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  1. #1
    Super Member Pallas Moncreiff's Avatar
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    Default The Venerable House of Rochas


    Rochas, like Dior, over the years, produced classically structured perfumes, some downright Grand Dames of perfumery. And as the bard says, their loveliness increases, for they shall never pass into nothingness.

    Top of my list is a quieter perfume which I liked from the moment it was sprayed. Eau de Rochas is a crisp, refreshing tall glass of a fragrance. Every citrus imaginable tamed by carnation and patchouli combination. I see all current fresh this or citrus that, and this small bottle has them beat any given day.

    The following two are favourites which hold a place right beside Vol de Nuit, Jicky and Dioressence in my heart.
    First one is Rochas's Femme. The reformulation is an excellent perfume in itself, but it is not Roudnitska's Femme. I have an old bottle, a cream coloured box with a faint black chantilly lace pattern. To try to decipher the scent in words is near impossible, but the dry down makes you pause in your tracks. You want to hug yourself kind of scent. I avoid sampling it often; it makes me melancholy.
    The second one is Mystere. Yea Gods, Rochas always knew how to do a chypre right. Again the dry down is evocative and of course, haunting in its uniqueness. I sent a sample to a friend once, and I still remember him lamenting in an email, "what have you done. I can't find it anywhere." I wish Rochas would release a limited version, make it as expensive as you want, but bring it back.

    Now, onto the laughing frivolous Tocade; the bottle makes me smile every time. My sibling wears it often, and I have noticed she laughs even more when she does. Tocade has the colour of Eva Perón's red lipstick without the lipstick scent. M. Roucel, I think, as a perfumer has a grasp of femininity, which is rare to find these days.

    Monsieur Rochas is a gentleman's scent, a fourgere but understated. I am not a fan of barbershop scents (a story for another time), but this elevates it to another level. Mossy, incense-y with geranium/carnation to tamp down that humid barbershop feel.

    Madame Rochas has a special place in my heart. My father would buy the parfum for my mother. And instead of using his Brut or Guerlain Vetiver, he would splash it on to her chagrin. All I knew was that he smelled so good that I never wanted to leave his lap.
    Madame Rochas and Givenchy-III were the two perfumes my parents shared regularly, and both fragrances smelled very different on both of them.

    Forum is open to (your) reminisces of Rochas perfumes.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I adore Femme but only the pre-1989 version when they for some strange reason add cumin. I was lucky a few years ago on eBay to actually get early-mid 80s pdt version and it is the one I remember first buying when I was in my first job as a teenager. Smooth leather and stewed sugar plums.

    I bought Mystere when it was first released it was a real powerhouse.

    My Mum wore Madam Rochas, so I just did not want to wear it after she passed.

    The later fragrances I just ignored as they just did not appeal to me.
    DONNA
    Currently wearing: Infusion d'Iris by Prada

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I agree with you that Eau de Rochas is a fine scent and I wear
    it often in the summer months.
    Tocade is just as you describe it : a rosy, happy scent.
    A woman without perfume is like a flower without a scent.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Happen to own many of the classic men's Rochas from years past - Macassar, Globe, Monsieur Rochas and many others. All wonderful. miss that quality.
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Thanks for the descriptions. This is a house I have not explored much in vintage. I've tried an old Monsieur aftershave and it is very nice, dry and as you point out not barbershoppy.

    Shootout also to Globe, an interesting male floral, a genre of which few examples existed in mainstream.

    cacio

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Back in the late 80s I had a mini of Femme. My gay boss loved to smell it on me. However, to me it smelled like basil and I kept looking around for the pizza I was getting a whiff of. It was not my favorite perfume.

    Madame Rochas, on the other hand, was a loved one.


    Now I have Absolu, which is a tolu balsam bomb and one I really do adore and recommend to anyone who likes a heavy resinous scent. It's ambery and well-blended to a full effect, moreso, I think, than Ormonde Jayne Tolu which it otherwise resembles.
    How do you know what a French whorehouse smells like?

  7. #7
    Super Member Pallas Moncreiff's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I'm enjoying reading the responses: thank you.
    I think Rochas had some serious perfumes and then some mediocre ones.

    Hednic and Cacio: Agree about Globe.
    The first ten minutes are frazzling; it is a sweet floral chypre, with medicinal aspects as well. I will quote words from jtd's review; there is a "chilled sweetness" to this perfume.
    Globe was included among the lost boys of the 90s by LT, and only Guerlain's Heritage came out alive. The others apart from these two are Jacomo Anthracite, Givenchy Insense, and Paco Rabanne Tenere.
    Why did this happen? There are many reasons perhaps; the change in dynamic of perfume-use in offices; the marine aquatics came along; anything sweet was deemed not masculine enough; there was a sea change to what had gone on before.
    I also liked the bottle, what a sense of humour.

