Thursday, April 04, 2013

Rochas- Tocadilly

Back in 1997, when Christopher Sheldrake was commissioned by the Powers That Be at Parfums Rochas to create Tocadilly, he was already well-known for his work with Serge Lutens. At that point Sheldrake had the entire Bois series under his belt, as well as Cuir Mauresque, Encense et Lavande, Santal de Mysore and La Myrrhe. With this résumé he was chosen to make a sequel to Maurice Roucel's 1994 Tocade.  I wish I could get my hands on the original brief Sheldrake received for Tocadilly. I'm curious if it was explicitly requested for the flanker to be the opposite of the robust floriental Tocade.

Tocadilly is a light, airy, and somewhat watery floral. It has a quality of early spring: still chilly, but there are already buds on the trees along with the first daffodils and hyacinths. It's a lovely idea that too often gets lost in execution, but not here. While I'd never have guessed this was a Christopher Sheldrake creation, his talent and magic are here, making notes I usually hate (HATE!) like cucumber and pear sparkle and shine.

I suspect that the suits at Rochas conspired to make Tocadilly on a shoestring. Between the atrocious ad campaign to the watery and synthetic concentration of the fragrance it seems that most of all they wanted to squeeze more use of the original bottle design of Tocade.  Whatever. Sheldrake took all that, as well as the colors of the design and created an atmospheric spring morning. The sky is blue-gray, the rain has just stopped and there are cool water drops on the tender new leaves. As the sun tentatively emerges the color is returning to the garden and you can smell the powdery little blossoms.

That's what I love about Tocadilly and why I spray it all over myself and my clothes like there's no tomorrow. The green leaves, lilac, mimosa (it smells white, not honeyed), and most of all- hyacinth are simply gorgeous. The fragrance is so light and relatively fleeting (I get about three hours) I have to drench myself in it,  but I really don't mind. No matter how much I use (I had to get backups), none of the more questionable notes ever emerges to spoil the fun.

In her review on Perfume Shrine Elena makes a comparison to a more famous lilac perfume- En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti for Frederic Malle. She observes that
"The watery impression of Tocadilly is less "marine" than En Passant and the yeasty note is absent completely, rendering a must-try for both lovers and haters of En Passant."
I fully agree. En Passant is a fragrance I admire from a safe distance. Neither the marine accord nor the lilac sit well on my skin (or in my stomach). Tocadilly has something that encores it and makes it play well with my skin without compromising the airiness and lighthearted quality.

Notes: cucumber, lilac, hyacinth, pear, jasmine, tiare, wisteria, mallow, mimosa, mandarin, wisteria, coconut, heliotrope, sandalwood, musk and amber.

Tocadilly was discontinued by Rochas a few years ago (Tocade is still in production, though reformulated), but it's quite easy to find online for a very reasonable price (usually under $50).

Wonderland by Kirsty Mitchell.
1997 Tocadilly de Rochas ad via
Lilac by


  1. I will have to find a bottle since you mentioned 3 of my favorite flowers in this!

  2. Gaia, your reviews of these lesser known discontinued perfumes account for a good chunk of my unsniffed buys, and I haven't been disappointed so far. DCs are often such a great value. ~~nozknoz

  3. Once again, my friend, we agree in our tastes, even in those that would have seemed unlikely.

    Tocadilly always reminds me of the cool and warm interplay of a child's breath "fog" on a window pane. In the early hours of a spring morning. :-)

  4. Can you please tell me where exactlly can we still buy it and avoid the frauds ?


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