Rochas Tocade ~ perfume review

Rochas Tocade perfume advertRochas Tocade perfume advert

When I first started posting on the fragrance discussion board at Makeup Alley, around 2004, I had a very basic idea of what I was looking for in a new fragrance for myself. I knew I loved rose scents, and I was a longtime fan of the rich vanilla in Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. Perhaps, I thought, I could find a perfume that combined the two notes. I finally ventured to ask for rose-vanilla fragrance recommendations, and a few veteran members of the discussion board offered suggestions. The one that was most enthusiastically named and seconded by other members was Rochas Tocade, so I set out to try it as soon as possible.

Tocade was created for Rochas by perfumer Maurice Roucel and was released in 1994. Its name translates as "whim" or "caprice," and its composition includes top notes of magnolia and bergamot, heart notes of rose, orris, and geranium, and base notes of cedarwood and vanilla. Its vaguely silly-looking bottle, designed by Serge Mansau, reminds me of a figure wearing a turtleneck and a conical hat, or a toy for an infant. If had seen that bottle in a store, without knowing anything about the fragrance, I probably wouldn't have picked it up, but thanks to the good advice I'd received, I was willing to give Tocade a chance.

Tocade is a floriental with a gourmand leaning, and it's definitely a perfume-y perfume; anyone looking for a fragrance that feels "clean" or "shower-fresh," or even "airy" or "dewy," can stop reading here. There's a sharp, peppery note in Tocade's immediate opening, but otherwise, it's a very warm, sweetish fragrance that envelops its wearer. If I had to pick apart the various threads of Tocade's composition, I'd say the vanilla has a pastry-like, buttery-almondy feeling and the rose is full-blown; but it's actually somewhat difficult to separate these notes. The rose and vanilla are tightly interwoven into an olfactory chord, like one of those couples who speak in unison and finish each other's sentences. Even more like those couples, Tocade is cheerful, with a glowing ambery base encasing its rose-vanilla duo, and it's also a bit insistent — it doesn't cling to the skin so much as it adheres to it. If I apply two or three spritzes of Tocade, I can still smell it distinctly at the end of a full workday, and it has changed very little. It's a remarkably linear fragrance. What you get during the first hour is what you'll get seven or eight hours later: Tocade is Tocade is Tocade.

I've tried a few other rose-and-vanilla perfumes over the past few years; after Tocade, my favorites are Bond no. 9 West Side, in which the rose and the vanilla are more distinct from one another, and and Guerlain Nahéma, with its spiced-peach aspect and its mossy "Guerlinade" base. Some other variations on this theme have pleased me less; Jo Malone Rose Water and Vanilla, for example, feels too sugary to me, like a pink-and-white petit four. I always come back to Tocade, particularly during the colder months of the year. It feels too plush and overbearing for the summer, and I need to be in the right mood to wear it; still, Tocade's wacky bottle keeps working its way to the front of my perfume cabinet, and I'm glad to have it there.

Rochas Tocade Eau de Toilette is carried by many online perfume retailers, often at a steep discount; you should be able to find a 100 ml bottle for about $40, if not less.


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61 Comments

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  1. Bear says:

    Tocade is a great fragrance, but the rose is just a bit too insistent for my taste. I prefer Bond No. 9 West Side, where the rose and vanilla are a bit more balanced.
    Both are real head turners for me, the guy who looks like a football player smells like a giant rose.

    • Jessica says:

      Bear, I find West Side somewhat easier to wear on a day-to-day basis… it’s a little less dramatic, although they *are* both head-turners!

