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  1. #1
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    Default Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Hello, fragrant folks.

    First up, an apology, as I should have done this write-up days ago, but real life intervened, as it so often does

    On Tuesday night I had the privilege to attend an Osmothèque lecture on the great Edmond Roudnitska, author of so many classics - Femme by Rochas, the Diors (Diorama, Eau Fraîche, Diorissimo, Eau Sauvage, Diorella), Eau d’Hermès and Le Parfum de Thérèse. It was like attending perfume 101, except that professionals from the perfume industry made up most of the audience. In the driving seat were Olivier Maure and Michel Roudnitska, the perfumer’s son.

    IMG_6243.jpg

    They had rummaged around in the archives and produced both documentation relating to Roudnitska’s career and some original recipes. As they set out the story of Edmond’s career, we were treated to a series of seventeen spills dipped the relevant perfumes, all of which had been re-created especially for this event. I cannot stress this enough: for this evening, two perfumers had spent hours researching, weighing and compounding perfumes from scratch, several of which are not even held in the archives of the Osmothèque itself, so that the audience could examine Roudnitska’s work afresh.

    What struck me was soon Roudnitska appeared to have hit on a very personal signature. Right from the time when he left De Laire, having composed more than 800 formulas and bases, he produced On Dit for Elizabeth Arden, developed during the War, in which his spicy cumin ‘patte’ was very much in evidence.

    We then proceeded through Arden’s It’s You (a stunning floral aldehyde/oriental, made for his wife) to 1943, when he met Marcel Rochas. Femme was the result of this encounter. What stuck me upon smelling the re-creation was how different it was from the Femme I knew, not to mention the one you can purchase today. It’s softer, less animalic and less chypré. Apparently this was initially sold by subscription only, which allowed for some degree of control over ingredients that were hard to come by in wartime France. There was no Prunol in this early version.

    I’m going to simply list the perfumes that followed without going into too much detail:

    - Rochas, Chiffon/Mousseline (1946); Rochas, Mouche (‘Beauty Spot’ rather than 'Fly'; 1947)

    (I think it’s fair to say that there’s a turning point in 1947, when Roudnitska meets Christian Dior.)

    - Eau de Roche/Eau de Rochas (renamed to avoid trademark complications with Roche; 1948); Rochas Moustache (1949), which was partly inspired by the smell of scalp, apparently! I was told it was still available. Is this true? Rochas Rose (1949), fresh and heady at the same time. Here we see Roudnitska perfecting his treatment of the soliflore (see Diorissimo). Eau d’Hermès (1951), which the great man used himself. Dai Mo for Lubin (1954; magnificent jasmine); Dior Eau Fraîche (1955); Diorissimo (1956), which is of course a lily of the valley reconstituted using jasmine and orange blossom, among other ingredients- including a note of forest undergrowth; the rare and rather fabulous Verlande for Roger et Gallet (1956), which was marketed as a cologne splash but has as much body and structure as you could wish for: it’s a bracingly camphoraceous lavender with a generous dose of rosemary; Eau Sauvage (1966); Diorella (1972), with a note almost like acetone, and an intense but fresh jasmine; Dior Dior (1970); the rougher, more aromatic Eau Sauvage Extrême (1983), which Roudnitska was under pressure to create for the US market, much against his will; and the oddity Ocean Rain for Mario Valentino (1990), in which he succeeded in creating a fresh, very herbal aromatic fragrance avoiding the use of the omnipresent calone.

    It’s worth noting Ocean Rain is the first perfume Roudnitska produced following a bicycle accident in which he lost his sense of smell. At this point comparisons were drawn with Beethoven, who of course continued to compose despite encroaching deafness.

    Needless to say, we concluded with the glorious Parfum de Thérèse, which - as we all know - was original composed for Roudnitska’s wife, but which Michel (despite its very personal connection with his mother) allowed Frédéric Malle to use for his nascent collection, especially since the perfume would proudly bear Roudnitska’s name on the label. This was an issue Roudnitska felt passionate about during his lifetime, feeling the lack of trademark protection keenly. Another little-known fact: this formula was supposed to have been the original Fidji for Guy Laroche. At the moment when the perfume was bottle and ready to be shipped, the distributor got cold feet, judging it too innovative, with its melon/cucumber and peppery jasmine, and pulled the whole lot. Voilà! At least we got to enjoy it in the end.

  2. #2
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Wonderful write up! Thank you for sharing this event in which you partook.
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    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by saminlondon View Post
    On Tuesday night I had the privilege to attend an Osmothèque lecture on the great Edmond Roudnitska, author of so many classics - Femme by Rochas, the Diors (Diorama, Eau Fraîche, Diorissimo, Eau Sauvage, Diorella), Eau d’Hermès and Le Parfum de Thérèse.
    Major score! Nice one, Sam in London! I enjoyed your notes. It sounds so fun.

