Spice 31? Cedar 31? No, Le Labo Rose 31.

Dear Scent Diary,

When I was in New York last summer, I happened to stumble into the Le Labo boutique in Nolita, unplanned. What. Stop looking at me that way. Fine, I stalked the place and made a deliberate trip. Sheesh. Anyway, I hadn’t had a chance to sample any of their fragrances beforehand, but I’d heard/read/watched quite a bit about Rose 31 and was eager to try it.


The store has an a beautiful ‘modern apothecary’ aesthetic which appealed to me right away. All the scents are lined up on tables to your left as you walk in, and divided up between ‘femme’, ‘unisex’ and ‘homme’. Rose 31 resides on the ‘unisex’ table, if I remember correctly. As a ‘femme’ who most of the time prefers ‘unisex’ and has been known on occasion to sport an ‘homme’ or two, I was appropriately intrigued.

46801On first spritz, I was slightly anosmic, which I know is not the experience of most people.  A few minutes later though, my nose began to catch on. The rose is present and accounted for, but it’s a dark, low-register rose doused in spices. Pepper, nutmeg, clove and cumin, all blended harmoniously, provide a counter to the floral note. Neither rose nor cumin haters should write this one off – the rose is miles away from anything ‘old lady-ish’, and the cumin is a part of a well-blended spice mix that works beautifully to juxtapose the rose. As things dry down even more, the woods start making an appearance. Cedar and a smidge of oud start to bloom and overtake the spices, giving things a very dry, aromatic impression. In the late stages of the drydown, there is a gorgeous ‘sweetening’ of all the spicy, woody, rosiness, lifting the overall feeling as it melds with your skin. At this point, there’s actually a cleanliness to the scent that carries on for hours.

In a strange turn of events that I can’t quite explain, I ended up buying a bottle of Labdanum 18 instead of Rose 31 that day. Call it travellers panic? I wasn’t quite ready to make a decision but our flight was the next morning and our dinner reservation was looming. Oh the strife! Anyway, I enjoy my Labdanum 18 and my husband loves it on me, so it wasn’t a mistake. But it does feel strange because of the two, I’d call Rose 31 my love of the line. One day when my decant is drained, I’m sure there will be an excuse to return to New York. Or at least to Barney’s.