  2. AnnS says:

    I have mood swings with Tocade – sometimes I wear it and it is just fun and lovely. And sometimes I wear it and it feels pushy and boisterous. I get tons of vanilla out of it for sure, and none of the skank that many do. I think it is definitely a fragrance that needs a lot of space and everyone should seriously test it at least once. Thanks for the great review. It’s interesting to revisit long standing rose fragrances since so many roses seem to be coming on the market this year.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Ann! Yes, we do seem to get a “rose renaissance” every few years. I have to be in the right mood for Tocade, too, since it has a big personality. And sometimes I think I notice a hint of something naughty in the basenotes… but I’m not *quite* sure. ;)

  3. Valkyrie says:

    why haven’t I tried this before I love roses too and wore vanilla scents as a child and teen, and was just asking on the last open thread for middling cheap thrills stuff you can find for $40 or less. Any recs of more of those from you Jessica? Do you love Gres Cabaret too- another affordable but beautiful rose.

    • Jessica says:

      Valkyrie, You know, Cabaret didn’t work for me at all. I can’t figure out why I didn’t like it! I can’t think of any cheapish rose/vanillas right now… but you can find some good affordable roses (without vanilla) at Sonoma Scent Studio. I’m still fond of Anna Sui’s original fragrance (dusty tea rose) and B&BW’s rosey P.S. I Love You, believe it or not!

      • Jessica says:

        … and now, of course, I’ve thought of other affordable roses… Imogen Rose from LUSH is a lovely true-smelling rose, and Buxom from Wiggle Perfumes (on Etsy) is a dusty rose-vanilla, very boudoir-ish.

    • AnnS says:

      Valkyrie – It’s just a tad more than $40, but the Happ & Stahns Rosa Alba 44 that is released by Anthropologie is really nice. It has some light green notes and a bit of musk in the base, but it’s really pretty and fresh rose. Also, at discounters is the D&G Rose the One which is a pretty and nice rose-musk.

  4. sarahbeth says:

    Thanks Jessica! Tocade is a five star according to Turin/Sanchez, thanks for the review. I am curious to know if it (formula) has been tampered with over the years, or if we can count on ‘Tocade is Tocade is STILL Tocade’. Just curious! Another great rose/vanilla: Liaisons Dangereuses.

    • Jessica says:

      Sarahbeth, I hope it hasn’t been altered! My current bottle is several years old (since it’s a big bottle, and a little goes a long way!). If anyone else knows, do chime in!

    • annemarie says:

      I’ve always been amused at the five-star rating Tocade gets in The Guide. Amused because there are so many L’Artisans, Bonds, Lurtens etc that get three stars! I love the way Sanchez and Turin call it like they see it, even if I don’t always agree with their ratings.

      • AnnS says:

        I agree with you – Tocade is a nice fragrance, but I can’t see at all why it gets 5 stars. I get the feeling neither of them like roses per se, and that could be part of it.

        • annemarie says:

          Yes, Sanchez/Turin’s five star rating seem to mean ‘we really, really like this’ rather than ‘this is one of the best fragrances ever produced in the history of the world’.

  5. RusticDove says:

    Is this the one affectionately referred to as ‘that slut’ around here? I’m not sure, trying to remember how that started. Anyway, I loved your review and I’m going to dig around and try to locate my sample and try it again – it’s been a few years since I wore it and all I remember is thinking it was a good vanilla scent.

    • OperaFan says:

      I believe Mals coined that term. She (Tocade) has what I would call an “outgoing” personality.
      I have a tiny bottle of the perfume. I think Tocade may be a cousin to the original Organza. Both have a similar feel to me.

  6. kaos.geo says:

    I associate tocade’s playfulness and insouciance with the early to mid nineties economic bonanza. A ‘happy’ fragrance from the days of wine and roses. Still, its a hard one to pull off. Wallflowers need not apply for this one.
    Oh, and ‘floriental with gourmand leanings’ is the best fitting single-line description of this fragrance I have encountered. Lovely review.

    • Jessica says:

      Ah, I like this 90s-economy tie-in! Very apt.

    • boojum says:

      “Wallflowers need not apply”… no wonder! Didn’t work for me at all.

