Post by Willa Zheng
There is something about Stella that makes grown men swoon and hearts aflutter. If I have a fragrance that elicits compliments from the opposite-sex more than any other, this is it. Interestingly, when I studied in Glasgow during the winter of 07, there was barely a day when I wouldn’t catch a whiff of Stella in the streets. For Stella is nostalgic, welcoming and yet modern.
Stella by Stella McCartney 2003
Stella by Jacques Cavallier
Released in 2003, at first exclusively amongst Stella McCartney’s fashion friends, it was a tribute to her recently-deceased mother, Linda McCartney. Stella McCartney’s inspiration was the big, fragrant, olde-worlde roses that her mother used to buy and fill the rooms with their scent. At the time, big bold rose fragrances had fallen out of fashion so Stella McCartney’s Stella was a standout in department stores and became an instant top-seller for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, which owns Stella McCartney brand fragrances.
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rose oil, peony, tangerine
To the casual nose, Stella is dripping in rose oils and velvety rose petals. Stella is a big, heavy, wet rose. Rose fragrances can sometimes smell sharp and old fashioned. However, Jacques Cavallier (L’eau d’Issey, JPG Classique) circumvented that by softening it, making it more romantic and modern by adding notes of peony (which smells rosey but not really), galaxolide (an airy, clean, soapy kind of musk. Think shampoo and laundry powder. We are in the age of Sophia Grojsman and the monolithic fragrances she popularised, afterall), mandarin (so the fragrance opens citrusy and it adds a dash of the sweetness you’d find in real roses) and amber (to lock it all in).
Given that simple structure, Stella is a fairly linear fragrance. There is more zest and sweetness at the start, moving to a sheer, rosey, amber-musk drydown. At its core, Stella creates the olfactory effect of a plush, musky, live rose viewed through misty amber glass. You smell clean, classy, romantic and all woman.
Given the romantic soft impressions left by Stella, you wouldn’t think it would have massive silage. But its scent molecules are heavy and are robust enough to be picked up and carried by wind to enthral your amore. Stella can be detected for 8-10 hours on my skin, but a re-spray is recommended after 4 hours to keep those compliments coming.
Of course, to trip people up, a man could totally wear Stella by Stella McCartney. A man who wears Stella knows how romance is done. He is sensual and frankly, irresistible. Just saying.
Unfortunately, like most great perfumes of the past, this fragrance has been reformulated. This review is based on the original version from my own personal collection.
What do you think about Stella? Do you have another favourite amber-rose fragrance?
NB: If you shop at My Perfume Samples from an APJ link I get a kickback.