Rochas Moustache: to fougere or not to fougere…

…is that really the question?

Our friend over at just posted a review of Moustache, and I think it’s important for me to write about my views, because we have opinions that are so different some of our readers may be very dissappointed in what they smell, especially if they buy this scent “blind.” I’ll give you the “short version” first: Moustache does not contain the strong fougere accord found in ones like Lomani, Caesar’s World Man, Montana Parfum d’Homme, Francesco Smalto Pour Homme, Duc de Vervins, and of course Drakkar Noir. In scents like Azzaro Pour Homme, there is an obvious fougere accord, but it is bound to something else, in this case (and several others), anise. You will not find even the Azzaro Pour Homme type of fougere accord in Moustache. If it is even reasonable to claim that it is present, many if not most will not detect it, I’d guess.

Now, on to a more detailed assessment of Rochas Moustache. Let’s start with my review of a few days ago:

“I have the bottle that is pictured. If there are a lot of aldehydes here that would explain the odd fruit mixed with candle wax accord (as they don’t remind me of Chanel No. 5 aldehydes at all, which are steely). That is strong at first but after several minutes things begin to balance out. I don’t find this too animalic, so those who fear ‘Kouros Junior’ may be able to tolerate this one. The citrus persists a long time, coming across to me as lemony, but weakens gradually. If lavender is present, it”s mild and there is no strong fougere accord. The chypre base is obvious but mild. A kind of hair spray element, which may be the aldehydes combined with florals, seems to take over for the odd fruitiness in the top notes. Over time, it sweetens just a bit and gets a little powdery. These days, this is clearly an aficionado scent, for those seeking a chypre with a bit of a ‘twist.’ I am basing this on a recent cloth sampling as well as a newbie wearing a long time ago.

UPDATE: Several hours later and the powderiness stayed about the same but it got sweeter, though certainly not cloyingly so.”

In his Fragrantica review, this blogger states that Moustache is “masquerading as a citrus chypre.” How in the world can a scent “masquerade” as anything? They can change over time, but how could it appear to be one thing but “really” be something else? My guess is that because of the strong and odd opening fruit accord, much of what one perceives depends upon skin chemistry, but this masquerading notion makes no sense in my experience, nor can I conceptualize what it could mean in this context. I decided to do a cloth sampling, as I noted in my review, because I wanted to see if would develop differently that way. Today, after reading his blog post on Moustache, I decided to do a skin sampling, spraying once to the chest without a shirt on to make sure it would not be some sort of cloth/skin combination wearing (which are often best, in my experience, but I wanted to try and be as “pure” in this wearing as possible. I can do a combination wearing in the future and post back here, if I find that anything noteworthy is revealed.

At first, the top notes are very powerful. I got a bit of that blast but then blew on the area to try and get it to drydown as quickly as possible, which is not uncommon for me. No fougere accord is present. If there is lavender it is minimal and of the herbal variety (not, as Luca Turin has said, on the “biscuit” side of that accord). What is mostly present at first is a strange accord that seems to be composed of undefinable fruit (though with a lemony tint), some herbal element, and a kind of clean smoke/candle wax smell, which I’m assuming is the effect of aldehydes (from what I’ve read on the subject). After one to two hours, the scent becomes very weak, so perhaps more than one spray is in order (though that will be difficult, considering the powerful, and not entirely pleasant opening). The opening is still present at very low volume, along with a mild chypre accord. I get just a hint of sweetness and powderiness. A few hours later, and it’s mostly a soft mossy vanllic scent, not quite an oriental (no spice or patchouli), but very subtle, with the mildest cedar I can imagine. I get a gentle waft of it now and then.

As a creation of Edmond Roudnitska (with Theresa), in 1948, this often gets called a chypre. Fragrantica lists the notes as: “Top notes are lavender, basil, lemon verbena, petit grain, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are honey, carnation, jasmine, rose and geranium; base notes are tonka bean, amber, musk, oakmoss, vanilla and cedar.” My take is that the idea here was to create a balance among the major complex genres of that time (for “men’s” scents), fougere, chypre, and oriental (though the fougere got the short end of this stick). In retrospect, leather scents were more popular back then, but perhaps were viewed as a sub-genre or perhaps Roudnitska was that not especially fond of leather notes. For me, once the opening recedes, there is no star of this show. Balance seems to have been the goal, though some might immediately banish that from their minds because the opening is quite different, out of fashion now, and unbalanced.

Note that I don’t know if this person sampled the same formulation I did, so any claim about perceptions would have to be put on hold until that was determined. However, he does say “I think of Moustache the way I think of Pino Silvestre, as a fern that advertises a specific natural element first, and puts its classical form second. But Pino had no pine in it.” I wore Pino the other day and a pine note was glaringly obvious, but again there is no clear fougere accord present. When I did a cloth sampling of Pino, a couple of months ago, I noticed that several hours into it a really nice powdery green smell emerged, which I hadn’t noticed before, to that degree at least, on skin. So what have we learned? Moustache seems quite “tricky,” meaning formulations may be very different, and how you wear it (including how much you apply) may be a significant factor, more than perhaps any other scent you’ve tried. Lastly, if you find an obvious if not powerful fougere accord in this hirsute creation, it may be time to stop reading my blog !

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