    Zilpha: I'm glad you brought up Absolu. Tolu balsam for all the aspects of ambery and vanilla, has an inhalant sweetness touched with almond in it. This one is another which never gets the attention it deserves.

    It does make one wonder whether Rochas' lack of marketing had something to do with it, or like Caron, they belong to the grand old century (20th) of perfume age, and never found a foothold with the new generation.
    Would many of these perfumes fade away when Baby boomers, Gen-X and Millennials (of the 80s) are gone? I have a feeling when the late millennials and Gen-Z age, they will go looking for an elaborate style of perfumery, but much of this would be gone.
    I can only hope I am wrong in my vision of perfume future.

    I will give you an example. On first sampling Aphorie's Miyako, I liked it, but something was lacking. I saw the accolades come its way, but still felt that the osmanthus accord needed a touch of the Caron base or Rocha's quirkiness and it would have glittered. It was build to that ornate style, only the crystal hangings of Rochas and the gold edging of Caron, were missing.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    The only one i have is eau de rochas and i use it sparingly cause its so difficult to find. Which is almost silly of me cause sparing means 6 times a year. And at that rate j will have the bottle around way longer than i will live.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I’m a fan of Byzance in particular, but also of Tocade, Alchimie and Absolu. And I dearly do love Maurice Roucel.

  10. #10
    Super Member Pallas Moncreiff's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by cazaubon View Post
    I’m a fan of Byzance in particular, but also of Tocade, Alchimie and Absolu.
    And I dearly do love Maurice Roucel.
    I wish I could like Byzance.
    Fruity, sweet, but also some heliotrope... this part, I like.
    Perhaps it is time to revisit.

    satyen: I would say enjoy the perfume as it's citrus components may not remain the same as time goes by.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I remember the vintage Byzance as a dense and animalic floriental in the same vein of LouLou by Cacharel, Byzance being the elder serious and old fashioned brother.
    I am not a big fan of Femme, but the vintage has a realistic and juicy lemon note on top which reminds me of fizzy candies. Overall it might be a Mitsouko younger and happy sibling, or Mitsouko might be the shadow side of the daylight hit Femme. I find Mystère very hard to describe, it's almost mineral to me, haunting and a bit disturbing, sharing some note with the coeval Magie noire by Lancome. I remember Eau de Rochas as a very animalic (civet) citrus cologne and Tocade lovely bottle is the perfect depiction of its content.
    Madame Rochas is very similar to Calèche by Hermès, there's just one year of distance between them, but I find the Hermès more interesting, as a perfected Madame Rochas.
    Does anyone remember Lumière?

  12. #12
    Super Member Pallas Moncreiff's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilturko View Post
    I remember the vintage Byzance as a dense and animalic floriental in the same vein of LouLou by Cacharel, Byzance being the elder serious and old fashioned brother.
    I am not a big fan of Femme, but the vintage has a realistic and juicy lemon note on top which reminds me of fizzy candies. Overall it might be a Mitsouko younger and happy sibling, or Mitsouko might be the shadow side of the daylight hit Femme. I find Mystère very hard to describe, it's almost mineral to me, haunting and a bit disturbing, sharing some note with the coeval Magie noire by Lancome. I remember Eau de Rochas as a very animalic (civet) citrus cologne and Tocade lovely bottle is the perfect depiction of its content.
    Madame Rochas is very similar to Calèche by Hermès, there's just one year of distance between them, but I find the Hermès more interesting, as a perfected Madame Rochas.
    Does anyone remember Lumière?
    The part about Femme and Mitsouko is brilliant.
    Considering your and Zilpha's reaction to Femme, I am wondering which ancient deity do I have in the cupboard. Because there is faint lemon but no basil and the dry down which lingers on almost 12 hours onwards is indescribably lovely.
    And yes, Mystère de Rochas is one of those rare perfumes which is not only hard to define, but as someone who sees colours when affected by a perfume this profoundly, it only takes me into a whorl of shadows.

    There are many Lumière(s), I can only comment on the 1984 one, which was an aldehydic along the lines of Madame Rochas, and more green-component.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    So nice to see a topic for Rochas perfumes. I hope the discussions of Rochas flow...

    I am very fond of both Madame Rochas and Femme. I have tested Moustache, Globe, and Mystere. Haven't tried Byzance, Tocade, or Lumiere.

    I enjoy wearing vintage Madame Rochas (1960) througout the seasons. It was reportedly designed by Guy Robert according to a brief supplied by Helene Rochas that he make something along the lines of No. 5 and Arpege. Like Madame Rochas herself, the perfume is exquisitely elegant and ladylike, with beautifully blended jasmine, rose, and, to my nose, more white flowers and LOTV. Madame Rochas therefore feels more spring-like, crisp, and soapy but there is no sharpness at all in the scent; rather, there is an underlying warmth and softness that I attribute to the wonderful quality of the rose and sandalwood. Madame Rochas is much less animalic than either No. 5 or Arpege, with the sensual nitromusks dialed down and no perceptible civet.


