Stella McCartney Stella and Stella Rose Absolute ~ perfume reviews

Stella by Stella McCartney, perfume advert

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.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a pleasant surprise this morning to read a review of the Stella Rose Absolute!This is probably my most used fragrance recently and I am nearly finishing a bottle,which is fairly miraculous for me!I love the Absolute but have never tried the regular because it is so often described as watered down and not very distinct.Thank you for reviewing this.It was a pleasure to read!

  2. Anonymous says:

    R, I agree that Stella was pale and – too me- a little too subtle. That's why I haven't been inspired to make an effort and find a sample of Stella Rose Absolute…Again, it is all about the difficulty in obtaining those “department store” samples. :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I expected something more from Stella than it was – it seemed a thin, traditional effort to me, without much body. I never got to the amber drydown, I'm afraid! I'd be interested to see if the Absolute has more spunk to it. Honestly, for a woman who designs clothes which are resolutely breast-fixated, I expected something more raunchy from Ms McC!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lovely review! I like Stella very much, although it is the kind of fragrance that I can get tired of fairly easily, because it does not develop much. The parfum is great, as it explores the rose fragility better than the EDP.

  5. Anonymous says:

    C, if you love the Absolute, I very much doubt that you'd like the regular any better. Love that bottle for the Absolute too!

  6. Anonymous says:

    M, Sephora has it, and now that they're back to regular spray samples (although mine has plastic, not glass) it is not hard to get a sample.

  7. Anonymous says:

    N, guessing you did get to the amber dry down, just didn't notice…as I said, it is not a deep amber, and it smells as much like woods & musk as it does amber. Absolute has more spunk, but all the same, it isn't a fragrance with a ton of oomph if that is what you're looking for.

    Really, her designs are raunchy? Will have to go investigate, I'm not familiar with her work at all. Certainly there is *nothing* raunchy about the scent or its packaging.

  8. Anonymous says:

    V, certainly agree that the EdP does not develop much…and sort of forgot that there was a parfum, although that is what is in the picture, so not sure how I managed that ;-)

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do love Stella, but then I only own two Rosines. ;O)

    The body milk is really nicer than the fragrance and perfect for summer days here in CA. Very light and quick absorbing with a delicate rose scent, as if rose water were a lotion.

    I haven't tried the Absolute, but the Sheer smelled like beer.

    Victoria O

  10. Anonymous says:

    I really like the idea of what she was trying to do, but don't feel that she achieved it with this one. I expected it to be more — decadent? Not sure if that's the word I'm grasping for — the sense of something that is both at its height and beginning to fade. More autumnal, maybe. However, as you noted, I'm generally not a fan of rose fragrances, and I liked this one.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Will have to try the body milk, V, that sounds lovely and like something that would layer well.

    Have not smelled the Sheer…the regular is pretty light anyway so I didn't see the point. Like beer, really? Now I'm intrigued & will have to go smell it, LOL!

  12. Anonymous says:

    R, I never cared for Stella because – I know it´s a bit stupid – I don´t like Stella McCartney…

    But a few weeks ago I read that the scent is a bit similar to Lancôme 2000 Et Une Rose, a fragrance I don´t know yet, but am very interested in.

    So I thought I should give Stella at least a chance, but always forgot about it when I was in a perfumery. Your review reminded me that it´s about time to test it!

    I doubt that our perfumery has a tester of Rose Absolute (Last time I wanted to test Prada Intense & while they carry that one, they don´t have a tester, the same with Parfum de Merveilles…*sigh*).

    Usually I don´t like rose fragrances very much – I don´t have a single Rosine fragrance *lol* – so I may like Stella if the roses aren´t too overwhelming & according to your review they aren´t.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I know what you mean, M, it is not a terribly evocative fragrance, just pretty & wearable. Have something in mind for your autumnal rose but it is sitting right on the tip of my tongue and the name just won't come to mind…

  14. Anonymous says:

    S, I don't know enough about her to like her or not, but now curious why you don't?

    Offhand, I don't find Stella to be that similar to 2000 et une Rose at all, although they do have similar notes. Will have to try them together later this week to compare.

    My NM didn't have a tester of Prada Intense either, LOL — although they did have samples at least.

  15. Anonymous says:

    VanillaGirl just neatly summarized exactly how I feel about it, too. It's just not really very exciting to me. Her designs seem particularly feminine, sort of a wild spin on old-fashioned sensibilities. But the fragrance Stella seems only old-fashioned to me, and rather timid for what I might have expected from her. Eh, it's okay, but I too didn't think much of it, either.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I found Art of Flower last weekend, thanks NST! Two interesting rosie annecdotes: I had Comptoir Sud Pacifique Princess Muscat on my wrists and it was wearing away. I wasn't too impressed with the grape rendition. I found and liked the Roseberry de Rosine and thought nothing when I gave myself a few spritz, not thinking anything of the CSP since I was pretty sure it's mostly gone by then. Suddenly an overwhelming green grapey scent pretty much materialized out of nowhere, and the rest of the day I smelled like grape. Who'd thunk. 2nd stupid rosie annecdote: I got a TDC Rose Poiree tester, on me, it does nothing, I can't smell any rose at all. Later in the day I'm sitting on the couch cuddling my dog. Suddenly: rose rose rose rose rose. Heh, dog chemistry.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So glad you found Art with Flowers, it is a great store with a great selection. Great stories…wouldn't have thought a CSP would have the lasting power to do anything to a Rosine either, and LOL at dog chemistry!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    K, agree it isn't unconventional, but when I look at what most designers do (Matthew Williamson, etc) this just seems so much less like a sell out. I mean, at least it isn't another sweet fruity or ozonic floral or something, and it doesn't smell like it was geared towards a little girl.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I was definitely not a fan of Stella McCartney or her fashions, but I do like her fragrance. It seems a little different from the usual mass-market fragrances because its centrepiece is the rose, which is not a particularly fashionable note.

