Strangely, I read the other day that Eau De Rochas is currently this venerable company’s best selling scent in France (I have never seen it sold anywhere else, although there is still a bottle on the dresser in the guest bedroom back in England).







There is a vintage bottle, also, in my collection, but for some reason I seem to never want to wear it.










Perhaps because this sharp, lemony perfume is an anomaly in the world of citrus perfumes. A depressed, serotonin-dipping citrus – the image evoked, for me, of a valiumed up California housewife, staring out, trapped in suburban hell.






The sun blazes outside her white 70’s condo. But all she sees is clouds, in her pressed, grey slacks. The shadows under plants, and nothing, despite outer appearances, really, to ever look forward to:  a curiously affecting, schizoid effect achieved with two very opposing accords that constantly dim and sync with each other: a bright top note of Calabrian lime, tangerine, bergamot and Sicilian lemon, giving a quick flowing glimpse of freshness and easy optimism. Deceptive, though. Her inner world, where the lights seem to have gone out, stems from a much darker undertone of patchouli, narcissus, Croatian oakmoss, and sandalwood.







She blinks for a second.





Straightens the ironing board:





wills herself to get ready.










Filed under Citrus, Depressed, Lemon

59 responses to “YOU LOOK RIGHT THROUGH ME : : : EAU DE ROCHAS (I970)

  1. Haha, I was thinking of acquiring this one out of interest, maybe not! Have you tried Eau d’Hermes?

    • No, don’t listen to me. Eau De Rochas is actually really good, which is why I was so amazed, last time I was in Paris, probably eight years ago or so now, it was stacked in all sizes and formats on the shelves of Sephora on the Champs Elysees. I was amazed.

      I love citruses to death, and this is a good one. It’s just…..for me, there is something in that undertone I find really dour. Maybe in the current version you could get the citrus lift without that, but for me, that moss is a downer.

      • Unless I am wrong, Eau d’Hermes is nothing like this. That is very much more in the decadent animalic scale of things. Quite interesting but I have never worn it. I think I mentioned that one in my Dandy post.

  2. I used to adore Eau de Rochas, then one day I just did not any longer. It does have a dark undertone to it, but that was what always hooked me in. Wish I had not sold off my bottles, now it feel like revisitng it 😦

  3. Katherine

    Oh I could see the sun moving across the sky in accordance with those top notes, what a great auteur-like snapshot. The light going out inside, :(!

  4. Dearest Ginza
    I adore this Rochas. It has exactly that flat bleached feel I associate with 70s cinema, from the wide angled shots of Kubrick’s work, to Forbes’ Stepford Wives and even Lee’s homage The Ice Storm.
    It is hollow, haunting and yet strangely enticing, an empty eyed temptress from Greek mythology transferred to an America Ford-era supermarket aisle.
    Compelling, and utterly wearable on dowdy, humid London days when one’s looking to scare Post Office counter assistants.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    Calling all Narcissi. I am currently writing about citrus and colognes for my book. Any citrus favourites you might like to share? Any lemon oddballs like this one that I should include?

  6. MrsDalloway

    I own these citruses: Whip and Eau Noble by Le Galion, Cologne a l’Italienne by Institut Tres Bien, Eau du Sud by Annick Goutal and Eau de Cologne Astier de Villatte. I tend to only wear them when the weather is hot, which it hasn’t been here since June last year.

    Eau du Sud is quite a recent acquisition, bought as a cheap lucky dip on ebay because it had lost its label, so I don’t know it terribly well. Love both the Le Galions and should really wear them more. From memory, Whip is more herbal, Eau Noble has a very fresh lemon topnote and a mossy base. Cologne a l’Italienne is orange and slightly salty. The Astier de Villatte (another ebay purchase) is proper short-lived but refreshing cologne to douse in when you’re too hot.

    • Very interesting, thanks. Funnily enough, Sogo in Yokohama has just started selling Le Galion, and I liked their Cologne and Cologne Nocturne – will try Whip properly on Thursday and check if they have Eau Noble. Also smelled the Astier de Villatte range in Shinjuku at the weekend – I quite liked the Orange Amere up to a point, and there was a gorgeously hay-like mimosa I want to smell again.

      Definitely agree about only wearing these when it is hot : here in Japan it is delightfully warm compared to how it was in England which is probably why I am in the mood for writing about citrus. Bring on the spring and summer!

      • MrsDalloway

        The mimosa sounds lovely – is that Grand Chalet? It’s been on my list for a while and if you like it I will definitely make an effort to smell it.

      • D didn’t like it, but then again he hates mimosa. Yes it was the Grand Chalet – to me it smelled very natural and fresh, not sweetened at all. I want to smell it again.

