Love Letter to Chypre

Cool, inky, powdery, nutty, dark… It’s hard to explain what’s so compelling about the smell of moss, but Patricia attempts it here and shares her love for all things mossy and chypre.

It was many years before I learned that my favorite perfumes, for the most part, fell into a group called “chypres.” I had no idea that they had anything in common, except that I loved the combination of cool and elegant with dark and almost feral notes, the sacred and profane all rolled into one. Chypre, I found out later, referred to a distinctive accord based around several different elements, but as Victoria mentions in her article on the history of chypre, the important chypre ingredient is oakmoss.

miss-dior-ad

The oakmoss is exactly why chypres are not without controversy. Due to restrictions by the  IFRA (International Fragance Association) on the use of oakmoss because of its status as an allergen, the formulas of beloved old favorites have been radically altered. Enter synthetic oakmoss and the resultant buzz in the perfume community about dramatic change of beloved chypres like Guerlain Mitsouko, Chanel No 19 and Parfum Grès Cabochard.

But my story begins much earlier when a mother gifted a bottle of Miss Dior to a young teen who wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Was it pretty? It was. Was it sharp and nose-wrinkling? It was that, too. Miss Dior had already been around for a couple of decades when she found a place on my dresser top and had already enchanted many with her love-me-love-me-not quality. The green and peppery opening in Miss Dior progresses from gardenia and jasmine to a creamy drydown of sandalwood and dark leather. In the end, the teen decided that it was true love, and my fascination with all things mossy was born.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Y, created in 1964 and reissued two years ago, was another early favorite. It opens with a blast of green leaves, coriander and peach skin that is rather quickly followed by a dry, almost prim, combination of iris and moss. Very wearable, it was often reached for in the days when my perfumes could be counted in single digits. Gentlemen, don’t be put off by its designation as a woman’s perfume. Its crisp dryness would be very nice on a man. The same applies to many other chypres, both classical and modern.

After Miss Dior and Y, it was a short hop to young adulthood and Givenchy Ysatis (coconut and flowers and lots of them), Scherrer 2 (spicy ylang ylang and patchouli), Ivoire de Balmain (green jasmine and soap bubbles), and Krizia Teatro alla Scala (honeyed carnations and sandalwood). Though I wore them all, the closest to a signature scent during this time period was K de Krizia.

Created in 1982 by perfumer Maurice Roucel, K de Krizia exemplifies the flamboyant  1980s style. There is nothing subtle about its combination of exuberant green notes and lush hyacinth, although the fizzy opening of mandarin and coriander doesn’t indicate that what follows is a true bombshell. K de Krizia is also packed with rose, amber, musk, and sandalwood, and while a tart mandarin lingers in the drydown, the perfume is as curvy as Sophia Loren. Although these days I only need a small sample to remind me of its power, K de Krizia still moves me and brings with it a flood of memories.

Though the modern chypres lack the dark earthiness of pre-regulation formulas, they have a charm of their own. Favorites in this group are Keiko Mecheri’s Ume (cedarwood soaked in plum syrup), Parfum d’Empire’s Eau Suave (mossy rose and violet), Serge Luten’s Daim Blond (soft as apricot skin suede), Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (peppery iris and antique woods), and Acqua di Parma Profumo (patchouli mixed with jasmine and ripe peaches).

Right now, my favorite modern chypre is Chypre Palatin by Parfums MDCI. The first time I smelled it, I was nearly brought to my knees by its elegant but dramatic blend of tangerine zest, lavender, and rose, all wrapped in layers of velvety moss. The drydown of smoky vanilla and dry leather seems to go on forever. It promises to be my chypre obsession for this decade.

Extra:  learn how to pronounce “chypre” .

Do you like chypres? If so, what are your favorites?