  7. rodelinda says:

    How does Tocade compare to Parfum Sacre? I vaguely remember trying Tocade at TJ Maxx a few years ago and deciding that it was “loud,” but my tastes have changed a lot since then so I need to re-sample. Rose and vanilla are so lovely together.

    • nozknoz says:

      Although they do have many notes in common, I find them completely different, Rodelinda. I love both!

      • Jessica says:

        I agree with Noz… I like Parfum Sacre, but it seems very different to me. Spicier and drier.

    • AnnS says:

      Parfum Sacre is about one million miles away from Tocade. PS is a very rich, romantic and elegant fragrance with shimmering wood notes. Not even close. Give PS a try. The recently released Parfum Sacre edp Intense has more of a woody vanilla drydown than the original. I think Angela did a nice review of PS last year….
      http://www.nstperfume.com/2010/07/26/caron-parfum-sacre-and-parfum-sacre-intense-fragrance-review/

      • rodelinda says:

        Oh yes, Parfum Sacre is one of my favorites. I tend to think of it as the ultimate rose/vanilla combo (with other goodies thrown in).

  8. nozknoz says:

    Love these reviews of the classics!

    I have a Tocade mini that I bought in the early 90s. I never wore it at the time, and I gave away most of my perfumes every time I moved, so it’s amazing that I still have it. I find the vanilla dry and almost woody (maybe due to the cedar?); consequently, and it’s the only identifiably vanilla perfume that I love. (Not counting Shalimar as a vanilla scent in this case.) Tocade doesn’t seem loud to me, but I’m only dabbing it from the mini. Agree that it is very linear and long-lasting. Haven’t tried any recent bottles, so I’ve no idea if it has changed.

    • Jessica says:

      Noz, Shalimar is my favorite vanilla-based fragrance, too. And I do like the dryness of the vanilla in Tocade… it never turns sponge-cakey!

    • AnnS says:

      I can only wear a small dab of Tocade too. It is much nicer that way. I’d never want to go full blast!

  9. MelissaJane says:

    Jessica, I loved your review of Tocade. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Neil Morris’ Vanilla Rose, one of my very wearable favorites. There is a retro face cream scent to Neil’s VR and when I emailed him about that, he replied that the retro-style scent was exactly what he was going for.

    • Jessica says:

      MelissaJane, I did sample it once — a very nice dusky vanilla-rose, similar to the discontinued Antique Rose from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

  10. moore says:

    I guess as a great number of people, I’m waiting for a Rochas Man rewiew. Please, do us this favor nstperfume rewiewers…

    • Jessica says:

      *paging Kevin* ;)

    • Celestia says:

      Is that the one with the frosty rocket ship bottle? Now that was a great fragrance!

  11. annemarie says:

    I have a mini of Tocade; a few dabs is all I can take really. I found it in a gift shop in a country town which, apart from a lovely collection of perfume miniatures, most sold handmade clothes, gifts and toys. My then-7 year old daughter bought a beautiful bronze-coloured silk horse, with little beads for eyes. Afterward we sat in a cafe (that sold sweets … ), had some hot drinks, and my daughter played with her horse and I with my Tocade. It certainly matched the heavy, sweet-smelling place we were in. It was a lovely day and wearing Tocade reminds me always.

    • Jessica says:

      That *is* a lovely memory. Thank you for sharing it!

    • Jill says:

      I love that memory too! Thanks for sharing it.

  12. KRL says:

    Have you tried Safran Troublant? It’s also Rose/Vanilla with saffron. I adore this one and wonder how the two compare??

    • Jessica says:

      I do like Safran Troublant, although I get very little rose out of it. Tocade is much more intense and lasting, with much stronger perfumey-rose notes!

    • Tama says:

      Oh, I just tried the Safran last night from a new sample and pretty much fell immediately in love.

      • Jessica says:

        I love that whole spice “trio”… Poivre Piquant might be my favorite of the three, but the Safran is wonderful, too!

