I’ve been reading about Anna Magnani a lot recently. I wanted to be prepared for Vero Kern’s long awaited perfume Rozy, dedicated to the Italian actress and taking it’s name from the film ‘The Rose Tattoo’ that won her all manner of awards for best actress in the 1950’s. She is described as a woman of great vitality; her performances boiling with raw emotion and her personal life just as tempestuous and fiery.
I can see why Vero has made Magnani her muse for her latest creation. The actress, with her soul shining painfully bright through eyes that sparkle with mirth one moment and sorrow the next. She had such a sense of stark reality about her, something that one doesn’t often see in the polished aloofness of golden Hollywood stars. Her face was angular and atypical of beauty at that time, it’s lines carved by an intensity of emotion and understanding that seems to radiate through the screen, even now.
Vero herself has that same vitality. Although I was not one of the ones lucky enough to meet her at Bloom Perfumery earlier this month, I can sense through the warmth of her messages to me that she is a woman carved and made beautiful by her experience. She is of that rare breed of person who never forgets to say thank you, to ask after your family, even when life is hectic and there are hundreds of other things clamoring for attention. This innate understanding of how important it is to be personally involved in a project comes across in every single one of her perfumes. They all share the same vitality, the notion that one is smelling a person wearing a perfume rather than just the perfume itself. From the bottle escapes all the warmth, all the secret thoughts and movements of a human body. Vero’s fragrances inhabit you, sink into your skin and change you with the emotions suspended between molecules.
Onda, Rubj, Kiki and Mito are jewels with many different facets. Rosy is no different. It seems that Vero feels she cannot portray everything she wants to in just one version of a scent. Each perfume is like a complex being of light and shade, capable of expressing a vast array of emotion; therefor it must have a number of different incarnations. To my mind, all of Vero’s scents are women. I don’t mean that they are feminine fragrances, I mean that in my imagination they become characterised as strong female figures. Each concentration is like a sibling; the brightness and the wickedness.
The Eau de Parfums feel most like a full characterisation. Their attributes are all to be found within the dark glass of the beautiful bottles. For example; Onda is overly sexual, warmed by sun and sea spray; Kiki is frivolous and fun, a flapper girl at a party; Rubj is fully loaded with night blossoms and spice, seductive in the candle light; Mito is a sparkling green fountain, a walk through a beautiful garden.
The Extraits tend to exaggerate the perfumes deeper, darker side. The wicked sibling. Onda’s sexiness turns to smoke and bondage in the night; Kiki’s sweet powder grows languorous with caramel; Rubj’s white petals become dangerously intoxicating; Mito slips from her marble font into patent heels and knocks back the tequila with lime and road dust.
The Voile d’Extraits are the elemental qualities of the perfume, plucked out and suspended. The Voiles contain the most light and shade, transparent yet brightly coloured. The soul sibling. One might think that the Voiles are the most gentle incarnation but I have not found that to be the case at all. They sing from the skin in vivid soprano, somehow both sheer and dense, light and intensely pigmented. I don’t know how Vero has achieved this but the resulting fragrances are quite exceptional. It is a mark of true dedication and understanding that a fragrance can have multiple facets and reflect in every one the passion and emotion of it’s maker, never losing any integrity or drama.
So. To Rozy. I have been waiting and waiting for Vero’s rose. There was never any doubt that it would be special, as everything she produces is. There has been a lot of anticipation and buzz surrounding the launch and already many rave reviews are appearing. I’m sure that there have been people wondering when the first bad review will appear, there being a need for balance in all things. I think anyone who reads this blog will know that I don’t tend to write critically. I try to be truthful, but always with a poetic bent. Onda was not an easy perfume for me, neither was Rubj in it’s EdP and VdE forms. I do, however, own a bottle of Rubj Extrait which enchants me over and over again, such is the power of Vero’s fragrances and their contrasting characters. With Rozy I have been utterly charmed, darkly intrigued and slightly repulsed. Like sisters from a twisted fairy tale, Rozy has led me by the hand into the dark recesses of a bloody chamber, then run with me like dawn breaking across the sky. Light and dark, skin and sin, blood and beauty.
Let’s start with the Voile d’Extrait. It opens with an almighty blast of powerful rose and tuberose with an almost medicinal steeliness to it. The fragrance is cold in my nostrils and although I recognise all the elements that I’m smelling, I somehow struggle to reconcile them with my preconceptions. I have never smelled a rose in quite this way before. It is seductive and suggestive of hidden dangers. There is an undercurrent of vivid anger, the tuberose is slashed flesh beneath the roses thorns. A fruitiness develops with sharp cassis, turned more lethal with spices. Beneath this runs the powdered honey that is so synonymous with Vero’s perfumes. In this wicked form the honey soothes nothing, instead acting as a lubricant for the rose’s velveteen seduction, a steely blade tucked into a garter around her thigh. The fragrance rolls forth from the skin with intense power and ferocity. When the sandalwood appears it takes on the suggestion of incense, intoxicating and dark at the edges. Rozy grows more leathered and resinous as it develops, the rose losing all it’s early purity and instead becoming dark, almost sticky sweet with honey and hot, torn flesh. Something slightly fetid lurks in the very depths of the perfume. It is not as prominent as it is in Onda, but nonetheless it appears, sending a shiver through the scent.
