Dried roses for remembrance… Stella by Stella McCartney The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter


All afternoon she had been unable to get last August off her mind.

She had a case in hand, a complex contract-heavy one at that, but couldn’t afford it the attention it demanded.

The sensation of one spoonful of unsweet jam had brought back last summer and she felt the need to be at home with her memories.

Setting out for the journey, walking through the courtyard near the chapel, she noticed this year’s first buds.


In a matter of just a few weeks the roses would be in bloom again.

On The Tube, the change in weather had caught some people off guard and they laboured sweatily under winter coats.

She, forever with a change of clothes in the office, on account of the hours she worked, was light and airy in linen.

She wore too a spritz of the citrus cologne he always had with him, but knew it would not be around for long, that its scent would disappear as quickly as he had done from her life.

Turning the key in the lock of the front door they had painted crimson together, she knew there was only one place in the house she wanted to be.

Entering, her home seemed to give a warm and gentle sigh to acknowledge her return.

She sweeps through the silent, slightly sweet almost salty air and to the dressing room that was to be her luxury upstairs.

The majority of the rose petals they harvested were used to make a tincture, but some they kept behind.

A bunch, all dried out, stands in a white vase on a travelling chest of drawers beneath an old poster for a French hat maker.

They smell mainly of softly perfumed dust, the residues of the scented candles and incense sticks that she burns.

She opens the top drawer and an entirely different aroma emerges.

Roses. The varieties ‘Guinée’ and ‘Handel’, she recalls.

They placed petals between plain lining paper and allowed them to dry out in situ. A sweetly smelling reminder of their summer, that would they hoped imprint itself on her all year long through the scent it lent her clothes.

But after the rupture, the plan had come to nothing, the only thing she had ever kept here were the photocopies.

You see, they took only digital photographs and when the disk corrupted, nothing, nothing from that time could be salvaged save for the few images she had already printed off.

Though digitally perfect, she noticed soon enough they were fading prematurely.

That he was too quickly becoming a part of her history.

So she tried to save what she could and copied the fading colour photos over and over, shoring what she could of the past against future storms.

And here she is now, in a Tempest of remembrance.

Surrounded by gusts of fallen rose petals and sheaves of paper destined, like her memories, to desiccate.

Stella by Stella McCartney is a strangely comforting contradiction of the antique and contemporary in fragrance.

In essence this is a classic rose perfume, captured with all the digital perfection that modern technique can muster.

But then something else happens, the scent seems intentionally decayed and aged into a sepia photograph of the flower, rescued from a dusty hiding place.

Before this, the opening is a momentary mandarin that yields almost before it has began to the floral core.

True, that rose heart does have a hint of what others have described as a ‘pot pouri’ presence, perhaps on the account of a rather large part of it that is peony.

This is no dewy, fresh, straight from the garden stem, the sensation is more restrained and if not melancholic then reflective.

The amber lends the structure a somewhat fixed and linear quality, like memories laid down to be remembered.

After that first unsettling ageing, little changes, as though a certain amount of dilapidation and no more will be tolerated.

Stella is a perfume that may deceive and be dismissed as being overly simplistic.

Yet the charm here lies in the intelligence and thought with which a simple concept is handled with a little complexity.

This is a slight, elegant, floral momento of the recent past.

The rose is perhaps the easiest of all flowers for gentleman of distinction to wear, this example is no exception.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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9 responses to “Dried roses for remembrance… Stella by Stella McCartney The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. I have a feeling I will love this… My mother used to cut armfuls of roses and toss the blossoms into punch bowls (sans water) where they would dry and shrivel and one day she would crush the dessicated roses in her hands and the petals would fall apart and the most delicate scent of roses and dust would rise…

    • Dearest V
      What a fragrant recollection.
      I too can remember attempts at rose perfumery from my youth, though I suspect our rather suspect rosewater was decidedly less delicious than your dessicated petals.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Lilybelle

    Part 2 of the melancholic autumn. ^^^ Well, dried roses are like that. I don’t know what is in that lady’s future but I hope it is something miraculously deliriously happy-making. I think she should have a baby. I tried Stella when it first came out and didn’t care for it. It seemed a bit harsh in the beginning to my nose, and so I dismissed it as “not for me” and moved on. After reading your sensitive review, however, I will give it another try the next time I see it. Mr. Dandy, thank you for all the lovely perfumed letters. They are inspiring and always add a touch of magic to my day. 🙂

    • Dearest Lily
      Thank you for reading! Reading so carefully, and noticing the start of this on and off serial… I’m not sure if happiness will shine through, we shall see….
      As for Stella, there is a certain rather modern sharpness in the opening, but I found this to be fleeting and it turns fairly quickly into a dusty rose that I felt to be pleasantly old-fashioned.
      My nose of course, could be slightly off after some time with rather bigger perfumes of late.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Do we have an ongoing character here? Or am I bonkers…reading quickly on the sly at work. Lovely review … I want to smell Stella…. “STELLA!”

  4. aubrey

    This fragrant vignette will stay with me for a long time, especially the ‘unsweet jam’ and the sweet and salty air – reminding me of the very best caramels.

    Jam…caramels…clearly I have not had lunch yet!

    • Dear Aubrey
      Welcome to The Dandy’s!! Please plump up a cushion and make yourself at home.
      Yes, salted caramel and roses, that’s a very good summary.
      Now, go have some lunch – oh, just noticed the time – I sincerely hope you have by now!!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Ohhh one of my favorite perfumes!!! My adoration of roses with an edginess, so it can not be confused with grandmotherly rose scents. Stella captivated me from the start. It’s a Parisian flower stand brimming with bunches of day-old roses when a brisk breeze comes, tugging at hats, ruffling skirts and fluttering rose petals down the avenue. It will always be in my perfume shelf.

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