This is a tale of two cities in a land called Rozy. One has buildings hewn from peach and passion fruit with small indoor gardens where musky lovers frolic naked amidst purple hyacinths that bloom next to green lawns drizzled with honey. The other has small huts made from musky, earthy black currants with thatched roofs of white tuberose petals, overlaid with the black lace of camphorated smoke. This city is located deep within the heart of an Amazonian rainforest of salty vetiver drenched by tidal waves of sharp, sticky honey that pulsate animalism. One city is utterly magnificent, and I would live in it happily.
Rozy is the latest creation from the niche house of Vero Profumo, a much beloved brand with a cult following of admirers. (The Swiss brand is sometimes written with odd punctuation as “.vero.profumo.” I shall stick to a simpler spelling.) Rozy was released earlier this year to even more acclaim than Vero Kern‘s fragrances usually receive, and is a scent which comes in two different concentrations. There is an Eau de Parfum and something called a Voile d’Extrait, which lies in-between an extrait and an eau de parfum. Their notes are not the same, so each concentration has a slightly different focus. However, I find a common foundation, consisting of vetiver-like greenness with animalic honey. In reality, neither fragrances has vetiver included in its notes, but it smells like it to me, thanks to a slight of hand by Ms. Kern which creates that trompe l’oeil impression through other ingredients. The result is a strong tie between Rozy and one of its best siblings in the Vero Profumo line, Onda. I’ll look at each Rozy concentration in turn.
ROZY EAU DE PARFUM:
On her website, Ms. Kern describes Rozy as follows:
Pinky reddish petals that are floating and drowning in golden nectar like a never-ending sunset over a sea of love! A scent like a rosy tattoo – and a tribute to Anna Magnani! A stunning, glamorous, iridescent and velvety beauty that is frivolous, erotic, faithful, emotional, wild and tender.
That gets on and under the skin like a tattoo. That is pure LOVE like the great Italian actress ANNA MAGNANI in the movie The Rose Tattoo.
She provides no notes for the fragrance, but Luckyscent says that Rozy Eau de Parfum includes:
Passion fruit, peach, hyacinth, lilac, tarragon, rose, honey and powdery notes.
This won’t be one of my usual reviews where I dissect a fragrance’s development hour by hour, because I don’t think Rozy lends itself to such analysis. For one thing, it is what I call a “prismatic” scent: it throws off different notes at different times, much like light refracting off a crystal chandelier. On some levels, that makes Rozy EDP a linear perfume, because its core essence remains unchanged without distinct or dramatic stages. Instead, the individual notes often seem to undulate in the wind, swaying back and forth, weaving in and out, and varying largely in their prominence or strength.
The second reason why I’m taking a different approach is because Rozy EDP often feels like a dream — figuratively and almost literally. On two of the three occasions when I wore it, it almost sent me into a trance. The thick, opulent, completely heady and narcotic notes shot up to my brain, sending me into a waking dream of flashing images. I felt almost pinned down in a languid, sensual torrent of thick peaches and musky passion fruit that covered velvety rose petals like one of Salome’s veils. In truth, one reason why I love Rozy is because the dreaded demon flower actually is like Salome: hidden under seven veils. Some are sheer and billowing in the wind like a ghost, while others feel more opaque, dense, and narcotic. The rose lies underneath, tantalizing, always there, but also sufficiently out of reach to avoid being too much. (Have I mentioned lately just how much I dislike rose soliflores?!)
From the very first moment I apply Rozy, I feel as though I’ve fallen into some alternate chypre universe. None of the chypre’s traditional elements are here, but the feel has been reconstituted through wholly different, creative, incredibly original means. The rose lies upon a thick, plush carpet of greenness but it’s not oakmoss. There is musky earthiness and darkness, but it doesn’t come from patchouli. And there are tart top notes that aren’t citric, but zingy passion fruit instead. The rest is all a perfect haze, marked primarily by a feeling of opulent sensuality. Rozy EDP is far too seamless, too perfectly blended, and too fluid to have any one note dominate, so they all share time in the spotlight, though some notes occasionally sing an aria louder than others.