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136 Comments

  • The Blue Squid: I enjoyed reading this- thank you. I don’t wear many chypres. However, I did get some Rochas Mystere a while ago for cheapish, and it has all the desirable qualities you describe. Might have to wear it tomorrow. December 9, 2013 at 7:44am Reply

    • Patricia: Chypres are especially nice during the fall and winter months, I think. Enjoy your Mystere! December 9, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

  • Lucas: Hi Patricia!
    Chypres are one of my favourite perfume families, the other two are fougeres and citrus (and iris but it’s not a perfume family)

    I’m happy to see some of my favorite chypres, like Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave or MDCI Chypre Patalin. I also like Durbano Pink Quartz and Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli in this group.

    Too bad I’m so young and got into perfumery just a few years ago. I have no idea how old classic chypres smelled like. December 9, 2013 at 8:28am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Lucas! (waving). I share your love for citrus and like fougeres on men.

      I have never heard of Durbano Pink Quartz, but think I have a sample of Grand Neroli around somewhere. Is it better than Orange Sanguine? I’ve been obsessed with that one lately (along with Silver Iris).

      Never regret your youth. I will be gone all too soon :). December 9, 2013 at 8:37am Reply

      • Lucas: Durbano Pink Quartz is essentially incense with rose, but there really is something chypre-ish about it. I much prefer Grand Neroli over Orange Sanguine. I bought Siver Iris couple of months ago December 9, 2013 at 9:50am Reply

        • Patricia: I love incense and rose fragrances, so I will need to try the Durbano Pink Quartz. I haven’t bought Silver Iris yet, as I have a decent-sized decant to get through first. I didn’t like Gold Leather, though (more on that to come). December 9, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Patricia, your story about Miss Dior was so sweet! 🙂 I haven’t had the pleasure of smelling perfumes before the IFRA restrictions came into place. I still have difficulty with some of the Chypres but so far, I liked No 19, Cuir de Russie and SL Rose de Nuit (only tested the wax sample but I really liked it). I like Eau Sauvage but I don’t know whether it can be classified as a Chypre. December 9, 2013 at 8:28am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Anne. I think that chypres are a learned preference for many. The more I smell them, the better I like them. I compare them to difficult pieces of classical music. Since I’m not innately musical, it takes attention and careful listening before I can appreciate many complicated works.

      Although I don’t know if Eau Sauvage would be considered a chypre or a citrus, it certainly has oakmoss in the dry down, always a plus in my book! December 9, 2013 at 8:47am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Your post has motivated me to wear Parfums de Nicolai’s Odalisque today. Throughout the whole day I oscillated between “I can’t bear it. It smells too weird” and “No wait, actually it smells quite nice and interesting”.

        I’m relieved (?) that I’m not the only one who has difficulty with Mitsouko (from your comment below). I like it once the peach peeps out but the blast in the beginning makes me scared.

        I like your comparison with classical music. I guess it takes more time to appreciate something that’s complex and abstract. I’ll keep trying! 🙂 December 10, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

        • Patricia: I’ll keep trying, too :). December 11, 2013 at 6:54pm Reply

  • Anka: I have to try Chypre Palatin, it really sounds devine, thank you for your inspiring post!
    My absolute favorite chypre is Acqua di Parma’s Profumo (EdP) but unfortunately it has been reformulated in 2009 and without the oakmoss it’s now a completely different kind of fragrance. Still nice but far from being THE one. I recently tested Tom Ford’s Arabian Wood and considered it a bit similar to the old Profumo but I’ll have to give it another try. Other favorites are Aromatics Elixir, Chanel No 19 and Mitsouko.
    From the modern chypres I appreciate Aedes de Venustas (Signature Scent) and Lady Vengeance (Julitte has a Gun). December 9, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Anka, for your many suggestions of chypre favorites.

      I need to retry Mitsouko, as it has been several years since my last attempt. For me it’s not an easy fragrance to love.