  7. Filomena

    This is one that I am not familiar with.

  8. Tara C

    Not much of a citrus person, but on the odd occasion I am in the mood, it is Dior Eau Fraîche that I prefer. Haven’t smelled it in years, but I also used to like Guérlain Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat as well. I never liked Eau de Rochas, always preferred Eau de Givenchy.

    • But that is so marine for me somehow (really like that scent). I would love to smell Eau Fraiche. And YES to Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat! Smelled it again on Saturday – absolute lemon heaven.

  9. Robin

    Love that description! (Although I feel anything but a desperate housewife when I wear Eau de Rochas. It was the first fragrance Ric ever bought for me and the sentimental value must trump any of its depressive powers.)

    I wish I could come up with some oddball citruses for you, Neil. The only weird-ish one that comes to mind is Guerlain AA Pamplelune because of its alleged “cat pee” note, which I don’t find in it myself. I l think it’s beautiful. But I will think some more today and hopefully something will pop into my head. My favourite citrus might be Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria: the best first ten minutes of anything I’ve smelled in this category.

    Excited that you’re starting work on The Book.

    • Do you think it is ok once in a while for me to ask for suggestions like this? I have my own ideas of course but it is nice to have other input from equally obsessed perfume people.

    • And curious and beautifully coincidental that Eau De Rochas was the first perfume he bought you. At your request, or by himself?

      I do like it, I must admit, even though it has disappeared from the world (except in Paris, where at Sephora the last time I was there there were whole shelves of it with the shower gel, deodorant, the works. It must tap into some French nerve).

      • Robin

        By himself, that amazing man. Excellent instincts. He’d never owned a fragrance in his life except the Avon Wild Country his mum gave him in the seventies, golf-bag bottle and all. (Excellent stuff, btw. I tracked down another vintage bottle for him all the way from New Jersey. Seven bucks, I think, original box and all. Classic fougère. Nothing like the current dreck.)

        Strange that Eau de Rochas thrives in Paris and has dried up everywhere else. Ric’s was a full vintage bottle. Slightly shaky at the top but settles down nicely. I have no idea where he might have found it out here in the middle of nowhere. I’ve asked and he won’t tell. He loves mystery.

  10. Love your description for this fragrance, Neil. Rochas Pour Homme is also worth sniffing out.

  11. Have you tried The Different Company’s Sienne d’Orange? It has an oddball collection of notes: orange, green cardamom seeds, dill, carrot essence, carrot CO2, apricot wood, white leather.

  12. Ann

    Hermes Eau d”Orange verte is lovely on a hot day, not so keen on the grapefruit smell in Sur Le Nil though.

  13. Robin

    Just woke up after dreaming about you and Duncan. Must’ve been because I’d commented here before I went to bed last night. You’d sent me a huge surprise package crammed with all sorts of obscure and fantastic fragrances. The dining room table was covered with bottles. Then you and D. showed up at my place, jet-lagged and hungry, and wanted to try the little Japanese take-out down the road. It was such a blast having you here. I guess getting to know you through theblacknarcissus got into my subconscious?! Cool!

  14. Nancysg

    The original Aqua Di Parma Colonia is a favorite. Bright beginning with a nice drydown. Dior Escada line has some great citrus scents. Portofino is one of the line, but I don’t believe it is in production anymore.

    • Oh yes, I felt a slight Dior shaped hollow the other day – they weren’t on display (what do you think of Diorella?).

      I couldn’t quite get a handle on the Aqua di Parmas the other day but do remember liking the dry down in the original. Quite soapy and comforting (unlike, say, the Atelier Colognes, whose beginnings I love but whose flat musky dry downs don’t usually do that much for me).

  15. MrsDalloway

    I haven’t tried Heeley Note de Yuzu but it seems to have been quite a hit.

  16. The Eau de Roche de Rochas I have is super old, so it is a pretty intense citrus with all the fabulous old fixatives they used. I do not know how it compares to modern versions, because none are to be found anywhere near me.
    My two favorite eaux from Guerlain are Impériale and Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat which is amazing. Both of my bottles are from the 90’s so they still have some of the old lasting power to them.
    I actually wore Eau de Givenchy today and my clothes still smell strongly of it, in the hamper, almost 13 hours later. That one is a fabulously tenacious one, lots of orange blossom in it.
    Oh, how I adore mes eaux.

  17. emmawoolf

    I do love the fact that, on spotting a hermetically sealed bottle in my favourite discount shop, I can return home and just discover
    that you have written all I need to know about it. Hey presto.

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