In my waking dream state, different images flash like a kaleidoscope whenever I close my eyes. Rivers of sweet juices run down the chin of someone biting into a fleshy peach. Tart tanginess from passion fruit mixes with earthiness and an almost briny, marshy vetiver. Animalic honey drips on a lover’s skin which gleams with muskiness. There are intertwined limbs and sex. A lot of sex, in fact. On the horizon, soft petals hover like ruby-red clouds, often feeling like an abstraction of floralcy and never raining down roses on your head.
Then, with a wave of the hand, the scene changes, almost like mist covering the landscape. I’m suddenly surrounded by one of my favorite flowers on earth: hyacinth. Row upon row of hyacinths, all blooming purple and emitting a liquid, fresh delicacy that speaks to Spring. Equally ethereal lilacs whisper behind them. The flowers try to cut through the peach juices and the musky, tangy earthiness of the passion fruit, but they are rarely successful. They are too fleeting, minor, and muted. The hyacinth acts much like a small breeze that briefly wafts by to snap you out of your dreams of lovers frolicking naked on vast lawns of “vetiver” greenness and playing out scenes from “Nine and 1/2 Weeks” with honey and peaches. Vero Kern says on the first page of her website, “I love everything that reminds of the smell of skin.” It shows, believe me, it shows…. Ms. Kern has a rare gift of consistently making me think of sex when I try one of her fragrances, and Rozy EDT is quite clearly not an exception.
The whole thing is a phantasmagoria of sweet, fruity, floral, earthy, salty, tart, musky, honeyed, erotic, red, peach, and green notes. Yet, Rozy isn’t completely finished with you, yet. Tiny wisps of sweet powder occasionally sprinkle down from the far horizons, especially during the 2nd hour. Ephemeral, ghostly, muted, and faint, they hover just out of reach, imprinting on your subconscious more than anything else. The powder mixes with the other notes in a way which conjures up a fantasy patisserie.
For whatever strange reason, all I see is a raspberry millefeuille, where a rich custard of red petals and raspberries lie ensconced between wafers and sprinkled with confectioner’s powder. Then, Rozy waves her languid hand, the powdered raspberry rose fades away, and I’m back to visions of peach juices running down someone’s chip to fall on naked, heated flesh where it mixes with rivulets of slightly sharp, animalic honey.
Again and again, the thought of Onda Eau de Parfum comes to mind. Rozy bears the strongest relation to Onda of any of the other Vero Profumo fragrances, but there are differences that extend beyond their individual notes. The main thing is that Rozy is not as overt as Onda EDP. It’s far more subtle in its sexuality, and Rozy feels like an easier, more approachable scent as a whole. One key reason why, I think, is because of the peach. In some fragrances like (vintage) Mitsouko, peach can add a distinct skankiness, thanks to the way it can evoke heated, ripe flesh. As a result, peach is not always the easiest note for people. (Honey is perhaps the most difficult of all, as I’ll explain shortly.)
Yet, in Rozy EDP, the carnal, fleshy, animalic, and sexual roles are filled by other elements, all of which lie under the veil of fruited sweetness. As a result, the peach seems to diffuse and neutralize some of the earthy raunchiness of such notes like the passion fruit. In effect, it acts like a Photoshop filter that blankets the raw animalism which is so present in Onda. It bathes the notes in a soft light, and turns Rozy into something more elegant as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, Rozy is not demure or restrained — not by any stretch of the imagination — but it is considerably less hardcore, blatant, and sexualized than Onda. (Rubj is considered by many to be the most “debauched” of the line, but my experience with the EDP seems to have been a ghastly anomaly involving the very worst of body odors, so it seems inapposite as a point of comparison. Suffice it to say that Rozy is substantially better behaved and less corporeal.)
Perhaps the best way to sum up the differences between the feel of the two scents is to bring up a friend’s nutshell summation for Onda: “swamp sex.” It’s all that salty, marshy vetiver with honey, you see. In comparison, Rozy feels more like an haute couture gown that a woman would wear to a gala where her lover occasionally grabs her for a few, stolen, heated moments in a hidden alcove, but he never gets the dress off, and she continues the evening apace in resplendent elegance.
All of this continues for hours and hours, but there are a few technical changes which occur amongst the radiating prism of notes. The hyacinth mist vanishes in the middle of the third hour, along with much of the edible gourmand powder, while the peach starts to weaken. At the start of the 4th hour, the vetiver-honey Onda accord in the base seeps up from the base, and becomes much more significant. Around the same time, Rozy’s sillage softens from its strong, early start, and drops down to about an inch or two above the skin.