      TF Arabian Wood is a must-try for me, especially if it smells like the pre-reformulation Profumo! I have an old partially filled bottle of Profumo that I bought online a few years ago, and it is stunningly beautiful. December 9, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

    • Phyllis Iervello: I bought two bottles of the original formulation of Acqua di Parma’s Profumo when I was in Italy several years before the 2009 reformulation. I used up the first bottle but recently just opened the second. I love this fragrance. December 9, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

      • Patricia: Hi Phyllis. I am green with envy. I paid a pretty penny for my small amount of original Profumo and am doling it out by drops. I have the new one, but it’s just not the same :(. December 9, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Chypres are a love- hate for me. I do love
    Cuir de Russie and Chanel No. 19 but there are many other chypres that make me shudder like Clinique Aromatics Elixir. I think CAE is brilliant in its composition but I just cannot wear it. Great article and it really helped me understand this ‘genre’ of perfumes. December 9, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi ricky, I’m right with you on Clinique Aromatics Elixir. I find it totally unwearable, although I agree that it is well made.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article :). December 9, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

      • Susiebelle: Most fragrances smell terrible on me. One that doesn’t is Aromatics Elixir. Last summer, I was in a store and smelled something kind of familiar and gorgeous. The wearer walked out with me and I asked what it was. She said, “Aromatics Elixir.” It just smelled better on her!

        She then told me she was recovering from surgery for a brain tumor and had lost her sense of smell. But she loved perfume so much, she still wore it. The odds were good that her sense of smell would return and she asked me if she applied too much. I told her it was perfect and wished her a speedy recovery.

        Now that’s a perfumer lover! December 9, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

        • Patricia: That’s a lovely story, Susiebelle. Thank you for sharing it. December 9, 2013 at 7:23pm Reply

  • FearsMice: How lucky you were to be that teen! Thanks for a great article, Patricia. December 9, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, FearsMice. I was indeed fortunate to have had that early exposure to fine perfume :). December 9, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

  • Michael: I’m glad to see Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon, one of my favourite perfumes, in your article. Another one of my favourite chypres is Fleurs de Sel by Miller Harris. The saline note is not an easy one to incorporate into a perfumery, but I think Lyn Harris does so successfully through the use of ambrette seed. When I wear FDS in the summer, the warmer weather brings out the herbaceous side of the fragrance (thyme, rosemary, clary sage) whereas the flowers and woods are more pronounced and in the autumn and winter. My newest (Miller Harris) purchase is La Feuille, from the newly launched Perfumer’s Library collection which she describes as a modern chypre for women. I love the combination of green ivy leaves and compote of red berries, tempered by the creaminess of oakmoss. December 9, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

    • Patricia: Green ivy leaves, red berries, and oakmoss? I am so there! I have several samples of Miller Harris perfumes, but haven’t sprung for a bottle yet. Maybe La Feuille will be the one. December 9, 2013 at 10:05am Reply

      • Michael: It smells very Christmassy but I think it’s light enough to wear throughout the year. From the same collection, Verger was the one that intrigued me the most and it smelled really nice on the testing stick, but unfortunately it didn’t work on me. December 9, 2013 at 10:20am Reply

        • Patricia: Don’t you hate when that happens? December 9, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

          • Michael: Yes, I am in fourteen million depressions when something like that happens! LOL My body has an averse reaction to vetiver, so most fragrances that have this ingredient as the main note tends to turn sour on me. Fortunately, I am able to wear most florals and chypres. December 9, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

            • Patricia: That’s too bad about the vetiver reaction. I do love to smell vetiver on a man (but not on me). December 9, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

  • Ingeborg: Lovely text, and so good with some hints on what to try. I got a sample of SL Daim Blond in October so should try it again. Would love a separate post on the “modern” green chypres, they seem very often to appeal to me. December 9, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

    • Patricia: Great idea, Ingeborg, on a separate article on the modern green chypres. I like them, too, and frankly, that is what is available to us chypre-lovers now. I don’t want to dwell on what is past and now unattainable. December 9, 2013 at 10:36am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Great article about my favourite perfume family, the Chypres. I love all green, sharp perfumes. My current favourites are Sous Le Vent and Mitsouko–I always return to Guerlain. Als many others, I love Aromatics Elixir. And Silences, Y, Magie Noire. I know the current Miss Dior (L’Original) has a bad reputation, but I can still appreciate it. The first blast is too sharp (I skip that, don’t smell my wrist for half an hour), but in the drydown I smell the ghost of Miss Dior.
    Empreinte (Courèges) was my favourite in the past, discontinued. December 9, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

    • Patricia: Chypres are like cilantro. Despite my craving for it, I can understand why it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Speaking of sharp greens, what about Ma Griffe? Did you ever wear that one? It was a best friend’s SS, so I enjoyed it when she wore it but never used it myself.

