Rochas’ Mystere (1978)

Rochas Mystere © Victor Wong
Rochas Mystere © Victor Wong

I don’t think there is a single shop in Toronto that carries the long discontinued and highly sought after perfume, Mystere (1978). Actually, there is one, but they are not selling: they have a 100ml tester bottle that’s half-used. The shop owner has a policy that they never sell any testers unless all the current stock of that perfume is sold. In this case, they still have some mini 5ml Mystere Parfums up for sale, but they are very expensive for their size. They want me to buy all of them in order to let me buy that tester bottle! I didn’t oblige, but I was curious enough to ask why they had that policy.

The salesperson told me that some years ago a man begged the owner to sell him a tester bottle because (drama alert) it was his dying wife’s wish to smell her favourite but discontinued perfume. The owner was very moved and sold it to him, but he didn’t want to open a new box to use it as a tester. As a result, people couldn’t test it, and they ain’t gonna buy them. He got frustrated and came up with the policy that no tester is to be sold.

(I was initially very moved by the story, but I wondered why didn’t that guy buy a brand new bottle? The only possible answer is that that tester bottle was vintage, but new ones behind it was reformulated/redesigned.)

The original Mystere bottle looks very confusing and strange to me at first – a parallelogram bottle with a giant black oval cap, unexpectedly weird for its time or even now. The one I own is just a generic round Rochas bottle, but that doesn’t deter me from appreciating the scent – it’s one of those scents that I’ll occasionally take the cap off to sniff, put the cap back on, and immediately take it off and smell again.

Leather is not listed in the formula, but Mystere smells like supple moist leather that gives off the most addictive herbal and animalistic scents, the kind that you’d like to feel in your hands, but wonder what is it used for because it’s so soft; it has tons of floral in it, but all the heavy-scented ingredients such as rosemary, carnation, trees, spices, oak moss, patchoulis, civet butts suppress it to almost a semi-masculine scent. It smells vintage now, but you cannot go wrong wearing it!

Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit or for more info!

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