Roses might be the traditional flower of Valentine’s Day but there’s one catch – they can often wilt faster than you can say “thank you”. 

The alternative? Rose scents that capture the essence of the flower without all the watering, missed thorns and the disappointment of having to throw them out a day later.

While this regal note has become more commonly associated with women’s fragrances, rose was once as much taken up by the lads as it was the ladies. Maybe more so if you believe the stories that rose was one of the most popular scents worn by men in ancient Rome.

Today, rose notes are veering back into genderless territory. Although one could argue they never left – like most notes, rose is much more complex it gets credit for. A soliflore rose is simultaneously spicy as it is sweet, with a musk and woody base that are the hallmarks of masculine fragrance. But I digress.

Brands like Le Labo, Penhaligon’s and Tom Ford have added contemporary twists to the classic note – the dirty/clean scent of cumin, or the dryness of cedarwood or the rasp of leather respectively – making them perfect for both yourself and your significant other

Best of all, these fragrances offer a unisex take on the classic note making them a gift that both you can wear and enjoy.

Who needs roses when you can smell like a better, more interesting, improved version?

Tom Ford Rose de Russie. Image: Tom Ford

Tom Ford Rose de Russie

One part of a new trilogy from the master of sexual innuendo and while the name is more subdued than his recent releases Rose de Russie blends the softness of rose petals with green leather notes, offset with a burst of white pepper for a spicy freshness. This is a rose note complete with thorns. And leather chaps. $364 from David Jones.

Le Labo Rose 31. Image: Mecca.

Le Labo Rose 31

Fun fact : the number on the Le Labo bottle signifies how many ingredients are present in a fragrance in total. So while Rose might be the name of it, it doesn’t guarantee that this what you will smell. Rose 31 IS a rose fragrance, but a rose that’s just had some of the best morning sex of its life after meeting someone at a gin bar. Make of that description what you will. From $279 at Mecca.

Penhaligon’s Cairo. Image: Penhaligon’s.

Penhaligon’s Cairo

Penhaligon’s has been rekindling public awareness of the tradition of British perfumery. Cairo, from their Trade Routes collection, combines the Damascena rose with patchouli and cedarwood. The final result is a powerful scent that also slightly resembles traditional Turkish delight thanks to vanilla and saffron accord. Absolute banger of a scent. $358 from Libertine Parfumerie.

Etat Libre d’Orange 500 Years. Image: ELDO

Etat Libre d’Orange 500 Years

Known for their irreverent approach to perfumery, Etat Libre d’Orange is a cult-favourite for those who prefer perfume with a twist. 500 Years is a tribute to the golden age of experimentation and human endeavours – The Renaissance. Bold in the most traditional sense, the rose blends with precious oud and cacao in a way that’s both seductive and a warning. $350 from Mens Biz.


Dior La Colle Noir

From La Collection Privée, La Colle Noir is a deliciously spicy take on the rose – one of Monsieur Dior’s own favourite flowers and a regular motif in the house’s designs. Notes of ripe peach, raspberry and black current bring you into a dark, woody drydown courtesy of agarwood that keeps the fragrance from veering too far into sweeter territory. $375 from Dior.

Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle Une Rose. Image: Mecca

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Truffles, red wine, woods and honey make this the darkest, angriest rose on the market. What first starts off as a blast of red roses straight from the garden with a bit of soil still attached. As it develops, it follows the natural lifespan of rose, getting dryer and darker. Great stuff. $352 from Mecca.

Aesop Rōzu. Image: Aesop.

Aesop Rōzu

Inspired by the life and work of Charlotte Perriand whose designs fused Western and Eastern design fundamentals, Rōzu blends the bright citrus of yuzu with the lush pink blush of a rose named after Perriand. It’s an interesting and cerebral take on the a traditional – as only Aesop does – that immediately brightens a room. $200 from Aesop.

Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne.

Jo Malone Red Rose Cologne

Does exactly what it says on the box. To be fair, this is so straightforward and easy wearing there’s not much to say other than just go grab this limited edition version. $220 from Jo Malone.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Arcana Rose. Image: Agence de Parfum

L’Artisan Parfumeur Arcana Rose

If you prefer your rose to smell more like a mysterious flower that’s kept by a wizard in an old castle somewhere, this is your beast. A base of vetiver and cade twists around the rose note like incense to create charming smokiness. Magical. $325 from Myer.