Critic Jan Moran describes this underdiscussed masterpiece by Rochas as a ‘dark, dank forest’, and for me, this is a very apt description of a perfume that truly lives up to its name.

Mystère dwells almost entirely in the lower notes, in the murky, sylvan depths – particularly in the stunning vintage parfum if you can find it ( I have a private stash). All, here, is patchouli, rose, resins, vetiver, styrax, leather, civet, and a strange and unexpected marriage of cascarilla bark and cypress overlaid ingeniously with galbanum, rosemary and coriander: the unusual accord that gives the perfume its impenetrable, curious, and unmistakeable identity. Top notes are creamy, almost metallic:  peppered florals that weave in and out of the centred, sodden heart like the lighter, sun-peppered moment before you lose your way.

One of my favourite ever perfumes – on me it becomes a smooth and brooding amber – this rather atypical Rochas is a very enigmatic scent that never raises its voice with shrill notes, nor clichés of any variety, nothing to disturb the immaculately crafted aura of the top soil. It draws you in, tells you nothing, and leaves an incredibly well controlled, unique – and deeply erotic – sillage in its wake. Recommended, but smell Mystere first – this is an acquired taste.


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