Detchema, along with Carnet de Bal (darker, more androgynous), is perhaps the Parisian fourrier Revillon’s most well known perfume. A clean, aldehydic floral along the lines of No 5, it is less orris and musk-bound – a little lighter, very floral (hyacinth, jasmine, ylang, rose); soapy; refined. No matter what you think about wearing fur, there is no denying that this perfume would certainly have smelled beautiful on a slender swan’s neck nuzzling beneath new mink: in Roman Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, Detchema is the scent that Mia Farrow graciously tells an onlooker she is wearing when asked about her perfume at the pharmacy, highlighting the prominence that this faded feminine classic must have had in the public’s eye even up to the late sixties. Though perhaps a little dated now, if still pretty, it does seem perfectly suited to the actress’s (and character’s),  wide-eyed, gamine air of vulnerability.
















Filed under Floral Aldehydes, Flowers

17 responses to “A NORMAL PERFUME REVIEW . . . . . DETCHEMA by REVILLON (1953)

  1. bibimaizoon

    I read somewhere that Detchema was Maria Callas’ favorite perfume.
    I was curious as to what the name Detchema meant and according to the trademark papers filed for the perfume it is Tibetan meaning “that which gives pleasure.” As I sell Himalayan art I asked a Tibetan lama if he had ever heard the word. He said there is a legend of a ghost (incubus) of a dead father who lasciviously couples with his son’s wife. The wife’s name is Detchema. The tale has all sorts of implications of the dead stealing psychic energy/life force from living humans. What a clever choice of Detchema for Rosemary’s fragrance!

    • Wow : I put this put without too much thought, but then thought afterwards that the whole piece was perhaps eerier than I had imagined (I had also wondered what Detchema meant but was too lazy to check – this is great, thank you).

      I have smelled a few bottles of this perfumes, and I would say that there is nothing ‘witchy’ about it – as it is very gentle and sophisticated in that style of the time, but the thought of it on Mia Farrow (very different from Maria Callas!) is strangely wonderful, or sad – you do feel that she was perhaps a little more helpless wearing this

  2. Renée Stout

    After reading this, I went to my “perfume bar” and got the little 2 ml bottle
    that’s in my collection and applied a few drops, because sometimes I love to sniff a scent while I’m reading it. Detchema is exactly as you described it. It’s pretty, a bit innocent and of it’s time.

  3. Robin

    Love film references relating to fragrance! A good match for Rosemary, too.

    The idea of furs and fragrance has always appealed. I have a soft spot for Weil for that very reason — and the fact that I really dig their perfumes. I think Antilope is a quiet little masterpiece. Zibeline, grrrrowl. Made for cold weather. Bambou for this time of year.

    • Antilope is truly divine – much more me than Detchema, but then Antilope smells great on a man. I do feel that the Revillon is very delicately female in a way.

      • Robin

        I can imagine Antilope suiting you very well. You are so right. Definitely a crossover fragrance. Zibeline too, come to think, for the right skin. I know yours amplifies the animalic, so might not be the match Antilope is. Hmm. I might try Zibeline out on Ric. His skin de-claws large beasts.

      • On me, even the 19 (can you believe I added a couple of drops of my favourite vetiver oil the other day into a third of a 7.5ml vintage parfum and OH MY GOD) sometimes goes too animalic; that perfume is SO stringent and refined that my own beast takes it to the very edges of its construction)

      • Robin

        I keep reading about the magic that your vetiver oil works and I’ll be damned if I can find it anywhere here!! Strange, because the coast is thick with essential oil shops . . . Even your beloved bergamot isn’t always easy to get. Could be they’re so popular they’re often out of stock. Hmm. I must do further research . . . You smell amazing.

      • As you know I would NEVER adulterate 19, and the vast majority of vetiver oils are just too smoky like oil slicks. It would be a travesty. This was just a few ml, a very irisy one, and JUST two drops (so hard for me to be restrained, but I was) a couple of weeks ago has not ‘dented’ or contaminated anything in the blend – just deepened it. I know it will smell divine on my beard (currently having to shave because of this online teaching).

  4. Oh how I love Detchema! The first time I smelt it, many years ago. I was completely transported to a far away place, much more elegant than this world we live in. It was if I had taken some type of drug, that had caused me to swoon, and revel in my thoughts. It may be slightly dated now, but for me it is still sublime.

    • It IS extremely elegant, isn’t it? I am wearing the Risque by Pascha you sent me once this morning, which is of a similar type. I think you can differentiate these aldehydes better than I can – to me they are all quite similar, though Detchema is clearly ‘clearer’ than No 5 etc and perhaps more ‘violette’.Definitely more delicate, which is why I think it was interesting that it was the perfume chosen for Mia Farrow.

      • I love aldehydes! You are correct, I am more attuned to their differences than most people are.
        I agree that it was a superbe choice for Mia Farrow in the movie. It definitely conveys her delicate, polished persona, and all she has to lose by the end of the film, or gain, depending on how one views the ending.
        Whereas N°5 is all elegance and posh, the Detchema is delicate, demure and terribly ingenue like. Perfect for a young woman about to birth the son of Satan.

  5. Evie

    After Revillon was sold, I fear the formula for Detchema was not passed on in its original form, because Detchema never smelled the same again. Can you suggest something along the lines of Detchema. I’ve tried several suggestions, however, nothing matches, or even comes close.

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