    There's a newer Madame Rochas that was launched in 1989 and was designed by Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Jacques Fraysse. I am not familiar with this version, but from what I can piece together from reviews, the 1989 version is more hesperidic and greener than the 1960 version. The 1989 Madame Rochas reminds people of No. 19, Climat, Dioressence, and even Cabochard (!) so just from these comparisons, I am going to infer that the two versions of Madame Rochas must really be quite different, because I can't imagine anyone thinking the 1960 version smells like any of these other scents.

    Unlike my fellow vintage hunter Gilturko, I much prefer Madame Rochas (1960) to Caleche. The balance of the aldehydes, floral and woods in Madame Rochas is just right: Caleche feels a bit too dry and astringent for me.
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    I think you might enjoy Tocade, Grayspoole. It's a very happy rose, and has that sort of wit and humor that Maurice Roucel often brings to his creations. And as Gilturko says, the whimsical bottle's Memphis design is a perfect depiction of the contents.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas Moncreiff View Post
    Considering your and Zilpha's reaction to Femme, I am wondering which ancient deity do I have in the cupboard. Because there is faint lemon but no basil and the dry down which lingers on almost 12 hours onwards is indescribably lovely.
    If this might help I have a late 70/s early 80s parfum de toilette in glass, cylinder shaped atomiseur with the lace pattern silkscreened over the glass and an applied metallic embossed badge, depicting a woman head and bust. To my nose, no basil in sight. And yes, the drydown is actually a hours long affair. I have read somewhere that prior to the reformulation (Cresp), Femme already contained cumin and that we can't smell it in the oldest bottles because of its degradation; the one I own does not show the tiniest trace of cumin, and I am almost 100% sure it's still the original formula. However, I like the Cresp's reformulation too. I can't talk about the third - and current - reformulation because I don't have any familiarity with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pallas Moncreiff View Post
    There are many Lumière(s), I can only comment on the 1984 one, which was an aldehydic along the lines of Madame Rochas, and more green-component.
    I confirm I was talking about the first Lumière

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    Unlike my fellow vintage hunter Gilturko, I much prefer Madame Rochas (1960) to Caleche. The balance of the aldehydes, floral and woods in Madame Rochas is just right: Caleche feels a bit too dry and astringent for me.
    At first they smelled the same to me, but then I caught the difference and as you say Calèche is the dry one and suits more my taste. I must admit I like Calèche's concealed sternness that, to me, imparts to it a subtle kinkiness. I'd like to think about Calèche like a Madame Rochas hiding leather lingerie under an impeccable prim and proper look.

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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilturko View Post
    At first they smelled the same to me, but then I caught the difference and as you say Calèche is the dry one and suits more my taste. I must admit I like Calèche's concealed sternness that, to me, imparts to it a subtle kinkiness. I'd like to think about Calèche like a Madame Rochas hiding leather lingerie under an impeccable prim and proper look.
    A dear friend gifted me a bottle of Caleche around 1980, and I just couldn't embrace it fully. She was a classic, blond prep school girl, and I always thought Caleche might have suited her better than it did me. I should try vintage Caleche again, just to see...
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy

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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    I think you might enjoy Tocade, Grayspoole. It's a very happy rose, and has that sort of wit and humor that Maurice Roucel often brings to his creations. And as Gilturko says, the whimsical bottle's Memphis design is a perfect depiction of the contents.
    I've been close to buying it a number of times. I like roses, the 80's bottle, and Roucel's overall approach. But it does have a good deal of vanilla, yes?, and I have seen some reviewers mentioning the dreaded plastic "doll head" note...
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Apart from enjoying some if note all of their masculine tested, have yet to find a feminine Rochas that stands out due to consistent quality, good value within their price category and not less important, not just the balance reached between quality notes/ingredients, but also the creativity, originality and tastefulness of their selection/composition/synergy
    Currently wearing: Ispahan by Yves Rocher

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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilturko View Post
    Femme already contained cumin and that we can't smell it in the oldest bottles because of its degradation; the one I own does not show the tiniest trace of cumin, and I am almost 100% sure it's still the original formula. However, I like the Cresp's reformulation too. I can't talk about the third - and current - reformulation because I don't have any familiarity with it.
    As someone who loves cumin in scents, I like the Cresp version too -- though it's still a 2nd choice after the original.

    I'd like to think about Calèche like a Madame Rochas hiding leather lingerie under an impeccable prim and proper look.
    I'd like to think that they called it "Caleche" not only because of the Hermes horsey affiliation, but because of that scene in "Madame Bovary" when Emma has her first extramarital sex during a coach ride that goes on and on and on...

