Rosa de Rio by Karen Timson Fine Fragrance

Dance away dreary UK spring by finding the beauty of new fragrance, Rosa de Rio, by Karen Timson.

Listed notes

Cachaça, citrus, tonka bean, ambrette, patchouli, rose.

Top notes

Rosa de Rio by Karen Timson Fine Fragrance is a scent which contains buckets of charming personality in a very humble little package. The house is relatively unknown, but produces great quality, thoughtful scents, all of which have a dreamy, watercolour-like feel about them.

Although classed as a gourmand, and indeed possessing definite gourmand facets, Rosa de Rio isn’t a heavy, sticky, hunger-inducing type gourmand. Instead it has poise, elegance, sparkling wit and an airy-yet-capable tone.

Rosa opens with a beautiful trill of notes. Boozy, spirited, but freshened with lime and lemon and perhaps even a dash of mint, it calls to mind a fresh and zesty cocktail like a caipirinha or something of that ilk. The scent sparkles with excitement and anticipation – like the start of a good night out – and it leaps from the skin energetically. The citrusy elements are cool, refreshing and enlivening. Rosa de Rio is off to a good, and quite compellingly moreish start.

Rosa de Rio sample package by Karen Timson

Heart notes

Once Rosa has started to really get into her rhythm the fragrance slows and sweetens. The sweetness which comes through is a powdery, crumbly caramel. Vitally, it isn’t too sweet. A beat later and it becomes more liquid and then again it changes to become ever so slightly more leathery, like an oozy caramel has started to cool and harden perhaps. Flecks of something coffee-like rise and then disappear, giving the face of the scent complexity and interest, whilst the final thrills of citrus continue to mumble along, gradually receding.

Boozy hints of the clear cachaça spirit unite the top and heart of the fragrance, but you aren’t going to smell like you doused yourself in vodka if you wear this scent. It’s much more sophisticated and subtle than that and the effect is thrilling rather than sozzled. There’s a thread of electricity which is present throughout the wear of Rosa de Rio and the fragrance is warm and friendly, inviting you to come along on this exciting evening of adventure.

Base notes

The base of Rosa de Rio is devoted to a hedonistic sweetness from a combination of the patchouli and tonka bean combined. It feels relatively simple in composition, but the skill of the perfumer has been in allowing the different facets of the materials to shine with space to breathe. And shine they do. The base has a burnished, polished quality, like fine old wood with a high shine lacquer. Now imagine that but made out of a not-too-sweet-toffee and you have something close to the feeling that the base of Rosa conveys.

There isn’t a lot of rose here, but instead a kind of petally, fleshy fullness that ties everything together and lingers in the background. You wouldn’t necessarily smell this fragrance and have the floral elements leap out at you, but they provide a sense of structure and rhythm.

As Rosa ages, she becomes drier, more powdery and has just a touch of a leathery mossiness about her to add another strand of sophistication. The sweetness lingers, combined with a gentle muskiness, to dance Rosa all the way back home to her bed, just as the first rays of sun are peeping over the horizon.

The other stuff

The perfumer for Rosa de Rio was Karen Timson.

Rosa de Rio is quite a politely projecting fragrance. Going to around or just under handshake distance initially, but then receding to become closer to the body after an hour or so.

The longevity of the fragrance is moderate, lasting about four hours or so following an application.

We felt that Rosa would be a good fragrance to wear on a date because it is exciting, with little thrills of electricity, but not overly in-your-face. This is a very wearable scent which would do nicely during the day as well as the evening, and it should fare reasonably well in a variety of weathers and temperatures too.

The brand

The Karen Timson Fine Fragrance house is a distinctly underrated UK fragrance brand. Karen’s approach is small batch and artisanal, but her creations have the poise and elegance of things created by much larger and more established houses. If you’re looking for niche that isn’t weird or challenging then look right here at this line. You’ll get personal service and the knowledge that you are supporting a small business to boot, as well as a well crafted and presented scent.

All Karen’s fragrances are very wearable and will appeal to a wide range of people. They’re excellent scents for someone who is starting to explore fragrance more widely because not only are they approachable but they’re also reasonably priced to boot.

We’ve previously reviewed Envide by Karen Timson. If you enjoyed this scent you may also like Sticky Fingers by Francesca Bianchi.

Buy it

Rosa de Rio is available from the Karen Timson Fine Fragrance web boutique where it is priced at the very reasonable £65 for 50ml of EdP.

Karen Timson kindly gifted us a sample of Rosa de Rio – our thanks to her.

Main photo by Aida Batres on Unsplash. Other images by The Sniff.


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