      I haven’t tried the current Miss Dior (L’Original), but I’m glad to hear that it at least is reminiscent of the original in the dry down. December 9, 2013 at 3:49pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Good point: Ma Griffe! I never wore it and never smelled it. How is that famous perfume nowadays? Is it worth seeking?

        And hoe could I forget Femme de Rochas! December 9, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Hm..hoe is Dutch for how.
          And I forget to mention Diva.. December 9, 2013 at 5:16pm Reply

        • Patricia: I don’t think that Ma Griffe is available anymore, except at online auctions. I have a tiny amount that I sniff now and then to remember my friend, who sadly left us all too soon. December 9, 2013 at 7:26pm Reply

          • Lynley: There are a few incarnations of MG, apparently some are way better than others as always seems to be the case. I haven’t smelled the original only the bulky square version which I love in summer. Carven has just re-released it so I am curious as to the ‘new’ version!

            Also Vent Vert. Chypres are a risky territory for me. I find I love some, like Bandit, but others literally repulse me, like Alliage or Aromatics Elixir. I think my problem with them is the galbanum, it kind of sticks in my throat :-/ December 9, 2013 at 10:50pm Reply

            • Patricia: Thank you, Lynley, for the update on Ma Griffe.

              Galbanum can be tricky for me, too. Although I like the way Aromatics Elixer smells, I get a kind of choking sensation if I try to wear it. As I remember, the dry down was unpleasant as well. Just way too heavy. December 10, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

          • Jackie: I know this is an old post I’m replying to here, but I did a search of BdJ for Ma Griffe, as I knew I’d seen it discussed somewhere here! I tested it today in a shop here in Vancouver, BC that sells discontinued fragrances — the woman actually broke the plastic wrap on the box and opened the bottle to give me the tiniest squirt: one teeny little spray on the back of my wrist, and it’s still going strong! I’m loving it! $59 for 100 ml and $47 for 50 ml. (I’d sprayed Chanel #5 parfum on my other wrist, so I’ve got quite the sillage going here!) I would have to go back and look to see if this is the new version or the old, but I suspect it’s the old as the store’s supposed to be all discontinued scents and the minute spray she gave me has some serious lasting power. January 5, 2015 at 11:40pm Reply

            • Patricia: Hi Jackie, What a find! I hope you went back and bought a bottle. Ma Griffe is so lovely.

              Thank you for posting about your discovery 🙂 January 6, 2015 at 8:41am Reply

    • annemariec: Oh I think Empreinte back. I did not smell the original but people who have say that the new one is very good. I find it has very poor lasting power, sadly. December 10, 2013 at 2:21am Reply

      • Patricia: It is so discouraging when you find something you like and it only lasts an hour or two. Especially if it is too expensive to lavishly reapply. December 10, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you, Annemariec! I will try to find it, as it was a big favourite. Two hours is more than nothing. December 10, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

  • Elisa: It took me a while to appreciate chypres but I’m glad I made the effort! Some of my favorites are rose chypres like Paloma Picasso and L’Arte di Gucci. I also really like Paco Rabanne Metal in spring, which I find to be fuller and huskier than No. 19.

    I must find a sample of K de Krizia — I love Roucel! December 9, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: A wonderful rose chypre: Knowing!
      Roucel is the one of L’Instant de Guerlain and Tocade, isn’t he? a genius! December 9, 2013 at 12:00pm Reply

      • Patricia: Also Envy and Hermes 24 Faubourg! December 9, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: And Iris Silver Mist! That puts him on the Olympus of the perfumers. December 10, 2013 at 4:59am Reply

      • Elisa: Yes, I love Knowing!

