My favorite parts of Le Labo's Chicago exclusive perfume, Baie Rose 26 are the non-rosy notes, or everything between the immediate opening notes and the very late dry-down. The Le Labo visionaries have already proven that they know how to make aldehyde notes smell modern and exciting in their Dallas offering, Aldehyde 44. The opening of Baie Rose 26 takes it to an extreme place with a bucketful of pink champagne and roses that wash all over the wearer. I find it too much and too blunt.
It's what happens later that makes me happy and slightly delirious. Apparently, Baie Rose 26 is not all about rose (Le Labo fans will not be surprised to learn this. After all, the brand has made the misnomer into an art form). Faintly sweet, decidedly peppery and at times woody and smoky, Baie Rose becomes delicious and sensual as it develops on my skin. It reminds me of smoked peppercorns but never becomes weird or too challenging that it loses its perfumy feel. It's still something you wear, and the spice and skin notes only make it more so. At its best, Baie Rose 26 has an almost vintage perfume character.
It's only the very late dry-down (the perfume last north of 12 hours) where I feel that Le Labo has blundered. Once the special effects are fully gone and there's no more smoke and spicy clove to distract me, all I smell is too clean of a musk with some rose mixed in it. It's skin chemistry more than composition, but this particular combination turns into plastic when I wear it after a certain point.
Other than that? It's all good. Le Labo's Baie Rose 26 is worth your time and skin space, but if you share my rose issues you might find it's not The One.
Notes: Alllspice (pimento) berries, pink pepper, aldehydes, ambrox, clove, pepper, rose, musk, cedar.
You can read Victoria's beautiful review on Bois de Jasmin.
Le Labo Baie Rose 26 is exclusive to Barneys Chicago, but for the month of November will be available to all through Luckyscent (samples are already on sale at $10 per 1.5ml) and the house's website (lelabofragrances.com). A press sample for consideration and review was sent to me by Le Labo.
Photo: Vogue, 1944