Stella McCartney Stella, Stella Sheer 2009 and STELLANUDE

...the perfect beginner’s rose.

I’ve been on quite the rosy roll of late. Rose is an incredible material in the perfumer’s arsenal. First of all, the smell of the flower is a perfume all by itself. And when you really stick your nose into this rose business, it turns out that a rose has more costume changes than a Cher farewell tour.

A rose is a rose is not always a rose, because sometimes it’s fruity, or jammy, or liquory. Other times it’s lemony, peppery, or meaty. It can be masculine or feminine. And it’s not like I’m saying it’s the tofu of the flower world or anything, because whatever angle a rose is working, it’s always recognizably rosy.

I wasn’t always Our Lady of the Roses. Just a few months back, I was shooting off my mouth to a fellow fumehead, holding forth on how rose perfumes were too old-fashioned, too bathroom potpourri, too damn tame. Well, I was too damn wrong, because it turns out that some of my favorite gothy woods and incenses have deep rose hearts. Keiko Mecheri Oliban is one of those gorgeous goths in my collection, with frankincense and honeyed cedar wood doing a druid dance around the goddess rose.

Once I’d profiled myself as a rose-lover, I suddenly had a lot of catching up to do on fragrances I’d previously written off without even smelling. First stop was Stella McCartney Stella. This eau de parfum is a sensual, woody floral, with the rose maintaining a ghostly background presence. Now that I’ve experienced it, you might say that I find it “haunting”...kee-yuk! Count me among the legions of happy Stella sniffers.

And just the other day, I tried the newest Stella, STELLANUDE. Like every other Stella, STELLANUDE is an iteration of the line’s muted rose/musk theme. At first you might think, “Yeesh! Is this the only idea the McCartney mob are ever going to have?” But then you realize that the unceasing re-re-re-interpretation of Stella is the perfect solution for fussy fumeheads like me who whine about a perfume being “almost perfect, if it weren’t for that one annoying accord.” At this stage of the game, there’s a Stella out there for all tastes.

STELLANUDE dispenses with the original Stella eau de parfum’s saltiness, and Stella Sheer 2009’s musty candy angle, to reveal a cleaner, more innocent version. STELLANUDE'S rose/musk has a soapy freshness that is very feminine. It’s just the thing for people who don’t want their perfume to supply any more darkness than already exists in real life. Despite the implication of the name, STELLANUDE has respectable sillage and longevity.

When conducting a Stella casting call, the original eau de parfum is my favorite. But I’m very curious about Stella Rose Absolute, which came out in 2005. Can anyone share how it compares with the Stella EdP?

Stella is available from and starting at $50 for 1oz Stella Sheer is available from starting at $53 for 100ml STELLANUDE is available from starting at $43 for 28ml


  1. Great review, Katie. Can't wait to smell the new Nude. I have the Stella Sheer from a couple of years ago (and I also have the Stella In Two Peony). I started off loving Stella Sheer and now I hardly wear it. I love the saltiness, but lately it just screams "rosebud" instead of whispering it to me. Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow and see if I can feel the love again. My latest rose discovery (and maybe I'm late to the party) is Amouage Lyric for Women. It is IMHO the most feminine, sexy and delicate rose I have smelled in a long time. I just wish it lasted longer on the skin. I just have a sample (because otherwise I'd have to skip paying my light bill for a month just to buy a bottle)! :-)

  2. Good to get your perspective, allofthis. Lyric for Women is indeed sexy - I blame it on that licentious ylang ylang. Light bill? Light a candle, and bring on the Lyric Woman!

  3. What's with the hair, Katie? Where did the cute perky Katie go with the soft shiny coif surrounding her face? LOL

    I've been looking for a good rose, so far only loving Paestum Rose which of course isn't really about the rose, is it? Loved Le Labo Rose 31 but it causes almost instantaneous stuffiness and then I can't enjoy the smell.

  4. What's with the hair, Dorrit, is that it was about 97 degrees (inside as well as out) when I shot this review, so up went the hair. Plus, it's fun to try different things.

    Like roses! Check over on my Keiko Mecheri Oliban review post for a list of rose fragrances to try. You might like Oliban if you love Paestrum Rose. Oliban isn't as dry as PR. Some lovely saffron roses, a combination I've been sweet on lately, are Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir and L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant. And just yesterday I tried Guerlain Rose Barbare for the first time, an elegant, woody rose.