War of the Roses: Marni vs Jo Malone

perfume reviews

I mentioned Marni Rose in my fragrance video a few weeks ago but at that time couldn’t find an online stockist. You might be pleased to know, if you were interested in giving this perfume a try, that it’s now available at Escentual.com. It’s an odd little number, in many ways; at first sniff it can smell a bit fuddy-duddy, but then it’s got this dark, almost masculine edge. It reminds me quite a lot of Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose & Oud (you can read my review of that here) in that it’s like a deep and sexy version of a rose scent – woody, warm undertones that are really unexpected and unusual. But whereas Velvet Rose & Oud is very rich and smooth and exotic, Marni Rose has an initial sharpness (might be the mint and the black currant?) that mellows out a little bit over time but gives the fragrance a slightly fresher feel.

After half an hour or so, Marni Rose and Velvet Rose & Oud are really quite similar in many ways – they both have that fruity rose scent that’s almost like some kind of gloriously naughty Turkish Delight, and they both set this against woody, warm base notes. But I think that Marni’s rose is perhaps a little less obvious than Jo Malone’s – Velvet Rose & Oud is an instant crowd-pleaser. Unusual enough to grab your interest and make you want to sniff it over and over again, but not so unusual that it’s weird or opinion-dividing. Marni Rose has a little more going on inside the bottle, I think – a few more surprises. For a start, there’s a greenish freshness to the fragrance – a bit like tomato leaf or bay, though reading the notes I see that it’s actually mint and raspberry and black currants. Whatever – it’s very gardeny. Clearer, slightly fresher and a tiny weeny bit lighter than Velvet Rose & Oud.

Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne

If VR&O was a dessert then it would be some kind of rose-infused chocolate pudding, sweet and jammy with a cooked outside and a molten centre. Marni Rose would be an exquisite rosewater jelly, shot through with exotic spices and garnished with sharp berries and chopped mint. Marni Rose is contemporary and has something of a sparkle to it, Velvet Rose & Oud is old-school sumptuous and makes you want to gorge on it until you’re sick. 

I can’t actually decide which I like better, but then I don’t have to. For the past week I’ve been wearing Marni in the daytime and adding a spritz of Velvet Rose & Oud for the evening. (I carry VR&O in my makeup bag in one of those little atomiser sprays. They are brilliant, those things – I have a few, actually, for different fragrances and I also have one that’s kept fully-stocked with Omorovicza’s Queen of Hungary Mist.)

If you’re curious about Marni Rose, you can find it at Escentual.com here – it starts at £48. Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose & Oud is £100 from Selfridges.com. It’s a Cologne Intense and has excellent staying power, I would really recommend trying it out if you’re passing a counter. It’s an all-time favourite! Which one do you like the sound of? Do you have a favourite rose fragrance that I can add to my list of perfumes to try? Let me know in the comments section below.

Watch the Spring Fragrance Video here

Read more fragrance reviews here

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