Joy in Mudville: Femme by Rochas

Okay, I am officially over the rain. I do feel a little churlish stating that since when it comes down to it, it’s been merely an inconvenience to me when others have had property and even lives threatened, but WAAAHHHH!! I can’t drive with the top down! WAAAHHHH!! I had to drain the pool four times to keep it from overtopping! WAA- wait, that’s kind of about it, so I really should just decant that whine and get over it. One of the things I can indulge in when it starts raining is to douse myself in something and just watch old movies. As long as the power is on I am okay and fingers crossed the power has stayed on. One of the great things about blogs like this one is that there are ever more things mentioned that I want to try- sometimes things that are a little out of my league if I actually want to pay the car insurance (I don’t, but best that I do) but others are almost shockingly affordable.

That is the case with the eponymous perfume in this review. I’ve heard about Femme for ages but never actually smelled it that I know of. Our own Musette practically forced me to order this with her review last week: it’s like being wrapped in a cashmere throw in a slightly chilly house (oh, hey!  that would be me, right now!!)” Could there be a review that would make me buy faster? No. Add in that checking the interwebs I saw that it was with combinations of coupons and various deals de moment, cheaper than dinner at Cheesecake Factory, so what the heck? Our “atmospheric river” dumped six inches over the weekend on the Hills of Beverly and promises another pounding tonight, so I am eating the frozen food out of my icebox- this isn’t even a splurge!

The pool- ready to be drained down a bit. Again

I’ve never smelled the original version of this and whatever version I got did not have all of the cumin that March had in hers (or the deskankotron killed it) but what is there is indeed like a cashmere throw. And a mug of hot mulled wine. Thing is, I don’t find this version of Femme particularly femme. At least in the traditional sense, his may be because in the last 30 years or so perfumers have so played with what notes are traditionally “masculine” or “feminine” and market them either way, or no way at all. So Femme’s Aldehydes, cumin and stewed fruits seem more like a precursor to a Lutens that anything that really says “feminine” to me. It does have structure and backbone to it- like Musette I would not call it “ladylike” but perhaps “reserved.” I would wear it to the office. Heck, I’d wear it to court. There’s a certain steadfastness to it that is both comforting and bracing- that cashmere throw is also Wonder Woman’s cape.

Femme in the bottle I purchased was shockingly cheap- around $25 after discounts. I do have on order a sample of the vintage perfume coming from Surrender to Chance so I will be writing about that in a later post. Have you tried either? What are your go-to “give me strength” scents? Leave a comment.

Photos: My iPhone and Pexels

  • Perfumatrix says:

    Also: this was a sex. bomb. It was (and is) considered scandalous, because it allegedly has a “used lady underpants” vibe. I know my male partner (I am female) finds it sexy in 2023 . . . I am a bit baffled myself about that; perhaps the overdose of Prunol that the composition is famous for is obscuring that note for me. Also, are you aware of the story of the initial composition of Femme by Rochas? Quite gripping. It has been re-told in many serious perfume blogs, so I won’t bore you here.

  • Perfumatrix says:

    Okay, this is one of my signatures. I have about five bottles from various eras and various strengths (not counting what I have used up). What you’ve got in your photo is a very modern eau de toilette, which I have too, but . . . well. Try one of the vintage parfums, easily available on the evil bay (look for the oval box with the black lace pattern on it). It is a badass leather scent. I also recommend the EDP (try both vintage and reformulation–unless you cannot wear cumin in any dosage, in which case, it’s vintage EDP for you).

  • Musette says:

    Hey, babysnakes! I have both and, like March, tend to prefer the contemp (the one you have in the photo above). The vintage is gorgeous – but requires a bit of ‘tude to carry it – at least I think so. You have to think about it. This one? Put it on and cuddle yourself.
    Like March, I too armor myself with Mitsouko. It actually got me through a tornado! No5 is my other armor.

    You! Stay safe. Those atmospheric rivers look godawful. And this time of year in SoCal sucks enough.

    • Tom says:

      I am enjoying the heck out of Femme- perfect for this bleak weather, which is apparently going to continue for at least another week. I had to drain the pool again.. But at least there wasn’t a sinkhole stopping me from getting into town, like there was right at the point where Rexford, Beverly & Coldwater come together. Hope they got that fixed fast or the valley commute won’t be fun!

