If you're a long-time Lush customer, you'll recognize some familiar "faces" in the Gorilla Perfume at Lush product line: this Lush-owned company brings together a few fragrances that have been in and out of rotation at Lush, several fragrances originally offered by B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful (the now-defunct cosmetics-and-fragrance offshoot of Lush), and a generous handful of new scent creations, all of them unconventional fragrances blended from largely natural ingredients. When I visited the traveling "fragrance gallery" staged by Gorilla Perfume and began to familiarize myself with the complete line of scents, my usual instincts drew me towards two rose-based compositions.
Imogen Rose is a brand-new fragrance, created as an “eponymous homage to Simon [Constantine's] young daughter"; Gorilla Perfume calls it "a true representation of the Damask rose" with "a hint of baby powder." Its notes are listed as rose, bergamot, vetivert, ambrette seed, tonka, and orris. Imogen Rose opens with an uncannily lifelike rose note, but it's a stemmy, damp, slightly bruised flower, not a cultivated florist-shop bloom. This effect reminds me of something Tania Sanchez once wrote, that fragrances made with natural rose essences somehow tend to smell "part lemon soap, part wine vinegar, part green (as in boiled vegetables)."1 For this initial phase of the fragrance, which lasts twenty minutes to a half hour (or sometimes longer) on my skin, I'm not quite sure what I think about Imogen Rose. Then it surprises me entirely: it softens and dries into a dusky iris-rose accord with a trace of dry sweetness from the tonka bean. An hour or two after application, it's drowsy and dreamy and really not baby-like at all.
B Scent, one of the revived B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful scents, is described as an impression of "rose tempered with crisp citrus" and "Mark [Constantine’s] daydream of what young French girls smell like.” The B Never catalogues used to say that B Scent was partially inspired by Audrey Hepburn in the role of Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter who spends a year in Paris and returns home as a chic woman dressed in couture. B Scent's notes include lemon, bergamot, fennel, lavender, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, and musk, and the overall fragrance has a Hepburn-like balance of sophistication and sprightliness. The lemon and grapefruit topnotes are seamlessly meshed with the fennel, and the rose core gives the fragrance a traditional heart, with a brightness that keeps it feeling youthful and fresh. Whereas Imogen Rose is definitely a feminine fragrance, B Scent is more of an equal-opportunity choice for cologne-lovers.
Both fragrances have above-average staying power, thanks to the synthetic ingredients supporting the natural ones. Both are also somewhat unpredictable. They were never quite the same on me on the various days I tested them. They seem to evolve at varying speeds, with different notes emerging more strongly from wearing to wearing; I'm guessing this changeability is due to the high percentage of natural ingredients. In any case, I'd advise purchasing samples of a few scents and experimenting to find out which ones work best for your nose and and your skin, as well as your personal taste.
Gorilla Perfume at Lush Imogen Rose and B Scent are offered in 10 or 30 ml, as well as solid perfume sticks and sample vials; for purchasing information, see the listing for Lush under Perfume Houses.
1. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: The Guide, p. 306.