Stella McCartney released her first fragrance, called simply Stella, in 2003:
I wanted to capture the fragility of the high summer rose when the petals are just about to fall off. It's not about skipping around the country in a frilly skirt on a summer day.
Stella was created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier, and the notes are rose essence, peony, mandarin, rose absolute and amber. The fragrance starts out with dewy florals and crisp citrus; the end-of-summer fragility McCartney was looking for doesn't become apparent until the dry down, when the florals are joined by a woody-musky amber. The ad copy for Stella plays up the “contrast between the freshness and softness of the rose, and the dark sensuality of amber”, but it is not a deep, dark amber at all, in fact, it is rather pale and polished and only slightly warm. I would describe it as casual and laid back more than sexy.
It is a rather subtle fragrance, with minimal sillage. The rose is prominent but soft, and it has a very modern feel that would appeal even to those who don't care for rose — and the flip side of that, I suppose, is that it might not satisfy someone who adores rose and has three fragrances by Parfums de Rosine. I don't adore Stella, but I admire it. There is nothing particularly edgy or groundbreaking about it, but it doesn't smell like your typical department store/designer perfume. McCartney said she wanted to create a fragrance she would actually wear; of course, everyone says that, but in this case it seems believable.
The notes for the Rose Absolute, which was released last year, are the same as for Stella, and the differences are a largely a matter of degree. It is a slightly deeper fragrance, and the rose has been brightened a touch and given a bit more of a central role. Even then, it is not a heavy fragrance, and it maintains the unfussy appeal of the original. I like it better, but I doubt it is likely to convert anyone who disliked Stella. I have been trying to find out if it is a limited edition, but have not had any luck confirming its status. My local Sephora says it will be part of the regular line. Please comment if you know!
Both fragrances are Eau de Parfum, and can be found just about anywhere online or in the mall.
Note: the Stella ad is from Images de Parfums.