13 gennaio 2013

Blind Sniff Roulette #1: Rochas Femme

Femme - 1961 Advertising
The WWII bombs were still echoing while in 1943 Marcel Rochas and his partner Albert Gosset aiming to launch the newborn "Rochas Parfums" asked Edmond Roudnitska to create a perfume for them. Roudnitska was already working on a fruity chypre with rose, jasmin, a pinch of sandalwood and ambergris. Of course there was no news in making a lactonic chypre, Mitsouko docet, but he had the gupts to push it further using the famous prunol extra: a base he conceived like a pulpy overriped plum, decadent and almost jam-like. The fragrance Roudnitska proposed joined classicism and provocation, class and sensuality with the esotic, spicy and carnal taste of cumin dosed here in the base keeping it one step away from the indian restaurant effect. It was such an olfactory shock that Marcel Rochas accepted it as it was. Marcel, who was dressing all the Hollywood Divas of the time, called the perfume Femme to pay hommage to beautiful women and in particular to his dearest Helène that he met few years before chez Paul Poiret. To dress it he thougnt of the most feminine of his clients back in time: Mae West in a black lace guepière was in fact the inspiration behind the rounded flacon and the lace decoration for the box. Originally released in parfum, parfum de toilette and eau del cologne, the fragrance is still on the shelves but it's been reformulated since 1989. The version I led you smell it's a vintage eau de cologne from the 70's. The perfume is such a masterpiece that it still speaks to us about iperfeminine class after almost 80 years and all of you got it. Bravo!

Beautiful perfume: warm, animalic and angular, elegant on its own with a classic floral (rose, jasmin?) and fruity (plum, berries?) structure. Longlasting and discrete, it makes me think of a classic fruity chypre in the style of Rochas Femme.
  • if it would be a colour? Intense brick red.
  • if it would be an animal? An hedgehog, an eyecatching animal that's also very shy.
  • if it'd be music? I like to think there's this perfume floating in the air while Joni Mitchell plays "Amelia".
  • if it would be a place? I associate it immediately with India, a land full of intense smells.
  • if it'd be a cloth? I can see it as an uncommon kefia with strange colour and design, sheltering and warm yet humble, tinged in a brick red colour.
  • if it'd be a movie/book? Out of Africa, the Pollack movie featuring a romantic and adventurous story taken from the novel by Karen Blixen.
  • if it'd be a personality (storical, pubblic,...)? Amelia Earhart, strong-willed american aviator, brave and with a great temper yet discreet and elegant.
Andrea S
A feminine perfume with a vintage soul. I can guess it's floral (maybe rose and ylang ylang) spicywith a sweet warm base. It evolves quite rapidly: from a slightly balsamic and floral yet spicy opening to an ambery, sweet soft base. It's a warm, embracing perfume suited for winter. It recalls me the typical Lush smell but I see it on a stout lady, if not on a granny dressed in her fur coat, with showy earrings, red lipstick and a big hat. It has something familiar, it doesn't take me too far but in Via Brera in Milan, in a quite, cold morning. A self-confident and a bit shady lady walking slowly while she looks proudly at the windows. Probably she will buy a big vanilla candle and a pot pourri to be placed in her house's opulent entrance.
  • if it would be a colour? A luxurious and gaudy gold with a playful chiaroscuso at first and then luminous glares.
  • if it'd be an animal? It would be a weasel, brown on top and a white belly. A bright, soft and warm fur for an elegant animal that can slip and play tricks if necessary.
  • if it'd be music? I see a grand ball at the french court. A light, ritmic and joyful music with dark shades like Vivaldi's concerto in G