        More Roucels to love: Broadway Nite, L de Lolita Lempicka, Roberto Cavalli Oro. December 10, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

        • Patricia: More Roucels to try :). December 11, 2013 at 6:57pm Reply

    • Patricia: Paloma Picasso is such a beautiful perfume, but sadly gives me a headache, the only perfume to do so. Haven’t tried L’Arte di Gucci.

      If you have trouble finding K de Krizia let me know and I’ll send you a sample. I seem to have a bunch of those super-minis :). December 9, 2013 at 12:47pm Reply

      • Elisa: Thank you Pat! December 10, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

  • Cacomixtle: I adore chypres and, along with old fashioned orientals, they make up the bulk of my perfume wardrobe… with a special emphasis on fruity chypres. My favorite chypres include YSL Yvresse, DSH Mirabella, Jubilation 25, Rochas Femme (vintage and current), Ungaro Diva, Providence Perfume Company’s Moss Gown, and Guerlain Mitsouko.

    For more modern feeling chypres I do like Eau Sauve and Vie de Chateau. I’ve been meaning to try Chypre Palatin for some time, and this is a good reminder!

    Oh, and perhaps my favorite perfume of all is Oriza Legrand’s Chypre Mousse, which does not really smell like either an old fashioned or a modern chypre, yet is green, plush, and full of wet leaves and moss, with a touch a violets and leather.

    Long live oakmoss!

    PS If you haven’t tried it yet, you might like DSH’s Mata Hari and Mirabella, two utterly exquisite, old school, yet totally wearable fruity chypres. December 9, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Patricia: Gotta love those fruity chypres! I have not tried DSH’s Mata Hari and Mirabella and will do so asap.

      Chypre Mousse also sounds delightful. Love all those notes :). December 9, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Elisa: Have you tried Cartier So Pretty? A really lovely fruity chypre! December 10, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I second this, but I believe it is discontinued. December 10, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

        • Patricia: Is it? I have a partial bottle. Very like Chanel No. 19, but warmer. December 10, 2013 at 7:23pm Reply

  • Liz K: I love Chypres. Thank you for adding to my long must-sniff-list.
    I remember the first time I tried AE at the Clinique counter in 7th grade. I loved it and insisted on a bottle for christmas. All my friends said I smelled like an old lady but I didn’t care. Mitsouko, No. 19 the same, love at first sniff. December 9, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Liz, You were quite the sophisticated seventh grader, and good for you for following your own nose. That’s a hard thing to do in middle school!

      After all, we wear perfume to please ourselves first :). December 9, 2013 at 3:52pm Reply

  • Ann: Hi Patricia,

    It was great getting your blog this morning. It is FREEZING here in northern California today and I went to the proverbial vault for my defense—a heady, mossy, down and funky chypre, guessing it is circa the early 60s, Ritual edp by Charles of the Ritz. I am positively humming with fragrance! I must be glowing, and I am definitely smarter. Vintage chypres, for all their drama, always strike me as brainy as well. December 9, 2013 at 1:27pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Ann, I think you’ve got something there about vintage chypres being brainy!

      At least they make us smarter as our brains try to figure out their complexity, even if only on a subconscious level.

