Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mystere de Rochas (Vintage EDP)

Mystere de Rochas is another one of those green woody chypres with more than a touch of animalic skank that makes the hardcore chypre lovers among us sigh and go crazy on eBay while the normal part of the population secretly wishes we stop kvetching and use up the last drop of our beloved vintage bottle so they don't have to smell it on us ever again.

If you've been around vintage perfume and their lovers enough, the last paragraph should give you a pretty good idea what Mystere de Rochas smells like, but let's talk about it some more. I find the green chypres of the 1970s completely irresistible. Maybe because they're among my first perfume memories (not through my mother, though, who to this day detests them), or simply because I think oakmoss smells amazing. And oakmoss is the first thing I get from Mystere. Dark, tinged with damp earthy dirt and velvety, the oakmoss in Mystere never lets go. There's more to it,  of course. The opening offers the green silver wind chymes of galbanum and hyacinth.  They pave the way to all that's forest green, cypress and bitter orris. The floral heart is anything but girly or wimpy. I admit that other than the hyacinth and its close pal, narcissus, I find it difficult to identify the  individual flower notes- I feel like this about many older perfumes- they are blended into an abstract idea, not a Laura Ashley print. This is why to the modern nose Mystere de Rochas and its ilk, the original Versace and Armani, don't smell particularly feminine. They can easily be worn by a chypre loving men.

The dry-down lasts for the better part of the day and brings you all the oakmoss-patchouli-civet you can take. There's a touch of dark wood that keeps Mystere from going all the way into scary animalic territory. It's crisp enough to be all boudoir but might scare little children too much, especially if all they've smelled so far is the generic modern fruity florals. When I was gathering images for this post I considered using something from the just-released Red Riding Hood movie. It has the right idea and visual, but for the life of me I can't fathom the sweet and stunning Amanda Seyfried wearing Mystere de Rochas, even in her most disturbing role as Lilly on Veronica Mars.

Mystere de Rochas was discontinued years ago, probably even before IFRA took away our oakmoss. You can see from the second ad (1983) how they tried to keep it relevant for the Kajagoogoo generation, but it just didn't work and I'm not surprised. Bottles can still be found here and there, online and in small shops.

Mystere ads from 1980 and 1983-
Fashion photo by Helmut Newton for Vogue Paris, September 1971


  1. Gaia, I have vintage parfum and EdT, and I love it. I don't wear it anymore, but about once a year I spray my bed and have forest dreams ;-)

  2. I love this fragrance! And I have enough to last me a life time. Thank you for the review. I do agree that 70's chypres are amazing things-to me, Mystere is subtle and slivery, and it reminds me of roots and leaves. It's wonderful, and I don't see many reviews about it.



  3. Oh it sounds perfect. I will add this to my list of "If you ever see it, grab it" perfumes.

  4. This was one of the bottles I bought on Our Favorite Auction Site in the mad rush that accompanies the first year of perfume-loving. I'd forgotten I had it, then remembered and pulled it out of the back of my cabinet earlier today. I'm wearing it now. I wanted to remember all the notes, so did a search, and your review came up! How's that for coincidence?

    It seemed very expensive at the time -- around $50 I think -- which seems quaint compared to what vintage is going for now. I'm glad I bought it.

  5. love this one. i stumbled across some parfum refills at one of my fave discount shops and snapped them up at a crazy price. and so glad i did, because they certainly don't make them like this anymore. this is a powerchypre. yummy.


  6. I'm trying to find something similar to Mystere. I got it when it first came out. I also love Chanel 19, Givenchy III and Calandre.
    I loved your article, but you made me laugh with the Kajagoogoo comment because it reminded me of when I was a croupier in the early 80s. The male scent that came out with Mystere was Macassar (also now discontinued), which I absolutely adored. One evening, a guy came in to play Black Jack and he was wearing Macassar. He brought a friend who I think was new to casinos. His friend was Limahl from Kajagoogoo! He asked how Punto Banco was played. I took him through the rules and showed him how to play while I was on an empty table. So sad you can't get Mystere or Macassar.

  7. Where can I find the vintage parfume or eau de parfum with Mystere De Rochas on the bottle. Please!


    1. Lanette I found the Mystere de Rochas eau de parfum sprays at they were cheaper then e-bay..

  8. Hi! When discontinued Mystere de Rochas?


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget