Thursday, November 05, 2009

Femme de Rochas (1989 Version)

Femme is a big name for a big perfume. It doesn't leave any room for mistake, and wearing Femme by Rochas shows you mean business in the most cleavage-y way possible.

The 1944 version was created by the great Edmond Roudnitska for the fashion house of Marcel Rochas. The bottles of the original formula are the ones in a lace print box, bearing the designer's name. After Marcel Rochas 1955 death (it's interesting and sad to note that Patou, Fath and Rochas died quite young) the boxes were printed with the house's name, Rochas, dropping the first name. Research and brief sniffing show that the 1989 reformulation (by Olivier Cresp) was done with full respect to the original masterpiece and is close enough. I have a few bottles of parfum and EDP from various years, all are quite beautiful.

The 1989 might have a little less of that chypre feeling of yore, but it's still quite dramatic. The cumin at the top can be a bit shocking, but for once, I don't get that infamous BO accord from this spice. Even my husband, a known cumin-hater who still finds it hard to forgive Uncle Serge for the chicken tikka masala of Serge Noire, has never complained about Femme. Then again, I try not to stand next to him for those first five minutes.

Other than cumin, Femme is rich in ripe fruit- peach and plum- and dries down with a bang of beautiful sandalwood. It smells expensive, elegant and oh-so-sexy. Despite the obvious roots in the fruity chypre world, it is not a simple case of Mitsouko with cumin. There's something about it that feels more feminine (just call me Ms. D'oh von Obvoious), less formal. You could say that the 50s femme fatale has freed herself from some of the restraining undergarment, while still keeping the best pieces of her lingerie collection.

There are differences, of course, between the bottles. The parfum seem to have less cumin at the top, some bottles smell sweeter than others. They all smell great and are a joy to wear.

Femme is still made and can be bought in an EDT concentration at discount stores. I've tried to sniff the most current version with no success- the testers I came across at a couple of those weird outlet stores were not new and the sales person said they've been there for a very long time. Considering that the Rochas perfume license is now owned by Proctor & Gamble, famous for butchering the Patou line and making toothpaste, I have very little hope that any new juice has maintained the quality, but I may be utterly wrong.

Femme perfume ad:
Actress Ann Sheridan in 1944:
Marcel Rochas in his studio, 1951:
Rene Gruau fashion illustration for Marcel Rochas:


  1. I LOVE Femme - it's one of my favorites, and in fact I'm wearing it today. Unlike Mitsouko, which is rather chilly, Femme clasps you to its warm, heaving bosom. If I had to pick a signature fragrance, I'd like this to be the one people associate with me. And since I'm not particularly bosomy myself, I hope it has the psychological effect of making me seem more zaftig! (hee)

  2. I just stumbled across your blog and am really enjoying it. I have been considering buying Femme, but my only option is through an online vendor since it's available NOWHERE in my city, and I am concerned with you said at the end of this post about current bottles not being up to par. Do you or anyone else have suggestions for a reliable place to buy it?

  3. On 21st of July, 2010
    I enjoy your blog very much but at the moment it's quite difficult to open the page. May be you have too many posts on a page and taking the many pictures you load on each post, it makes the page too big. It takes minutes to open and it blocks the entire activity of my computer.
    So, please, do something that I can read your posts again.
    As for Femme, I love it but never really wear it. I've just got a Femme EdC on ebay and since it looks like an old one I'm very very curious. Do you know anything about Femme Eau de Cologne?

  4. I do love your webpage, including the name! I am wearing Femme at the moment. It has lost the fruitiness of the earlier edition, which is regrettable. But still enjoy wearing it as it is warm, spicy with sandalwood and definitely sexy! Not quite so keen on the soapiness. Not sure that was there in the old edition - it has been decades since I last wore it. Lasts forever on the skin too.


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