Rose Anonyme Cologne Absolue by Atelier Cologne Review

Collage of Rose Anonyme cologne and its notes, including rose, oud, ginger, papyrus, opoponax, bergamot, and patchouli.

Atelier Cologne’s Rose Anonyme is a strange one. Seeing the listed notes — rose, ginger, incense, oud, resins and woods — I’d expected something woody and warm, a little sweet. Perhaps a perfume that draws on Middle Eastern perfume traditions in that delicate obsessed-with-not-offending-the-focus-groups Western way.

Instead, what I found in the bottle was a crisp, cold, fresh sort of bitter-woods-and-rose cologne. It feels exquisitely unisex, and even leans traditionally masculine to me. This would be a unique yet versatile choice for someone who loves cool rose perfumes.

A cross-section of a cut-open tree.

I recently decluttered my (actual clothes and shoes, not perfume) wardrobe recently, so I have capsule wardrobe concepts on the brain. An important one is versatility. When people try to reduce the number of clothing items they own to as few as possible, they prioritize keeping pieces that can work for a variety of outfits and situations. For instance, a dress that can be casual, formal, worn to work, or even worn to lounge around at home would have great versatility.

Rose Anonyme is a perfume with a lot of versatility. It’s clean and polite enough for the office, yet utterly unique. In particular, it’s the most masculine rose I’ve ever smelled, setting it apart from anything else out there commonly worn by men. It would make a solid daily signature and would work well in professional and formal contexts as well.

That being said, Rose Anonyme is not for me. And I’ll explain why. But I think it’s a solid and unique offering for lovers of crisp perfumes and roses, albeit at the typical very weak concentration Atelier Cologne calls Cologne Absolue.

Although rose and woods feel like common pedestrian notes, Rose Anonyme is anything but. It’s a unique and interesting concoction. This rose isn’t sweet, and this woody oud-papyrus accord isn’t heavy; rather, it’s light, papery, cool, and fresh. It’s crisp like a freshly starched shirt collar.

A round glass vase with six red roses surrounded by dark green leaves.

This rose hardly feels like rose to me- not sweet, not syrupy, just light and botanical in a fresh woody bouquet. That light, fresh woodiness defines the cologne through the drydown. A touch of warm spiciness kicks in during the late drydown, but the overall effect is cool and refreshing. It’s a great rose cologne for summer.

This is a very clean but not soapy rose with a solid side of papyrus and oud. There’s no sweetness here, just a clean, floral and a wood that is not particularly warm, but rather stiff and unwelcoming, with something vaguely rotten to me in the oud.

I don’t find Rose Anonyme to be particularly earthy. At least, not in a warm, familiar, or inviting way. This wood is standoffish, unfriendly, and not particularly warm. The drydown heats up a little with resinous benzoin, opoponax, and the tiniest hint of ginger, but the general effect is still unfriendly to me.

Rose Anonyme was one of the first oud perfumes I got to sniff a few years ago. Prior to this, if you’d asked me what oud smelled like, I’d stare at you blankly as I tried to visualize sniffing a certain Lovecraftian alien species from Doctor Who.

All things considered, this is an odd introduction to oud. Oud or agarwood is an incredibly versatile component, with as many manifestations as rose itself. That’s why “Rose Anonyme is a rose oud perfume” really doesn’t tell you much about it at all. What kind of rose? What color and timbre of oud?

It’s an odd oud to me because it’s rather cold. I generally expect oud to be warm and animalic, filthy and alive and perhaps a little offensive to some, but in a living, breathing, electric sort of way. It’s unapologetically rich, with many odd corners out there for perfumers to explore.

A chip of oud wood, or agarwood.

And this is an odd oud corner indeed because it doesn’t feel warm or animalic or alive. It feels cold to me, chilled and unfriendly. It’s faint, barely there, applied with the sort of incredibly light watercolor paintbrush most Western perfume companies use with oud. It’s just a hint of something rotten at the heart of a cold and papery woody accord defined by papyrus.

The papyrus note here feels similar to cypriol or nagarmotha on my skin. This makes sense, since the two plants are closely related. It has that same bitter, cool, standoffish mall goth sort of unfriendliness as cypriol, but with a light, dry, crisp edge. It doesn’t particularly invoke something ancient and grandiose to me.

Rather, the note feels clean and modern, cold and masculine. I could see Rose Anonyme being a fantastic unique signature for a man in a profession that requires wearing a suit.

I don’t really smell much of the Calabrian bergamot listed by the brand. Perhaps it adds just a spritz of crisp cologne-y freshness to the opening, but it doesn’t really come across on my skin.

A medium brown tattered piece of papyrus paper covered in black ancient cuneiform lettering.

Nor do I pick up much incense here. At least, none that feel the way incense notes usually do: warm, burnt, smoky. Maybe there are vague suggestions of resin and wood in here that one might read as incense, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

The patchouli fills in the gaps in the prickly rotten-oud-bitter-papyrus wood accord nicely. It’s a subtle base note that adds body and substance to those slightly more fickle notes.

Rose Anonyme is not for me. But, unexpectedly, my mom loved it. She’s a lover of clean and fresh scents, usually florals. She’s a big fan of Hermès’ Jardin line, Un Jardin en Méditerranée most of all. Crisp cool notes and unsweet florals are her forté. She loved Rose Anonyme and finished the sample in a week.

But that might partly because it’s on the weak side. It is a cologne, after all. The projection feels quite modest to me, but the longevity is decent. This is a base-notes-heavy fragrance that will probably last you most of the day at work at a close, professional level.

Perhaps in response to popular demand, Atelier Cologne has recently released an Extrait of Rose Anonyme. If you love the scent, that’s a stronger one you might find more practical.

So far, both of the Atelier Cologne scents I have tried — this and Vanille Insensée — have been unique and versatile scents that are not to my personal liking. They both have cold, dank, rotting edges which feel unusual and bold to me for a mainstream perfumer.

A very large branched light brown ginger root with several light yellow flowers.

If that’s something you like, these are not to be missed. See Vanille Insensée for cold, damp vanilla and Rose Anonyme for crisp, standoffish rose. In a world of cozy and comforting warm perfumes, it’s definitely a unique and fascinating effect. Props to nose Jérôme Epinette for making a rose perfume that feels so original.

Not for me, but very interesting. A neatly-pressed-suit-coat sort of rose cologne.

Clear glass bottle of Rose Anonyme cologne with dark plum colored bottle, cream-colored liquid, and leather cap.

Where to Find Rose Anonyme Cologne Absolue by Atelier Cologne

You can find samples and decants of Rose Anonyme at Scent Decant and Scent Split.

Want more? You can find full bottles at Scent Decant, Palm Beach Perfumes, Scent Split, and Jomashop.

These are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, the seller pays me a commission, at no extra cost to you. You can learn more about them here.

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