Poupee was a peculiar little oddity that was released and quickly disappeared by the house of Rochas in 2004.
Liking the bottle and the box one day when coming across it browsing in the cheap-end bargain bin perfume section of some Japanese supermarket, I just couldn’t help reaching into my pocket, unsmelled, and buying it (that textural, felt orange flacon cap is really quite appealing to me). I also bought another one for my friend Claire just for good measure (‘Thanks for the er…….bizarre and insane little perfume’, I think she wrote in a letter sent sometime afterwards…..’I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it’.)
Neither were most people, apparently. Failing on the US market immediately because of the name (no-one seemed to know that it signified doll, and imagined instead that it evoked something more akin to ‘droppings’ or ‘doo-doo’), this sweet, and pink-laced little creation was a quite curious mixture of synthetic pineapple, light tuberose, and nutmegged hazelnut, a giddy little thing that never quite worked, with its confused, plasticky, sick-in-the-mouth coalescence, the vinyl doll parts of its marionettish disembodiment rather brash, and uncartilaged in its initial stages, as if the little thing had just come alive; unexpectedly; and were jerking itself along, like some stop-capture creature from a Czech animation, but were simultaneously dreaming, irrationally and instead, that it was a prima ballerina.
In its sudden, blithe, dismay, on catching its eye in the paintbox mirror, it realises, however, with internal pain, that it has been broken; that it will never be fully quite realised; that it will never amount, in fact, to very much at all.
Granted, later on in the perfume’s development on the skin, when the ‘gardenia’ and jasmine aspects of the perfume come more into play and blend nicely with a more benzoinish underlay (this was, after all, created by Anne Flipo, she of such pleasing little summer ditties as the lovely Verte Violette and Chasse Aux Papillons for L’Artisan, again a very sweet orange blossom /tuberose floral like this one, and also of the cutely cocktaily Ananas Fizz – the woman must obviously have a thing about pineapples), at this stage Rochas’ Poupee then becomes quite nice, breezy; even coquettish, and right now as I am wearing in on my right hand I think I am coming to think I like it (coming home tonight after a difficult week with the cold rains that have plummeted the temperatures and people’s immune systems, I felt like putting on something before bedtime that was white-floralish; un-intellectual; cheering, even foolish……….on the other hand I also have Guy Laroche’s plum-pineapple-tastic aldehydic tuberose night perfume Clandestine, from, I think, 1986 or so- something just light hearted, colourful, and cheering to banish the workday blues), and in tandem they have given me a pleasant, olfactory boost.
Inconsequential. Odd. Quirky.
That is Poupee. An unrealised, and strange little pink little doll creature.