Friday, November 24, 2006

Rochas Femme

Way back in May, I entered a drawing during the Benevolent Blogging Project. One of the participants, Cait (who is author of the wonderful perfume blog Legerdenez), picked a lucky winner to win a full bottle of Rochas Femme, and that lucky winner was me.

At the time, I'd been sampling perfumes for about three weeks. I don't know about any of you, but one thing I've learned since I started this project is that the nose really does take time to develop. A person who's never had a glass of fine champagne can drink a glass and probably even enjoy it, but the nuances that make that particular champagne better than average would be lost on her. This was my experience with Rochas Femme.

The notes in Femme are:
Top: peach, plum, apricot, bergamot, lemon, rosewood
Heart: ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, immortelle, clove
Base: oakmoss, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, amber, vanilla, benzoin, and leather

The first time I tried Femme, the very day after it arrived in the mail, I felt overwhelmed. Femme didn't smell like any perfume I'd worn before, nor any of the perfumes I was sampling at the time. I wasn't sticking with conventional samples, either, dabbing on scents like L'Ombre dans L'Eau and Philsykos. Something about Femme made me feel it was too much for me, that I wasn't ready for it yet. It wasn't a negative reaction, by any means; I knew enough to know the difference between a perfume that wouldn't work for me (that would be you, Mitsuoko) and one I knew could wait for me.

A few months later I tried Femme again, and the second time around was better. In the hot weather, the fruit, leather, and musk on my skin showed great promise. Still, I knew I wasn't quite ready. Some perfumes, you have to earn.

In the last few months especially, I've gotten more adept at picking out notes in a scent. And particular notes, like leather, I've learned to appreciate in much bolder concentrations than before. Today, finally, I brought out the black lace-embossed box with "Femme" written across the front in gold script, pulled out the bottle, sprayed, and...Ah! I have arrived!

The bergamot and lemon dominate the top on my skin, while the soft bitterness of apricot compliments the leather accord that reigns through the full cycle. In the middle I don't get much of the floral notes; the jasmine is lost on me, and the rose appears later on, but the ylang-ylang and clove warm and spice the heart. The dry down is beautiful, a soft woody leather, supple and aged. I suppose I could best explain it this way: imagine a piece of the finest leather, and on it someone has sprayed the most exquisite perfume. That is Femme.

Femme is widely available online and won't break the bank. If you love leather scents, especially, this one is a must-own. I find it a dark partner to Le Parfum de Therese, night to PdT's day. Some silly online site rated this scent "mature," which may make you think "Granny." Let me tell you, that'd be one hell of a granny! Femme is pure elegance, plain and simple.

*photo from (strange little site, but they had a nice picture)