      You must smell great :). December 9, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Sabine: I love chypres so thank you for the article. I am wearing chypre palatin a lot these days and will buy a full bottle when this 12 ml sample runs out, which might be sooner than I thought. When I was in my 20s I did wear a chypre called Jean Luis Scherrer NO.2, which I haven’t seen anywhere in the UK but want to sniff again for good old times. December 9, 2013 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Sabine, Scherrer No. 2 was a huge favorite of mine, and I still wear it. Chypre Palatin reminds me of it, and I will need to do a side-by-side comparison now. I also have the 12 ml sample size of Chypre Palatin, and will definitely go the full bottle route once I drain it. December 9, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

      • Elia: Scherrer 2 although nice is not a chypre, modern or otherwise. The original Scherrer is the chypre. December 11, 2013 at 7:34am Reply

        • Patricia: Right you are! December 11, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

  • maja: My first perfumes were chypres – Y and Magie Noire – and I’ve always adored that certain austere feeling they give you. Today it’s Mitsouko, Scherrer, Chanel 19, Caleche edt.
    Thanks for other recommendations, will try to sample them somehow. 🙂 December 9, 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi maja, There’s something very special about having grown up on chypres, isn’t there? All of your favorites are mine as well. December 9, 2013 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Alicia: Patricia, thank you for your thoughts on chypres. I remember my grand mother wearing a rose chypre I loved, Crepe de Chine, now we have Lauder Knowing, a worthy one. Lauder has also one of my favorite chypres: Private Collection. Among the Chanels, number 19 (although it is not quite a chypre) is one of my autumn fragrances, and Cuir de Russie, but I love most 31 Rue Cambon. Scherrer has one of the most elegant, Rochas the gorgeous Mystere. Still my two favorites are Femme (vintage), and the unique Mitsouko. December 9, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Alicia, I haven’t tried Crepe de Chine, but love the others and have full bottles of No. 19, 31 Rue Cambon, and Femme (vintage and modern).

      I’m still on the fence about Mitsouko and promise to pull my sample tonight for another go. December 9, 2013 at 4:10pm Reply

      • Alicia: Patricia, I trained myself to understand Mitsouko. She is like a difficult poem, which you need to read again and again. And then, when you finally understand it, you realize how beautiful it is. December 9, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

        • Patricia: Hi Alicia, I enjoy poetry and your comparison between perfume and poetry is an apt one, I think.

          Coromandel was one that I didn’t love at first, but something brought me back to my sample again and again. Now I own a bottle and consider it one of my top ten favorites. December 9, 2013 at 7:32pm Reply

          • Alicia: Yes, Patricia, I love Coromandel. I am not able to say which are my top ten fragrances, but among chypres I find unforgettable Balmain Jolie Madame, and the unique Piguet Bandit. December 13, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

            • Patricia: Bandit and Jolie Madame are such beautiful old school chypres. I imagine an independent single working woman living in NYC in the 1940s when I wear them. December 13, 2013 at 8:44am Reply

  • Hildegerd: I do not think I actually have one true chypre. December 9, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Hildegerd, It’s never too late ;). December 9, 2013 at 4:11pm Reply

  • amy: My favorite class of perfumes! I wore Paloma Picasso, Magie Noire, Ysatis and No. 19 from the very beginning. I’ve been heartbroken about the reformulations. However, I’ve found a wonderful floral chypre from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz – Vert Pour Madame. Anyone who is missing the old Dior chypres must try this one! (not affiliated)

    Thanks for a lovely article. December 9, 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Amy!

      Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is getting a lot of love here today. I can see that I will need to place a sample order soon. The only one of hers that I’ve tried is Oeillets Rouge, a beautiful spicy carnation fragrance that I liked very much. December 9, 2013 at 4:19pm Reply

    • Alicia: I never thought of Ysatis as a chypre. There is no oakmoss in it. I have always considered it a splendid oriental. December 9, 2013 at 6:51pm Reply

      • Patricia: I think it’s considered an oriental chypre. Maybe it’s the extra dose of civet in it that qualifies it as a chypre :). December 9, 2013 at 7:14pm Reply

  • Adriana Galani: O yes! Miss Dior, Y, Ysatis, of course! All 3 still part of my Must ones! Pity L’Arte Di Gucci seems to have been discontinued as I am not able to get it anywhere nowadays, in spite of real efforts I came home with a long forgotten little tester I worship, and when I bought my last Magie Noire bottle, few months ago, the shop assistant was too glad she could sell it “finally”. Paloma Picaso is as well one of my deep favs, though is a love or hate kind of fragrance, on me it does good chemistry tweests. December 9, 2013 at 4:42pm Reply

    • Patricia: L’Arte di Gucci seems to be hard to obtain, but weren’t you fortunate to score a whole bottle of Magie Noire!