The overwhelming impression from Rozy Voile d’Extrait is of seduction, anger and wild passion, of destruction. A rose is such a powerful symbol and a scent which has been expressed over and over throughout history. Here the Rose is slowly sensual yet furious; viciously sexy, she makes no pretence at being refined or controlled. Dark hair flying and nails sharp as thorns, she rages at you with eyes like deepest dungeons, would rip you to shreds as she kisses you brutally with blood velvet lips. The scent of her skin is present in the honey and spices, urgent, hot and intense. Yet her anger is also cold as a razor, the medicinal tang present in the beginning does fade, but leaves behind an almost seared edge, like a frozen dagger into a swollen heart.
There is an undeniable beauty in Rozy Voile d’Extrait. For all the contradictions within the scent it is never discordant. It has a sharpness that chimes above the boudoir petals, a dangerous tone filled with unspoken vitriol. This is a rose as only Vero could do it. Filled with raw emotion and vitality. It is a scorned woman filled with dark intent and predatory want, a dagger in her hand. I found it to be almost too potent, although I have heard a number of other people mark it out as their favourite. The Eau de Parfum is the one that has a firm hold over my heart, and although it is also built around the same rose, it couldn’t be more different.
Rozy Eau de Parfum opens with a luxurious puff of powdered honey and nectar filled blossoms. It has a wonderfully vintage, golden feel to it straight away, lightly dusted, tanned skin beneath a silk gown. As the scent warms a glow of fruitiness appears, peachy and delicious, ripe with passionfruit. It’s at this point that a very beautiful counterbalance between moist juice and pollen filled floral occurs, staying put for the whole of the perfume’s development.
The rose doesn’t make an appearance straight away in Rozy EdP, rather she waits behind a screen of lilacs, peaches and honey dust until the opening scene had been played out. When she takes a step forward she is radiant, in full bloom and warm from the sun. I don’t find the rose to be the most prominent part of the fragrance, rather she is the structure upon which the other components dance, tumbling amid her petals, yet if she wasn’t there the whole scent would blow away in the breeze.
Rozy has a most pleasing sensation of a deep layer of powder upon a polished surface, super fine and so soft that when one lightly presses a fingertip into it, the only proof that it’s been touched is the fingerprint left behind. There is certainly a kind of powder-compact, lipstick quality that I usually would flinch at, yet here somehow it’s not offensive to me at all. I think that superb balance between fruitiness and floral together with the golden honey, keeps the powder from sticking in my throat.
Rozy Eau de Parfum is the golden sibling, with all the charm and charisma of a true star. While her Voile sister rages in the shadows, this rose blossoms in the growing light of morning, crowned with lilacs and smiling her beautiful smile. Whilst Vero’s trademark warm skin note is detectable here too, it smells like polished, clean skin rather than the sexual pungency present in the Voile. The passionfruit is ripe but not turning, the honey is sweet and abundant without becoming fetid.
It is a superbly classy fragrance, classy in the best kind of way. Rozy EdP is naturally charming and beautiful, vivacious and splendid, without having to try. She is entirely herself and everyone loves her for it.
I know that a lot of people will be drawn to the Voile d’Extrait because it has punch, a fuller, more dangerous character with that unmistakable Vero Profumo twist of honey, passionfruit and sex. I know that my friend The Silver Fox will wear the Voile with unashamed abandon, shrouding himself in it’s shadowed purple haze like a cloak of sensuality. I need a little restraint in my fragrances. I need to feel as if I am still myself within the perfumed cloud. Vero has an uncanny ability to make scents that seem to possess me and whilst that is intriguing for the purposes of creative writing, it makes them somewhat difficult for me to wear on a regular basis. Rozy EdP is perfect because whilst it has all the qualities that I adore about Vero’s scent-making, it is also extremely wearable. It makes me feel grown up and classy, which for someone who is often mistaken for a teenager is very important.
Rozy is a perfume full of golden light, yet holds enough weight to last for hours on the skin and stay true until the very end. I imagine that for evening, layering a little of the Voile over the EdP would produce a deeper, slightly more full bodied scent, without letting Rozy’s dark side become too prominent. Unless that’s what you’d prefer of course. Whichever incarnation you think would suit you most, I defy you not to become spellbound by this profoundly real and vital perfume. Just as the maker and her muse possess the power to express emotion in the most human of ways, so do these wonderful fragrances.