Avril Lavigne Forbidden Rose ~ fragrance review

Avril Lavigne Forbidden Rose perfume advert

First things first: there is no rose in Forbidden Rose, the second fragrance release from Canadian pop-rock singer Avril Lavigne. The notes for Forbidden Rose, whose theme is "Dare to Discover," are listed as red apple, white peach, bourbon pepper, lotus flower, apple blossom, heliotrope, pomegranate, vanilla, chocolate and sandalwood. The rose of the title is a “symbolic black rose,” an emblem of fantasy, and the commercial for Forbidden Rose features a thorny rose amidst visual references to fairy tales both old (“Sleeping Beauty,” “Beauty and the Beast”) and new (the “Twilight” series and Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” for which Lavigne recorded a song).

If Lavigne’s first fragrance release, Black Star, was a pop-punk single that you could dance to, then Forbidden Rose is a more introspective ballad. The crisp apple note is just a quick introduction to the fragrance: a peach-skin scent emerges soon afterwards, and lasts an unusually long time for a fruit accord. The peach turns slightly bitter in the middle phase, when it’s joined by the floral notes. The florals are a general idea of pink petals, and they never bloom fully. Forbidden Rose’s development continues slowly, into a muted wood base with a hint of pale, almond-vanilla sweetness, and the peach note is sustained throughout. It’s a cautious fragrance, overall, and not particularly “edgy.” (Black Star was even a bit darker, in the dry-down of its cocoa-y base.) It’s not an overtly fruity fragrance, nor a gourmand one. It seems to be hedging its bets, not unlike a performer who has out-aged her core audience and is carefully testing the waters before moving in a new direction.

Avril Lavigne Forbidden Rose fragrance bottle

As for Forbidden Rose’s packaging: its bottle looks like the offspring of Angel (in its shape) and Anna Sui's original fragrance (in the black-rose form of the cap). Actually, Forbidden Rose seems influenced by Anna Sui’s style and fragrance line in more ways than one: the black-rose motif, the black-silver-purple color scheme, the encouraging tagline (Sui’s is “Live your dream”), and the structure of the fragrance itself. The overall peach-waterlily-wood-vanilla scheme has already appeared (more vividly) in Rock Me!; come to think of it, Avril Lavigne and Anna Sui both license their fragrances through Procter & Gamble Prestige.

Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into this product. I may not be as excited by Fobidden Rose as many Avril Lavigne fans will be, but I’m not really the target audience.  It’s an appropriate and pleasant back-to-school fragrance for pre-teen and teen girls who love Avril, who want to wear a trendy but familiar-feeling new scent this fall, and who will enjoy displaying the bottle on their dressers.

Avril Lavigne Forbidden Rose is available for $29 for 30 ml and $39 for 50 ml Eau de Parfum, and can be found at Kohl’s stores nationwide as well as the Kohl’s website. For more information and a list of international vendors, see the Avril Lavigne Perfumes website.

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27 Comments

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  1. kaos.geo says:

    “It seems to be hedging its bets, not unlike a performer who has out-aged her core audience and is carefully testing the waters before moving in a new direction.” ouch!
    Great review though, and you aré right on the Anna sui influence if you ask me.

    • Jessica says:

      Well, I did a very quick browse through some comments on YouTube and a fan forum, and AL’s admirers often seem to disagree about the “original” or “old” Avril vs. the “new” Avril’s style! I guess it’s tricky for someone like her, getting so successful at such a young age and then wanting to grow up a bit.

      • kaos.geo says:

        Yes, I know, you did your homework alright! :-)

        My ouch was appreciative, I rather read a review with a little edge (and I loved the comparisons of fragrances to types and styles of songs) than the reviews at other sites, which are awfully generic.

