Macassar 
Rochas (1980)

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Average Rating:  31 User Reviews

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Macassar by Rochas

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About Macassar by Rochas

People & Companies

Rochas
Fragrance House
Serge Mansau
Packaging / Bottle Design

Macassar is a men's fragrance launched in 1980 by Rochas

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of Macassar by Rochas

There are 31 reviews of Macassar by Rochas.


A dense and smoky herbal leather scent, this is a very polarizing beatty. Very earthy and animalic and reminiscent of those powerhouse scents of the 80's, which for me would forever remain the golden age of macho men who were harsh and strict but when it comes to family they were ready to sacrifice everything.

This is a brutal fragrance, it isn't there to entertain an audience or to convince them of your virtues. It's an armour, painted with an emblem of ruthlessness. Well mannered but having done away with airs and graces. This smells of the sensation of briefly returning somewhere that has been resigned to the past, places that you have outgrown and moved forward from.

A grand start of green rainforest, comprising the smell of animals, flowers and leaves takes your olfactory sense by assault. Immediately after, a gorgeous mix of bergamot, some leather and a cloud of resins musk and moss work altogether in a similar way, marking you feel surrounded by a decaying forest where some wild animal could jump over you at any moment. Macassar is only for those people who like challenge in fragrances.


The story and use of Macassar in the Victorian Age is well-documented, although the history of the men's fragrance called Rochas Macassar (1980) is not. Released more or less near the apex of the uber-macho powerhouse masculine style that waxed and waned between about 1976 and 1986, Rochas Macassar was second Rochas house perfumer Nicholas Mamounas' love letter to the old hair tonic, comprised mostly of vegetable oils for sheen and perfumed with essential oils for smell. The original Oil of Macassar/Macassar Oil was registered by Rowland & Sons in 1870 (one of many purveyors), and was so ubiquitous for a time that the use of "antimacassar" doilies on the headrests of furniture also lead to the tradition of home decor that far outlived its original practical purpose; meaning that when 1980 rolled around with this new fragrance, a lot of men probably had no idea what Macassar Oil actually was. Of interesting note, the name derives not from the ebony wood of the very same, but from the port of Makassar in the former Dutch East Indies colony (now part of Indonesia proper), where most of the ingredients to make Macassar Oil were purchased, including coconut oil. Mamounas did not act alone in creating this fragrance homage to the old hairdressing however, as he also enlisted help from Roger Pellegrino, which actually informs the smell of this scent more than some without that knowledge may realize if going into buying this blind.

From the very opening you can see where the history of the late 19th Century and the overbearing virility of men's fragrance in what was then the modern age intersect, as a big slug of unbridled castoreum assaults the senses. Bergamot, pine oil, and bay are there as listed, but are so completely overwhelmed at first by the castoreum as to feel more like heart notes, since they phase in later. Once things settle down, the aromatics of the scent that really try to impart the smell of Macassar Oil take hold, including ylang-ylang, jasmine, carnation, ginger, geranium, and amber; these were all dandy-approved essences of the day, and Macassar Oil itself inadvertently became a default fragrance many upper middle-class men carried back then, just like how the scent of beeswax-based Brylcreem in the 1920's became a de-rigueur cologne among groomed gentlemen who had replaced oils with it. The dominant leather chypre underpinnings do re-assert themselves, and part of this to me feels like Pellegrino just stapled on the same base materials he had used when composing One Man Show by Jacques Bogart (1980) for release the same year as this. Of course, this means Rochas Macassar smells good if you can't get enough of castoreum leather chypres; and from its spiced components, sits halfway between the aforementioned One Man Show and something like Caron Yatagan (1976) or Capucci Punjab (1979). Performance is such that it doesn't bear mentioning. This is strong, although more so in close proximity than from afar.

With so many other spiced castoreum leathers on the market like Ted Lapidus pour Homme (1978). Halston 112 (1976), Jacomo Eau Cendrée (1970), Etienne Aigner No. 1 (1976), or even Avon Öland (1970), Rochas Macassar had a bit of a crowded market to compete against at a time when the men's fragrance counters weren't meant to be rife with so many options of similar stripe, as men outside of France were just getting comfortable with the idea of daily fragrance use, particularly US men who were a half-century behind in this regard thanks to bucolic perspectives on grooming and fashion. What this meant for Macassar was that it didn't have the same chance to stand out that Monsieur Rochas (1969) or Moustache Rochas (1949) had; and with Pellegrino's other castoreum monster (One Man Show) having a much fatter dose of green in it that allowed it to grab attention, Rochas Macassar was doomed to be a footnote in history, much like the material after which it was named. Scent-wise, I do rather like Rochas Macassar, but its extremely rarefied nature due to its low production numbers for lack of success makes it not a very alluring proposition to track down in the aftermarket. As of this review, I've seen pristine 100ml sprays ask for half a grand, making it a bonafide unicorn. A 90's re-issue exists but seems rarer than the original, and I can't vouch for its smell. A neat concept with a lazy execution, Rochas Macassar strikes me as a B-side, even if a good one. Thumbs up


Macassar Oil was a frankly gross invention. It was a mix of vegetable oils that men would plaster on their hair, thinking it was a conditioner. But it was also perfumed, and when Rowland and Sons registered Macassar Oil as a trademark in the 1870's, and then started advertising it all over England, it became probably the first mass market perfume for men.

