CHANDLER BURR IS THE PERFUME CRITIC FOR T:
THE NEW YORK TIMES STYLE MAGAZINE
Cannabis Rose by Fresh
Rose is the ultimate perfume paradigm, but today this is strangely more theory than reality. It is universally known inside the industry that, to perfume buyers, rose reads “old lady,” and the smell of rose does quite poorly in focus groups.
This is why you read disproportionately more about rose in press materials (you like the idea of rose scent) but you actually smell rose less frequently in perfumes (the reality makes you think of your grandmother).
The perfume I’m waiting to smell will be built around a CO2 rose: It’s a new technology that distills raw materials at room temperature, showing them as we’ve never seen them before, thus revolutionising the flower. But the rose revolution has, in fact, already begun. In fact, it’s been going for a while.
One spectacularly good novel approach to rose is Cannabis Rose by Fresh. Fresh’s Cannabis Santal, created by the brilliant young perfumer Caroline Sabas working under Fresh’s creative director Lev Glazman and launched in 2006, was a triumph. This was explicitly cannabis as pot, though not pot smoke, rather the ultra-rich, dirty, jungle-floor organic resiny scent of the dried leaves. Sabas mixed it with sandalwood, and it remains a mesmerising work of art.
In 2007, Glazman worked with the perfumer Jerome Epinette to mate pot to rose, and the resulting perfume is insanely good, essentially perfect on every level: a darkly mesmerising rose scent, aesthetically innovative, daring, striking, technically excellent, persistent on skin, expertly diffusive, beautifully structured.
Fresh has taken rose, utterly eliminated all trace of grandmother by viscerally transmogrifying the material, reinvented it entirely as a perfume concept, and aimed the resulting perfume straight at the reptilian brain.
Cannabis Rose both smoulders and seduces. Its references are entirely from the natural world and yet it seems space age — it is both dirty and clean at once, which is a difficult trick, and a perfume like this comes along rarely.