It’s Maurice Roucel Day!

It’s hard not to adore a perfumer who looks this much like Mario, but I promise that I have several far more legitimate reasons for highlighting Maurice Roucel today. A Roucel perfume is instantly recognizable. His work is joyfully exuberant, boisterously playful. At a time when so many perfumes are soulless, focus group-tested creations, Roucel’s fragrances have personality. I respect Roucel because his work is never trivial or insipid. His mainstream fragrances are just as good as his niche creations (and sometimes even better!). Today I will be discussing eight of Monsieur Roucel’s creations. Please share your own opinions of these perfumes in the comments, or suggest more Roucel fragrances for us to try!

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

Musc Ravageur has received nothing but adoration from perfume lovers since its release in 2000, and I am not about to break with that grand tradition now. Despite the name, Musc Ravageur is actually an amber fragrance. Its clove and cinnamon top notes positively sizzle, eventually giving way to a terribly sexy, warm amber-and-vanilla dry down. Believe the hype about this one.

Bond No. 9 Broadway Nite

Broadway Nite has what so many modern perfumes lack: excitement. Roucel’s pairing of electrifying aldehydes with bracingly green violet notes resulted in a perfume that crackles and sparks with tension. I am too boring to wear this perfume, but I highly recommend it.

Missoni by Missoni

The discontinuation of this Missoni fragrance after only a few years on the market came as a surprise to exactly no one. First, the bottle. That bottle was bad, y’all. The juice itself was also somewhat perplexing. Missoni is essentially an inedible gourmand fragrance. It features a prominent chocolate note, but juxtaposes the chocolate with bitter grassy notes. It’s actually pretty great, but I can understand why no one particularly wanted to wear it.

L de Lolita Lempicka

This is the happiest perfume ever created. It opens with sweet orange and incense, and then becomes an addictive salty-sweet combination of vanilla and immortelle. The dry down bears a fair resemblance to Musc Ravageur, but Musc Ravageur’s top notes are so fantastic that I consider them both necessary. L de Lolita Lempicka has been discontinued in the U.S. I cannot stress this enough: if you find it, buy it.

Hermes 24, Faubourg

24, Faubourg is one of those rich, grand jasmine-and-amber fragrances that were so popular in the last century, but 24, Faubourg is much sexier than most of the other scents in that category. It is sweet and powdery, but far from girlish or insipid. Highly recommended to fans of classic florals.

DKNY Be Delicious

I suspect that when Roucel begins work on a new perfume, he thinks to himself “Go big or go home”. The vibrant, exhilarating DKNY Be Delicious is proof that Roucel has yet to go home. Be Delicious is an apple scent, but it could not be further from the standard sweet, demure apple fragrance. No, Be Delicious is a spectacularly tart, fluorescent green apple, the likes of which have yet to be genetically engineered.

Le Labo Jasmin 17

This is the one Roucel creation that I can’t get particularly excited about. Jasmin 17, oddly enough, does not smell like jasmine. Instead, it is a perfectly pretty soapy orange blossom fragrance. There is little to distinguish it from the hundreds of other soapy orange blossom fragrances, although it does lack the unfortunate screechiness that is becoming common in those scents.

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

First, I must point out that New Haarlem is virtually identical to Rochas Man, an earlier Roucel creation. Rochas Man is much cheaper, so if you are not a bottle ho, you should buy that instead. (I am a bottle ho. No shame.) Having said that, both New Haarlem and Rochas Man are deliciously golden woody fragrances. The Bond website alleges a coffee note, and I can see that connection, but New Haarlem is not so literal as to actually smell like coffee. It does, however, have a pleasantly roasted quality.

46 thoughts on “It’s Maurice Roucel Day!

  1. I too am a major Roucel lover. A couple I like that you didn’t mention: Gucci Envy (popcicle green floral) and Roberto Cavalli Oro (disco eggnog).

    However, I must beg to differ that “Musc Ravageur has received nothing but adoration from perfume lovers” — Luca Turin was meh on it and so am I. 🙂 To my nose it has a very sharp woody amber note that overwhelms the rest. Luckily, I love L and it’s much cheaper.

    Good to know about Rochas Man being close to New Haarlem! I’ll have to try it next time I’m at Sephora.

    1. Elisa, I tried Gucci Envy once and remember being impressed by it, but I couldn’t hunt it down and didn’t want to write a review based on a hazy memory.
      Aha, we have a Musc Ravageur hater! Thank you for speaking up. You are very lucky that you get to save so much by preferring L! 🙂
      Rochas Man is EXTREMELY similar to New Haarlem, but it’s getting harder to find. It’s no longer on the Sephora website, but it’s super cheap elsewhere online.

