digging (into) vintage: Rochas Moustache, 1948

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(image Nick Offerman, Esquire)

Perfumers Thérèse and Edmond Roudnitska.

I imagine that over the past 60-odd years Moustache has seen a number of formulations. I’ve seen it called a fougère, a chypre, an eau de cologne. I have the eau de toilette concentrée version bought in the 2000s but likely dating from the 1990s. I’ve smelled an older eau de cologne and they are similar enough to carry the same name.

Moustache is a chypre/fougère hybrid. The citrus-chypre structure places it in the same category as the big-boy chypres of the mid-20th century. It sits alongside Chanel Pour Monsieur, Monsieur de Givenchy and even its own Roudnitska-sibling Eau Sauvage, though it preceded all of them. With a lime topnote and a soapy base it’s cooler than the other chypres, which typically warm to a slightly sweet, skin-altitude amber.  Instead it has a crisp dryness akin to Guerlain’s Vetiver. Moustache’s astringent citrus has the pitch, though not the scent, of Vetiver’s licoricy-vetiver dryness.

All of Moustache’s elements play off its central strong chypre base. The dryness has a scrubbed and starched quality that stands out brilliantly against growling animalic undertones. It’s as if Moustache’s affable eau de cologne-like gentleman’s chypre hides a bit of a snarl, an ongoing dare.

There are through-lines to many of Edmond Roudnitska’s pieces (Eau d’Hermes, Eau Sauvage, Diorella).  While Moustache was composed by both Edmond and his wife Therese, the closest point of comparison is actually Edmond’s last piece, Ocean Rain for Mario Valentino. Their chypre quality reads as almost soil-like, and they both wind up with a dusty yet soapy base.


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