Grooming

Aesop Creates an Unconventional Floral Scent That Men Can Wear

The rose-soaked Rozu changes its profile depending on who wears it. 
IMAGE Aesop
ILLUSTRATOR Warren Espejo
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Not a lot of people know that Aesop makes amazing scents. Found among its popular skincare potions and body care tubes are fragrances so distinct they're like being tickled by a dream. 

The Marrakech is animalistic, the Tacit recalls the Mediterranean coast, and the Hwyl feels like you’re being healed by the spirits of Japan’s ancient Hiba trees. Unlike other bottles in the market, Aesop’s scents are not a re-edit, a relaunch, or a reformulation of the same stories that perfumers have been peddling over and over again. 

Photo by Aesop.
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Joining the bunch is another outstanding creation, a rose perfume inspired by a modernist designer, who just happens to be a woman. At once intoxicating and soothing, Rozu is the floral fragrance you’d want to wear always. 

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Rozu is a rose perfume for men and women.

“Since the outset, our approach to product formulations has been gender-neutral,” says Aesop director of innovation Kate Forbes to Esquire Philippines. “It is our preference to create a more complex character, surpassing obsolete definitions of gender and perceptions of masculine and feminine olfactory desire. Instead our scents… evoke a more personal and unique response.” 

And that, in a nutshell, is Aesop’s point of view: that it designs for men and women (not men or women), and that, rather than making distinctions about sex, it champions individuality. For skincare, this translates to a personalized regimen guided by its team and, for fragrance, it means Aesop's scents settle differently on each person’s skin. “[D]ifferent notes are highlighted. For some the spices are rich and others the woods are deep,” explains Forbes. 

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Rozu on the Chaise Ombre by Charlotte Perriand 

Photo by Julien T Hamon.

Rozu, the first floral fragrance in Aesop’s library, is described as rich, fresh, and woody. When worn on the skin, you’re hit by the unmistakable scent of a rose, as if you’ve torn off its pretty little head and then crushed its petals in your hands. But there’s also a strange edge that reminds you of something green and maybe also milk? You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it feels familiar and therefore comforting. 

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In short, this is not the rose perfume of your very rich grandmother or even the dainty florals of your girlfriend. It is, instead, a compelling fragrance that men can wear. 

Rozu is inspired by a female design master who loves to climb mountains.  

The LC4 chaise lounge? The Gran Confort armchair? Charlotte Perriand had a hand in creating these iconic pieces as its designer (the LC4) or co-designer (the Confort—done together with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret). 

Perriand, the inspiration for Rozu, working in Japan in 1940

Photo by Aesop.
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The Tokyo Chaise Longue in bamboo by Perriand

Photo by Julien T Hamon.

Outside of work, the French designer and architect led an exciting life. She made her way to Japan, one day after the Nazis seized Paris, to become an adviser of its trade ministry. She also designed a ski resort, Les Arcs in the French Alps, which was a natural fit because Perriand was an outdoorswoman who loved climbing mountains (and swimming).

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Most important, Perriand championed modern design, marrying the pragmatism of new technologies with the rhythms of the natural world. “Charlotte was an endlessly curious mind and a great collaborator. She humanized the machine age through her personal exploration of organicism, biomorphism, and craftsmanship,” says Barnabé Fillion, the perfume designer who was tasked to create Rozu for Aesop.

The LC7 Armchair designed by Perriand

Photo by Julien T Hamon.
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He adds: “She felt strongly that good design should be accessible to all, and sought to create affordable mass-produced furniture, as well as high-quality pre-fabricated and modular structures.” 

Rozu is drenched in dream but rooted in science. 

A life lived to the full deserves to be celebrated, but how do you translate the fullness of being into liquid in a bottle?

For the task, Forbes sought out olfactory links to many facets that make up Perriand. “We work collaboratively with Barnabé to imagine what ingredients could be used to bring this inspiration to life,” she says. And then, the science of perfume making takes over with “many rounds of trials and tests with ingredients from different sources and different concentrations.” 

The great care in the selection of materials—choosing, extracting, and testing the ingredients—is rewarded by a valid scent that speaks fully of Perriand. Each note in Rozu is connected to a nuance in her life.

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Photo by Julien T Hamon.

As Forbes puts it: “Heady opening notes allude to the Wabara garden rose created in her honor. In tandem, vibrant shiso references Perriand’s enduring affection for Japan and the bracing alpine environments she explored at every opportunity.” 

“A heart of complementary florals, spices, and guaiacwood speaks to her tenderness and her vivacious, non-conformist character,” Forbes adds. There’s also vetiver extract, patchouli, and myrrh because the creative liked wearing masculine colognes. 

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Rozu is a reminder of life. 

You may ask why should we even think about perfumes, colognes, and scents right now? Stuck at home, is it important to mind what you smell like? Surrounded by uncertainty, is there a need to smell like a rose? 

On the surface, a fragrance ranks low on the need list but when you look to its hidden power, you’ll realize that it does more than add a layer of scent or mask your natural musk. 

“The power of scent is very interesting in the visual driven society we live in,” muses Fillion. “Scent represents our instinctual side. It relates to our animus but also connects us to something much more elaborate and hidden within. It connects with taste and plays with our memories, enhances them allowing us to travel through space and time.”

Photo by Julien T Hamon.
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Put another way: When it’s another day of mind-numbing Zoom calls, a whiff of perfume reminds you of a beautiful time when the world was full of hope and days, no matter how messed up, can still end up smelling like roses. 

Rozu is available to shop at Aesop in Greenbelt 5, Makati, or for delivery or curbside pick-up via [email protected] 

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Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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