Rochas Eau de Rochas ~ fragrance review

Eau de Rochas Femme

The concept of cologne is so alluring. A true cologne should be sparkling and clean and disappear soon after it is applied — almost like an extension of the soap you just used in the shower. It all sounds so fresh, pure, and energetic. The problem for me is that a cologne never really feels like "me". Just like meditation, camping, and taking up a sport, cologne sounds like something I want to love but, to be honest, really don't. That is, until I met Eau de Rochas.

Most colognes are easily identifiable by the "eau" that precedes the name. Many perfume houses do a cologne as a matter of course. Some famous colognes are Eau de Guerlain, L'Eau de L'Artisan, Christian Dior Eau Fraîche, Thierry Mugler Cologne, Eau de Cartier, and, of course, 4711. I like the cedar freshness and gin and tonic quality of Eau de Cartier, and I spray Thierry Mugler Cologne on my sheets when I change the bed, but otherwise cologne has never resonated much with me. Frugal shopper that I am, though, when I saw a bottle of Eau de Rochas at a thrift shop for four dollars, I had to buy it.

Eau de Rochas was released in 1970 and marketed to women, although if it were released today I think it would be positioned as unisex. According to Osmoz, Eau de Rochas was originally called "Eau de Roche", and there's something about the dirty, mineral aspects of a rock that describe Eau de Rochas well. Osmoz goes on to list Eau de Rochas's topnotes as verbena, lime, mandarin, and bergamot; its heart as wild rose, jasmine, coriander, and carnation; and its base as oakmoss, amber, and musk. To me, Eau de Rochas smells like lime and bergamot all the way through, though gently, and like a quietly dirty patchouli as it settles next to my skin. I don't smell any of the floral or spicy heart of the fragrance, except as a gentling influence on the citrus. It walks the balance between fresh and luxurious, like a cabin in the woods within walking distance of a four-star restaurant.

What I think Eau de Rochas has that so many colognes lack is a warm landing. Instead of the through and through fresh — almost brutally fresh — feel of so many colognes, Eau de Rochas recognizes that after splashing it on you might want to settle on the porch in summer with a book or work in the garden rather than speed to the tennis court. Eau de Rochas feels like a good cologne for a languorous redhead looking to score a nap on a July afternoon or a man who listens, tamarind whiskey sour in hand, to Caetano Veloso with the windows open and the sounds of the city in summer beeping and humming below.

Eau de Rochas was developed by perfumer Nicholas Mamounas. It isn't easy to find in department stores, but is readily available at a discount online.

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52 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Angela –

    Once again, great writing. Just curious, are colognes meant to be “splashed” on? And another thing I've been wondering for awhile….is a cologne classified as a cologne because of it's strength or because of it's list of ingredients?

    Now I'm off to see where I can find Rochas Eau de Rochas….wish me luck.

    Marko

  2. Anonymous says:

    I esp admire the bottle which suits the fragrance so well. I have it in a mini. $4?? Wow! Unfortunately, this has a note like Ajax cleanser in the drydown on me (I get this note in several scents, Eau de Merveilles is another one) so I haven't pursued a larger bottle, but it would be refreshing just to look at. The opening notes are really nice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angela. Haven't sniffed Eau de Rochas (must do), but I do love Eau de Cartier for days when I don't want anything too demanding, but that still lasts. Your description of cedar freshness and gin and tonic quality pretty much matches my impression, but I sometimes have seen it described online as smelling of violets which totally confuses me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Angela, great piece! THis is one of my faves for summer….

  5. Anonymous says:

    M, from what I understand (although I welcome correction!) a cologne has two meanings. First, it's a concentration of scent that is lower than eau de toilette–although vintage colognes seem to hold up as well as many new EdTs. Second, it's a genre of scent that is citrusy and was meant to be splashed on after a shower–or in lieu of a shower–to “freshen up”. Some people might even apply perfume after they've bathed and applied cologne.

    Good luck finding Eau de Rochas! There's a masculine version, too, but I think the standard Eau is firmly unisex.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ajax?! That's horrible. I like the opening of Eau de Rochas, but it's the drydown that I really love. And I agree that the bottle is pretty cool.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Eau de Cartier is terrific. The cedar really comes out on me. Now I'll have to smell for violets!

    Do try Eau de Rochas if you get the chance–I'd love to know what you think of it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad to know you're a fan of it, too!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone else seen the poster for this in France? It is one of the silliest perfume ads I have ever seen. A woman is standing hip-deep in water, and there are several rocks floating above the water, and she has her arm out, like she is levitating the rocks.