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thanks for the writeup. Really interesting!

    I did not know he had produced for Arden what I assume must be far superior perfumes than what Arden sells now.

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Awesome. Thank you so much for this!
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Amazing. Thank you very much!!
    oh look, I have a signature

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Marvelous, Sam! You are so fortunate to have attended, and thank you for sharing the experience with us.

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Fascinating! I’ve always felt Parfum de Thérèse is one of Frederic Malle’s most underrated fragrances. But it also meant Edmond Roudnitska didn’t create anything new for the house which in turn makes me wonder which fragrance was truly his final creation?
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Fascinating! I’ve always felt Parfum de Thérèse is one of Frederic Malle’s most underrated fragrances. But it also meant Edmond Roudnitska didn’t create anything new for the house which in turn makes me wonder which fragrance was truly his final creation?
    Well, Parfum de Thérèse is of course much older (late 1950s I seem to remember). It was Edmond's son, Michel, who allowed Malle to use the original formula. That would make Ocean Rain his last work.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thank you so interesting great write up.

    Parfum de Thérèse was the first F.Malle I ever bought way back when the house became known in the early 00s. As a lover of Femme (pre cumin 1989), it sang to me. Yes, it does seem to be mainly forgotten by Malle customers, I know when I mention it to the local counter they say it is never in the top 10 sellers from the house.
    DONNA

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    He was and remains a legend - both for his many creations and innovative abilities.

    Thanks Sam - great post as ever.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thanks for a very interesting recap. I wonder how Dior pressured him into making Eau Sauvage Extreme against his will.

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by Alibama68 View Post
    Thanks for a very interesting recap. I wonder how Dior pressured him into making Eau Sauvage Extreme against his will.
    He might have had bills to pay.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post
    He might have had bills to pay.
    Indeed. I think Dior just leant on him heavily rather than holding an actual knife to his throat. (This was of course pre-LVMH )

  15. #15

    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Those old Ardens sound so interesting. Then again, so does everything else! Fantastic report, thanks Sam!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Ocean Rain is something I've always wanted to try, yet still haven't (for whatever reason).

    Diorella and Diorissimo are two of my absolute favourites.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Lucky you! Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Sounds like an amazing time, and you wrote it up wonderfully. Makes me want to dig out all my Roudnitska bottles and samples and tour through them again, and add the ones I haven't smelled to my sample collection!
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thanks for the write-up, Sam! Sounds like an excellent lecture. What a treat to be able to attend!
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful event.
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Thank you for this excellent post which allowed us to share some of this wonderful experience. I would love to smell On Dit and It's You some day. I would also like It's You to come in one of the gorgeous hand bottles, in case the universe is listening...

    IMG_3142.jpg
    Photo from https://ardenperfumes.blogspot.com/2...den-c1938.html

    There's a related post just up on Fragrantica with some nice photos of Roudnitska and an interesting discussion of his bases...

    https://www.fragrantica.com/news/One...ska-12380.html
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Great write up - thanks!

    Verlande by Roger & Gallet sounds awesome. I've never heard of it.

    "When you become comfortable with uncertainty. infinite possibilities open up in your life"

    -- Eckhart Tolle

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Beautiful bottles!

    I as looking on ebay and I saw a couple listed for a very high price. Though it's just a listing, doesn't mean anybody will buy them.

    cacio

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Great write up - thanks!

    Verlande by Roger & Gallet sounds awesome. I've never heard of it.

    I've seen some aftershave called Verlande distributed under the Gillette name, but who knows if there's a connection.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Ps I've just snapped up a 30ml for that was sale in Germany! I'll let you know what it's like once it's in my hot sweaty hands

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by saminlondon View Post
    Ps I've just snapped up a 30ml for that was sale in Germany! I'll let you know what it's like once it's in my hot sweaty hands
    Oh congrats!
    "When you become comfortable with uncertainty. infinite possibilities open up in your life"

    -- Eckhart Tolle

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Michel Roudnitska has just posted the link to the video on his facebook page, for those who would like to see it (1 hour 23 minutes):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=xRE6AUjKcKI

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    Default Re: Edmond Roudnitska at the Osmothèque

    Quote Originally Posted by cazaubon View Post
    Michel Roudnitska has just posted the link to the video on his facebook page, for those who would like to see it (1 hour 23 minutes):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=xRE6AUjKcKI

    Oh, Caz, thank you so much for catching and posting that! I've been wishing for ages that the Osmotheque would post videos of these conferences.

    Now I can download it and slow down the speed enough that I can (maybe) understand some of the French dialog.




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