        Thanks! and looking forward to your next review :-)

        • Jessica says:

          Thanks, KG! I love to analyze, and analyze… don’t we all. ;)
          But yeah, it’s very easy to say that something is “fun and sexy!” — or, on the other hand, just to say that it’s “generic… meh.” I like to get more in-depth. ;)

  2. annemarie says:

    Somehow the use of the colour purple is a turn-off for me these days, fragrance-wise. It seems to be the resort of the ‘bad-girl’ marketing line, but you know that that the juice is actually going to be relatively safe and unadventurous. Why is purple identified with ‘forbidden’ I wonder? It seems to be the colour of, if not sinfulness, then self-indulgence, or over-indulgence. Wickedness. I must undertake further research into purple perfumes. Did CD’s Poison start this trend? Does the concept have its origins in the idea of purple being the colour of power (traditionally) and of feminism (more recently)? People I know who love purple, love it passionately.

    Anyway, In terms of this fragrance’s appeal to the target market, I’m sure you put your finger right on it Jessica – it’s the look of the bottle on the dressing table, and not so much the juice itself.

    • Jessica says:

      Annemarie, That’s an interesting line of thought. It’s traditionally a color of royalty, of course, so royalty = opulence; that’s what it usually means to me. And, I suppose, it’s a “darker” color, so it signals you’re not getting a citrusy-bright (yellow) or flirty-sweet (pink) fragrance…

      • annemarie says:

        Royalty, yes, that was what I was reaching for. (Too early on a Sunday morning! And it’s the morning after a knife-edge federal election too, where I live … everyone’s confused … )

        • Jessica says:

          I guess it’s a slippery slope, from royalty to luxury to decadence! lol.

    • Jonette says:

      Many years ago, someone very important at L’Oreal gave a presentation to my business club about the psychology of color. I remember him telling us that purple was the color of fantasy. He went on to explain that women who loved it were often died-in-the-wool romantics. I didn’t/don’t like purple and don’t fit in with his description.

      A couple of weeks ago, I was advised by the owner of the Museum of Perfume Bottles here in Holland to try “Amethyst” by Lalique, as she thought it was something that I’d like. It was one of a number of scents she presented to me after learning my likes and dislikes. I expected to hate it, as she had told me about the berries.
      I was also a bit suspicious of the amethyst-colored bottle. (Although amethyst gems are a favorite!) It somehow evoked medicine to me.

      I was expecting berries that would make me think of candy or lipstick — so NOT my kind of scent! I tend to like sharp/strong chypres and orientals and am told I wear them well.

      It opened with a definite berry aroma — but delicious, like fresh blackberries and maybe raspberries as well. That was very brief, then it slowly intensified as a wonderful, lovely soft musky fragrance. I have truly fallen in love with it. Although I prefer to wear something more “vivacious” during the day, this is what I put on if I’m feeling stressed. I also put it on my sheets and pillow case and myself when I go to bed. It’s my comfort fragrance. Nothing forbidden or bad-girl about this one. I’m still using the miniature bottle of edp I purchased, but plan to buy a bottle and the body lotion. The silage isn’t great on me. I’d love to get the extrait, but it’s only available in their absolutely gorgeous crystal bottle, which is just too expensive.

      Try it before you give up on purple — this one stands apart, imo. :-)

      • Daisy says:

        It’s a wonderful thing to find a comfort scent (goodness knows we all need that). So glad that you gave Amethyst a fair chance despite it’s purple-ness. I love purple….I guess I’m a dyed in the wool romantic too….now I want to try Lalique Amethyst too; even with the threat of *evil raspberry*. :-)

        • Jessica says:

          I enjoyed Amethyst, too, when I tried it a couple of years ago… and the bottle is beautiful!

      • SiameseCat says:

        I love your cat picture! Is it your own cat?

        • Jonette says:

          Yes, this is my old-fashioned Siamese cat (the old fashioned/traditional type is called “Thai” in Europe, to distinguish it from the modern, steam-lined Siamese). This is Nanki-Poo when he was a kitten. He is named after the son of the emperor in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Mikado”.

          I thought the picture of Nanki sniffing flowers and grass was good for an avatar for this perfume blog. :-)

          Since you name yourself “Siamesecat” I assume you have at least one also.