      1. Selina and Ari, it’s a spicy, citrusy oriental (think orange, cinnamon and nutmeg, creamy vanilla) — and it can usually be found cheaply at discounters, like L. I’ll warn you, the bottle is incredibly silly! It’s very tall and slender and comes with a plastic snake coiled around the spray nozzle….

        1. Ari, I prefer L, which I think is a kind of a masterpiece as far as gourmands go. Oro lacks the chocolate/patchouli angle of L, and just generally doesn’t feel quite as complex. It’s a great holiday perfume though.

    1. My local Sephora is too wimpy to stock the EDP of Insolence. What are your impressions of it? How is it different from the original Insolence?

        1. I found the edp horrifyingly shrieky. I mean, like lost in an endless parking lot with every. single. car alarm. BLARING. It gave me nightmares.

          I could just be wimpy.

        2. I’ve heard the original Insolence described as having a ‘hairspray’ topnote, and I agree, but I always tend to look over the obvious (I also probably like the smell of Elnett!) and to me, it’s more of a cold, TREMBLING, ‘ICED’ thing, I don’t know how to describe this but it’s a very common quality given by violets! … which I think -IMO- is clearly missing in the EDP.

          And as the EDT dries down is much more related to my beloved Après L’Ondée than the dark ‘bomboney’ EDP (that I appreciate, but I don’t love).

    1. I had no idea there was a Mario Bros movie!!! Might have something to do with the fact that I was 2 when it came out. I have never tried K de Krizia, I’ll have to hunt it down!

  2. The only one I’ve yet smelled of these is the Hermes one, I remember I was impressed by it but thought it too ladylike and grown up. That was a couple of years ago now, I think I will give it a new try next time I visit a Hermes boutique 🙂 .
    Most of all I would like to try Musc ravageur though, it sounds so yummy!

    1. Oh, you totally need to try Musc Ravageur! Frederic Malle does samples on their website- they’re not totally free like they used to be, but I believe they are only the cost of shipping.

  3. I remember stumbling upon a Lolita Lempicka display at a discount perfume store when I was about twelve, and thinking that I had hit the jackpot. The bottles all looked like fairy perfumes, and I was determined that one day, when I was rich, I would buy all of them. The perfume I picked to try in the store was L (because the bottle looked like a mermaid) and I felt terribly elegant all day. I’m still not rich, but I’m highly tempted to buy a bottle of L off the internet, to see if I find it as elegant as I did when I was twelve.

    1. What a sweet story! I really encourage you to hunt down the L de Lolita Lempicka- I think it is really special. If you are having trouble finding it for a good price, it is very cheap at my local discounter’s- I would be happy to find you a bottle and send it to you! I love reuniting people with favorite perfumes from their past.

      1. I’ve done some looking, and sadly none of the stores in my area sell it. Online it looks like it’s around $20-30 for 1oz. Do you know approximately how much the discount store sells it for? I hate to sound like a miser, but I try to save money where I can (college is a killer on the wallet).

        1. It is around $28 at my local discount stores, so it sounds like the online deals are just as good or better. Wanting to save money is hardly miserly! I consider miserly to mean ungenerous when dealing with others, not when buying yourself perfume!

  4. Liked Musc Ravageur in the oil form. Found Missoni absolutely indigestible (but you know me and chocolate fumes, bleargh), likewise L (wearing it felt like I’d swallowed a bowling ball). Broadway Nite should have been very me, but it was a little too neon.

    Hate Be Delicious, hate Envy, admire but can’t wear 24, Faubourg… used to like Tocade, but these days I find it a little too smoky/raspy. Have already explained my RUNANDHIDE reaction to Insolence edp.

    Guess I’m not a Maurice fan. I think he rocks that mustache, though. That’s a guy I’d like to have dinner with; I bet he’d be a blast.

    1. Oooh, we got a Maurice hater here, y’all! What a shame that virtually none of these perfumes work on you. You’ve tried his Iris Silver Mist though, right? What did you think of that?

        1. Yeah, somehow I suspect that ISM is not Serge’s biggest seller. I would imagine they keep it around as more of a monument.

  5. Wow, thanks for this! I didn’t know about Maurice Roucel, or that he was the thread connecting so many perfumes I own and adore, L, Be delicious, Faubourg. Now more curious about New Harleem than ever!

  6. I am wearing Missoni today. I don’t actually like it very much (planning to swap away my mini – just wanted to make sure I don’t like it before I get rid of it!), but I have fond feelings for it since it is how I got started into this whole perfumista business. I read an interview in some magazine with LT and TS. They raved and raved about Missoni and chocolate in perfume sounded so interesting, so I tried tracking some down. My Nordstrom didn’t have any (maybe it was already discontinued by then), so I started looking on ebay and got the mini and some spray samples. I did like it at first, but it is quite odd.

