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.
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.