With every passing moment from the end of the 6th hour onwards, Rozy continues its turn towards a muskier, earthier scent, as the roses, peach, and passion fruit grow fainter. At the start of the 8th hour until its very end, Rozy is dominated primarily by the duo of salty, marshy vetiver and slightly sharp, animalic honey, laced by an increasingly nebulous, abstract floralcy. In the final 5 hours of the drydown, there is nothing else but a softer version of the Onda accord.
All in all, Rozy EDP consistently lasts over 13 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. With the smallest amount equal to 2 really tiny smears (or about one small spritz from an actual bottle), Rozy lasts 13.5 hours. When I apply 2 good smears or 3 large ones, the numbers rise up to 15 and 18 hours, respectively. This may be an EDP for Vero Kern, but it has the density, richness, depth, luxuriousness, and longevity of some other brands’ extraits in terms of how it performs on my skin. All in all, you get quite a bang for your money. Rozy EDP costs $235 for a 50 ml. I think it’s absolutely worth it, because Rozy feels like an incredibly luxurious indulgence where a tiny quantity goes a long way in transporting you to resplendent, elegant, and sensual worlds.
However, this is not a fragrance one should risk blindly buying, in my opinion. Peach is not the only note with the potential to go a bit south on some skin. Honey is perhaps one of the most difficult ingredients in perfumery. On some unfortunate people, it can turn screechy, shrill, ammoniac, or akin to urine. Unless you know from beforehand that your skin works well with honey (and peach), I would sample Rozy EDP first.
As a side note, rose-haters and men shouldn’t have much to worry about. I don’t think Rozy skews feminine, even with the roses. Anyone who reads this blog frequently knows what I think about that demonic flower and just how much I dislike fragrances where the note is omnipresent. That is not the case here. The rose is, quite thankfully, squashed, beaten, and oppressed into whimpering submission. As noted earlier, the floralcy is subtle, quite abstract, and develops into something that is more akin to a nebulous suggestion. What prevents the fragrance from feeling heavily feminine is the Onda accord with its honeyed animalism, muskiness, and that powerful, marshy vetiver.
I loved Rozy EDP, and I say that as someone who hasn’t always had the greatest luck with Vero Profumo’s creations. I used to love Onda and I own a bottle, but I have to say that I’ve turned off it in the last year. It is simply too much for me a lot of the times. I think the problem is that the honey is a little too sulphurous, smoky, and sharp on my skin. Rozy is easier, more elegant, less raw, and without Onda’s brute force. In essence, it feels like a more refined, balanced take on the notes which made me love Onda from first sniff. It also doesn’t hurt that I really like peach notes in perfumery, and I respond almost instinctively to Rozy’s chypre-like trompe l’oeil in the opening hours. In short, Rozy EDP is simply wonderful. I didn’t think the hype could be true, especially for something involving the dreaded rose note, but it’s really a stunning creation. And I want it for myself.
ROZY VOILE D’EXTRAIT:
While Rozy EDP was received with praise, Rozy Voile d’Extrait seems to have sent many people into gushing paeans of orgasmic euphoria. I am not one of their number. In fact, I dislike this version of Rozy. I feel rather guilty about it, because my sample was generously shared by a reader who sent me such a treasure trove of lovely things that I shall henceforth refer to her as “Santa Claus Petra.” It’s difficult for me in general to accept gifts, so to respond with anything less than genuine enthusiasm to one of them feels terribly churlish. But I have to be honest in my reviews, and the reality is that Rozy Voile d’Extrait was such a hideous experience that I shied away from re-experiencing it (let alone writing about it) for more than a month. I simply wanted to block the whole thing out, and, as you will soon see, the main reason has to do with the Voile’s unbalanced, bulldozer nature on my skin.
The notes in the Voile d’Extrait differ quite a bit from that in the EDP. According to Luckyscent, this concentration of Rozy includes:
Melon, blackcurrant, coriander seed, nutmeg, tuberose, rose, honey, sandalwood, labdanum, vanilla, styrax.
As some of you know, tuberose is my absolute favorite flower — both in perfumery and in nature as a whole. I can never get enough of it, so I was thrilled to hear that Rozy Voile d’Extrait (hereinafter sometimes just referred to as “Rozy”) was primarily centered around that note. Well, not on my skin.
