If you have ever been wondering what lost innocence is made of, look no further than Roman Polanski’s 1968 Rosemary's Baby film classic and the floral romantic trail that accompanied the sweet and tender young protagonist Mia Farrow: Detchema by Revillon. Of course if you peeked a bit at Milton you wouldn’t be far off either, but I leave that for another post with more profound existentialist tendencies.
In the film of which a little glimpse you can catch clicking here Mia Farrow is destined to be the mother of the devil’s child, married to what seems like a great guy (played by John Cassavetes) who belongs to a sect of Satan worshipers, intent on bringing their devious plans about domination to fruition through the means of a Madonna in reverse. Everything seems normal on the surface, while deep down the ploy is getting on very well and no one suspects a thing until…..
The crucial toll of the bell comes too late for poor Mia who is hypnotized by all sorts of devious people into believing they’re all catering for her own good, hers and the child’s. Little does she know….or indeed do we all.
So her scent of choice is not far off: Detchema is indeed a gentle unassuming, powdery aldehydic floral of the 50s, introduced in 1953, a time when the ladylike florals and chypres reigned supreme.
Detchema took the theme of the aldehydic floral with a lactonic tenderness interwoven and got it to new heights along with Le Dix de Balenciaga. Less sensual than Chanel no.5, the iconic prototype of the aldehydic fragrance and somehow a bit more soapy (well, acrually quite a bit) than the gorgeous Le Dix, it still possessed professionalism and clean cut, ladylike images to recommend it. It projects a freshness of someone soignée and decked out in everyday chic the way they did it the old days.
It could also be likened to effect that the soapy Nocturnes or the tender Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron have on the psyche: instant transport into a different world.
Of course for those exact reasons it cannot claim any great demands on originality and innovation. She is one of the entourage, never the shinning star of the marquise, yet for what it is it is quite fetching.
All through the 60s and 70s this little gem had been revered and worn with pride by women while the bursting into scene of the orientals with a vengeance after the introduction of the mighty Opium in 1977 signaled the death toll. It never disappeared yet the reformulation during the 90s was inevitable to survive in a market where the vintage has been deemed old-fashioned and passé. And perhaps it is. Yet the lingering halo of innocence and timeless elegance this fragrance imparts to the wearer is reminding us of the youthful physique of Mia Farrow in this film, traipsing along New York, trapped inside the Dakota building.
The sweet armloads of ylang ylang with discernible hyacinth and the warmth of a little carnation get the treatment of a lovely and fresh peach note that along with neroli raises this into the territory of eternal sunshine. Yet the peach never becomes too pronounced, while the burst of putting this onto skin is akin to a refreshing mist on a body that is full of activity and life.
Powdered orris and tonka provide the tender drop on which the whole rests like the clean sheets of the bed on which Mia conceives baby Satan. Thanks to the inclusion of some earthy notes the whole never veers into too sweet avenues, remaining beautifully balanced.
The eau de toilette is especially powdery in the vintage while the parfum/extrait is the superior form with a smoothness that is precise and clear. The choice of Eau de parfum whom was a lucky inclusion in a package by a Canadian friend (to which I am grateful) is a happy medium and it will satisfy those who seek an insistent sillage eminently. It also lasts amazingly well. The vintage comes in a black box with gold filigree which is again fitting the visual reference I picked for it and it would be recommended to track it down in that form, although the new one is not badly made either.
Wear it and be prepared to lose your marbles. Or keep them if you’re smart enough.
Official fragrance notes: Peach, Neroli, Hyacinth, Bergamot, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Carnation, Lily of the valley, Orris, Sandal, Vetiver, and Tonka.
Bottles of Detchema are on FragranceX and the Perfume House of Portland (taking mail orders)
Pic of the bottle courtesy of fragrancex, clip from youtube, song "Evil" by Interpol