Stella by Jacques Cavallier for Stella McCartney 2003


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.

Stella Stella McCartney FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rose oil, peony, tangerine
Heart: Rose
Base: Amber

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.

Stella Stella McCartney Audrey Rose With Dew Drops FlickrFlickr

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.

Stella Maegan Tintari Stella McCartney spring 2010 FlickrFlickr

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Katie Puckrik
FragranceNet has $69/50ml before Coupon
My Perfume Samples have $3/ml

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.

12 thoughts on “Stella by Jacques Cavallier for Stella McCartney 2003

  1. Hey Willa!
    I’ve never tried Stella but it sounds lush and fab. Will give it a spritz next time I see it. Thanks for the run down!

    xx Tina G


  2. Hi Willa,
    What a wonderful and informative review! Thank you. No, I have not tried Stella and I hesitate unless I can find a vintage version to try. I wonder how the reformulation stands up to the original?
    Azar xx


    • Hi Azar, I haven’t evaluated the current version properly but it’s definitely been watered down. As Robert wrote below, you can still locate the original version relatively easily online. If not, hit me up. And grab a full bottle while you’re at it. You’ll love it! xx


  3. Hi there Willa,
    Strange but I czn’t remember what Stella smells like. I tried it early on but …..
    Portia xx


  4. I almost want a bottle of this just because of the name since the new pup is Stella. Roses don’t always agree with me so I probably should sample first. I know I’ve tried it before but can’t recall whether I liked it or not.


  5. Great review Willa! I’ve been on the Stella bandwagon since day one! Linear, yes it it. But gorgeous! Thankfully you can still come across the pre-reform without TOO much trouble. The new formula just ‘aint the same! Skewed towards a very younger set, it has lost it’s umph. The original comes in a fairly plain lightish color box (correct me if I’m wrong) and the reform box is dark burgendy with tiny polka-dots.

    That stuff is crack for a rose ho’ like me!


    • Hello! How can I buy the original version? I bought a new bottle recently and was extremely disappointed! The reformulation is much worse than the original version.


  6. Lovely review. I thought Stella was wonderful! it was my spritz and go fragrance and I loved it. I was so sad when Stella McCartney sold Stella and it was *changed*. Of course they say it was not reformulated, but I have a sample of the new one. Stella is now flat and boring and disappears within a half hour at most. I’m still looking for a pretty rose to take Stella’s place. At least the *hunt* is fun.


  7. I have heard so much about it and of course, the fact it has been reformulated as you pointed out. How does one identify original one?


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