Some love lasts a lifetime, but true love lasts forever – so they say. And humans have been besotted by the rose since time immemorial. When Aphrodite wept over her fatally wounded lover, Adonis, did her tears really mingle with his blood to turn white roses red? Certainly, the mythology of romance that’s intertwined with this simple flower has blossomed through the centuries. And the rose doesn’t just represent the heart’s yearning but also sheer, physical gorgeousness. The Hindu god Vishnu is said to have formed his bride, Lakshmi, from rose petals, thereby casting the flower, evermore, as a symbol of beauty. We can barely breathe for the romance of it all.
Confucius reported that the imperial library of the Han dynasty held more than 600 books on roses – so someone had a lot to say on the subject. And we all know that Shakespeare’s roses smelled as sweet by any other name. Oscar Wilde’s rose, on the other hand was cruel, piercing the heart of the nightingale and letting him die for love – but we don’t talk about this sombre interpretation. The rose, however, is no symbolic pushover; its silky petals were the emblems of the warring Houses of York (white) and Lancaster (red) which, in the 15th century, battled for control of England’s throne – hence the War of the Roses. This flower is inextricably tangled up in our literature, lives, loves and losses – then and now. Its stories are too varied to tell – and you know how we love a story.
Jo Malone London’s Red Roses Cologne is a delicate secret garden in a bottle, while our Velvet Rose & Oud Candle is like the myth of star-crossed lovers – intense, seductive and dangerous. Roses are picked at dawn before the sun has the strength to diminish the fragrant oil, and the scent is at its most exquisite. It can take up to 3,000kg of fresh rose petals to yield 1kg of essential oil; it’s labour-intensive and time-consuming work. But as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince quite rightly said: ‘It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.’