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The relevant rose, a scent for all centuries

The perfumer Sophia Grojsman is known in her industry as a master of rose. Her work has ranged from Estee Lauder’s White Linen (1978), the ultimate aldehydic — the scent of talcum powder, a smell that is actually quite modernist/ abstract in style — to Eternity (1988) for Calvin Klein, the proto-American floral Beautiful (1985, also Lauder) and the astonishing green scent of Calyx (1986) for Prescriptives.

But in a sense, it is with Paris for Yves Saint Laurent that Grojsman made her name as the rose queen. Though she created it in 1983, Paris remains relevant as a rose perfume, which is saying a lot. It is a rare and impressive rose perfume that works just as well in the 21st century as it did in the 20th.

In Paris, Grojsman created a rose-violet hybrid. The rose is exquisite: all the weight and depth of the iconic flower, that purplish scent of evenings with women in gowns, from which she has stripped all antiquated aspects. The violet’s almost eerie green angle is crucial to the perfume. It is again a somewhat modernised violet, not the old-fashioned, harsh barbershop version, but a smooth violet, as if satin grew in a garden.

But Paris is, fundamentally, a crepuscular rose, one that, if it reads classic — the polite word for “of a certain era” — does so with such subtlety and elegance that it comes as close to timelessness as it is probably possible to get. Paris glows on the skin. It effortlessly resists the years, equilibrates itself perfectly and renders more beautiful everything it touches. It is one of the paradigms of the paradigmatic rose.  

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