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Roses: The Sweet Smell of Success

How the rose became the world's most enduring symbol of love.

Flowers may be hard to come by this Valentine’s Day, but rose lovers have a viable option. Tom Ford, whose love for the bloom is well documented — the designer’s L.A.-based garden is the stuff of dreams — has launched a trio of rose-based scents that make an able stand-in. Called The Private Rose Garden Collection, they include Rose d’Amalfi, which contains bergamot and mandarin; Rose de Chine, featuring Chinese peonies, and Rose de Russie, which blends rose with the essence of Russian black leather. While Ford wanted to present a modern take on the rose, it is, of course, the most classic symbol of love. Beauty Inc asked Givaudan to share some little known facts about the flower — because, after all, knowledge is the best gift of all.

 

In Greek mythology, roses were often linked to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who wore a crown of roses in her hair and was said to emerge from the sea in a shower of foam that transformed into white roses.

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The Greek god Zephyrus loved Flora so much that he changed himself into a rose, because she had no interest in any other flowers.

 

Hindu legends tell of the goddess Lakshmi and wife of Vishnu, who was created out of 1,008 rose petals and 108 roses. Since then, Hindus have linked the flower with love.

 

The rose is known to be about 55 million years old, according to fossil evidence. They have been cultivated in China for over 5,000 years.

 

To insure that Marc Antony would remember her, Cleopatra ordered that the sails of her barge be dipped in rose water to perfume the wafting sea breezes.

 

Shakespeare uses rose imagery in 154 sonnets.

 

King Henry VII of England officially declared St. Valentine’s Day a holiday in 1537.

 

In 19th-century Victorian England, chaste lovers used floriography, the language of flowers, to send covert messages to each other with small bouquets known as nosegays. The red rose was used to say, ‘I love you,’ when verbal expression of such sentiments was socially inappropriate.

 

The American Beauty rose is known as the “millionaire’s rose,” due to its expensive price in the 1800s.

 

A single red rose on Valentine’s Day stands for love at first sight. Three roses say, ‘I love you; a dozen stems communicate completeness and perfection, because the number 12 is associated with an entire year, and 101 roses symbolize love that knows no bounds.

 

*Source: Givaudan and Tom Ford Beauty