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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Perfume Review: Madame Rochas

This post was inspired by the photo of Madame Rochas, found on the wonderful site Touten Parfum (that photo is used here with the kind permission of Claudine Auguet, the owner of Touten Parfum). When I was a child, my mother used to wear Madame Rochas, and I can still remember the box with its gold lace ornament and the beautiful slimline bottle with the golden top, standing among her other perfumes and fascinating cosmetic items that I was not allowed to touch. Even the mention of this perfume makes me so very nostalgic; Madame Rochas was my first introduction to the world of perfumes and to the general idea of femininity and elegance.

Madame Rochas is a refined perfume, a polished, sophisticated beauty, an elegant and timeless floral aldehyde composed by Guy Robert in 1960. It starts true to its aldehydic nature, rather harsh and aloof, with notes of bergamot and neroli; this is a stage which I endure rather than enjoy. However in a little while the aldehydes subside, and the flowers (rose, jasmine, tuberose) enter the scene. Strangely enough, I, the white-floral hater, really enjoy the languourous tuberose note in the middle stage of Madame Rochas. The more the fragrance developes on my skin, the more I like it; amber in the early drydown brings a certain elegant powderiness to the composition, and when the woods step forth, Madame Rochas turns into a wonderful skin scent, a delicious and lingering fragrance of cedar, sandalwood and musk. The perfume was inspired by two great classics, Chanel Nº5 and Arpege, and indeed it is reminiscent of both, however, to my nose, Madame Rochas is less aldehydic, more powdery and creamier, with a more pronounced woody-musky element in the drydown.

My mother does not wear Madame Rochas anymore, having moved on to softer, sweeter scents, semi-orientals and woody-orientals, and the grand classic aldehydes like Madame Rochas are not really my taste and don’t fit into my life all that well. Having said that, there always will be a place in my heart reserved for this fragrance (and a place in my perfume cabinet reserved for at least a miniature bottle of the scent). Whenever I smell it, I am an awe-struck little girl again, enthralled by the golden lace on the box and the graceful bottle and the scent that seemed to me to be the epitome of “French”, so very chic and glamorous. I still consider it to be one of the most elegant fragrances. As Luca Turin notes in his Le Guide, Madame Rochas would be ideal with “un cabriolet DS Chapron couleur crème anglaise”.

*The photo of Madame Rochas is from
*The photo of Citroën DS Chapron Dandy is from

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Blogger GreatSheElephant said...

I find the edp and the edt quite different. Sadly I haven't seen the edp in years - of course I much preferred it

8:42 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you Vikochka. I should have added that I am reviewing the new version, while I am sure my memories are of the old one. But since I was so little then I don't really remember the difference :-)

9:42 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear GreatSheElephant, thank you for the warnong :-) I had no idea that the EDPs were disappearing. Must stock up when I see them.

9:50 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I have never tried it! I suppose I am too late -- sounds like it is not the same :-(

12:27 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, R., as I said to V., I don't actually remember how it smelled pre-reformulation, and don't know what I am missing :-) But it smells quite lovely to me as it is :-)

12:54 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you N! Would you believe it I haven't tried Femme yet...shame one me! :-) It is on my To Try list though, cumin does not scare me.

8:38 AM EST  
Blogger Urban Chick said...

i am sentimental about madame rochas for the exact same reasons; my mother used to wear it so it makes me think of catching a sniff of her when she was preparing for an evening out

although, i am wondering now whether it was mystere de rochas that she wore...must ask her!

11:21 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

We have some stylish mums with great taste in perfume, don't we? :-)

11:26 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Turin described Y (YSL) that way, not Madame Rochas....

11:06 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im like the rest of you Mum wore it Femme that is, Then about five years ago I decided after wearing Mums on a trip home to buy a bottle I couldnt find it here in Florida so dad got me some finding it in a small chemist shop in the north of England probably the same shop he had bought it from for the last 40 years he then told me his info was that it was discontinued ? Im seeing it on web sites varying from $80 to $500 ? did they remake Femme Help?

2:48 PM EST  

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