Rozy opens with a blast of green, milky tuberose infused with vanilla, sandalwood, and a trace of spices. Light flickers of melon lurk behind the flower, infusing its subtle suggestion of leafy, fresh greenness with a delicate touch of liquidity. Within a minute, the ethereal flower turns darker, camphorated, and smoky at the edges. There is no rose to speak of — not now or ever on my skin. Instead, the opening hour is all about my favorite flower in the world.
The tuberose is multi-faceted. At first glance, it is green, dewy, and spicy, then covered with the black lace of camphorated smoke. Yet, the sandalwood and the rich, custardy vanilla waft in and out, playing a hide-and-go-seek game behind the petals. Five minutes later, they are joined by a faint streak of muskiness, as the black currant (or cassis as I know it) awakens in the base. It grows stronger with every passing moment, adding a powerful element of somewhat sour, stale, almost leathery muskiness that I don’t enjoy. Cassis can go very wrong on some skin, even occasionally turning to ammonia and cat pee on some unfortunate souls. That doesn’t happen here, but the note feels fetid in a way that is unpleasant. Meanwhile, a peppered woodiness appears, turning Rozy drier and darker still.
Thanks to both the cassis and the woodiness, Rozy is starting to transform. More and more, the tuberose’s delicate, ethereal nature is being covered up. The touch of dewiness from the melon vanishes, while the camphorated smoke weakens both the flower’s innate creaminess and the lingering touches of vanilla. Rozy is now primarily a smoky, dry, woody tuberose with darkness, a touch of tart fruitiness, and a slightly stale, sour muskiness.
Rozy continues to evolve by small degrees. At the end of 30 minutes, the cassis is in full bloom, lending as much tart fruitiness to the scent as earthy muskiness. At the same time, there are the first stirrings of Onda’s main accord in the base. Once again, there is salty, marshy vetiver drizzled with sharp, animalic honey, and once again, I have to say that it’s an olfactory illusion, a trompe l’oeil recreated through similar smelling ingredients. In the case of the Voile, I’m not quite sure how, since the only green note listed is tarragon and there is absolutely no way that is responsible for the Onda tonalities. I am really convinced that vetiver has been omitted from the ingredient list, for both versions of Rozy.
Regardless of source or reason, Onda’s vetiver-honey duo lies at the very heart of the Voile d’Extrait on my skin. In fact, it only takes an hour for it to race neck-and-neck with the cassis-infused, musky, camphorated tuberose. The flower starts to turn more nebulous and abstract, while the dark fruitiness grows stronger. A thin sliver of leathery, smoky, styrax resin stirs in the base. At the same time, a sudden wisp of peppered woodiness appears pops up at the edges. However, the sandalwood and vanilla are now only a distant memory.
The perfume continues to shift quite quickly. Less than 90 minutes in, the tuberose is turning into an ill-defined, tenuous abstraction on my skin, and Rozy is a primarily a mix of salty vetiver, sharp animalic honey, and musky, slightly sour cassis fruits. By the end of the 3rd hour and the start of the 4th, the earthy cassis and its musky darkness are clinging on by a fingernail, as is the nebulous suggestion of something vaguely resembling tuberose.
Soon after that, things go straight to hell as the vetiver-honey take over completely, obliterating everything in their path with the single-minded aggressiveness of Attila the Hun. Their assault is led by the honey, in particular, which seems to have been poured on with a shovel in a way that far surpasses even Onda. It’s endlessly sticky, sharp, smoky, and sulphurous. In fact, it feels as sharp as a blade at times.
And that’s truly it for Rozy Voile d’Extrait. There is a ghostly breath of tuberose or some approximation thereof, as well as a tiny vein of leathery styrax in the base and a pinch of powder, but 85% of Rozy is essentially a stronger, more overwhelming, and extremely unbalanced version of Onda EDP on my skin. For hours and hours (and bloody hours), Rozy Voile d’Extrait pulsates a main trio of salty greenness, marshy muskiness, and screaming, animalic honey on my skin.
