Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rochas Byzance

Please visit The Examiner where this article is today's featured review: NY Fragrance Examiner: Rochas Byzance: where East meets West in perfume

Byzance - The descriptive word "opulent" was created for this classic perfume by Rochas. Launched in 1987, Byzance, as per their advertisement, is the meeting of East and West, the conceptual idea taken from the Byzantine period (read about the Byzantine Empire on Wiki here). Although this is a very traditional French-style perfume characterized by its complex and powdery Aldehydic nature, it smells to me of traditional Arabian (Eastern, or Oriental) resins and spices, epitomizing the description of the scent of amber as written in this Wiki entry on Perfume: "Amber (Traditional): A large fragrance class featuring the sweet slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, often combined with vanilla, flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins, which bring to mind Victorian era imagery of the Middle East and Far East". So, to me, Byzance is a perfume aptly named for its Floral-Oriental-Ambery-Spicy-Animalic character. It's so potent, I once reviewed it as being the kind of heavy, intoxicating scent I would imagine ancient Egyptian mummies were annointed with when being buried, to help take them over "to the other side".

Warm and rich, highly fragrant and long-lasting, the main characteristic of Byzance is muskiness. Just as John Oakes had envisioned Salome wearing Moschino (original), I imagine her in Byzance. Although Byzance smells unique, I could compare it to other spicy Oriental perfumes such as Calvin Klein Obsession (1985) or Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles (1962), both containing citrus top notes, rich floral hearts, spices and heavy, balsamic, sweet ambery-woody-musky-animalic bases (although Byzance is mellower, less spicy than those two). It can be compared to Boucheron (1988) which followed Byzance just a year after but which became more popular, probably due to Boucheron being more effusively clear and bright whereas Byzance is more Old World dusty and heavy. The basil added to citrus-orange notes in Byzance give it a sharpness while the jasmine-tuberose-Turkish rose heart give it the traditionally floral, emotional resonance. This is a perfume that's jam-packed with everything but the kitchen sink and willingly gives it all away, one slowly revealed, mysterious layer at a time.