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Friday, December 03, 2010

Strange Femmes

By Marla

A few weeks ago I followed the White Rabbit to ebay, in search of a few good vintage perfumes. Most of my recently-culled collection comprises mainly discontinued and reformulated lovelies, so I thought I’d go back a few decades further; I bought a bottle of Rochas Femme that had been carefully kept in a dark corner for an unknown period of time, I guessed maybe the 1970s. It’s in the bottle that Rochas used for Byzance, but it’s definitely Femme Parfum de Toilette and is labeled as such. I’ve included a dim and quickie photo in case anyone else has seen this unusual bottle for Femme.

But on to the juice. WOW! Edmond Roudnitska did not let the war destroy his creativity, did he? 1943 was dark times for many people, but a splendid year for perfumery. Apparently he composed this while pondering a rubbish dump and a paint factory. Go figure. The notes, according to Bois de Jasmin, are bergamot, peach, prune, rose, immortelle, jasmine, ylang-ylang, ambergris, musk, oakmoss, and sandalwood. It’s very warm and intensely animalic. Aldehydic, yet mostly natural in composition. A hint of North African spice market, which makes it more than a little Lutensian. But this couldn’t be made even by a niche brand today. It’s just too far out there, much too outlaw. I wanted to wear it with a red satin vintage dress, but Denyse Beaulieu rightly pointed out that such a get-up would be only a costume. I should be more creative. What should I wear with this luscious, thoroughly out-of-its time concoction? And can anyone assign a date to this bottle? (If you do, I’ll send you a sample vial!)

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute bunny!
-L

3:06 AM EST  
Anonymous Wordbird said...

I have a bottle of Femme exactly like that one. On mine the top notes are burned, but the heart and base are stunning.

Ain't it grand when you find a little gem like this on EvilBay?

6:08 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wordbird, it made my day! I'm thinking these PdTs are about 30-40 years old, so they're really in remarkably good condition.
-Marla

7:18 AM EST  
Anonymous class flirt said...

i'm picturing something sort of jerry hall-ish circa 1982. a darkly patterned silk blouse, worn in straight (or,hell why not, belled) jeans, an ornate belt buckle and sky high boots. maybe a cape to make it of the moment. and it wouldn't hurt to have ms. hall's waist length curtain of hair. grrrroowwl.

11:27 AM EST  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

Nice bottle--congratulations!

Wear some lovely silk men's pajamas (vintage foulard-patterned, if possible), with strappy patent-leather sandals and a black velvet toque.

I know...I have a weird fashion sense. ;-) If you can call it that.

My vintage bottle of Femme is in a round-hipped bottle with a black, flat-topped cap. Very naughty fragrance--I'm a little abashed to actually wear it.

11:40 AM EST  
Blogger JoAnne Bassett said...

I love old fragrance bottles and boxes. Picking up the sexy lace on the box ...I would wear something...Chantilly black lace top with a red silk flowing pajama pants, and strappy heels.

Oooh sizzle..

12:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness, people, I love all your suggestions (though I don't have Jerry Hall hair, sadly, mine is pixie-cut and red). I must go shopping immediately!
-Marla

12:58 PM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

Awesome stuff, that Femme! One of the first truly great fragrances I ever smelled and I never forgot what it was like the first time - literally stunning.

Byzance was released in 1987, but I don't know if the bottle style existed before then; the Femme I knew back in the day was in the oval-shaped bottle.

1:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

new lovers of femme are so adorable - welcome to the cult! great e-bay find, too!

i wear femme with well-faded jeans, '70s ankle boots, and something shiny or faux-furry on top. but i wear most of my perfumes with some variation of same, so that's no real revelation.

btw, femme is not lutensian (though i know what you were going for with the analogy). lutens is rochasian. try arabie. i've said for years that if femme were done today, it would be arabie.

enjoy your rochasian treasure in good health.

cheers,
minette

2:35 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Minette,
I stand corrected on the Roudnitska/Lutens/Femme/Arabie issue! You're right- what I was aiming at is that many perfumistas are acquainted with Lutens, not so many with vintage Femme. Great idea for clothes, too.
-Marla

3:38 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Marla, you can wear anything really. Femme is a garment unto itself.

4:22 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marla - wasn't actually correcting you - so, sorry if it felt that way - was just feeling like sticking up for m. rochas. heaven knows, i like lutens as much as anyone, but he didn't originate everything. :)

ultimately, i am glad you found femme. it is what is meant by "perfume" in my book.

minette

8:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Follow your instinct and wear the read satin vintage dress of your dreams. Who cares what others think when you wear Femme?