      As I mentioned above, I love Paloma Picasso but it doesn’t love me back. Perhaps now it wouldn’t give me headaches. It has been many years since I tried it last. December 9, 2013 at 7:05pm Reply

  • Adriana Galani: Lovely article, enjoyed reading it very much! December 9, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, Adriana! December 9, 2013 at 7:05pm Reply

  • carole macleod: I bought Miss Dior for the beautiful bottle, and because something about it reminds me of my grandmother. I don’t think she wore Miss Dior. I think she liked chypres. I love Rochas-Eau de rochas, Mystere, and Femme. Mitsuko and I are fast friends. And there is something about Irisia that makes me think of roots and leaves. December 9, 2013 at 4:55pm Reply

    • Patricia: Is Irisia by Creed still available? I’ve never tried it and would like to.

      I love the Miss Dior bottle, too. It’s just classically beautiful. December 9, 2013 at 7:17pm Reply

      • carole: I think so. I found mine in Montreal. I know Luca Turin hates the Creed line, but i like it. December 10, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

        • Patricia: I have a decant of Virgin Island Water that I enjoy very much in the summer. Other than that, I’m not very familiar with the perfumes in the Creed line. December 10, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

  • nastja: Thanks for sharing your love of chypres and the reasons – I totally get that elegant yet rutting edge to it and love it. For me, the roughest, hardest to wear, and therefore all the more beautiful chypres are the leather ones, esp. Germaine Cellier’s Bandit and Jolie Madame, as well as the Vent Vert (probably not technically leather, but definitely “rough”). I try not to be a reformulation-snoot, but I have to say, GC’s perfumes have been done a disservice — the new versions smell like cat piss in a dank corner with 2 min of charm at the top. So sad. December 9, 2013 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Patricia: I love your description of the reformulated Cellier perfumes as smelling like “cat piss in a dank corner with 2 min of charm at the top.” So funny, and sadly, so true.

      I have some vintage Bandit and Jolie Madame that I just treasure. My Bandit is the color of dark molasses, but still smells great. December 9, 2013 at 7:21pm Reply

    • annemariec: I love the term ‘reformulation-snoot’! I try not to be one of those either, and I will happily wear the current iteration of Femme. Less happy about Miss Dior and Diorella but I will wear them. I need Dioressence in vintage though. That’s where I draw the line. December 10, 2013 at 2:26am Reply

      • Patricia: Vintage Dioressence is so lovely! December 10, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

        • nastja: Thanks, Annemarie and Patricia, I will try the vintage Dioressence! December 25, 2013 at 8:15pm Reply

  • Gretchen: Oh, how I miss Cabochard-I wore that in high school, and then inexplicably moved into orientals in my 20s. A few years ago, I started collecting chypres and a few green scents (Scherrer the first one, and now Perles de Mousse, are my go-tos for summer) but not often in the winter. I may need to revisit that idea! December 9, 2013 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Patricia: I totally forgot about Perle de Mousse, a lovely modern chypre by Ann Gerard. I have a nice-sized sample of this along with Ciel d’Opale and Cuir de Nacre. Surprise, surprise, the chypre is my favorite of the three. December 10, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

    • Annikky: PdM is lovely! December 10, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

  • kaori: What a wonderful surprise! I have almost the same old favorite parfume history, except Scherrer2. A good old memory rused into my mind! Thank you, Patricia! December 9, 2013 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Patricia: Thank you, kaori. Perfume memories don’t go away, do they? December 10, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

  • Mezzodiva54: The story goes that when M. Coty created his eponymous fragrance “Chypre”, Mme. Guerlain wore it in preference to her own husband’s creations. It was Tallulah Bankhead’s signature scent when she trod the London boards in the ’20s; her faithful “gallery girls” would follow her calling “sheep, sheep” — their best attempt at the pronunciation of their idol’s favorite perfume. December 9, 2013 at 9:26pm Reply

