Earlier this year, French niche line Parfums de Nicolaï launched Rose Royale, a soliflore rose fragrance inspired by the gardens of Paris's Palais-Royal. Perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï, who developed it with her son Axel de Nicolaï, describes it as a "delicate" scent, a "natural and fresh rose with a hint of fruity notes."
Rose Royale's notes include black currant bud, passion fruit, bergamot, rose, coriander, ambrette seed, immortelle, sandalwood, guaiac wood and musk. Sounds like a lot going on for a solifore, right? — but on my skin it made sense. Rose Royale opens with very light touch of bergamot and bitter black currant bud, but after that, it's not a fruity floral. Instead, there's a sharp green vegetal note and lots of ambrette, which I like to describe as "musky apple juice." I'm not really a fan of ambrette, so at this point, I'm not sure how I feel about Rose Royale in general.
In the end, I enjoy this perfume more and more as it evolves and becomes part of me. The ambrette fades and makes my nose itch less. The damask rose becomes more dominant, with soft facets of spice and sweetness, and the eventual (and long-lasting) dry down is a gentle, very natural-smelling rose accord. That dry down stays very close to the skin, and it's muted yet refined, like classical music heard from a distance.
Rose Royale doesn't feel as bold and commanding as its name suggests, and all in all, I prefer Nicolaï's Balkis (discontinued, alas). But it's a thoughtful, non-gimmicky tribute to the "queen of flowers," and it's quite reasonably priced by today's standards. If you're looking for a rose soliflore to add to your perfume collection, this might be one to consider. Patricia de Nicolaï has said that her new laboratory is located adjacent to the Palais-Royal, hence her love for its gardens. I'm looking forward to seeing what her next inspiration will be.
Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Royale is available in 30 ($48) and 100 ml ($135) Eau de Toilette, or in a 15 ml travel spray with 250 ml refill (shown just above, €247). For purchasing information, see Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.