Meet Rrose Sélavy from Ellis Brooklyn, Your New Favorite Fragrance
"Intoxicating" and "unexpected" aren’t two words that typically collide when one is describing a natural perfume. Then again, it isn’t every day that a New York Times beauty writer decides to create her own perfume line.
With her latest scent from Ellis Brooklyn, RRose, New York Times beauty columnist Bee Shapiro appears to have finally captured the white whale of fragrance: a scent that is both fresh and natural yet nuanced and complex. The name, an homage to Marcel Duchamp’s female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy (a play on “Eros, C’est La Vie”) underscores its playful unpredictability.
As a muse to Man Ray, Duchamp dressed up as an older woman, attempting to look young and beautiful. Working with famed perfumer Jerome Epinette of Byredo, Shapiro channeled the subversive spirit of Rrose Sélavy by flipping the olfactive script. “I thought, ‘let’s take rose, which is such a common note, and try to make it fresh and young and unpredictable.’’ The result: a fragrance that’s as intoxicating as it is unexpected. At first whiff, one can hardly even recognize rose, enveloped as it is in a luscious bouquet of Sicilian lemon, cassis, peony, vanilla orchid, cashmere woods and spring musk.
Shapiro named her line Ellis Brooklyn after her baby girl. Not surprisingly, the scent isn’t the only aspect of the line that’s clean and pure: So is the formulation. As a mom, Shapiro was adamant about making her perfumes, body milks and soy candles non-toxic—a surprisingly tall order in the fragrance world. “When I first became pregnant, I was very sensitive to smell and hyper aware of what I was putting into (and on) my body.” While she easily found skincare and even makeup products that satisfied all of her safety criteria, she struggled when looking for a scent. “Back then, it was very hard to find a fragrance that didn’t contain parabens or any of the other potentially toxic ingredients I was concerned about.”
Fortunately for Shapiro, the cosmetic landscape has evolved dramatically in the last couple years, making it easier (and more economical) for her to realize her dream of a clean fragrance formation. “At each step of the process, it was simply a choice. And I tried to make the responsible one.”
Beautiful buys: Brooklyn Ellis Rrose
Cost:$100 for eau de parfums, $55 for body milks, $60 for candles
Eco credentials: Each cruelty-free product is made without parabens, phthalates or petrochemicals and housed in lead-free recyclable glass bottles with biodegradable caps. Outer packaging features Green Seal-certified paperstock. The company uses only carbon-neutral shipping.
Ingredients: Purified water (aqua), aloe (aloe barbadensis) leaf juice*, sunflower (helianthus annuus) oil*, glyceryl stearate, glycerin, octyl palmitate, coconut (cocos nucifera) oil*, cocoa (theobroma cacao) butter, myristyl myristate, potassium stearate, beeswax*, jojoba (simmondsia chinensis) oil*, panthenol, macadamia (macadamia integrifolia) oil, shea (butyrospermum parkii) butter, meadowfoam (limnanthes alba) oil, camellia (camellia oleifera) oil, rosehip (rosa canina) oil, sodium carbomer, fragrance (parfum), phenoxyethanol, ethyl hexyl glycerin.
Editor’s note: As someone with a very sensitive nose, I have a keen appreciation for scent and I can say with honesty that this is the most enticing fragrance that has crossed my desk in over ten years. It is utterly feminine and nuanced without being even a touch cloying. Imagine rolling around a private rose garden for hours with your first love and you’ll have some idea of its subtle allure.