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    A dear friend gifted me a bottle of Caleche around 1980, and I just couldn't embrace it fully. She was a classic, blond prep school girl, and I always thought Caleche might have suited her better than it did me. I should try vintage Caleche again, just to see...
    I don't think you'd judge it much differently now, Grayspoole. It's definitely buttoned-up. Caleche was the first grownup perfume I bought with my own money after leaving home, and I was somewhat preppy with touches of hippie accessories. (I remember that I was wearing chartreuse colored stockings when I bought it.) An SA at Saks talked me into it, and when I smell it now I can't believe it was considered appropriate for a 19-year-old girl. But then, that was before the time of sophomoric scents aimed at juveniles.

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    I've been close to buying it a number of times. I like roses, the 80's bottle, and Roucel's overall approach. But it does have a good deal of vanilla, yes?, and I have seen some reviewers mentioning the dreaded plastic "doll head" note...
    I don't get any plastic doll from it, but it definitely has vanilla. I'm not a big vanilla fan but Tocade's doesn't get cloying on me.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_Russell View Post
    Apart from enjoying some if note all of their masculine tested, have yet to find a feminine Rochas that stands out due to consistent quality, good value within their price category and not less important, not just the balance reached between quality notes/ingredients, but also the creativity, originality and tastefulness of their selection/composition/synergy
    KenRussell--I was about to leap to the defense of my beloved Madame Rochas and Femme, but after re-reading your post, I think a "does not" is missing, as in I have "yet to find a feminine Rochas that [does not] stand out..."

    TL;DR--Do you like 'em or not?
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy

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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    I am very fond of both Madame Rochas and Femme. I have tested Moustache, Globe, and Mystere. Haven't tried Byzance, Tocade, or Lumiere.
    And I realized I forgot all about Audace, so I wore it yesterday (parfum).

    Audace was a very early Rochas, first released in 1936, but I am describing the reissue from 1972-78. (Although there does seem to be a relationship between the two versions, if published descriptions can be believed.) Audace is a very good and unusual scent. Audace is a 70's green chypre that evokes a cool, dark evergreen forest. There's a shedload of oakmoss, which is heightened by coniferous notes (more juniper to me than pine). Audace is bitter (like a digestif), woody with touches of floral, and I also perceive some cuminy/patchouli earthiness within.

    Grace Hummel has an excellent write-up of the history of Audace here:
    https://cleopatrasboudoir.blogspot.c...s-c1936_5.html

    It was the first new perfume to be introduced by Rochas in 11 years and a heavy advertising campaign was enacted. To commemorate the occasion, the facade of the headquarters Rochas...was given a temporary facelift by the sculptor Pierre Sabatier (1935-2003). Created on the occasion of the launch of the perfume "Audace" in 1972, this off-white polyvinyl structure evokes fragrances and was inspired by Charles Baudelaire's poem "Harmonie du soir"
    IMG_3287.JPG
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy

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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    l owned & used up a bottle of the original Lumiere back in the eighties, & remember it as a beautiful & radiant white floral. Nice bottle, too.

    l have a sample of Tocade that l've yet to try, but it sounds like one l'll enjoy...
    "What is this secret connection between the soul, and sea, clouds and perfumes? The soul itself appears to be sea, cloud and perfume..." - from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.

  23. #23
    Super Member Pallas Moncreiff's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    Unlike my fellow vintage hunter Gilturko, I much prefer Madame Rochas (1960) to Caleche. The balance of the aldehydes, floral and woods in Madame Rochas is just right: Caleche feels a bit too dry and astringent for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gilturko View Post
    At first they smelled the same to me, but then I caught the difference and as you say Calèche is the dry one and suits more my taste. I must admit I like Calèche's concealed sternness that, to me, imparts to it a subtle kinkiness. I'd like to think about Calèche like a Madame Rochas hiding leather lingerie under an impeccable prim and proper look.
    I kept thinking about this comparison and pulled out the vintage Madame Rochas (MR) parfum (the EdT doesn't age well).
    And I've to say that the aldehydic but best described as a buttery-lotion-cum-leather note is very well done in Madame Rochas. Also it has definite echoes of Arpege parfum from 70s/80s. Caleche has a similar scent note but it is harsh, it is not mellifluous like Madame Rochas.
    There is a certian tight lipped quality to Caleche, it turns me off.

    Talking of perfume maceration and aging, Vintage Femme ages well.
    I wish I could have access to the top ten minutes of MR parfum again.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: The Venerable House of Rochas

    Thanks to this thread I have been rediscovering my Audace extrait, and I have realized that the middle/drydown included a very beautiful iris/orris note. I don't know why, but I never noticed this before. It reminded me of the iris in vintage No. 19, which is my benchmark for iris.
    Currently wearing: Amarige by Givenchy




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