It became so prevalent that wives and mothers would crochet antimacassars, a kind of doily that was draped over the back of setee's and armchairs to stop their men's greasy barnet staining the furniture.

There is an old looking recipe on the internet for home made Macassar oil, presumably based on the original formula. It runs like this : half a pint of bear oil [!], orange flower, jasmin, rose, carnation, bergamot, rosewood, ambergris, cloves and musk.

Macassar Rochas was also a concoction of woods, spices, florals and amber, but it didn't leave an oil slick on everything it touched. It reminds me of ashtrays, tea cosy's and ticking clocks on the mantlepiece; and those bloody doilys...


It's a very unique and pleasant fragrance and vaguely reminds me of Creed's Acier Aluminium.


Stardate 20190304:

A niche version of Bogart OMS. OMS is sharper and bitter. Galbanum in OMS is the culprit. Macassar is mellower, I guess they replaced galbanum with artemisia but I do smell some galbanum in Macassar.
Macassar has better development and drydown.
The bitterness in Macassar comes from "leather" vs Galbanum of OMS.

Both were released in 1980 and had the same perfumer. I guess Roger Pellegrino was just being lazy :)

I am not a fan of this or OMS.



The scent pyramid listed here is incorrect, the correct pyramid is this which applies to the first edition flacons that come in the grey box:

Head: absinthe, bay, ginger, green notes, artemesia, bergamot

Heart: pine tree needless, lignum vitae (palo santo), carnation, cedarwood, geranium, jasmine, patchouli, vetiver

Base: macassarwood, guaiacwood, sandalwood, tobacco blossom, musk, ambergris, oakmoss, leather, castoreum

The scent pyramid that's listed here is for the second edition flacons that came in a black box, that formula smells different then the first editons and is much lighter in color, the first edition juice is dark golden brown unlike the second edition which is dark yellow. The first editons are the only way to go although there was a slight reformulation to 'brighten' the composition which took place around 1986, that color of juice is a tad lighter with less leather, far more patchouli and musk but still just as highly pleasurable to adorn but has the advantage of far better note separation.

This scent doesn't belong from 1980 at all, Macassar doesn't smell like an 80's creation, this perfume is way ahead of it's time and is über elegant with pure class. Extremely unusual smelling, intoxicating and one of a kind that kinda resembles Chanel's Coco Noir to a degree with some added tobacco but a guy's version of course, never came across anything like this before, very dark and honestly makes you feel like a million bucks. This is a top notch perfume, you can just feel it when you're wearing it from beginning to end. There's nothing off putting about Macassar, it gets better and better. The opening hour is a tad weird and 'fuzzy' but after that when the patch and jasmine kick in, wowzers, can't explain it one bit. This is the best perfume from the 80's that I've experienced, ever, madly in love with this stuff but then again, I'm a patchouli whore. I could seriously write a book about this, Macassar blows my mind and I've smelled so much in my life.

This is a patchouli and leather perfume that has been executed perfectly, masterpiece material. The combination of jasmine and patchouli run throughout which are the main players underneath of oakmoss, musk, leather, amber, sandalwood and macassarwood, it's extremely difficult to describe. There's this to die for soapiness from the jasmine that's amazing beyond words which cuts through everything and balances this perfume. There is a phenomenal amber accord from the heart notes until the long, long drydown that recreates this sightly sweet olfactory illusion but the beauty of this scent is the jasmine/patch combo, beautiful beyond words. There's this very deep something in the base that hits the nose in just the right spot that's almost animalic in feel. Dries down to a soft white musk, suede, macassar wood, jasmine and patchouli on the most beautiful base of real oakmoss and castoreum that's as smooth as velvet, it's indescribable, really. I wish that I had the know how to describe this scent properly but I do not, the complexity of Macassar stumps me.

I've read all of the reviews everywhere on this masterful blend and am quite confused. Macassar is not a beast, yes it has amazing sillage and qualifies as strong if you bathe in it but this is elegance at its best, very well mannered and projects nicely and this is coming from an individual who is very weary about their perfume being too strong. There's nothing macho hairy chested about this, nothing, it's as smooth as butter with panache and quality that's to die for. Macassar is completely wearable and silky smooth. There's no gorilla in a suit here, none, sorry. Another amazing thing is that if you can get an atomized flacon, the atomizer itself is very well controlled so you can adjust your application accordingly from a tiny spritz to a full on wide spray. Two sprays for me and it's perfect for an easy 12 hours. Another thing is that you can always feel this scent, you don't become anosmic to it due to this composition being incredibly complex so it's always changing.

Superb lasting power that survives showers, honest. I've had this concoction come back to life again under Kouros of all perfumes which smelled like Kouros with suede underneath, in fact the wood in this perfume is so creamy in the far drydown that it comes across as oud once it's hit the far drydown. I could've sworn that there was some oud in this mix secretly, the wood is too creamy in the drydown with a wee bit of funk as well and if you've experienced the far drydown of some real agarwood then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about here. You really gotta be down with patchouli and leather to like this scent or you're going to hate it. I for one understand the hype and get the astronomical asking prices which are worth every penny in my opinion. The flacons themselves, atomized or splash are unique, handsome and a pleasure to look at.

I fell so hard for this masterpiece that I've sourced every vintage flacon that I could get my hands on which cost me a small fortune in the end and I have no regrets whatsoever, except for the money I've spent.

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