  10. Anonymous says:

    That sounds hilarious! I wonder if she can make the rocks fly at people she doesn't like?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angela. Thanks for the article! I discovered Eau de Cartier earlier this summer. I love the combo of green, flowers, and wood. The listed notes (sorry – not sure where I got these) are Yuzu, Bergamot, Violet leaves, Violet blossom, Lavender, Musk, Patchouli, Amber. This is the perfect cologne for me because so many others have a sharp citrus opening that is hard for me to take. Also, the bottle is very cool!

    The L'Artisan sounds really nice, if the sharp opening doesn't last long. I like the idea of the seaweed!

  12. Anonymous says:

    P.S. Eau de Rochas sounds great , too! I like your “warm landing” description.

  13. Anonymous says:

    H, it sounds like Eau de Cartier suits you well! Do you smell the violets in it? If you get the chance someday, try Eau de Rochas, too.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Angela, I do smell the violets. I'm a violet lover, and that is part of what sold me. However, I'm only a perfumista-in-training, and I always wonder about the power of suggestion. I know I'm supposed to smell violets, so I do. Know what I mean? I'm on vacation, but when I get back, I will put some on and try to be very clinical in my analysis! :-)

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am very susceptible to smelling notes once I hear they're supposed to be there, so I know just what you mean!

  16. Anonymous says:

    It was a great article, I never actually smelled Eau De Rochas and now this writing made me want to sample it. As for the brand itself, Rochas, my whole perfumista “career” has begun with it. I remember falling in love with their “Alchimie” when at the age of 14. I loved it for years and years, and everybody was suprised that a teenage girl had her own signature scent already. But as it happens in life, when I begun sniffin around and finding more perfumes, I found other scents I started to wear. Now I still adore Alchimie, and since it has been discontinued and bottles are becoming rarer and harder to get, I have a 30ml and 50 ml unopened sitting on my shelf, in the center of my whole collection. I don't wear it anymore the way I used to but I always will be sentimental when it comes to Alchimie and anything else made by Rochas.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Rochas has a few scents I really like–Femme tops the list for me, and I like Mystere and Madame Rochas, too. I can't believe I haven't tried Alchemie! I'll put it on the list of “to try”s.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the review, Angela, this seems like a cologne I would love. I loved your description of the cabin within walking distance of the 4 star restaurant. That's my idea of roughing it! I'll have to see if I can track down a bottle. How does Eau de Rochas compare to Aqua di Parma's Colonia? That starts out citrusy on me and dries down to a warm, woody, musky skin scent.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I've done plenty of camping in my time, and the bottomline is that I'd rather not spend any more nights anywhere I can't take a bath.

    It's been so long since I've smelled Colonia that I can't comment! I like your description of it, though.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hey Angela! You should try Alchimie if You value the house of Rochas. You'd be very suprised with it, as it is totally different from Mystere and Madame Rochas. When I was reading an article somewhere else/about something else I heard someone describe a fragrance as:”solar-oriental”. It think that could refer to Alchimie. Actually I think that the name ALCHIMIE describes the whole fragrance: mysterious, different, floral-oriental but soooo much different! It opens with a bergamot/plum note then there comes some jasmine, tonka bean, gorgeous vanilla, but it just smells so royal, kind of like it takes You back in medieval times without being old-ladyish or old fashioned. Alchimie is it's own fairytale, it almost smells of licquid gold, the sun, beautiful women wearing satin gowns. It manages to be mysterious without belonging to the same group as incense/heavy woods scents. It really is unique and special.

  21. Anonymous says:

    You've convinced me! It sounds very compelling, and now I'm chomping at the bit to try it!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angela,

    Yes it is true, Eau De Rochas was originally called Eau De Roche. In French, the term Eau De Roche refers to a crystal clear water stream sprinkling peacefully over rocks in a forest. There is little known as to why the name was changed but it occurred around 1984.

    Nowadays, P&G the new owners of Rochas have no interest in marketing it. Eau De Rochas for Men was a flop. And Eau De Rochas is a true “niche” in very few countries like Germany.

    Too bad Rochas went to P&G because their martketing and distribution activities are the worst!

    Eric

  23. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you know a lot about perfume distribution. Do you think P&G will keep up the quality of the Rochas fragrances? I hate to think of Femme parfum going downhill.

    I really like Eau de Rochas and hope it doesn't get discontinued.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I'm startled Eau de Rochas pour homme flopped. It is one of the best summery fragrances, unisex despite the label, that one can buy today. If P&G couldn't sell that, I wonder what they can sell!

