9/13/14

Monsieur Rochas Concentrée (Rochas)




The above poster appears to be for the original Monsieur Rochas after shave, a product that was likely discontinued before the EDT and its "concentrée" version (why not just call it an EDP?), which is a shame. This is another oldie by the celebrated Guy Robert, whose influence on Rochas' masculines is felt strongest here. Monsieur is a crisp, lavender-strong fougère with a pleasantly grassy chamomile and coumarin heart accord, somewhat reminiscent of Moustache, but softer and arguably a bit less synthetic smelling. It's quite a nice fragrance.

Unlike Moustache, this composition possesses a certain timelessness, its ambivalence toward a specific period attributable to a lucidly naturalistic pyramid of earthy notes. Its pert and crystal-clear bergamot, galbanum, and lavender intro smoothly segues into a patchouli and vetiver accord. These dry green elements hold for about fifteen minutes before parting way for a central chamomile note, and from that point the fragrance is basically chamomile, coumarin, hints of herbal rosemary and sage, amber, and a very thin musk. Chamomile has a curiously flat, semisweet aroma. Here it manages to shine unadulterated, giving Monsieur Rochas' fougère qualities a unique dimensionality beyond poisonously hay-like coumarin.

As always, this is a vintage scent that suffers somewhat from age. Typically fragrances like this suffer from weakened top notes and at least marginal imbalances in the courses of their drydowns. These issues manifest in a kind of structural compression, with whatever is left of top notes vanishing in seconds to leave only the strongest of base notes, usually any combination of tonka, birch tar, oakmoss, and/or musk. Faded heart notes may be detectable for a minute or two, but they're usually gone altogether. An example of this is is Jacqueline Cochran Grey Flannel, where an extremely brief citrus and galbanum top note almost immediately become a concentration of violet ionones and synthetic sandalwood, with no real herbal or mossy textures.

Monsieur has, as far as I can tell, survived with more. The citrus notes yield within ten seconds to lavender and powdery galbanum, but fleeting bergamot is no big deal. Heart notes of carnation, cinnamon, vetiver, oakmoss, tree moss, and cardamom are very, very faint, more of the ghost effect mentioned before, but at least they're legible for a few minutes before chamomile and a handful of base notes take over the show to the end. What remains of this classic smells brutally frank, elegantly masculine in an all business sort of way, and somewhat memorable thanks to the chamomile. If you enjoy fragrances like Pino Silvestre, Moustache, Agua Brava, and Davidoff's classics, you'll probably love this.




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