Rose Cardin from the house of designer Pierre Cardin was released in 1990, right on the cusp of a certain change in perfumery from the 1980s big and bigger style to the weird 90s, a decade that gave us all that's wrong in light and airy while also watching women marinating in Angel and nasty fruity body sprays that don't resemble any fruit that has ever grown on God's green Earth. Looking at the note list of Rose Cardin one might worry that it is one of the sticky concoctions, but upon smelling you realize this Pierre Cardin creation has probably more in common with some of the classics of yore than with anything from the 90s.
For a start, Rose Cardin smells like a proper perfume- flowers, spice, a rich heart and a musky sweet dry-down. The opening is a giggly girly thing, as pink as the bottle threatens it might be. It turns a bit soapy at some point- like a really nice French rose-scented soap that leaves its sillage in one's home, on towels and in closets. But things become more personal and a bit dirty as Rose Cardin gains some fruit, a lot of musk (I accidentally layered it with MKK one day to delicious results) and a somewhat darker non-soapy rose. These are older petals, dried as a memento from a glorious romantic summer day.
Yes, it is romantic. Bordering on kitsch just enough to make Rose Cardin fun and quirky, but ultimately its beauty wins. This is a fabulous perfume, complex and rich enough as to not bore me even a little. It smells a little synthetic around the edges, not quite as refined as some wonderful rose-centered perfumes I have in my collection. But even as a campy and a little trashy fragrance, Rose Cardin maintains a level of fabulousness you rarely find in mainstream perfumes nowadays.
Notes: aldehydes, Moroccan tarragon, clove, nutmeg, coriander, rosewood, spicy rose, jasmine, peach, apricot, iris, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, carnation, honey, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, patchouli, musk.
While Rose Cardin seems to have vanished from the shelves of legitimate retailers in the US, according to Pierre Cardin's website it is most definitely in production and should be available in Europe, though the website lacks the little but important bit of information about actually purchasing anything.
1995 Rose Cardin perfume ad from an online auction
1959 fashion/beauty photograph from myvintagevogue.com