragrances of yore. Together, these two play nicely, conjoined by the hip with violet and hedione, but the lighter may rose dominates the composition to the tune of 70/30 in terms of ratio. The simple cedar/Iso E Super/white musk base anchors it all to skin and lets the rose dance take center stage for most of the wear, ending about 7ish hours in, and never having sillage more aggressive than MFK's Aqua series in general. À la Rose is nice, but not much else besides nice, and can be used casually by rose lovers in warmer weather through to early fall, although best in spring. I've smelled a lot of things like this, and know most soliflores either live or die by their raw realism, with this one choosing to avoid such rawness even if the rose is rather "real", so I'm left wanting.
I might be going out on a limb here, but I feel Maison Francis Kurkdjian À la Rose fits the definition of a light, fresh, reasonably realistic "young lady" feminine rose scent with zero edge or risk for the demographic of upwardly-mobile who feels they need to spend at the $200+ price point just to have a reasonably trustworthy perfume, that with a bit of savvy could be had with one less zero or at bare minimum half the price. Usually the value in MFK is his sense of blended futurism and artistry, but being as this is "just rose", that value is tarnished to me. I'm not trying to slight anyone here, as there are plenty of nice folks higher up on the socio-economic totem pole that are tired of smelling like everyone else and yawn when you mention designer perfumes beyond the exclusives from Chanel, Dior, or Hermès, and who definitely wouldn't consider anything from a drugstore, but the latter place is where this perfume goes in my mind. À la Rose is a high-end take on the sweet, crisp, youthful rose perfumes and body sprays pedaled by Coty, Calgon, Bath & Body Works, Avon, or Revlon for years, just done with the level of commensurate skill Kurkdjian possesses. If that seems worth it to you, go for it, but as another niche rose soliflore, À la Rose feels a bit "dime a dozen" to me. Neutral
A pretty rose perfume I will admit. I have others that are so much "more". I only get notes of rose, some vibe of magnolia, and a touch of musk at the base. Does not last long on my skin. Not exciting enough for me.
The orange in the opening soon gives way to he rose; a gentle, bright, soft and airy rose that becomes a touch richer as time goes by. There are whiffs of violet and white lily with other more ephemeral florals mixed in, but the rose remains the centrepiede until the end, when a rather perfunctory touch of a woodsy tone briefly appears. The rose impression exudes only mild sweetness on my skin.
I get soft sillage, adequate projection and a - given this scent's lightness unexpected - impressive longevity of eleven hours on my skin.
A lovely summery light yet somewhat linear rose composition whose main forte is the high natural quality of the ingredients used. For the lover of discrete rose fragrances. 3/5.
Transparent rose with the x factor. When I tried this on a card I was struck by a fantasy of the light fragrance of dewy roses carried on a morning breeze; À la rose promised to make it real and I reached for my wallet.
At home, on skin, the experience is inevitably different one is more aware of the construction of this fragrance which wears like a rosy mist. Cooling citric tones (mainly lemon to my nose) are doing the job of making the entire thing feather light; they suggest Wear this in summer to the mind. The roses (from Grasse according to MFK), which have the starring role are completely under the sway of this lemon wash before oh-so-gently opening up as time goes by. The magic is in the cool airiness of this creation; of how it takes an incredibly sweet true rose note and tricks your nose into thinking it is tart and juicy.
Of course there are less pricy contenders in this territory an excellent one is fabindias dirt cheap Wild Rose, but that is greener and comes in an annoying roll-on; one must also consider Acqua di Parmas Rosa Nobile, but that plays up the transparency to such a pitch it goes a bit limp. For me, this simple seeming offering does it just right. Francis Kurkdjian has also given us the über-sophisticated rose of Luimière Noir, which is a true classic. Here he does something utterly different; but it works for me.
Points of concern are: modest projection and a more traditional powderiness creeping up in the later stages.