Monday, September 13, 2010

Rochas - Femme Rochas

Mae West
Too much of a good thing... can be wonderful

According to the Rochas web site, Marcel Rochas was inspired in his bottle selection for Femme Rochas by the hips of Mae West. The perfume itself resembles the famous hollywood actress – over-the-top, sensual, sassy, spicy and very womanly.

Femme Rochas was created in 1944 by the young perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, one of the 20th century's most famous perfumers, who went on to create the best lily of the valley perfume ever, Diorissimo.  Rochas wanted a perfume that exuded sensuality and was unforgettable. Rounditska proposed a new direction from the popular leather-tobacco, green chypres of the day – a fruity-chypre with spices.

My sample of Femme Rochas EDP opens with a sharp sour fruit note, while still wet, that passes quickly. It could be the bergamot, which I'm having a problem with lately. But after that, the peach and plum fruits take over. They're wonderful and covered in spices. I smell the cumin and a tiny bit of cinnamon and I thought maybe cardamon as well, but that might be me associating cumin with Indian spices. The reformulation in 1989, by Oliver Cresp, apparently added the cumin note. Cumin in perfume can be divisive, but I guess I'm on the "love it" side. In Femme Rochas, it adds a sensual, personal skin note that's very sexy. It makes the luscious fruit warm, but never sticky sweet.

Under the stone fruit and spices is a chypre base. It's earthy and dry and woody with a touch of smooth sweetness. Fragrantica lists leather in the base notes,  but I don't smell it. Maybe leather was part of the original formula, which would make sense if Roudnitska was playing with the leather chypre ideas of perfumes like Tabac Blond or Bandit, released the same year.

Some may find Femme Rochas to be too much; it certainly isn't as light as many of today's releases, but I think it's divine. Femme Rochas is all woman and maybe you'd like to come up and see her sometime.

House: Rochas
Nose: Edmond Roudnitska (original) Oliver Cresp (reformulation)
Notes: Top: Bergamot oil, Peach notes, Plum notes Heart: Jasmine absolute, Bulgarian rose oil, cumin oil Base: Oakmoss absolute, Patchouli oil, Vanilla extract

Photo: Mae West


  1. Was this the reformulated Femme?

    Fruity chypres are Mos Def Not Ma Thang... so I stay away from Femme. But it is known to have some seriously womanly qualities, so kudos to you for enjoying it.

  2. Yes, I believe it was the reformulated version. The one with cumin. Womanly, yes indeed.

  3. Nice review - I own the reformulated Femme as well and it calls up strong feelings in me. At times, I have loved it. At other times, I cannot tolerate it.

    It's been a few months since I've worn it, so I will now have to try again. I feel an 'Ode' brewing.

  4. I've only sniffed/experienced the reformulated version (a sample). I'm the same as Josephine, some days it's perfect, others it doesn't seem "right". However, I always love a fragrance for its history and Rochas has it.

  5. Josephine: Yay, you know I love your "odes."

    EauMG: I love a little history with my perfumes as well.

  6. I sniffed and tried the lovely vintage version thanks to Suga - it's wonderful and reminds me of a kicked up vintage Mitsouko Parfum de Toilette from the 80s.

  7. I think of it as being an "accessible, more lighthearted, playful" MITSOUKO.

  8. Hi rasputin: that's a nice way to think of it. Mitsouko certainly isn't "playful".

  9. I don't know of "reformulated" Femme, but have searched for the old bath oil that I fell in love with in the 70's. The perfume was too spicy, but the oil left just the perfect amount of scent that smelled like roses and cherry blossoms. The Femme EDP is okay, but I would still prefer to find the oil again! If anyone has information about this, please let me know.

    1. I bet it is wonderful in a bath oil, but I've never seen any. I will watch for it.

    2. I haven't been to France since 1971; but I'm betting that's the only place, if any, you can buy the bath oil now. American perfumes have gotten so weak, I won't buy them anymore. I believe it has to do with the use of whale spout secretions that we are no longer allowed to use, but other countries aren't as....picky??? It WAS wonderful and I hope to find it next time I'm out there!! :)


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