rochas: 5 posts

Winter Lists : 5 Books and 2 Perfumes

There is nothing especially winter-like about my list of books (and perfumes). It’s mainly about enjoyment, with a dose of something high-spirited. Some may call it escapism, but I see it as a way to recharge and tune out the world long enough for me to find my balance and plunge back into the routine. Moreover, high-spirited, entertaining and fun, whether in literature, art or perfume, can assume many different forms. Here is my take.

winter-list

Jeffrey Steingarten The Man Who Ate Everything

“Whenever I have nothing better to do, I roast a chicken,” writes Jeffrey Steingarten. The food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989, Steingarten is also the author of two of my favorite books about cooking and eating, The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must’ve Been Something I Ate. Steingarten is witty, irreverent and passionate, an irresistible combination. His essays are full of interesting tidbits and recipes, but the main reason I enjoy them is because of Steingarten’s dry sense of humor. I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Kyoto Cuisine,” but the scene in which he tries to pry off the lid from a bowl of soup leaves me laughing out loud every single time. In the same essay, he also describes the exquisite flavors of Japanese cuisine, reminding his reader that as a bumbling tourist he may have missed many nuances. With Steingarten you can visit the Nishikidori market in Kyoto, run a scientific test of ketchups, grill sardines with Marcella Hazan in Venice, perfect fries, or try cooking from the back of the box.

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Perfumes To Smell, Books To Read : Autumnal Lists

This time of year makes me prone to bouts of melancholy. I don’t like to bid goodbye to summer vacation, August peaches and picnics in the park. Since my school recollections are filled with the institutional smells of many children in confined spaces, burned milk, wet chalk and blackboards cleaned with a musty rag, I can’t get excited about the whole “back to school” thing either. My memory refuses to budge from this Dickensian vision even when prompted by the delicious smells of sharpened pencils and ink; I hated school until I started college.  I get out of my funk once the fall gets further under way and I notice the walnut sweetness of fallen leaves in the morning air and become grateful for any rose still blooming along Brussels’ chestnut lined avenues. But in the meantime, I just make the best of the transition and come up with lists.

brussels-fall1

Lists are somewhat of an obsession. I’ve been an inveterate list maker since my childhood. My mom treasures a compilation of “books I am going to write” that I came up with at the age of 12. They include “The History of India,” “The History of Greece” and “Constantinople, Jewel of the Byzantine Empire.” (Why on earth did I study political science at the university and not history, I now wonder.) I’m less ambitious these days and instead I just make lists of dishes to cook, places to explore in Brussels, perfumes to try or books to read.

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Rochas Alchimie : Perfume Review

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The curious part about sampling a lot of fragrances is that contrary to my expectations, my tastes have gotten more eclectic, rather than more constrained. When I started writing articles here at Bois de Jasmin, I had very strong opinions on what I liked—jasmine (hence, the name of my blog!), iris, sandalwood and what I avoided—vanilla, fruit, anise. Well, seven years later, I realize that I like vanilla sweetened perfumes as much as I enjoy heady jasmine and cold iris perfumes. When I first tried Rochas Alchimie a few years ago, I didn’t even give it much chance. It contained every single thing I thought I disliked—rich vanilla, sweet caramel, juicy red berries and a sprinkling of sugared anise seeds. I thought it would be best as a dessert, not as a perfume.

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Rochas Femme New and Vintage : Perfume Review

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Femme_1

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

“Let me tell you, I created [Rochas] Femme in 1943 in Paris during the worst days of the war in a building that had a rubbish dump on one side and paint factory on the other,” remarked Edmond Roudnitska about one of his most sensual compositions, a perfume that smells of woman’s skin and ripe summer plums.

Some perfumes become classics because they are based on appealing, commercial accords (carnation and patchouli, patchouli and maltol, to name some examples), and others gain the status of legends because of their haunting beauty, even if it presents a challenge. Femme’s beauty is arresting and spellbinding, its main accord heavy like a heart filled with longings. …

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Rochas Poupee : Fragrance Review

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Rochas_poupee

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Fruity-floral can be a tired category, since too many of them inundate the market at the present. Rochas presents something different. Poupèe (2004), meaning “doll” in French, is an example of tuberose and fruit marriage. Anne Flipo, a nose behind many of L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances, including La Chasse Aux Papillons, Jacinthe du Bois and Violette Vert, paired white floral accords against a pure yellow of pineapple. The top notes are a rainstorm of orange blossom and tuberose, both of which quickly melt into the sweetness of tart fruity shimmer. The fruity jam stage is my least favourite part, however it does not last particularly long, before giving tuberose a center stage it rightfully claims, accompanied by a hint of powdery violet and soft nutty notes. The final bars are those of a vanillic warmth of benzoin. I find Poupèe to be too sweet for me and perhaps too pretty, but it is still a nice example of the modern fruity floral.

Notes: Orange blossom, pineapple, gardenia, green jasmine, hazelnut, tuberose, sandalwood, benzoin, amber, balms.

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