        • KRL says:

          I liked that one as well, but I find the ST to be very cooling in hot weather. For a change, it’s cool-ish today, and gave it a spray to see how it would hold up. Interestingly, I’m always re-applying in the heat, but it doesn’t need it in cooler weather. I have the same problem with Gypsy Water – always re-applying, it just burns off in hot weather…

  13. Tama says:

    I bought That Slut Tocade when I spotted her at TJ Maxx or someplace for almost nothing and have never been sorry. I don’t wear her a lot but do love her and her goofy bottle.

    • Jessica says:

      It does show up at some very, very reasonable prices!

  14. Love this review, Jessica. So forthright and affectionate about Tocade’s various qualities. You may finally send me over the edge into a purchase, though I sort of prefer to eat my vanilla-rose accords.

    The bottle looks…naughty…to me. Especially in the second photo where there are a whole crop of them. Just me?

    • Bear says:

      An army of robot penises? LOL
      Thanks for the laugh, I would never have taken a second look.

      • Celestia says:

        And I thought nothing could be more penile than Mahora EDP!

    • Jessica says:

      Ah, no, you’re not alone. ;)
      Glad you enjoyed the review! I enjoy rose/vanilla flavors, too…

    • Ha! Thanks for the company in the gutter!

  15. Rappleyea says:

    Great review, Jessica – thanks! I’ve never tried “That Slut Toccade” as I’m just not a huge rose fan; I enjoy rose when it’s a team player. But I’m curious as to how Toccade got the “slut” designation without any musk or other skanky notes in the line-up.

    • annemarie says:

      Mals86 is the one who coined the term, I think. She is holidays at the moment, which is a pity (for us, not her!). I have some memory that Tocade reminds her of one of those women who drink too much at parties and hurl themselves at you, arms around your neck, falling laughing down the stairs etc. Something like that. It’s a great image.

    • Tama says:

      I always forget Tocade is a rose, so if you like it as a part of a bigger picture, give it a shot.

    • mals86 says:

      Yep, it was me calling it That Slut… mostly because it was so clingy and flirty, as well as loud and extremely tenacious. Really, she’s more like That Amorous Drunk Tocade, but that’s not nearly so much fun to say.

      I missed you guys!

  16. Jill says:

    Great review, Jessica! I have yet to try Tocade, but I will put it on my list now. You’ve also reminded me that I’ve been wanting to revisit West Side — I originally found it a little too sweet but I did like it and wonder what I’d think now.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Jill! When West Side was first launched, I had it in heavy rotation in my winter/spring collection. I ignored it this past winter, I’m afraid, because I had some new favorites. But I wore it just yesterday, and still loved it. It *is* a sweetish rose-peony-vanilla, but there’s some nice amber in the mix. And it’s nowhere as near as sweet as By Kilian Love Don’t Be Shy or Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose!

      • Jill says:

        I’m trying it again right now and I’m really picking up the amber (a good thing, I’m an amber fan)!

  17. Blithie says:

    Thanks for the review Jessica. I will have to try Tocade again. My tastes have changed over time and it sounds like something I would love now. (I stuck to light girly scents in the early 90′s). The bottle makes me think full-on fruit inside because it looks like one of those umbrella topped cocktails you’d get at a tiki bar!

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Blithie — Our tastes definitely do shift from time to time! And you’re right about the bottle — it does look sort of cocktail-ish — and it’s a bit boozy, but certainly not fruity. ;)

  18. Olfacta says:

    Tocade is being mentioned a lot right now! I bought my bottle a couple of years ago, from an online discounter, super-cheap. It is definitely plush and cozy, perfect for sleeping, not a hot weather scent, especially in a humid climate! But the rose/vanilla accord here, twisted up like a double helix, reminds me of the same “tight” combining of rose and jasmine in vintage Joy. The bottle…um…well, I guess I could say it’s whimsical, but it has less to do with the juice inside than any perfume bottle I have.

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