When I say “hours,” I mean it. That traumatic first time when I tried Rozy Voile d’Extrait, it lasted well over 22 hours on my skin, and a good 18 of those hours were centered almost entirely on the Onda accords led by that torrent of honey. The second time, I used a smaller amount of Rozy, roughly 2 tiny spritzes from my little atomizer vial or about 1 small squirt from a bottle, and it was a very similar story. This time, Onda lasted a “mere” 18 hours and the vetiver-honey was a part of 17 of them, but it was the sole, singular focus for only 14 of them. There was some relief in the form of soft sillage at the start of the 8th hour, but it was insufficient to ameloriate the impact of the Rozy’s unrelenting focus.
The whole thing utterly exhausts me. It’s not merely the power and aggressiveness of the Voile’s notes; the real culprit is the perfume’s unbalanced nature on my skin. Perhaps it’s individual chemistry, as my skin tends to amplify base notes, but I have two friends who told me that they thought Rozy Voile was essentially a shriller version of Onda with substantially increased honey. One of them seems to have detected a tiny bit of rose in his scent, but generally, Rozy Voile d’Extrait seems to be about three core elements for those I know — tuberose, vetiver, and honey — with everything else trailing behind. We are all in a minority, however, as you will soon see.
ALL IN ALL:
There is nary a negative word to be said in the perfume world for either version of Rozy, and men are as much a fan of the scent as women. On Fragrantica, one chap calls Rozy Voile d’Extrait the best tuberose fragrance he’s ever tried. Posters of both genders talk about the darkened twist on the flower, while also bringing up the heavy doses of honey. For several people, the rose seems to be a mere suggestion. As one person put it, it’s “more hinted at than present, lost and buried somewhere in between honey and blackcurrant.” That hint is a lot more than what I got from the Voile, but I merely wish the tuberose were more dominant and not a tertiary note.
With only one exception, the Fragrantica comments are gushing, rave reviews that consider the Voile to be a “masterpiece.” The lone dissenter, “Stevenoix,” struggled considerably with the scent, however, and it was due primarily to that blasted honey. His review reads, in part, as follows:
something in this, once applied to the skin, instantly turns into a sneezefest. the honey (i think) literally explodes on me in vulgar, powdery, bug-spray-like horridness and remains so for a good hour. sheer and absolute devastation.
i persevered however, and the honey, the culprit i feel, finally settled and began to recede. from beneath the sticky, powdered sludge, a woody rose slowly begins to unfurl its petals, and slower still, a tuberose. still soaked in sweet honey, but much less of a headache. in these moments, it really was quite an extraordinarily beautiful fragrance. it’s not to be though. approximately two to three hours on, it’s all sunken beneath the waves once again, and all there is is honey and vanilla. sillage and longevity on me thus far have both been impressive, it’s just all honey and vanilla. disappointed thoroughly, although i guess that’s skin chemistry…
EDIT: further on, there is definitely something in this that does not agree with my skin. a hideously synthetic-smelling wood, once more drenched in honey, has emerged. i finally have to scrub, 5 hours after spraying. damn it all!
I highlight this review out of the many raves primarily to underscore just how difficult a note honey can be, especially when copious amounts of it have been used. Skin chemistry is going to be really determinative of how Rozy Voile d’Extrait performs on you, so please keep that in mind if you’re tempted to do a blind buy. This is one fragrance where sampling may be wiser than ever.
For Rozy Eau de Parfum, its Fragrantica page has only two reviews. One is positive, while the other is not. The difficulty here seems to be the passion fruit:
I really like the opening, a fruity red rose, but then the rose disappers on me and I am left with a juicy passionfruit peach fruit bowl.
As a side note, I feel I should add that passion fruit is another note that can be problematic on some people due to its animalic, earthy muskiness. Again, skin chemistry will be key, so test first.
All in all, neither scent is for the timid or for those who don’t like very rich, heavy fragrances. For everyone else, however, I think both versions of Rozy are worth trying. The Voile d’Extrait is a complete pass for me, and a shrieking banshee whose memory I hope to erase as quickly as possible. Yet, it is clearly due to individual skin chemistry. I was not fortunate with it, and fared better with the Eau de Parfum. The latter was a stunning surprise. I never thought the hype could be justified, never thought I’d be hugely swayed by a Vero Profumo scent, and certainly never thought a rose scent would be so compelling. Yet, Rozy Eau de Parfum is like a spider that traps you in its resplendent, prismatic web, drugging you with its sensual bite, and evoking memories of the very best of classical, haute perfumery and bygone powerhouses. It’s evocative, sophisticated, lusty, and truly beautiful.