    The only other one I’ve really worn is New Haarlem. I think I smell some coffee in there, but maybe only because I’ve been told it’s in there. It’s nice, but a little heavy for me.

        1. I’m surprised it’s not a seasonal regular at Dunkin Donuts yet! I bet Starbucks could make a yummy maple latte if they put their minds to it.

    1. I adored New Haarlem for years, but when I finally got a full bottle (I had a decant first, followed proper perfumista procedure!) I just found it too masculine on me. I ultimately sold it to the wonderful @jewel_makeup.

      I will keep quiet on the subject of LT and TS’s perfume tastes 😀

  7. Well, now I will never see Maurice Roucel as anything but Mario. Rather far from my previous image of him doing the tango with Michelyn at CaFleureBon.

    I’m throwing in another vote for Gucci Envy — I loved it when it first came out, haven’t worn it for a long time, but recently scored a full 100ml tester bottle for $10 at a thrift store. I like Elisa’s description of it as a “popsicle green floral” and while it is no Diorissimo, I’m pretty taken with anything lily of the valley.

    I’m also one of the few who like the 2006 Missoni (also a recent inexpensive acquisition). On first sniff I was horrified — too sweet, eek chocolate. But some had gotten on fabric and the next day I kept wondering where that fabulous smell was coming from. I still like it better on fabric, but I do now understand how someone could want to wear something sweet and foody. Again, Elisa nails it with “Tootsie Rolls.” I’d really like to find the original Missoni that Meg/Olenska has written about — no chocolate, plummy chypre.

    1. Glad we agree on the Tootsie Rolls! I don’t like the top notes of Missoni, but the drydown is a very pretty beachy floral (which I’ll never experience again, because I gave away my sample…)

    2. I’m sure Mario has tangoed too, in his day…
      Elisa’s descriptions are always spot-on! When did that original Missoni come out? I have never heard a thing about it. Meg/Olenska always has the best antique store finds.

  8. Well, I enjoyed these mini reviews very much, and can see the Roucel signature now that you draw our attention to it. Agree on Jasmin 17 being soapy orange, though I like it and fancy I detect the odd flash of jasmine.

    And Musc Rav is great, while 24 Faubourg is civet city on me – more animalic than the one with the overtly raunchy name.

    Loving the genetically engineered apples! Is it too late to modify Zelda and her biting?

    And somewhere in the archives of Cafleurebon is a video of MC dancing with MR. It isquite something. I think it was him…

  9. I laughed so hard when I saw the first picture! I didn’t know L by Lolita Lempicka was discontinued, but I did find it at TJ Maxx for $15 so I should have known.

    1. It was discontinued for the weirdest reason, too- the color of the liquid quickly changes (from blue-green to brown), which apparently freaked out customers. But instead of trying to solve that issue, they just scrapped it altogether. I really don’t understand why, it was an absolutely delectable scent for a great price.

  10. With all respect to Musc Ravageur and their fans… from de FM line I’ve been impressed by the more risky and edgy creation ‘Dans Tes Bras’ infinitely more (also by Mario). I mean in terms of olfactory challenging.

    And of course………: Insolence! ………. And at an earlier time: Tocade! 🙂

    I still remember how Insolence hit me profoundly… I hadn’t cried for a perfume ‘child memory’ since Angel came to town years before… and then came the another GREATEST HIT of the times I’m living, and that’s Insolence, which suddenly reminded me of ‘something’ … so known and familiar… but totally hidden in my mind… To my mind came things like …what the vintage lipsticks used to smell in the past! and also almond and violet candies.
    INSOLENCE was the very first perfume to make me feel absolutely HAPPY while wearing it, like if I was traveling in a time machine.

    Some time after, I’ve realized it’s something that has to be related to Après L’Ondée and l’Heure Bleue, too. So, (for the love of His Moustache!), i HAVE TO BE immensely grateful to Raucel for giving INSOLENCE, and providing me the key, the inroad into the Guerlain’s essentials and into the Guerlain whole spirit… Without INSOLENCE, this had never been possible to me.

    Thanks Ari for this tribute to one of the greats!

    **I quite like L by Lolita Lempicka (I have to retry Musc Ravageur and check the similarities!) I even like Fleur de Corail (from Roucel too).
    (from Lempicka I only dislike ‘Si Lolita’… which I truly consider a tease!)

  11. Great list. I’m curious about Broadway Nite.

    Another gem by Roucel is Insolence eau de parfum and l’instant.

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