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August 10, 2006

Stella McCartney : Fragrance Review


Roses love sunshine, which coaxes their buds to unfold in layers of silky petals and to release aromas ranging from lemony tea to musky honey. Rose fragrances likewise follow this dictum, blooming with abandon on warm skin. For this reason, as soon as the temperatures begin to increase and pleasant spring warmth turns into sweltering summer heat, a coterie of rose fragrances begins to dominate my repertoire—the gorgeous opulence of Lancôme Mille et Une Rôse (formerly, 2000 et Une Rôse), the lemony sparkle of Les Parfums de Rosine Un Zest de Rose, the dark seduction of Frédéric Malle Une Rose, and the ambery rose velvet of Stella McCartney. …

Stella was created by the talented Jacques Cavallier, a perfumer whose portfolio includes a number of noteworthy fragrances, from the trendsetting Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey to the angular Yves Saint Laurent M7. In contrast to his other work, Stella might strike one as deceptively simple. The lush rosy heart of Stella retains its opulent character and even as the sheer amber grows deeper and darker in the drydown, the vision of voluptuous roses does not fade.

Although rose has an unjust reputation as old-fashioned and dowdy, Stella has been one of the top sellers for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté which owns Stella McCartney. For someone who adores roses and sees it as her mission to change the negative stereotypes associated with this beautiful flower, Stella’s success is a vindication of sorts. Facetiousness aside, Stella is lovely. The classical rose and amber pairing makes for a subtle retro reference, while the sheer execution lends it a thoroughly modern character. The even tempered quality of the composition has a tendency to become tiresome in large doses; however, on days when one finds oneself unable to escape the summer heat (i.e. power outages), its rose petal rainfall is perfect.

Stella exists in the Eau de Parfum and parfum, with my preference being for the latter. Stella Absolute is a richer, more complex version of the original. Stella includes notes of mandarin, rose, peony, Bulgarian rose absolute, and amber. It is available from Sephora, Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom as well as various online discounters.

Photo: Purple rose from



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