Madame Rochas is an aldehydic floral, a perfume category that pretty much defines ladylike. Unfortunately, to many, it also screams soapy, powdery, and “old lady.” (Other ladylike floral aldehydes: Chanel No. 5, Arpège, White Linen, Rive Gauche.)
My intial reaction to Madame Rochas was that it was light, feminine, and fresh. Olfactory Prozac, immediately uplifting. Thanks to the aldehydes, which “lift” other notes, there’s a paradoxical lightness and fattiness/heft to it that’s very satisfying.
I loved the leafy, coriander-like green and citrus of the opening; the sheer rose and lily-of-the-valley with a hint of sweetness from violet and ylang-ylang; and the sunny warmth of the drydown, which was spicy-salty-mossy. (Calandre, nine years later, definitely paid homage to Madame Rochas. It should practically be called Mademoiselle Rochas, as it is lighter and more metallic.)
Top notes: Aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, leafy green note
Heart notes: Rose de Mai, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, orris, ylang-ylang, violet
Base notes: Sandalwood, amber, vetiver, musk, tonka, benzoin, moss (Perfumer: Guy Robert)
When I sniff Madame Rochas, I think of a woman who’s mastered Emily Post’s book on etiquette, matches her shoes to her purse pocketbook, and who is kind to everyone in equal measure. Elegant, light, crisp yet warm: Madame Rochas is a beauty.
What are your favorite floral aldehydes? Do you think they smell too dated? Does anyone even want to smell — or be — ladylike?