      • Musette says:

        CA knows how to do Early Spring right! I’ll never forget the GINORMOUS ball of rock-studded mud that came rolling down Channel Ave right at (and across) Ocean. How no one got hurt is still a mystery!

        • Tom says:

          I remember you telling me about that. We’ve been having more drama in the OC than up here this time.

    • Musette says:

      I lied. That’s the vintage one in the photo. Xoxo

      • Tom says:

        So mine is the vintage? Interesting..

      • Maya says:

        I don’t think that’s the vintage, though the bottle is similar. If it came in a black box it’s the new one.

        • Tom says:

          Hmmm. It was in cardboard. I think it’s a tester. I think it’s newer. Not rich enough for vintage.

          • Musette says:

            Contemp has wider ‘shoulders’ and a black cap – but Maya may be correct ; I have no idea what the tester might look like. My vintage bottle is slimmer, with a glass top…

            welp! you’ll find out, when you test the StC offering(s) alongside this.


          • Tom says:

            It just arrived today so I will be diving in..

  • March says:

    Mitsouko is my “give me strength” scent. I like the new Femme better than the vintage (heresy!) but they’re such different animals that’s not really a comparison. I wonder if the newest “new” Femme is less sweaty lol not that I’m complaining! Glad you’re not getting washed away in the deluge.

  • MzChris says:

    Vintage Balmain Jolie Madame is my “give me strength” scent. It’s leathery violets with the emphasis on leather. It’s not the birch tar hide note that’s over used now.

    When I apply this, I feel like no one is going to disagree with anything I say or oppose anything I want to do. If I know I am going to have a tough work day (I work remotely), this goes on right before I sit down at my desk.

  • rosarita says:

    Love Femme yet for some reason I swapped my bottle years ago. After Musette’s review, I am looking for the best deal.
    I found a partial bottle of Paloma Picasso at a thrift store recently and she is most definitely a spine stiffening, give me strength scent. Bitter green opening, then a wave of lush spring flowers that are still strict and reserved. Love it.

  • Sylvia says:

    I recently bought a small bottle of Femme pdt from the seventies and fell head over heels for it. I would love to hear what you think of the vintage parfum.

  • Dina C. says:

    I haven’t come across Femme yet, but it sounds great, Tom. I’m a fan of a cuddly blanket scent all year round. My recent blind buy dive into vintage waters is Mauboussin, which is a cosy amber chypre from the 80s. Also love Gucci No 3 and Ferre parfum for when I need strength and soothing simultaneously.

  • alityke says:

    I’m waiting for my bottle of contemporary Femme to arrive but I’m familiar with both the vintage (pre 1989) & the 1989 reformulation that introduced the cumin sweatiness. I’ve ordered the most recent reformulation from 2013.
    If you have SL Arabie from around 2010 please do a side by side with your Femme & tell us what you think.

  • cinnamon says:

    I’m really sorry about your weather. So much rain can make one twitchy. The first year I moved to this village we had massive amounts of rain. Place flooded, had a car washed down the road which ended up being a write off. News said this was a once-in-every-50-years event. It now happens every year — that we get flooding. We’re better prepared but it still makes me very twitchy. Rant over. Femme. I had it years ago and for reasons I don’t recall found it a new home. Really enjoyed the stewed fruit aspect. It was beautiful but not quite ‘me’. Gird the loins perfumes … always Mitsouko, but also strangely Shalimar and every once in a while SL Rose de Nuit.

    • Tom says:

      Like I wrote, the weather (knock wood) so far for me and mine has merely been a slight annoyance. No houses sliding down the hill, no sink holes, not even a leak.

      For me Mitsouko is more of a “back off buddy” scent. Might wear it tomorrow..

  • Maya says:

    I haven’t tried the current Femme, only the vintage one. It’s very lovely and does have a vintage feel to it. I think you’ll like it.

  • Pam says:

    I have a couple of bottles of Femme. Love it! The oldest is maybe from fifteen years ago, so I doubt you’d consider it vintage. Pretty skanky but in an old school way.

    • Tom says:

      Well, these days 15 years ago could be considered vintage. I’m all about the skank, so I’m looking forward to the package from StC