    You might enjoy the “pour homme” version, which differs in having a more substantial, and comforting, base, too Angela; Do give it a try. My compliments too, for featuring a wonderful fragrance in the write up.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I will try the Homme version–thanks for the recommendation. A comforting base sounds really wonderful.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of Ajax, Calvin Klein's Euphoria for women has a strong Ajax note on me.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hi again Angela,

    Yes I know P&G pretty well and their business model is more suitable towards consumer products (i.e. TIDE and Pantene!) Their endeavor buying luxury companies has been less than successful (Hugo Boss with its “indistinct and multiple fragrance launches”, subsequently separating the Baldessarini brand from the Boss brand, Rochas with practically no marketing or advertizing etc.)

    It's a total mess!

    Luxury name brands like the Rochas name have litterally been “slaughtered” by P&G as their product positioning is more in mid-level sales points (i.e. Macy's and Lord and Taylor) and not at high-end luxury (Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman)

    This type of positioning could be suitable for Hugo Boss for example but definitely not for a brand like Rochas which came up with the legendary FEMME! Speaking of which, poor “Femme” has been reformulated and watered down so many times that it does not even resemble the original anymore. The perfume strength has been discontinued. The bottle, cap and packaging are also significantly cheaper to the point of being “repulsive”. No decent department store carries Femme anymore. You can only find it (hit or miss) at outlets such as Nordstrom Rack or Loehmanns…or may be on a drugstore shelf in rural Alabama!

    P&G is trying to keep a little more prestige to the Rochas brand in Europe vs the USA where small perfume stores are still in wide existence unlike in the US. But all that counts for P&G is global sales. Eau de Rochas has had a long life cycle and is no longer a novelty. It has not been “re-launched” adequately to appeal to the “daughters” of those mothers that loved it in the 70's. Eau de Rocahs pour Homme did not sell well in the late 90's… So no effort in marketing them anymore.

    It is important to note that the new bottle for Eau de Rochas is more elongated and cheaper looking with a tacky plastic cap.

    To Karthic Dixit's point, and with all due respect to his/her positive opinion of the Eau De Rochas Pour Homme, it IS a flop when it comes to sales and that's all that counts nowadays to a giant like P&G. There is no more “dream” and “fantasy” in the perfume world, only $$$ unfortunately…

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ugh. So depressing. And the parfum strength of Femme has been discontinued? That's really too bad–I have about a dram of it, and I love it. Poor old Rochas.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Euphoria is a bludgeon of fruity patchouli on me. Now, of course, I'll be smelling for the Ajax note in everything….

  30. Anonymous says:

    I am from Europe originally and I can guarantee everyone that Rochas has a better position over there. In Europe there is more focus on Rochas as a luxury brand than over here. I feel bad and sad because Rochas has more heritage and tradition than for example Calvin Klein. But in the US it seems like they both would be found on the same shelf at Macy's. They way I look at it is this: If I am able to purchase a shirt from Calvin Klein at my local Ross for $20.00 – then it's not a luxury brand. A shirt from Rochas would cost at least $200.00 if not more, I am unable to find it discounted at any outlet stores, only at the high-end boutiques – then it IS a luxury brand. It doesn't need to be calles “Serge Lutens” to be considered luxury. Also I just think Rochas didn't have good management because with their history and heritage behind the brand they weren't able to push it towards renown Chanel's/Dior's side. Perfume is the best way to raise some money quickly, when a fashion house is struggling. It seems like it happened the opposite way with Rochas because they shut down their perfume branch for a while and just kept designing more fashion. Then I guess they reopened their parfums Rochas but they've already discountinued too many great scents (including Alchimie). It just a sad story of a great house of Rochas that could have been pround of itself just like Chanel is today. Yeah, as far as I know chanel's perfume launches that did not reach the “top-seller” status and were loosing more money, did NOT get discontinued! I think Chanel's status in the perfume world would not let that happen. Best example? Chanel Egoiste. Why couldn't Rochas manage it the same way?

  31. Anonymous says:

    I remember that Rochas was resurrected briefly with some superstar designer, then put out of business again a few years ago. That must have been when P&G bought the perfume side of it.

    I guess Rochas has become one of those brands that leads a person to remember “the good old days”.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Rochas has such great names for their perfumes:

    Mystere

    Absolu

    Audace

    Globe

    Lumiere

    Macassar

    Moustache

    The bottles are equally interesting.