  • if it'd be a place? A classic hall with red velvet chairs. It's an inhabited place yet slightly dusty with golden rays of light coming from a half-opened shutter letting in the spring fresh air. Tapestries and baroque frames, oriental carpets and silk or velvet lined armchairs.
  • if it'd be a cloth? It would be a mink coat. This perfume has something sumptuous and elegant but kept in a closet for longtime, it reminds me of dust and camphor but brings out luminous reflections while moving. It's a warm cloth to be worn for showing up or overaweing someone.
  • if it would be a movie/book? Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen. The contrast between the borgeois american family in Paris and the writer lost in the parisian Belle Epoque.
  • if it'd be a personality (storical, pubblic,...)? Sofia Loren for her beauty, elegance and mature age, with well combed hair and showy jewels.
I see a classy, elegant woman dressing up for a nice dinner. It's 60's style the way I remember it when I was very young and when my mother was very young. The opening is a bit aldehydic to me and instantly reminds me of Chanel. Actually I am sitting between two chairs. Chanel and Guerlain. When I first sniffed it I thought "maybe a super vintage No. 5". But I do smell a smoky note and a tad of a woody note too. Benzoin for the smoky note. the woody note is not No. 5 like. the wood and the light smokiness give it a bit of a masculine touch. I do perceive a slightly sweet note. maybe tonka bean. To me it is the incarnation of the vintage fragrance, so late 50's - early 60's and I so see my mother in it, her generation,  a real classic fragrance. I am smitten.
  • if it would be a colour? There's a late 50's elegant style, black and white, a bit sophisticated but not overly sophisticated. For a color I tend to see black and beige, both fit the scent.
  • if it would be an animal? A black cat with shimmering black fur and elegant moves.
  • if it'd be music? It makes me think of Shirley Bassey and good jazz music.
  • if it'd be a place? I associate the fragrance with the times back when it was allowed to smoke so it has the touch of an evening out: dinner, brandy afterwards and a cigarette. It makes me think of an upscale restaurant or maybe dinner at that time in a venue like the Adlon Hotel in Berlin.
  • if it'd be a cloth? A bit of a male touch for a female: brandy and cigarette but in a female dress. Feminine but edgy by taking over some male habits (brandy and smoke). It could be an elegant dress or evening a robe smoking.
  • if it'd be a movie/book? A commedy featuring a classy, elegant actress like Grace Kelly.
  • if it'd be a personality (storical, pubblic,...)? A woman from the 50's and 60's, sophisticated and timeless: Grace Kelly.

First impression: so good! Banal yet it gives an idea of the instinctive reaction. I smell a lot of cedarwood, bright woods and a lot of spices, something sweet and maybe some florals to round it up? Eerything's so smooth I barely detect other notes aside maybe a dull green vegetal echo making it more vibrant, like a light breeze rippling the water. Masculine? Feminine? Well, I'd say perfectly shared… An oriental recalling some masterpieces of the french perfumery. It made me think of an everyday's life scene in an exotic interior but rendered by a romantic european painter.

  • if it would be a colour? Dark orange with golden reflections.
  • if it would be an animal? A quick animal with a shimmering fur, maybe an otter.
  • of it'd be music? A piano, pale perfect hands feathering carelessly the keyboard… I don't recognize the melody, maybe some improvisation on themes by Satie or Debussy.
  • if it'd be a place? The Vittoriale, D’Annunzio's house, I strongly perceive an eclectic presence, opulent exotic styles mixing up with precious art pieces, a big european and french aestetic influenced by elements coming from the colonies.
  • if it'd be a cloth? PI think more of precious accessories rather than a piece of cloth: soft leather gloves, a walking stick, an etnic printed silk scarf.
  • if it'd be a movie/book? I figure out decadent images from the beginning of the last century, Marlene Dietrich in masculine outfit, the british intellectuals of the circle of Virginia Wolf and my mind goes to the atmospheres of the movie Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews.
  • if it'd be a personality (storical, pubblic,...)? A famous couple symbol of class and snobbery yet a bit outrageous: Wally Simpson and Edward. I see them wandering aloof through the mess of a moroccan market.
At the second sniff I also smell myhrr and its sweetness recalls candied fruits. I also figured out the name of a scent, a Lutens one but I don't remenber the name now. I will check it later but it could go very well with my impressions.

This fragrance totally won me with its surprising embrace. First let me tell I tried it directly on skin as I don't have a paper blotter, so my impressions are also biased by this further filter. It immediately shows a full body and a strong classic structure but I was so impressed by its evolution. On my skin it develops rapidly revealing as a bit of a surly, masculine type. Surprisingly later emerges its true essence instead, sweeter and more delicate with what seemed (I'm an amateur) a pleasantly powdery and teasing base.
  • if it'd be a colour? It would be a warm ambery colour, like burnt sienna.
  • if it'd be an animal? It'd be a chamaleon or better a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly.
  • if it would be music? It would be jazz music.
  • if it'd be a place? New York during the 40's.
  • if it'd be a cloth? It would be a wonderful pair of gloves.
  • if it'd be a movie/book? It would be "Casablanca".
  • if it'd be a personality (storical, pubblic,...)? Maybe Betty Boop.
<Blind Sniff Roulette #2> <Blind Sniff Roulette #3>

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