Robertet Rose: Elements Showcase Workshop

When I was approached by Robertet to speak at the recent Elements Showcase in New York on utilizing rose in perfumery, I was thrilled.  We natural perfumers love to talk about beautiful essences; how to source them, how to use them, how their unique scent profile inspires.  I am particularly drawn to new exotic ingredients that expand our natural perfumery palette. Robertet's new rose petal distillation does all of the above and I welcomed the chance to wax poetic on it's virtues.

Robertet held two workshops titled "Celebrating 160 Years of Roses."  The first day the panel included Mandy Aftel from Aftelier and Olivia Jan, a Senior Perfumer from Robertet.  I attended the workshop and was impressed by the audience participation.  Samples of Rose Absolute, Rose Essential Oil and the new Rose Petal Essential Oil were passed on blotters to audience members.  Afterwards blotters of each of the natural perfumes created with the rose petal distillation were sampled.

One of the highlights of the first day workshop was listening to the perfumers describe their creation process and how they utilize rose in their fragrances.  After the workshop I met Mandy Aftel and her husband Foster.  I found them funny and down to earth and I enjoyed speaking with them.  My husband Dan snapped a picture of us.  You can tell Mandy and I were laughing in the photo.  Did I mention I found her charming and down to earth?

Arnaud Adrian and Jennifer Powderly from Robertet led the workshops both days, and their presentation outlined the commitment Robertet has to ecological farming of the Turkish damask rose.  Despite the rose harvest lasting just a few weeks from May to June, Robertet employs 60 families year round in Turkey to tend the farmlands.  All the water used for distillation is reused and the petals are composted post distillation.

The actual description of Robertet's Rose Petal Essential Oil is as follows: The Rose Petal Essential Oil utilizes all the natural extraction methods developed by Robertet are used in this natural extract in order to capture the genuine scent of the flower itself: hydrodistillation, molecular distillation, fractionation... Odour: Cosmetic, modern, quintessence of the Rosa Damascena flower at a lower price than the essential oil. Floral, spicy, peony odor.

The essential oil is clear colored, powerful and full bodied.  I was impressed with it's clean, precise rose aroma and sheer strength.  When using the rose petal essence I was able to use a much smaller quantity to obtain the crystalline rose note I was seeking.  The distillation of the rose petal oil was described in detail which was complex.  The result is a rose that smells quite different (and quite beautiful) than any other rose essential oil I've experienced.  Arnaud mentioned that the price of rose absolute and essential oil will increase 25% this year.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Sigh.  One of the selling points of the rose petal oil was it's price point--placed just between rose absolute and rose otto.

The second workshop included myself, Anne McClain from MCMC Fragrances and Jerome Epinette, a Robertet Senior Perfumer.  Being the only natural perfumer on the panel made me all the more determined to convey my passion for naturals to the audience.  I spoke on the power of natural essences, their unduplicated beauty, their primal ability to transport the wearer.  I discussed my Rose Boheme perfume, and the challenges of I encountered with getting the rose to pop in a base note heavy composition.  I described the rose petal essential oil as possessing the qualities I associate with both Turkish and Bulgarian rose.  I described a childhood memory of hiding in a thicket of wild rose bushes next to our home.  How I found a cool dark spot underneath the tangle of thorns and roses.  I would go to this spot when I wanted to be alone, and smell the dark fertile earth and rustle the boughs of miniature roses above my head as I lay on the ground.  The pale petals would fall on my face and I would pretend it was "snowing" in June.  This memory is fond and the inspiration for my perfume Rose Bohème.

All in all, it was an opportunity to introduce the audience to the power and beauty of natural perfumes and the incredible natural raw materials available to the perfumer.  While many in attendance may have never smelled a natural perfume, they have now!  I enjoyed getting to meet the other perfumers, and hearing how each perfumer composes his or her creation.  It was interesting to note that many of the perfumers on the panel (mainstream, niche and natural) were inspired by particularly evocative materials.  

If you would like to receive a sample of the new Rose Petal Essential Oil I worked with, please leave a comment or question.  I'll choose two winners.  Trust me, it's gorgeous!


Aug 24, 2012

Great post, Charna! I love the image of you lying under the rose bush! Isn’t it amazing how vivid those childhood scent memories are??

Aug 24, 2012

You’ve succedded in taking me along on this scented journey, it probably helps that I’ve been rose addicted for some time now. Earthy rose especially.
I would love to be lucky enough to try the sample.

Zee Boudreaux
Aug 24, 2012

Thanks for the report. I loved the story of you in the rose thicket as a little girl. I’d love to smell the Robertet rose petal oil, and learn more precise details about the special distillation process.

Aug 23, 2012

How amazing! My boyfriend took your class and absolutely LOVED it! Congrats again and look forward to having you in NY again :)

Aug 23, 2012

Thanks, Charna for the npg link to your blog entry on the recent Robertet Rose Workshop! What a wonderful time it seems you had and thanks for enlightening us with an insider look into the workshops, Robertet’s rose distillation and rose petal essential oil. I love how you represented natural perfumery so perfectly and the pic of you & Mandy… priceless!!! Seeing you two made me smile and made my day. You are correct…she is absolutely charming and refreshingly down to earth! You are both an asset and an inspiration to natural perfumery and natural perfumers.

Aug 23, 2012

This is one I would love to play around with, as I’ve been experimenting with various ottos and jasmines….they really bounce off each other in an amazing way! If I don’t get a sample I’d love to buy some…

Aug 23, 2012

Charna, just wanted to say congratulations. It is a very exciting time to be a natural perfumer

Aug 23, 2012

I love the scent of roses. Many people associate it with old ladies and an old-fashioned smell. I totally disagree, it is beautiful and classic. I would love to sample the Rose Petal Essential Oil! Thanks for giving us an opportunity!

Aug 23, 2012

It was a joy to see you shine !

[My writeup will go up soon; I’m slow and too quotey;-0]

I’d love to sample Rose Petals Natural- I was too shy to ask for a sample !

Aug 23, 2012

So wish I could go to Elements, But, alas, Australia is so far away from almost everywhere!
Well done Charna. So good to see spreading your influence :)


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