Rochas Man by Rochas (1999)

Nose: Maurice Roucel

If there’s a bunch of good masculine-to-unisex gourmands, Rochas Man would be surely in. And possibly be the uncle of them all. Two references come to mind as a comparison among dozens; Yohji Homme, and Thierry Mugler’s style. Rochas Man is just way more discreet, compelling and refined than most of Mugler’s offerings, yet less sophisticated, cold and “avantgarde” than Yohji. Still that would be the family more or less; a coffee-anisic gourmand top accord on a sort of crisp barbershop-powdery base comprising mostly lavender, sandalwood, spices, amber, a hint of bracing citrus. Two notes or accords stand out for me in particular: coffee and flowers. The smell of coffee here is quite remarkably executed: slightly sweet yet “roasted”, earthy, much aromatic, fairly “natural”, mellow and dark, perfectly blending with amber and woods. Slightly milky and vanillic too, as if it was meant to evoke a “cup” of coffee rather than coffee beans – so, say, a quite “urban” and civilised approach to coffee notes, still quite realistic and not that tackily plastic (take that, Mugler). On the other hand, “barbershop” and fougère-ish grassy flowers provide a silky, gentle frame of clean powderiness, bit of “freshly laundered shirt” vibe, providing some more classic “masculine cologne” feel. Woods and amber do the rest acting as a discreet, warm, slightly earthy frame with a hint of smooth leather. What would you ask more? Rochas Man is one of those clever, well-crafted scents that have them all: it’s versatile, it’s classy, it’s distinctive, it’s surely kind of a “youngster” but perfectly suitable for gentlemen; it’s bright and dark, it’s quite “daring” yet completely civilised and wearable. It’s a bold gourmand, but it’s composed in a way it stays elegantly warm and discreet on skin, stopping just a step before getting tacky - so don’t fear smelling like a candy. You’ll smell just unique. Good stuff.


EDIT: the review above was based on the later "version" (pink box, pink-ish juice). I now acquired an older bottle (wine plastic packaging, brown-ish juice) and if you're interested in a comparison, they're, say, 90% identical. The 10% is what makes the earlier version better; slightly less sweet, more smoky, more ambery, more "mature". It's a matter of subtle nuances but if you get the chance, my advise would be to prefer the earlier bottles.

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