I discovered just how much I like Alchimie by Rochas a few years ago, around the time it became harder to find and the prices on eBay skyrocketed. I hoarded samples and decants from various sources and at some point three years ago my husband found himself begging a store owner in San Francisco to sell him the used tester. The merchant refused, claiming he was keeping the bottle for reference. At least the husband left the store with a nice older bottle of Mystere de Rochas, so I'm not complaining (too much).
Alchimie on all its golden glory is far removed from the classic Rochas perfumes (Femme or Madame) as it clashes with the elegant gowns of the late Marcel Rochas. As a matter of fact, I often think that it's one bad patchouli note away from Angel. Yet, this gourmand fruity-floral is incredibly balanced, round and full, and never crosses the line of good taste, as far as I'm concerned. It's interesting to note that perfumer Jacques Cavallier who composed Alchimie for Rochas in 1998 is responsible for some of my very favorite perfumes (YSL Nu, McQueen Kingdom, Tom Ford Tuscan Leather) as well to several questionable moments in modern perfumery (see full list on Now Smell This).
Alchimie's opening notes are decidedly juicy. The fragrance announces its sweet intentions right away and lets you take a big bite of its summery flesh. The big bowl of summer fruit is decorated with fresh blossoms that perfume the room with a heady aroma. The mix of fruit and flowers has honey undertones. It makes me think of sitting in a nice back yard very early in the summer when everything that can bloom is spreading its narcotic scent (and there are no mosquitoes to ruin the experience and my naked calves).
The fruit salad morphs into a warm amber vanilla dry-down. Alchimie becomes a little less edible and a little more grownup and sexy as the golden light washes over the skin and makes it a little musky and darker. Maybe that's the alchemy of this Rochas fragrance- the transformation from day to night that happens seemingly out of nowhere.
Notes (via Nigel Groom): lilac, cucumber(!), hyacinth, pear, mandarin, blackcurrent, coconut, wisteria, jasmine, tiare, mallow, mimosa, sandalwood, heliotrope, musk, amber, vanilla, tonka bean.
See also Victoria's review of Alchimie on Bois de Jasmin.
1998 Alchimie de Rochas ad via imagesdeparfums.fr.
Art: Roses & Peaches by Carol Chambers.