Confession: I don't actually like soliflores. I mean, I don't like to wear them. I like sniffing them from a sample and I consider them useful to have around as a reference, but wearing them simply wears me down. Soliflores say one thing, and one thing only. I admire the single-mindedness of their message, but as the day goes on, it grates. Flowers must be part of a more complex composition for me to wear them.
I will say this, though, and my apologies if this sounds like a contradiction there is nothing like a good soliflore to move me to tears. The smell of a Bourbon rose, a tuberose bloom, or newly opened jasmine flowers are so astoundingly beautiful in nature that any successful attempt at recreating their smell in perfume has a similar effect on my senses and emotions.
Sa Majeste La Rose by Serge Lutens is one such perfume. It harnesses the blowsy scent of dripping wet, yellow and pink tea roses in a bottle. The smell is somehow fat without being overly rich or exotic this is definitely not the rich, red rose of Persia and Turkey but the waxy, nostalgic domestic roses growing in damp gardens all over Ireland. Ever stick your nose into one of those overblown, loose roses after a shower? Sa Majeste replicates that smell with precision.
I love its superb literalism for all of five minutes, and after that it is torture. Roses like these have a greenish, cat-pee acidity to them even in nature, and here in Sa Majeste it is a pitch that rises higher and higher as the day wears on.
Way Off Scenter tells us that this is a Bourbon rose. Although I do not specifically know that particular scent, I am aware of the difference between vintage rose scents (prior to the importation of the oriental "tea" roses into European horticulture) and those subsequent teas.
For me this is a green tea rose, too modern, too sharp, to be confused with the warm, intoxicating damasks etc. of classic rose cultivation. It reminds me very much of Guerlain's Nahema.
I don't get the honey, clove, wood, musk and lemon notes others find, just a linear green tea, a well done soliflore, but nothing one can't find far more cheaply than paying the Lutens price tag.
Opens as a beautiful, natural tea rose; tart with a touch of powder and fruitiness. A pure, almost transparent rose. Clean and intense, green with a touch of pepper far in the background. Something about it reminds me of clean, white laundry blowing in a breeze. An early summer rose rising out of cool grass. Sillage is good - I don't normally get comments on my perfumes but my co-worker noticed it... and asked what it was she liked it so much. Pretty linear, although well into the drydown the green became more intense and a tad musty. Not particularly complex or interesting but a well structured, natural rose soliflore. Pure but elegant and refined.
To my nose, this perfume smells almost identical to "Nirvana" by Elizabeth and James (white version), and to a rose fragrance that L'Occitane en Provence had (I can't remember the name) in the top and heart notes. Also, like "Nirvana", I noticed that this perfume also had the magical power to relieve my horrible stress headaches! Seriously, I kid you not, I had a stress headache that lasted almost two days, and nothing could cure it! Then, I made a trip to Sephora, and sprayed on some of this perfume from the tester bottle! ("Sa Majeste La Rose", not "Nirvana.) I noticed shortly after that my headache was cured! Now, part of that might also have to do with the shopping therapy, but I have also read that rose scents can have aromatherapy properties, which include relieving stress and anxiety. (And, apparently curing headaches!) I don't think I fully believed that until today! In any case, if you don't want or need roses to aid you in aromatherapy, this is definitely a very sexy perfume! It is almost entirely a very realistic rose soliflore, until it dries down to the base. It actually wasn't until this perfume dried down after a few hours that I could actually smell any honey at all! (Since this one is supposed to have honey as a note too.) The drydown skin scent is still quite rosy, but I can actually detect some honey as well. However, mostly this is not a sweet, innocent, light or girlie scent. Like "Nirvana", this is actually a fairly dark and mysterious rose fragrance, and comes across like a perfume that a femme fatale should wear! It's not really overly heavy though, and doesn't have the longevity or sillage that I've found in some other rose perfumes. I still like it quite a lot though! :) I definitely recommend trying it at least once, if you're a fan of rose perfumes at all.