Tag Archives: Madame Rochas

Retro Perfecto: 4160 Tuesdays Paris 1948

I’m a sucker for a good chypre. The greener, the mossier and the older, the better as far as I’m concerned.  Serendipity twinned me with a bottle of Paris 1948 today, and reader, a bit of magic took place. Love was in the air and cupid shot me.

A few years back, I tried Paris 1948 and decided it wasn’t for me. I also tried Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn and decided that wasn’t for me either. However, today I received a full bottle of Paris 1948, and by chance, a sample of Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn, and whaddya know? They don’t half go! One complements the other in the way that Guerlain Apres l’Ondee brings out something new in Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver. (Try it, you’ll see. Thanks Lisa!).

My first impression of Paris 1948 is of fresh cut grass in an aged bottle. Have you ever opened a really old bottle of fragrance that has ambered with age and has that sort of bitter powdery thing going on? That’s what Paris 1948 reminded me of.  To me, the dominant note is, believe it or not, basil.  This is a note that is also really prominent in 4160 Tuesdays Lady Rose Monkey Lion Monkey Unicorn, which is why they seem to go together so well.

 

With my brand new 4160 Tuesdays phone sticker.

Paris 1948 opens with citrus, specifically grapefruit, and peaches. Now, I used to have a problem with peaches until the penny dropped and I realised that many of the Grand Dames of fragrances carry peachy nuances: think Lanvin Arpege and Madame Rochas to name but two.  Once this made sense to me, peaches always gave me a

Photo of Paris in 1948 by Edouard Boubat

friendly sort of retro yoo-hoo when they pop up. They certainly make their presence felt here, and that could be one of the reasons why I didn’t like this first-time round.  The basil has a sweet, herbal thing going on that almost borders on the medicinal, but not quite. The flowers come out after the citrus has calmed down a bit and let them get a word in: roses and orange flower and leathery labdanum.

The base to my nose, at least, is a peachy, mossy (VERY mossy) herby, slightly medicinal chypre.  I’m sorry I can’t make that sound more catchy, but it’s true. Call me an addict. Call me a fan.  This is a permanent fixture.

Jacqueline de Francois “Mademoiselle de Paris” 1948

Stockists: I bought this from 4160 Tuesdays and you can too.  If you buy it before tomorrow afternoon (October 27th 2017) then it’s half price. After that it’s still jolly reasonable. This is not a sponsored post.

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Madame Rochas: soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside

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I mentioned that I’ve bought a couple of vintage perfumes on eBay that have had ‘burnt’ top notes. Madame Rochas is one of them, so I thought I’d try it today against a modern version of the eau de toilette, to see how the burnt, crunchy topping affected my enjoyment of the rich, smooth interior.

I love Madame Rochas because it is quite frankly weird. It has a strange opening with some wacky aldehydes that Luca Turin says smell like ‘just-snuffed candles’. I can’t think of a better description, though it’s stranger and more haunting that simply candle-snuffs to me. In the vintage, this is burned away completely and there is just a rasp of hairspray and over-toasted oils. But fear not! In most vintage ‘fumes it’s just the top notes that get damaged, because they’re the lightest and most volatile ingredients in a fragrance. Once you wait for them to wear off, you get the original heart and base of the fragrance.

While my vintage left wrist is still making me say ‘eurch!’, my modern right wrist has moved on to the lovely salty floral notes of the modern Madame’s heart. As the fragrance develops, the salt fades gradually to reveal what the Rochas website assures me is ‘every flower in creation: jasmine, rose and lily of the valley’. As I’ve mentioned before I can’t tell what is or isn’t in perfume, so forgive me for just sticking with ‘floral’ and ‘rich’ and ‘warm’. However, according to Fragrantica.com, when he composed Madame Rochas, Guy Robert put aldehydes, bergamot, lemon and neroli at the top with flowery heart notes of jasmine, rose, tuberose, Lily-of-the-valley, Oriss root, ylang-ylang, violet and narcissus, whilst the base contains sandalwood, vetiver and musk, along with cedar, oakmoss and tonka beans.

Anyway, those floral heart notes are where the two fragrances – vintage and modern – meet. But my vintage left wrist is more garbagey and plush because I’m guessing that Guy Robert’s original jasmine was the skanky indolic kind and he probably had a dollop more oakmoss in there than now, while my modern right wrist is lighter and still a touch salty (I find Tocade a little salty too, if that helps – maybe it’s a Rochas style).

The base is warm, round and maintains the difference between the two eras – that gently salty twist to the modern eau de toilette keeps hovering above the base of creamy sandalwood and gentle musk. This modern Madame has more evident links to Hermès Calèche, another of Guy Robert’s creations, while in the vintage version the growly indolic rumble in the background reminds me of his Dioressence. The modern is certainly a floral aldehyde, but the original smells more like an oriental to me. They are both absolutely gorgeous in their own ways, and neither cost me more than £25. This is good stuff but it’s not big bucks.

I love this fragrance, for its individuality as much as anything else. It’s a bit of a forgotten beauty, but it’s as classy as they come, without being stuffy.