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