There is a French expression "mettre en valeur" which roughly translates as to highlight, to draw attention to one's best features. This is what Tocadilly by Rochas does; an ethereal scent that highlights the flowers of spring I love ~lilac, wisteria and mimosa~ beautifully, yet transcends the genre of floral. The feeling I get, when I sort this out of my perfume wardrobe at the first hints of spring, is just like the interplay of cool and warm one experiences upon imprinting their breath "fog" on a wet window pane.
Tocadilly by Marcel Rochas is a floral which launched in 1997 amidst a sea of aquatics and marines. It was said that it represents the younger sister of Tocade, an intensely rosy vanillic fragrance by Maurice Roucel from 1994, yet I do not perceive the kinship of spirit that should tie them in such a close relationship. They both have the same design of flacon, nevertheless, created by bottle designer Serge Mansau; but to Tocade's red packaging hues Tocadilly conterpoints blue-green-purple tones and the aura of the scent is complimentary.
Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (currently at Chanel) is best known for his oeuvre under the wing of Serge Lutens composing a sumptuous line of persuasive orientals and opulent florals. In Tocadilly those preconceptions are shed and Sheldrake reveals a light, lacy touch that is capable of creating diaphanous effects which do not lack staying power or diffusion. The composition is segmentated into interesting facets of aqueous, fruity, floral and lightly ambery-powdery, fusing into a playful, cheerful and tender composition that is above all soft.
Three years before the modern aqueous lilacs of En Passant (2000), realised by Olivia Giacobetti for éditions des parfums Frédéric Malle, Tocadilly had captured this unholy allience between "clean" and "dirty" (Lilacs naturally have an anisic spiciness/powderiness recreated through anisaldehyde and heliotropin in fragrances, as extraction is so uneconomical/unyielding*; yet they often also possess an animalic undercurrent like pollen dusted on impolite feminine parts, especially the mauve-tinged blooms). The watery impression of Tocadilly is less "marine" than En Passant and the yeasty note is absent completely, rendering a must-try for both lovers and haters of En Passant.
The unusual pear note comes from the flavour industry and was contemporarily explored in Annick Goutal's Petite Chérie. Yet in Tocadilly it's not as easily decomposed and the absence of intense sugary lappings helps along, focusing instead on the almost pollen-like aroma of wisteria and lilacs. The mimosa is detectable ~and delectable, providing the emotional foil for the overall spring-like tonality which runs through the fragrance. Yet one would be hard pressed to designate Tocadilly to any particular season. It's utterly friendly and wearable in almost all settings and all climates, easing itself with an insouciant shrug of the shoulders and a child-like innocence that's not without a little mischief.
Notes for Rochas Tocadilly:
Top: cucumber, lilac, hyacinth, pear, jasmine, tiare, wisteria, mallow, mimosa and mandarin.
Heart: glycine/wisteria, coconut and heliotrope.
Base: sandalwood, musk and amber.
Sadly discontinued, Tocadilly is still available online.
*There is a fragrance that is purpotedly using a natural extraction of the flower itself, Highland Lilac of Rochester, to which we will return soon.
Photo Dreams and Cookies II via meren.org. Lilacs shot by PerfumeShrine, all rights reserved.