Fun fact: it’s surprising to know that Aesop has only produced four fragrances since establishing in 1987, considering its freshly scented skincare products are often raved by many. The latest, Rōzu Eau de Parfum, was released this year.
The first floral fragrance produced by the Melbourne-based brand—never one to hurry and jump on trends—is inspired by the life and works of the late Charlotte Perriand, a French modernist designer. Of course, this influence reflects Aesop’s interest on design that’s ingrained in its DNA.
Why Rōzu? The anchor rose notes pay homage to the Wabara garden rose that bears her name—with vibrant Shiso accords that reference Perriand’s love for Japan and the alpine terrains she often explored.
Aesop approached perfumer Barnabe Fillion once again for this project. Both parties then worked closely with the Perriand family, including Charlotte’s daughter Pernette Perriand-Barsac and her husband, photographer Jacques Barsac, for the development and visuals of Rōzu.
In this interview, Aesop’s director of innovation Dr Kate Forbes and Fillion share their insights on conceptualising Rōzu and constructing its aroma characteristics.
ESQ: Describe the unique qualities of Rōzu.
Dr Kate Forbes: Every facet of Rōzu embodies an olfactory link to Perriand’s life and work. Heady opening notes allude to the Wabara garden rose created in her honour. In tandem, a heart of complementary florals, spices and Guaiacwood speaks to her tenderness and her vivacious, non-conformist character. Notes of patchouli and myrrh recall the masculine colognes she customarily wore.
Barnabe Fillion: This rose, in particular, was created for Charlotte; its scent represents her passion for Japan, and the shape is complex, a bit like a peony, but also through ageing and drying, it becomes more ‘beige’ with some reflection of grey metal tones. That’s all references to the life and work of Charlotte. So yes, the rose is definitely reflecting her personality in the style of Aesop.
ESQ: What are some of the unexpected discoveries when researching and making Rōzu?
Dr Kate Forbes: As we began the fragrance development, exploring how ingredients worked together, how some complemented each other and others did not was part of the development process. We find with many fragrances the profile changes depending on the wearer, but it was unexpected that this one more than most evolved based on the wearer.
ESQ: Is there a specific rose used for Rōzu?
Barnabe Fillion: Two years ago, we learned that the famous Keiji Rose Farm was creating a rose in Charlotte’s honour. The Charlotte Perriand rose was the inspiration for this fragrance, both aesthetically and for its unique scent. However, Keiji Rose Farm is a niche, specialist nursery and did not cultivate the Charlotte Perriand rose with oil extraction in mind; they extract rose water, but this is not potent enough for perfumery. This newly cultivated rose is also not available in the quantities required for it to be used in a fragrance.
ESQ: A rose-based fragrance can easily be too floral and feminine. What is your approach to ensure a balance?
Barnabe Fillion: In the same way that our muse, Charlotte Perriand, challenged expectations of her gender, we wanted to create an unconventional rose fragrance with appeal unconfined by pre-existing conceptions. Spices and Guaiacwood hint at her vivacious, non-conformist character. Deep, powdery base notes of vetiver extract, patchouli and myrrh allude to the men’s colognes she customarily wore.
ESQ: How would you apply Rōzu to leverage its unconventional qualities?
Dr Kate Forbes: While this fragrance is designed to wear on its own, the longevity and depth of a fragrance can be improved through the application of an oil or a balm applied to the skin first. We recommend pairing Rōzu with the deeply nourishing Breathless Body Oil, which also contains aromatic notes of patchouli and laurel leaf. I have worn this as both a day and night fragrance depending on my mood, but I find the deep, rich rose notes are particularly suited to night wear.
Aesop’s Rōzu Eau de Parfum is available for SGD235 at all Aesop signature stores, counters and Aesop online.