LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!
On this wrist, one of the Hermessences created by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermes in 2004, meant to convey the feel of silk, sold exclusively in Hermes boutiques, and weighing in at 100ml for $170—ROSE IKEBANA!
And on the other wrist, created by Michel Almairac in 2007, meant to represent that district in New York associated with one of the city's greatest events—Fashion Week, sold at the Bond boutique, Saks Fifth Avenue, and various online retailers, and weighing in at 50ml for $130—BRYANT PARK!
Before our showdown begins, let's get to know these two fragrances a bit.
Rose Ikebana, with notes of rose, peony, magnolia, pink peppercorn, rhubarb, grapefruit zest, and vanilla honey, grew up in Paris. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne before embarking on a career in journalism that led her to Paris Vogue. Her pastimes are painting, sculpting, and skiing. She also loves to travel.
Bryant Park, with notes of lily of the valley, rhubarb, pink pepper, rose, patchouli, raspberry, and amber, was raised in Manhattan, home-schooled by her artist parents, and joined a punk band at the age of sixteen. They had a few hits on college radio and were at one time signed to an independent label on the Northwest coast. The band broke up in the late 1990s, when Bryant Park started writing plays. She has yet to have anything produced.
Let's cut to the action—BELL! And they're on the wrists!
Rose Ikebana may look sweet but she's feisty! She comes right out of the bottle with a hit of grapefruit that's sharp and potent, and mixed with the sweet rose and tart rhubarb, packs a juicy, juicy punch! Indeed folks, it makes my lips pucker just thinking about it, and I'm not sure if Bryant Park can stand up to it. It's like a mind-boggling hit of Hawaiian Punch, my friends!
Bryant Park, she also comes out swinging, and she means business folks: This lily of the valley isn't lily-livered, and that pepper may be pink but it's potent, it's dry folks! It might be overwhelmed by the juicy zest of Rose Ikebana, I think it might be going down, but—OH! Folks, there's the patchouli coming in strong and clean! Not going to let this rose back down, not going light or sweet even for one second!
Rose Ikebana is hanging in there, but she's lost a bit of her zing, and she seems a bit bitter, but it's working for her! It's working for her! She's still standing, and the rhubarb is helping her keep it clean, but it feels like she might be going a little soft friends, a little soft with the peony and magnolia. I don't know if she can hold up...
And Bryant Park is mostly patchouli and rose now, patchouli and rose and every now and again she sends out a hook with the pepper, and it seems like both of these ladies are going around and around until—WHOA! Bryant Park has raspberry, she has amber—I'm not even sure if that's legal in this state folks! But she's using it to her advantage, giving a bit of interest to the patchouli again, turning it up another notch before it settles in with the amber!
Rose Ikebana appears to have conceded, folks! She's dried down to vanilla honey, there's nothing left of her but the sweet dregs like a fragrant tea in the bottom of a fine china cup.
THE CHAMPION: BRYYYAAANT PAAAARK!
WHEW! What a night here!
**Author's note: Okay, so Rose Ikebana was the Kool Aid (Tropical Punch, by the way), but really, only for a very short time at the top. On the whole it does remind me of a smooth, cool, pale yellow silk. Still, Bryant Park remains my favorite rose, except for one thing: the real magic happens when these fragrances are together. I haven't formally layered them (yet), but just wearing them together on separate wrists creates one of the most beautiful rose perfumes ever. The patchouli and pepper in Bryant Park makes the grapefruit in Rose Ikebana more subtle, and the floral notes blend heavenly. They also both have terrific lasting power, which is impressive. I thought Rose Ikebana might give out, but it didn't disappoint. If only these weren't so darned expensive! Now I want them both!
*images from Basenotes