Notes: Cinnamon, Cloves, Resin, Amber, Mandarin Orange, and Cedar
I first tried Rousse a few months ago when I found an unopened decant in my cupboard from circa 2015-2016. I became absolutely smitten with it after 1 wear, and insanely obsessed with it after 2. I went to check my usual decant supplier (and where I had purchased Rousse) and to my surprise saw they no longer carried it. They carried pretty much every other SL under the sun, so I had for some reason assumed I must have a decant of “old” Rousse. Rousse before it was reformulated under the Shiseido umbrella and before the restrictions on cinnamon in fragrances became tighter. Now, I see that Rousse was pulled from the export line in 2012 (or slightly prior), so my decant had likely gone through at least one reformulation.
The Rousse from my decant is extremely complex, lovely, and magical. It is not a cinnamon bomb, and the review below was originally written based on the decant. I’ve preserved it more or less, but will emphasize that “Old Rousse” aka Palais Royal Rousse, is very prominently a cinnamon fragrance but all of these elements still exist, are still detectable. They just manifest in the background of the most incredible cinnamon scent.
“Cinnamon merits more than just the childhood memories of Grandma’s baking and pots of jam. Its aromatic, sometimes spicy, aroma can burst into life like tiny fragments of shiny stars. Imagine cinnamon as a blotter, absorbing the trunk’s emotions and the fears of the bark… to finally recreate its most singular aroma.”
Rousse opens with a mix of seasonally appropriate spices – cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a kiss of mandarin. It quickly gives way to cinnamon that is sweet and adorned with vanilla – I’ve seen some liken it to red hot candies (not so sure about that one), but I find it is so much more.
There is a bit of a baby powder intermingled with the sweet cinnamon and vanilla, but strangely, the effect is smooth rather than powdery. There’s also a moment that I smell lipstick (likely from the “powdery” aspect) but it’s gone within about a minute.
Within a few minutes, there’s a hint of sweet, soft fruit. This is followed by a hint of savory spice about 10-15 minutes in. Not quite cumin but more like coriander. It’s fleeting, though I smell it balancing with a touch of floral. Around this moment, I realize how elegant Rousse is, and unisex. I envision a man of discerning tastes wearing it, while also wearing a sweater in a vibrant hue, under which there is a button down shirt and necktie peaking out. Perhaps Uncle Serge himself.
As the fragrance develops, the savory spice returns, though it’s in the background. With the cinnamon spice, the woody aspect of the cinnamon bark are amplified.
The sweet fruits and spices intermingle together to create something that reminds me of confiture – breakfasts with my grandparents of baguette, slathered with salted butter, topped with spoonfuls of heavenly jams featuring fruits I was unfamiliar with and at the time rarely made an appearance in American supermarkets (at least in my 10 year old brain who only knew of Smuckers Grape and Strawberry jellies). Or at the very least, just sounded so much better in French. Myrtille, Cerise, Cassis (definite childhood favorite), Groseille, Mûre, and my favorite as I got older (encouraged by my grandmother’s love for it) – Mirabelle.
Yes, in Rousse, I absolutely most definitely am reminded of Mirabelle Plum jam. Or is it abricot? Mixed with a delicate Rose and of course cinnamon. Perhaps even quince. Most certainly – delectably luscious stone fruits stewing with cinnamon, maybe some edible flowers, and holiday spices.
Rousse, on my skin, intensifies during the day. 4-5 hours in it starts to smell tea like. And the warm cinnamon becomes even more apparent. It isn’t saccharine, but warm and spicy. For me this is when things truly become *jammy.* There is something comforting, and flat out provocative. Seductive.
Rousse has incredible staying power and projection. I find that I sniff my wrists to truly identify notes, but I can easily smell it while I’m just going about my day. It not only lasted all day, but through the night. I could still smell it on my skin after I showered the following morning. What makes Rousse truly exceptional, is for me, it is a multi sensory experience. Rousse under the Palais Royal logo is most definitely a cinnamon bomb, where everything I’ve described previously is incredibly subtle. New Rousse, instead, is stonefruits, tea, and woods, supported by cinnamon and other spices. It is an ode to the cinnamon bark, rather than the sweet cinnamon spice.
In both formulations (though I really noticed it with the newer version), I find the composition of spices heighten every experience – from the taste of my coffee and food, both sweet and savory, to things I’m reading and feeling. This makes it incredible for memory forming, and honestly, could make the perfect wedding fragrance for that reason. Or really, for any occasion you want heightened – like the holiday season.
Is Rousse Full Bottle Worthy? Well, it seems like 90% of what I share here – yes, it absolutely is. As I read back through this review, I even think Rousse is worth having a full bottle of both its Palais Royal formulation and newer formulation. It currently sits in my Top 3 Fragrances of all time
Rousse is available exclusively in the exclusive bell jar from Serge Lutens Direct. It retails for $290 for 75ML.