          To keep this perfume-related, Nanki likes to lick my arm when I’m wearing certain scents, such as Amethyst. :-)

          • SiameseCat says:

            It’s lovely you got back. And that’s a gorgeous cat! I like the care you put into naming him.
            We had two Siamese girls, the sealpoint one died recently. She was called Luthien and only 6. She was the most wonderful cat. She loved several Chanel scents and Angel and Addict 2.
            We still have her sister Pandora, tabbypoint. she loves Opium and Angel.
            To keep her company we got a grey Oriental Shorthair boy, called Gandalf. He’s 6 months old now. First it seemed he was crazy about the original Lolita Lempicka, he bit a hole into a jumper that smelled of it. Now he doesn’t react to it anymore.
            Three weeks ago we got a little tortiepoint called Amy. She’s 3 months and turning out to be rather dark-faced.
            They’re all modern without being extreme.

            I like what you first wrote about Amethyst. I also thought I wasn’t a “purple person”. But the LL brought me around after a while.

      • annemarie says:

        Sounds wonderful. It is SO worth trying something that you might not expect to like. You just never know!

  3. snow gardenia says:

    If you Google “Black Rose,” you will almost immediately hit on http://www.br.com — “The Black Rose is a non-profit organization which provides a forum for the many different expressions of power in love and play.” It’s hard to believe that association to the words “Black Rose” would come as a surprise. So I wonder if that has anything to do with the *ahem* restrained quality of the scent.

    • Jessica says:

      *covering my eyes* ;)

    • aimiliona says:

      The Little Black Rose is a symbol for Ireland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%B3is%C3%ADn_Dubh_%28song%29
      I’ve been thinking about a Black Rose solo dress if I ever qualify to wear one before I’m too old to quit competing (knotwork breaking into leaves, rosebuds, and thorns), but maybe I’ll have to reconsider. On the other hand, anybody who watches Irish dance competitions is going to think first either of the poem or of a pub in Boston.

      • Jessica says:

        Sounds like a beautiful costume idea! And I have heard of the Boston pub, yes… but fortunately, it’s not the *first* thing that comes to mind for me! Maybe 2nd or 3rd. ;)

  4. VanMorrisonFan says:

    Why the raccoon eyes? I don’t understand the ultra-heavy lining around the eyes.

    • Jessica says:

      VMF, The dark eyeliner etc. does seem to be popular with young women in rock, doesn’t it… then again, the whole “smokey eye” look has been popular everywhere for the past year or more!

  5. Bear says:

    The black eyeliner is an homage to Prince in , uh, PURPLE Rain.
    I don’t get the whole “I don’t like (color), so any perfume in a bottle that (color)” must not be for me. Can someone explain the logic behind this?

    • Jessica says:

      … and Prince’s eyeliner was a nod to Little Richard, which means, in this particular situation… not much at all! ;)
      I’m sure marketers and product development people do consider the importance of color in packaging, and there is often some loose conceptual correlation with the fragrance inside the colored bottle. However, there are so many other factors that influence a purchase; color is just one of them. For me, at least.

  6. TallulahRose says:

    I’m sure it’s a vast improvement over Love’s Baby Soft…

    • Jessica says:

      I read Angela’s review of Baby Soft… but I haven’t tried it in years and years! I wonder whether it would still bring back memories for me…

  7. mals86 says:

    I’m definitely not a purple fan (or a big eyeliner fan, either, for that matter), so not getting into that discussion. And I sorta kinda like Avril, but I’m not interested in buying something just because it’s got her name on it.

    What does tick me off, though, is the idea of a fragrance with “Rose” in the title and no rose in the scent. I felt the same way about E Taylor’s Violet Eyes – violet name, violet juice, NO VIOLET in the scent. What gives, people? Is this just Too Much Concept for my poor little brain, or is it just marketing crapola?

    I know what I’m betting on…

    • Jessica says:

      It’s indeed puzzling! The funny thing is… twee/teen girls don’t seem particularly interested in rose-based fragrances, in my (admittedly limited) experience with them. They prefer the idea of vanilla!

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