Mystère de Rochas Vintage Eau de Parfum (Rochas)

In the first edition of The Perfume Handbook (1992), Nigel Groom tells us that Mystère de Rochas is a "quality woody-chypre perfume brought out by Rochas in 1978. It was created by Nicolas Mamounas and contains nearly 200 ingredients." These (he says) include honeysuckle, magnolia, gardenia, jasmine, cedar, and juniper, all in featured roles. (It's strange that Groom doesn't mention galbanum, as this is such a prominent note in the composition.)

Whatever its complexity, I see nothing especially 'mysterious' about Mystère. It's a fairly straightforward green chypre of the type popular in the mid-to-late 1970s. If I choose the other, more colloquial translation of mystère -- 'dark horse, underdog' -- the choice of name becomes easier to understand. It's possible to imagine this graceful garden-party of a fragrance standing out from the late-1970s, disco-going herd. I'd pair it with a Laura Ashley prairie dress any day, but I simply can't imagine it teamed up with a Halston evening dress or an Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit.

Still, there really is something slightly dark and shadowy about Mystère which I find hard to place. If I could reach deep within to tap into memories of leafy green bowers where a child can hide, I might find the key to understanding. But some secrets are sweet and enduring precisely because they remain just out of reach.

Scent Elements: Galbanum, coriander, citrus, honeysuckle, hyacinth, rosemary, carnation, violet, iris, tuberose, magnolia, gardenia, frangipani, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, narcissus, styrax, cypress, patchouli, musk, civet, oakmoss, cedar