    On the tester I found it soft and lovely. Unfortunately it does not blend well with my chemistry and turns sour on my skin. Haven't tried the absolute, but it sounds nice too.

    As for why some people might dislike Stella herself, I can't remember the specific incidents, but apparently she has displayed rude behavior in public, and seems to have a bratty aura of snobbery and entitlement.

    Her fashions don't do anything for me personally.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well, I´ve never met S. McCartney in person, that´s why I wrote it´s stupid that I don´t like her.

    But perhaps you know that feeling when you see a person (on a picture/in person/in a movie) & you immediately get the feeling “Oh, I simply can´t stand her/him…!” That´s what I get when I see her face somewhere. I may be completely wrong, though! It´s a bit ridiculous, I know.

    You don´t think Lancôme & Stella are at least a bit similar – that´s a pity beause I think it´ll take ages until I can test 2000 Et Une Rose somewhere…

    Have you got a sample of Prada Intense? If so, does it smell different from the original version or is it just a bit more intense, like the name suggests?

  21. Anonymous says:

    S, to me, Prada Intense is deeper, but also slightly different. I think of the regular Prada as more patchouli, the Intense as more amber.

    Know what you mean about Stella M. Just not familiar with her at all.

    2000 et Une Rose has some similarity to Stella, but is more rose-focused, less casual. Has a bit of vanilla in the dry down. It is gorgeous. If you like Stella but want more rose, I would think you would love the Lancome. But the reason I wouldn't place them in the same category is that I can see that someone who likes Stella precisely because the rose is so subdued might not like the Lancome at all, or might find it too old fashioned.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes it goes sour on me too, but not always. That is a problem with many roses, I find.

    Ah, bratty & rude, that explains it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    R, today I tested Stella, I think it was the Absolute version – yes, they had a tester ;-) – At first it didn´t impress me much, though it wasn´t bad at all, but I thought it lacked something, cannot exactly say what. But now (after about 3 hours) I have to change my opinion a bit: it´s a nice subdued rose fragrance & since I didn´t get a sample, I think I´ve to revisit rather soon. Maybe the “normal” version would please me even more, I forgot to test it because the S.A. only showed me the Absolute version – don´t ask me why. They do have both.

    Do you perhaps know how much 2000 Et Une Rose costs? Is it only available in Lancôme Paris boutique?

    By the way I wanted to tell you that I purchased La Perla Eclix last week :-) It´s indeed very lovely! (And Santa brought me Flowerbomb. I really don´t know why I like it since it´s so sweet, but I do…*lol*)

  24. Anonymous says:

    S, the 2000 et une rose is around $180-200 USD, if I remember correctly, for 100 ml. Only at the Lancome Institut in Paris, although they might ship to you (I know they won't ship to the States). Hey, congrats on the Eclix and the Flowerbomb!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Well that is def. true – not little girly indeed, which is nice. Still, it does seem more geared toward the older teens to my nose. But little girly is a trend I'm glad she chose not to go with. And teenagers need perfumes that aren't made of fruit salad, too, after all ;)

  26. Anonymous says:

    Do you know where I could find a high quality rose oil? The rose ottos dissapoint me and I don't like the greener scents of the stems mixed in. Years ago, my Dad bought my Mom some pure rose oil from a florist shop and it was the most beautiful scent I can remember. I think it may have been a tea rose variety. Anyhow, the closest I've ever come to replacing it was through a solid rose perfume called “Kasmir Rose” by Temple Essence. It's lovely, but I still pine after that oil. Of course my Dad can't remember where he bought it.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I really don't, sorry!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Stella by Stella McCartney is a knock off of Agnes B, by the French designer Agnes B. How do I know? Because I bought Agnes B at her boutique in Paris, probably more than 20 years ago. It was and is still a great scent and Stella probably didn't think anyone would find out, since Agnes B is not too well known compared to most designers. Of course, I don't know if she still has her scent now, or has reformulated it since.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I can't comment, I've never smelled the Agnes B, but if you bought it 20 years ago it is almost certainly reformulated, assuming it's still made.

  30. englishrose says:

    I’ve actually found the opposite to what most people are saying about Stella – the original fragrance. For me, it’s quite deep and sexily ambery, but without being overpowering (the knock-out effect of eg Opium is too much for me at 25!). I’ve never found it watery or thin, and in fact, it’s the only perfume I’ve ever had that I can still smell hours and hours later. It’s also the only perfume that people compliment me on consistently – an exboyfriend still reminisces about it, and people have stopped me in shops to ask what it is. I didn’t like Rose Absolute – I found it too heavy and just a poorer version of the original. I admit, when I first smelled Stella I was concerned it smelled too rose-y and bathroom-y, but after about 10 minutes, it’s gorgeous. I’ve been wearing Stella for years now and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants something original but beautiful.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks for the nice review!

  31. BeachGirl says:

    I have the regular Stella.. and the scent is absolutely fantastic. I love it! It’s sensual, musky, settles nicely on the skin… very empowering and sexy… a MUST TRY! I’m always complimented when I wear it :)

  32. hms says:

    Stella is a knock-off of the original scent of Agnés B, a French designer. Not so well known. I wore it for years and recognized it immediately.

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