    I have whipped out my mini of Eau de Rochas Pour Homme and find it pleasant, masculine but generic for men's. I also have Fleur d'Eau but my mini has gone off. I would have liked it, I'm sure!

  33. Anonymous says:

    The names really are wonderful. I have an old, tiny bottle of Rochas Mousseline (also a wonderful name) that smells like a more girlish version of Femme.

  34. Anonymous says:

    LLol, so true.

  35. Anonymous says:

    And sad….

  36. Anonymous says:

    Angela,

    The death of Helene Rochas played an important role in the house of Rochas “unstable history”. Olivier Theyskens was the designer you probably had in mind. His tenure was short-lived though and he did NOT revive the house of Rochas fashion style at all unfortunately…

    As far as other feminine scents, LUMIERE and MYSTERE were true late 70's early 80's landmarks!

    There's also “MOUCHE” from the 50's – 60's which is a collector's item if it can be found. It came in the same oval-shaped base cardboard box printed with black lace as Femme but in a deep green color instead of the grey for Femme.

    As far as men's Rochas scents, MACASSAR (1980) was a true revolutionary 80's power scent. Whew, now that was really an 80's powerhouse scent!! You can spot its power across wagons in the “metro” in Paris. I still see some bottles of Macassar going for over $200 on eBay.

    LUI for men (2003) was a very interesting scent, to me at least, until KEVIN reviewed it for me (yes it was at my request, Thank you Kev!) and destroyed the fantasy in my head (Please see Kevin's wonderful review of Lui on “Now smell This”)

    Thanks again Kev!!! I'm still waiting to go for that walk with you at the Tuileries gardens :-)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the info! You have me really curious about Mouche now. I'll have to look it up.

    And if Kevin is giving out walks at the Tuileries, he's going to have to schedule one with me, too…

  38. Anonymous says:

    We can only hope that's the case.

  39. Anonymous says:

    It wouldn't be much good having that power otherwise, if you ask me.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Hi there, the correct name is Moustache and it was former president of France, Francois Miterrand, favourite fragrance. These days is a niche scent in France and Spain. Good luck and enjoy.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the info on Moustache, and I love knowing that Mitterand wore it.

    I see from from Now Smell This's list of perfume houses and the separate list for noses that Rochas also had a scent named Mouche, created by one of my favorite perfumers, Edmond Roudnitska.

    Now I want to smell both Moustache and Mouche.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Mouche means “fly” in French and it was the name of Marcel Rochas's favorite cat at that time.

    I hope you can find it Angela!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! And thank you, too, for a great suggestion for my own cat's name.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Such bad news about Rochas being bought by this corporation. As a foreigner, it took me a while to guess what this abbreviation,”P&G” meant Abominable shame! I'm a longtime wearer of Eau de Rochas (I still remember the first bottle I was given, at 11, by a dear uncle). I have a bottle from the good old days, still smelling great after all these years. It's simply my favourite perfume and I'm glad you posted your wonderful commentary. The dominant nose is from “lima-da-pérsia”, a sweet-bitter lemon, the size of an orange, with a thin, yellow-greenish skin I found in Brazil. When in Brazil I usually buy this excellent citrus because it's like eating “Eau de Rochas”. I also save the skins to keep drawers smelling good. I'm sad about the decay of this old and traditional French house, and also sad that the latest (and perhaps last) version of Eau de Rochas is being bottled with a vulgar plastic cap!!! I wonder if the perfume is still the same or similar. They may have cheapened everything…

  45. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your comment and your story about lima-de-persia. Yes, Eau de Rochas is wonderful, and I'm with you in hoping that it stays that way.

  46. varickwt says:

    Eau de Rochas is a classic. I could go back to this or Coriandre and be happy if I never had another perfume. You say rock like it is dirty but I am thinking about a wet rock in a cold stream…One of my all time favorites…EVER!!

    • Angela says:

      Rock in a wet stream is exactly what I imagine! It’s one of my favorites, too.

  47. moore says:

    Wonderful image you created when you mentioned Caetano Veloso. Congrats!

    • Angela says:

      He’s one of my favorites, especially in summer.

      • moore says:

        Then you can search for Tropicalia (Caetano was part of it). Maybe you’ll like Tom Jobim and Jorge Ben Jor. ;)

      • moore says:

        From Jorge Ben I recommend you 2 albuns at first: Jorge Ben- Acústico MTV (CD2) and África Brasil…

        • Angela says:

          Thanks for the recommendations! I just wrote them down.

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