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November 08, 2008



Arrrgh! I bought a bottle of this at Filene's today and then stupidly returned it because I didn't wait for the drydown. Now it is taunting me from my wrist with its beautiful fruity notes!


I like the idea of a perfume taunting you for not giving it a chance. Just like a woman...;)


I wore Femme as a teenager, that stewed prunes and leather.
The new verison released in 1989 is a sad reflection of the original. I was lucky enough to get the pdt on ebay and no cummin in site.


Hi Donna. I have a 50s Femme, I think, and I have what looks like a 70s bottle. I think there might be cumin in that, and I have to say, I don't mind it! But it is very different...


Just got a vintage bottle today- EDP. It is absolutely wonderful. Dark and mysterious, soft, sensual- sexy! Great silage, and it lasts. A little goes a long way. This perfume says W O M A N....


Hi, Cathlyn. Any idea which vintage? The older ones smell less cumin-y than the later versions. I like the stinky addition of cumin, however!


I don't know what vintage it is- but there's not much cumin at all. I'm going to get more of this perfume- before it's all gone. I love it. I'll try to find out the vintage from the seller.


I think this can be worn by men, too, on account of its discreet sillage.


I've got the pre-1989 version in EdT, as well as the post-1989, cumin-rich version in perfum and EdT. I prefer the former by far: the box is branded "Marcel Rochas", the later iteration just "Rochas".


Hi. I can understand that. I love pre-reform, Femme, too. I think I'm just a big sucker for cumin, and it works so well in Femme.


OK I am going to put the Cumin story to bed once and for all. Femme De Rochas has Cuminic Aldehyde in it. The cuminic aldehyde becomes more and more smooth with age because it turns into Cuminic aldehyde dimethyl acetal and diethyl acetal. So therefore the older the bottle of Femme the less cumin is perceived. Edomond Roudnitska used Cuminic Aldehyde, and Cumin oil in most of his compositions. He had ways of aging the cumin before it was added to perfumes. He liked to tinker with the materials that he used in his perfumes before he added them into his fragrances.


Hi PERFUMEKEV. Thanks for the info. Are you a perfumer? Id love to know how you have this inside scoop! As for the cumin story — which are you referring to? And are you saying the first formulations of Femme had cumin? Ive smelled it prominently in later versions, namely the fluted spray bottle from the 60s or 70s. Do tell!


Hello Team, Yes I am a perfumer and an avid collector of vintage perfumes. I have been collecting since I was 8 years old and am now 40. I started training as a perfumer when I was 18 and worked in the industry for 22 years. I have worked with I.F.F.,Symrise, Fragrance Resources and drom fragrances internatonal. I am now self employed.

I have a Huge collection of antique perfume bottles more than 4000 bottles at this time.

OK enough about me :o) and onto Femme de Rochas, I have spoken with some wonderful perfumers who are no longer with us and some who are who knew Edmond personally. Femme is built around a fruity peachy leathery base from DeLaire called Prunol. Prunol has a decent amount of Cumin Aldehyde in it.

Most of the Classic perfumers worked in solutions of alcohol to save money, time, and to prevente accidental overdoses. So perhaps when Femme was originally constructed it had the prunol added in as a 10% alchohol solution. The reaction of Cumin Aldehyde in alchohol forms dimethyl and diethyl acetals of that Aldehyde. The Diethyl and Dimethyl Aldehydes are uslually much softer and much less appernet than a fresh aldehyde. Therefore the older the bottle of Femme is the less "cuminic" it smells. I have a very old bottle of Femme Parfum and I can definitely discern the Cumin note. It is very degraded and almost unapparent, but it is those cumin aldehyde degradation materials that I smell.

The bottles from the 1960's and 1970's smell more "cuminic" than the 1940's and 1950's bottles. because they have aged less time.

The other material that is so important to Femme de Rochas is another base from DeLaire called Fut Cinque.
"Barrel 5 in English". It was used in the original Femme and it came from barrels that where out in the stock yard of DeLaire in the South of France. This "barrel 5" was a reaction accord and it had sat in the sun and the cold for many years. The Roudnitskas realized that there was something really beautiful about the smell of this barrel 5. The original batches of Femme where made only as a PERSONAL GIFT to the best clients of Marcel Rochas. However when the perfume proved to be extremely popular the team at DeLaire whent back to research what had gone into barrel 5. forntunately at this time exact records where kept as to all experimental materials the company was working on. They then Came up with a process that replicated the contents of barrel 5. It was then called Barrel 5 substitute. This secret base apears in many of Edmond Roudnitska's formulas. From Eau D'Hermes, Moustache Rochas, Mouslene Rochas, The Original Eau Fraiche Dior, Dior-Dior, Diorella, Eau Sauvage just to name a few.

I also smell Prunol DeLaire in almost all of these great treasures of perfumery. These two notes were central to the style of M. Roudnitska.

What happened later when Edomond and his wife moved from DeLaire to form their own company called "Art et Parfum". I belive at some point and time Perfumes Rochas was taken over by other people other than Marcel Rochas and Edomond Roudnitska. I know by the time the cumin monster version of Femme came out in 1989 either the Prunol base was very fresh or Quest the perfume house that reworked Femme could have used their own version of Prunol. Also at this time Haarmann and Riemer now Symrise took control of the DeLaire Specialty Bases. They shortend and modernized the production methods used in the original DeLaire formulas.

Also what probably happened as well was that the way perfumes were constructed was done differently in the earlier decades of the 20th Century. It is a technique called nesting, where pieces and parts of the formula are made and aged in specific order giving a very special note to a finished fragrance.

Edmond's Wife Therese was a chemist who worked at DeLaire. She understood the importance of reacting certain materials together to make notes that other perfumers would not have. One example is a certain natural material would be heated with a synthetic material for many days, and then could be distilled ,and then heated to a point that it would almost burn this creates a very unique note, this is only one example of the types of tailored made materials that the Roudnitskas' liked to work with. If you use enough materials that are made like this it is virtually impossible to recreate what the original perfumer made.

With the amount of variables the perfume will always have a different smell. However this is what made classical perfumery so wonderful. It is the inconstancies and consistencies that makes something truly fabulous.

foot note.
Fete de Molyneux has a very good amount of Prunol DeLaire in it. That is why it smells somewhat like Femme

Cindy C

To the previous poster - I have a question. My mother (now in her late 80's) always wore Femme until they changed the formula.

I would like to try to find a small bottle of the Femme Mom always wore. Mom would be thrilled to once again smell the "old" Femme she loved so much.

My father now has Alzheimer's, and I'm hoping, if only for a moment or two, it could reach my Dad.

Any suggestions?

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