Post by Anne-Marie
Ah … Tocade! This is one of the perfumes forever associated with critic Luca Turin. A bit of ‘harmless fun with roses and vanilla’ is what he called it in Perfumes: the Guide, but so beautifully done from top to bottom, with simple materials normally taken for granted, that it deserves five stars.
Tocade by Maurice Roucel for Rochas 1994
Lullaby of Broadway
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green notes, freesia, bergamot, geranium
Heart: Magnolia, iris, orchid, jasmne, lily-of-the-valley, rose
Base: Patchouli, musk, amber, vanilla, cedar
I have no quarrel with a perfume that sets out do nothing but please receiving a top rating. Why not? Aren’t Shakespeare’s comedies masterpieces as well as entertainments? Does something have to be cool, dark or moody to deserve the highest accolade? No indeed. No-one – not even me! – can wear Chanel No 19 every day.
That said, I don’t completely love Tocade. It is a bit too loud and too artificial (LT likens it to nail varnish) for me. I enjoy the sillage much more than the scent on skin. Vanilla is Tocade’s key message, and I can only take vanilla in moderate amounts, usually.
There is a darkness to Tocade as well though. I think its ‘pretty, dancing feet’ have seen a few tawdry dance floors over the years. You know that beautiful song ‘Lullaby of Broadway’? It’s been recorded many times but I love Diana Reeves’ version, which pulls the tempo right back to a sweet, wistful imagining the life of a Broadway performer. Behind the ‘hip hooray and ballyhoo’ is a weary existence for a girl who works all night, every night. It’s early in the morning before she can go home to sleep; the ‘milkman on his way’.
Tocade is her perfume. It’s a pretty, showy piece but with a haunting density of patchouli and cedar underneath. The vanilla is smoky as well as sweet. Backstage, as our ‘broadway baby’ she waits for her next cue, she rubs her calloused feet, mends the laced on her dress, and longs for her rest. Sure, her ‘daddy’ buys her ‘this and that’. Perfume, sweets and roses adorn her corner of the dressing room. But when she goes home, she sleeps alone.
Tocade has strong sillage and lasts ages. I snapped up a bottle in the old, crazy packaging, but in 2013 Rochas shoved Tocade into a uniform bottle. I don’t know if the formula has changed, so do comment if you have compared them.
The apparent simplicity of Tocade never fails to give me something to think about. And what about you? Do you have a perfume in your collection which is as puzzling as it is beguiling? Sweet but sad?
Until next time, keep spritzing everyone!