Chantal Roos – who has created the Roos & Roos fragrance house with her daughter Alexandra Roos – is a legend in the fragrance world.
Under her creative direction, so many landmark fragrances have been launched – from L’Eau d’Issey and Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique and Le Male (she talent-spotted Francis Kurkdjian and invited him to create this), via YSL’s Opium, Kouros and Paris, among others. And to create the visual imagery which so captured our attention and enticed us to try these fragrances for ourselves, Chantal worked with photographers including the late, great Helmut Newton, producing show-stopping advertising.
Meanwhile, alongside a successful songwriting and singing career (she has several albums to her name), Alexandra Roos helped her mother on various fragrant projects.
A fascination with and a love of perfume always kept Chantal and Alexandra close – and then one morning came the inspiration: ‘And what if we worked together…?’ So in 2014, Chantal and her Alexandra translated their shared passion for perfume into their own enterprise: an initial quintet of fragrances composed by Grasse-based ‘nose’ Fabrice Pellegrin.
As Alexandra told The Perfume Society’s Jo Fairley, ‘The name came about because there are real similarities between perfume and music. They’re both invisible, yet they can change an atmosphere and bring. And they’re both composed of notes and harmonies.’
The concept behind the Roos & Roos was to create a five-fragrance collection ‘to celebrate women’. As mother and daughter put it, ‘An essential expression of an everyday woman, in the rain and in the wind, in the street at night, during the white mornings and waking sun…’ Or to put it another way: ‘Five ways to wear a hat… to cross one’s legs and to coax a smile.’
You might think that each fragrance would be a simple play on roses – but in the true tradition of French perfumery, Roos & Roos is infinitely more complex than that. And the choice of the name is symbolic, as the pair told Jasmine Award-winning blogger Persolaise: ‘Rose is the symbol of perfume,’ says Alexandra. ‘because if you think “perfume”, you think flowers. And if you think ‘flowers’, there’s a big chance you’ll pick rose…’
‘Our logo,’ added Chantal, symbolises ‘the roundness of femininity, the mother. And the little thorns are there because we are normal women, and we know how to defend ourselves…’
The sculptural flacons each contain a story… Here’s what they wrote for green floral A Capella, for instance: ‘The day rises, the light of the sun that wakens me, and in a grand white bed, slowly; I spread my wings and raise my hand to you, as the new day calls.’ This sheer, dew-drenched fragrance, explains Chantal, remind us of ‘when you enter a garden at 7 a.m. and you have little rosebuds opening, and in the background there is the cool, green ivy, and the softness of sweet violets.’
Spicy floral I Love My Man is a bouquet of Bulgarian red roses, laced with cinnamon and warmed by tonka bean and sandalwood. The story for this, say Roos & Roos, is: ‘Red.. in love with a love… In love forever… I sing out loud… Roses are red my love, roses are red…’
And if A Capella is transparently pretty, La Favorite is voluptuous and opulent. (‘Favorite’ refers to a Sultan’s chosen concubine, from his harem.) ‘It is a spicy, woody fragrance with an exceptional oud smoke,’ explains Chantal. Or – and can’t you just tell Alexandra is a songwriter? – ‘At the close of a grey day, I fall into slumber and dream of Sheherazade at a bar in a grand hotel, where a spiceseller tells of journeys, precious woods and heady essences… upon waking… under their spell… I leave.’
Roos & Roos continue to add to their perfumed portfolio, with the ‘Song’ collection. Aromatically enticing Mentha Religiosa, fruity-floral Nymphessence and Song for a Queen have joined the line-up – the latter hand-picked by us for our Perfume Society Exquisite Essences Discovery Box, for its delicate composition of bergamot and jasmine that flows into heliotrope, orange blossom, animalic osmanthus and comforting dry-down of black vanilla, benzoin, cashmere wood and white musk.
It was a decidedly bold step, Chantal Roos told Jo, to create her own collection of fragrances – after a career ablaze with triumphant launches for other brands, other famous names. ‘But working with Alexandra on Roos & Roos is the adventure of a lifetime.’
And it’s an adventure we’ll continue to follow, here. So stay tuned for further melodies, seductive notes and perfect harmonies from Roos & Roos…