Rochas Lumière (1984 // 2017) {Perfume Review & Musings}


Launched successively in 1984, 2000 and 2017, Lumière by Rochas, which means « light » in French was composed by perfumer Michel Almairac. While it has not imposed itself on the scene, it's still around, trying to find a favorable echo with the public. The reason why you want it to come back is an interesting bouquet of flowers. The reason why maybe it is not sticking around is, in our opinion, that it would gain in being turned into an eau de parfum instead of evolving as an eau de toilette. We will explain why...

The first olfactive impression you get is that of both a delicate and strong floral opening which seems to be drawing botanic plates of white flowers out of thin air, so realistic it is. You're not in a jungle. You're in a green house in which a corner has been set up to showcase intensely fragrant white blooms - inebriating even. This is, you think, what « intoxicating » means in floral speak. The fragrance is intensely whispery and hush-hush, rather than just blatantly making noise at the top of its lungs. There is a nice tension in the scent at this point.

The ylang-ylang, with its unmistakable natural rendition of a sweet and floral vanilla custard over which an invisible hand would have used a giant wooden Peugeot pepper mill covering it in fragrant black pepper débris, is of particular note. Musky facets somewhat shrill yet sexy evolve quite noticeably. It smells slightly aldehydic - and Chanel No.5-like - albeit fashioned to smell more golden, vanillic and powdery. Cananga odorata is a flower with sexual connotations of odor di femina - and French perfumer Michel Almairac did not try to thow the veil of modesty on the birds and bees. In fact, he harnessed the energy of the flower.

Launched in 1984 in the midst of a decade reputed for its loud perfumes, it is retrospectively not surprising to be able to smell the echo of a brash period - for women's perfumes especially - in it. It does not smell like Giorgio by Giorgio of Beverly Hills but it fits in an environment where Giorgio was centrally popular.

Lumière first appeared in the 1980s bottled in an iridescent bottle tinted with rather cold colors belying its bold contents. It was probably a reference to the iris in it. Today, it comes housed in the transparent classical 18th century « janusette » flacon originally used for Madame Rochas, which again, does not help nail down its distinctive personality.

After a while, an iris note becomes more dominant spiced up by carnation and clove, lending a softer air to the composition, which started out very strong. The hush-hush aspect we mentioned above comes from the powderiness and velvet tones of iris. It now takes over the rush of ylang, while the latter now steps back albeit remaining in the background. It becomes more of a pas de deux, a dance of iris and ylang.

An undercurrent of spices keeps your senses enlivened. Jasminey tones bridge the notes. The tuberose becomes more perceptible on its own.

Lumière is a floral bouquet composed like a work of marquetry. Usually, white floral bouquets express themselves in the same range of white. Almairac on the other hand chose pieces of exotic essences in different schemes of color : ylang, iris and carnation. It is all well and well done save for the fact, we think, that it could gain in quality by sustaining the intensity of the beginnings instead of finishing a bit out of character on a soft whisper. An eau de parfum rebalancing with the accent put on securing a great sillage would be a worthwhile endeavor for a floral bouquet so promisingly lush and spicy.

The official 2017 version notes are : muguet, honeysuckle, peach and prune / rose, heliotrope, apricot and iris / vanilla, sandalwood, white musks.

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