Damascena – Keiko Mecheri

Damascena is one hellofa strange fragrance :| On first spritz, there’s a huge, sweet twang of blackcurrant(?), some kind of juicy berry, there must be a ton of aldehydes, a hit of classic rose, and the magic ingredient – ROSE OXIDE - an aromachemical I have been hoping to see used in volume in a fragrance for ages now, I just haven’t found one – well, here it is.

Rose oxide has a very strange smell. It has the merest hint of rose, but is predominantly a bucket load of metallic notes, and a sharp oily, petrol-like smell. Usually, I assume it is used in small quantities to provide a boost, and a realistic freshness to a rose.  Similarly to the high-pitch mentholated notes of tuberose, rose oxide is a natural compound of rose – it’s just unlikely you’ll smell it burying your nose into a rose - or at least very quietly. Here however I find it dominates – pushing this petrol scent to sharper levels than I have smelt in a fragrance before.

So before I carry on with my description on rose oxide- here’s how it is in Damascena. The berry scent settles quickly, de-sweetening the fragrance slightly, but it’s jammy presence is there until the end. This berry juice seems to replace the fruity quality of the rose that doesn’t naturally come forward even a little bit in Damascena. The rose, well, what can I say about the rose. The toxic chemical (which I do love on its own!) dominates for me, and I can just detect the merest hint of freshness underneath.

A slightly dewy green rose-leaf adds a bitter green edge to this fragrance. That’s exactly what Damascena is – bitter-sweet. At times I mistake this green edge for bay leaf, but maybe it is just a natural part of the roses used. Still, an oily-metallic fluid soils the florals and fruit, thankfully quietening to a point where it doesn’t feel like I’m having scissors rammed up my nose like in The Dead Zone. Now, I sound like I’m being cruel – anyone who knows my taste will know this is EXACTLY the sort of thing I love :D I just don’t know how no-one else online seems to be reporting this hugely industrial presence! Anyway, yes, I really enjoy the piercingly intense opening and robotic heart of Damascena - whilst it is a little too much for me to wear right now, the smell is hilariously enjoyable.

The drydown is where Damascena becomes a safer fragrance. The fruit burns off, the rose is still there, along with a hint of muskiness to keep it attached to the skin – with the petrol heat burnt off, the metallic edge still coats the fragrance but at a much tamer level. I don’t know if it’s the dirty edge of the musk, but I get an earthy, ever so slightly fungal aroma, whispering underneath the rose in the drydown which helps keep it interesting from start to finish. What it leaves with is a trace of a classical, fruity rose, a huge contrast to what it once was.

All in all, Damascena is a fabulously fun fragrance, it is listed as a soliflore – but to me it is an extremely avant-garde one. I find it to be the Tubereuse Criminelle of rose soliflores. Not only does it primarily smell of petrol and metal, the damp rose devoid of fruit is paired with a blackcurrant so flourescent it makes me squint.
I don’t think I’d wear this, but I’m sure when I revisit it, I’ll end up with a bottle! It has ticked a box in my fragrance journey checklist at least :)
So thank you Steve for that sample – it’s fantastic :D I got much more than I bargained for with that one, I hope my review doesn’t put you off your “fresh garden” scent :P

Damascena 75ml EDP Keiko Mecheri - $115 Luckyscent

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9 thoughts on “Damascena – Keiko Mecheri

  1. My dear F – you are so on with this. Funny, when this was purchased we were at the beach and it was so hot and muggy. I found the berried fruitiness refreshing and found that the rose was artificial, but not in a bad way. Since being out of the sun and the heat, etc. I find that Damascena can be very agressive, almost too aggressive in it’s composition. It needs to be put on lightly… but I don’t get the metallics like you are getting but I love the word “robotic” because I can see that. Not for everyday, not for everyone. And please never shy away from what you think. I am curious about what you think as this has soured on me a bit since my purchase! And if you want more, I will gladly send you a bigger decant! xoxo Steve

    • Lol! Don’t try and throw your robot oil on my Steve ;) Hahaha. I kid.
      I’m sorry to hear it’s grating on your a bit, but yes, I could NEVER imagine finishing a bottle. I was so surprised when I tried this, I expected a pale, dewy rose – my Tilda Swinton face suddenly went “:O! HOLY SHIT” and I laughed. I couldn’t quite believe you liked this. It is so artificial and intense and high pitched, but becuase of that I find it brilliant. I would definitely struggle to wear it (although I have been all day and I can still smell it’s remains), but it’s a great collector’s item. Are you going to keep it or sell it on do you think?
      I have a sample of rose oxide diluted in perfumer’s alcohol that I re-smelt only recently, it’s such a brilliant aromachemical and I always wondered how on earth it could be used effectively. So many thanks for the sample, brilliant discovery and bit of knowledge for me.

  2. lucasai says:

    What a match!
    I’m in Keiko Mecheri Iris d’Argent today.
    Thanks for this review Freddie!
    I just dicovered mrs Mecheri line and would like to try more of her perfume

  3. Undina says:

    I also had a chance to try this one thanks to Steve. I plan to test it more before the final verdict but my forst impression was: too much rose. There are several more well-known rose fragrances to which I react the same way (and others love them) so I don’t think I’ll change my opinion dramatically but we’ll see.

    • I didn’t find much rose in it at all, just this intense rose scented chemical that to me is far more metallic and oily than rosy.
      I found it fascinating. An impressive little kaleidoscope of aromas in such a simple composition – I still don’t think I’d wear it comfortably though. Which other roses are too much?

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