10:57 PM EST  
Blogger Scott said...

I think you should wear an Armani Prive gown, in a neutral beige or taupe, terribly simple but chic,whose luxury lies in the exquisite fabric and construction, not in the flashy color. The perfect restrained palette upon which to wear Rochas Femme. Your hair in the style of a 40's film star, red lipstick.
Either that, or wear nothing at all... (PS: please enter me for the sample!)

11:36 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carmencanada, I actually wore it with my Alpine trail running gear...sort of unintentional, but definitely an interesting juxtaposition, all that spice and all that ice!
-Marla

2:40 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minette, please chime in whenever you wish. It's true some of those accords we think of as so "Lutensian" were around in previous eras, I'm very glad SL has kept some of them, and used them in new ways!
-Marla

2:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, you've got some great ideas, there! Actually, your point about a neutral color scheme against the opulent background of Femme sounds just right.
-Marla

2:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flora, I don't have enough of the bottle history to say when Rochas started or stopped using the round bottle. On ebay, Femme is nearly always in its regular oval bottle. Any perfume bottle historians out there?
-Marla

2:45 AM EST  
Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

Congrats on your find! I have never smelled Femme before, but you know what the bottle reminds me of? Certain Micallef bottles (the NON-bejeweled ones). It's actually a very pleasing shape, and I like the color of the juice as well. I remember once being shocked to find that my Dior Addict juice was blood red (the horror!). First I thought it had gone bad (hahah)and then figured out that it's also the color of heroin once cooked, right? I'm clever. <idiot

2:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

Perfumer Edmond Roudnitska created Femme in 1944 for Marcel Rochas to present to his wife...so 1944 is my guess.

5:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Marla, vintage Femme is an excellent find, and I am very happy for you. I think that you bottle is from the 80s. Rochas used that round design during that time period, and several of their fragrances came out in the same bottle: Madame Rochas, for instance. It is definitely pre-reformulation.

What would I wear with Femme? Hmmm, I think of it as a red lipstick fragrance and something black. Even black sweater and jeans would be elegant. Although, truth be told, Femme is so fabulous that you could wear it with gym clothes and still feel as if you are dressed in couture. :)

5:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carrie, I never knew that about the Dior Addict, but I think you're right! The Femme is a beautiful, ruddy amber color.
-Marla

1:29 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Victoria,
Thank you for dating this bottle! Somehow, I don't think you'll be needing a vial of 80s Femme, you've probably got some vintage already! If you would like one, though, let me know, and I'll send some off to you!
Best,
Marla

1:31 AM EST  
Blogger Tammy said...

I've never had the pleasure of smelling the vintage Femme, but when I picture it, I always envision a woman in a 50s pixie haircut, in a semi form-fitting cashmere or angora sweater that's off-shoulder or close to it, and a pencil skirt that zips on the side....both in black, or maybe a deep, smoky charcoal grey. No jewelry, and the sleeves are either pushed up or 3/4 length.

4:11 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tammy, that's a funny coincidence, because your description is pretty close to what I look like in winter! So it seems Femme is a good choice for me.
-Marla

1:50 AM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

Marla, thank you for the offer anyway! I have the same bottle, and that is the Femme I wear most often. The most vintage one I have is beautiful, but it is just not that fresh anymore. It is only good for studying the notes, etc.

9:01 AM EST  
Blogger Laurinha said...

Why not channel the free spirit that transpires from your brief analysis of the vintage fragrance and wear whatever it is that you feel most comfortable in? Knowing you are shrouded in this invisible masterpiece is surely enough to transcend any outfit and take centre stage...

9:22 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Laurinha, and I actually like it best with my running gear! ;-)
-Marla

2:34 AM EST  
Blogger L' HOMME VERT said...

I recently acquired a sealed and boxed amphora styled flacon of the pure parfum code No:153 containing about 25-30 mls. Popped the ground glass stopper to sample and it's perfect.
Reminds me of both Bois des Iles & Quadrille, floral top + plum, peach fruity/spicy heart drying down to a solid base of sandal & rose woods including lashings of nitro musks, ambergris and that rare gingerbread accord.(a combination of clove, cinnamon & the curry note of immortelle).
Absolutely stunning presentation from the mid 1950's ! ! !
Your bottle of parfum de toilette appears to be from the early to mid sixties.

1:09 PM EDT  

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