Precious gem with a heart of fire: Vero Profumo Rubj
Swiss master perfumer Vero Kern releases fragrances at about the pace of a sea turtle on dry land, so when she does introduce something new, everyone pays attention. In the case of Rubj, which has been around since 2007, the recent interest was centered around the launch of a new formulation for the entire Vero Profumo line (all four of them!) called Voile d' Extrait, more intense than the Eau de Parfum but not as concentrated as the pure Parfum. I had smelled the Eau de Parfum of Rubj from a sample only a short time before I tried the Voile d' Extrait, and I was enchanted by them both. This was something really different, a white floral like no other, striking and almost angular. That is not a description that would fit most white floral fragrances, which although they may be powerful are most often pillowy, diffuse and sweet. This one is highly focused and intense in a different way.
It might seem odd to describe a white floral as “fierce” (with the possible exception of the notorious Tubéreuse Criminelle of course) but that's exactly the vibe I get from Rubj. It's haughty, poised, dramatic, a flamenco dancer swirling her skirts and stomping her feet who does not care what you think, she is going to do what she wants. The descriptions I have read speak of sweet florals, but it may be the least sweet fragrance of this style I have ever smelled, and not because it's soapy either, since it's not that way at all. One thinks of chypres as the go-to scents of intimidation and perfume “armor” but Rubj would be a perfect choice for those occasions when a brave front is required. It emanates more warmth than seems possible for a white floral, and it's not the cuddly kind. It radiates steadily, powerfully and for a very long time. I always wondered why it was given the name of a red precious stone, but now I see that it fits, because it is like a deep glowing ember throwing off a low but persistent heat, fascinating all who are within its range. It's hard to turn away from even a banked fire.
How this effect is accomplished I have no idea, but instead of the normal sweet, soapy orange blossom, it seems to be pared down to its pure essence somehow, with all the hazy romance stripped away, leaving only the sunlit brilliance, and the gorgeous Egyptian jasmine it is paired with is devoid of puffy clouds and innocence and hits mostly the lower notes, though it's not really what I would call a “dirty” jasmine, it's most certainly all grown up, and a deep hearty musk in the base bolsters that effect. The true nature of Rubj is a stealth weapon that gradually takes over until you realize that you are wearing a really big perfume, room-filling and assertive, but never, ever vulgar, quite the opposite. It is simply formidable, and it makes me want to be the kind of person who can wear it with ease and confidence. If one must be worn by one's fragrance, I can't think of a better candidate than Rubj, and I will continue to strive to be worthy of it.
Image credit: Fashion illustration by American artist Maxwell Coburn Whitmore Jr. (1913-1988) via tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.com
Disclosure: Rubj Voile d'Extrait is in my personal perfume collection.