A rose by any other name

It may cost pounds 36 for 30ml but one squirt of Creed's Fleurs de Bulg arie will last all day

Have you ever experienced Pong Hell, when a perfume sales assistant sprays you with the latest designer fragrance? For a few seconds of consumer folly, you spend the rest of the day trying to rub off some dreadful fragrance that reeks to high heaven.

This would never happen at Les Senteurs, a perfume shop in South Kensington which sells a marvellous scent called Creed. For a small fee, you can take little tubes of it to try out at home.

Now based in France, Creed was established in 1760 in London and was appointed an official supplier to Queen Victoria. Creed's Fleurs de Bulgarie comes in a suitably old-fashioned glass bottle which is pleasant to use, even though the plastic and gilt top is awkward to get on and off.

The perfume smells great. At first it's quite light and petally, then, as the day wears on, it becomes more musky. It's feminine without being too flowery, sexy without being too heady. Which is just as well, as it costs pounds 36 for 30ml of Eau de Parfum. Why so much money for such a little bottle of perfume?

"Fleurs de Bulgarie is from Creed's 'millesime' range, which means it contains the highest percentage of natural essences to be found in the French perfume industry," says Chris Hawksley, Creed's UK distributor.

"Good rose essence is very expensive - it takes about a tonne of rose petals to make a kilogram of essence, which costs about $7,000 to $10,000 a kilo. Most perfume companies get their essences from big international flavours and fragrances companies, but Creed uses traditional techniques. You pay for the artistry of putting the perfume together."

The Body Shop sells a Tea Rose perfume oil which costs pounds 7.95 for 30ml. It smells lovely when you first put it on - exactly like crushed rose petals - but very soon starts to smell vinegary. So, what makes a good perfume?

"It is natural ingredients and the way the essences are extracted," says Clare Henderson, editor of trade magazine Soap, Perfumery And Cosmetics. "You can source roses from several countries, and, like any crop, it can change according to where and how it's harvested. Creed uses top quality Bulgarian roses, while The Body Shop obviously use a cheaper type. It also depends on how the essential oil is produced. It could be by crushing, steam distillation or en fleurage, where wax is used to draw out the fragrance from the petals, but that's rare."

At pounds 36, at least you only need one squirt of Fleurs de Bulgarie a day. You'd have to keep applying The Body Shop one to maintain a decent rose scent. In the long run, Creed may even be cheaper. Investment perfume. Now that's what I like.

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