This Stunning Fragrance Has a Meaningful Indigenous Connection and Comes With Its Own Playlist
To me, perfume is so much more than a rushed spritz before running out the door. It’s a considered ritual to signify the end of the morning routine — a finishing touch that makes me feel ready and prepared for the day ahead.
I also tend to apply meaningful weight to my fragrances in the sense that I purposefully wait to buy new perfumes until I take holidays. Why? Because from then on, every time I wear that particular fragrance, I’m instantly transported back to memories of drinking limoncello spritz in the sun, zig-zagging the bazaars of Instanbul, wandering the Louvre. (There’s some scientific merit behind my strange little habit, which you can read about here!)
Deprived of the opportunity to take an international trip (cheers, COVID), but craving the kind of personal rebrand only a new fragrance could provide, I recently decided to break my one rule and acquire a new scent.
Through word of mouth, I discovered ST. ROSE. It’s a luxury fragrance house born in Australia and crafted in New York. Founder Belinda Smith’s line of gender-neutral fragrances are as intoxicating as they are sustainable, and it’s the brand’s intrinsic values of Earth and ethics that really sold it for me.
“Rooted in the art of nature, prioritising environmental and socially conscious practices is ingrained in the fabric of our culture. ST. ROSE is guided by an ethos of transparency and traceability in all aspects of our business,” the ST. ROSE site reads.
Each ingredient that makes up the range is ethically harvested and organic when possible, with traceability from its native region, prioritising minimal environmental stress. The bottles are recyclable, the brand gives back as a 1% For The Planet business, and with such potent and pure formulas, the scents last so much longer and go much further than those you may be used to. For Smith, it was a gap she noticed in the industry and sought to fill.
“It truly comes from my own journey as a consumer wanting to find a fragrance at the intersection of clean, sustainable and luxury and being unable to find out anything about the ingredients in other fragrances on the market let alone where they were sourced,” she tells POPSUGAR Australia.
“When my failed hunt took me from customer to founder, I think it was actually being an outsider in the industry that was a huge advantage as I went straight to the farm to form relationships directly, so that we have that confidence in where and how our ingredients, from all of the world, are being harvested.”
Smith says each of her fragrance formulations is produced under stringent guidelines that put human and environmental health first. It’s these values that ensure ST. ROSE fine fragrance compositions contain over 97% or more natural ingredients and are over 80% organic.
Choosing just one fragrance in the collection was a near-impossible task, but after making peace with the fact I’d more than likely end up buying a second or third, I opted for Desert Nomad. It’s a perfume Smith describes as “sultry and warm with smoky notes of Palo Santo”. It’s both earthy and sensual with sandalwood as the heart and soul. It’s one of her favourites, and Smith and I certainly have that in common.
Desert Nomad also has a really special Indigenous connection, and the connection to Country is truly what makes this scent so profoundly meaningful and unique.
“Desert Nomad was named in honour and with permission of our friends at our exclusive sandalwood farm, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils (DSO), in Western Australia, which is 50% Indigenous-owned,” she tells us. “The Kutkabubba Indigenous community, whose Martu ancestors are the last known nomadic people living in the vast central desert of Australia, have such a beautiful connection to dutjahn (Matru word for sandalwood) and have been using it in ceremony for over 40,000 years.
“This knowledge that was shared with me was such a beautiful gift during the early days of our brand’s journey that I chose to have this farm’s sandalwood oil be our exclusive provider and to distil that ancient wisdom by including it as a signature ingredient across the entire collection as a beautiful way to infuse into one’s daily ritual, a connection between mind, body, soul and also Earth.”
The result is a “quietly addictive scent, both sacred and sensual. A fitting companion for the heart of a wanderer”. Vetiver is blended in the base bringing an added smokiness with a slightly dry tone. Spiced notes of pepper and ginger add complexity and depth, while clary sage adds an elegant amber tobacco sillage.
“As an Aussie, I am so proud that one of our favourite notes to work with, sandalwood, is not only from Australia but it is also harvested in such an eco-conscious manner that is also having a beautiful socio-economic impact on the local community in a very remote part of WA. Through working with traditional Native Title Holders who are the original custodians of the land, it ensures that they can continue to farm in a way that protects their land and on it, these carbon-neutralising trees,” she says, adding:
“I truly feel indebted to our friends within the Kutkabubba community, for their wisdom and practices that have been passed down for centuries in how to care for the land and honour the Earth.”
Desert Nomad is one in a collection of six right now. Smith likes to take her time to really consider her scents, ensuring that each one is as special and memorable as the last.
“With each new addition, the goal is to always consistently distil the ST. ROSE spirit into every product; a convergence of considered luxury infused by nature with a rebellious edge steeped in the cultures of our two homes between Australia and New York. This ensures our collection, while offering unique scents for a broad range of palettes, share a consistent signature sensibility of feeling complex yet approachable, artistic but relatable, with an air of mystery and hopefully provocative of a bit of occasional bad behaviour.”
To really get people in the mood of the fragrance, Smith has a fun habit of creating playlists for each of her scents. I’m pleased to see Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen and HNNY on the playlist she curated for Desert Nomad. At least I know what to listen to now the next time I’m dancing around my house with no place to go, but smelling amazing.
ST. ROSE fragrances are available now online from $165. If you’re not sure which fragrance is right for you, you can purchase a Discovery Set of all six scents for $50. Even better, you’ll be emailed a $50 gift card to go towards the purchase of a full-sized bottle.
In addition to the 1% For The Planet partnership, every purchase secures a donation to the non-profit K Farmer Dutjahn Foundation (KFDF) which is an Indigenous run not-for-profit foundation connected to the Aboriginal community working with DSO.