    • Patricia: Great stories! I have a bottle of this, vintage, but of unknown formulation. It’s like owning a little piece of history. December 10, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

  • annemariec: I’ve had a natural affinity with chypres from my late teens. I was a serious, blue-stocking-y kind of girl and, unknowingly, I must have been attracted to chypres because they tend to be challenging and ‘intellectual’. I wore Chanel No 19, Magie Noire, Paloma Picasso, Laura Ashley No 2. More recently its been Miss Dior, Diorella, Dioressence, Niki de Saint Phalle, Femme, Mitsouko, Eau Suave, 31 RC, Ysatis …

    But like you, I didn’t know until recently that ‘chypre’ is what unites a lot of my favourites. Still later I realised why – I usually don’t enjoy strong foodie notes in perfumes and chypres, even where they contain food notes, like peach, are incompatible with food. That simple idea – that chypres are incompatible with food – made everything fall into place for me.

    All of that said, in the last few years I have finally started exploring other perfume families. I was stunned to discover how much I liked Prada Candy. How could a non-foodie like me appreciate such a perfume? Probably because Candy is not really edible. It tricks you into thinking it may be, but it’s not. December 10, 2013 at 12:29am Reply

    • Patricia: Interesting comment on the non-edible quality of chypres. Once in awhile I’ll crave a gourmand perfume, but once satisfied will return happily to my chypres. December 10, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

  • Annikky: I have never thought of myself as a Girl of Chypres, but when I look at the evidence, then many of my absolute favourites are in this family. I seem to like them best quite green or with some iris or leather (or both) involved.

    Cristalle, Mito, Diorella, OJ Tiare, Sherrer, Silences, 31 Rue Cambon, No 19, Cuir de Russie, Jolie Madame and Bandit are some I love and wear.

    And I thought I was the only one in the world who liked Ume! I never considered it a chypre and have never owned it, but I love to steal a spritz when I can.

    PS I am currently half-way through Diptyque’s Mousses candle and while I’m a bit critical about the throw, the scent itself has a lot of proper bitter mossiness. So in case you don’t need to scent a large room or have a more sensitive nose than I do (very likely, I need my stuff to smell strong), it’s worth checking out. December 10, 2013 at 6:06am Reply

    • Patricia: Another Ume lover! I don’t recall how I found it, but I do love to wear it on a cold winter’s day. And I own a full bottle :).

      Thanks for the candle recommendation. I’ve only recently become interested in candles, and my Christmas list is full of them. I’ll add the Diptyque Mousses candle to it, as it sounds delightful. December 10, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

  • Ann: Thank you for a beautiful article! I didn’t realize that I’m a chypre girl until recently. Guess what, I’m even wearing a chypre now, Cristalle. December 10, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

    • Patricia: I love Cristalle and have a fairly vintage bottle (not sure of the exact date). I also like and wear Cristalle Eau Verte. It’s very wearable, well constructed, and a great everyday scent. Not equal to the original, but very nice. December 10, 2013 at 5:48pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Patricia – Thank you for this post. I came to love chypres late in my perfume journey, but the more I discover, the more I love this class of perfumes.
    Two very lovely modern chypres that have yet to be mentioned here are PdN’s Odalisque and Sonoma Scent Studio’s Jour Ensoleille. These don’t scream “chypre” at you but have a gentle nature. December 10, 2013 at 3:38pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Operafan, Odalisque is also a favorite of mine. I went through my decant and recently bought a bottle. Bless PdN for offering 30 ml bottles! December 10, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’ve never thought about categorising the scents I wear but I found quite a favourites of mine mentioned here: 31 Rue Cambon, No. 19, Odalisque and Cristalle. Another chypre I love is Perles de Lalique. December 10, 2013 at 4:21pm Reply

    • Patricia: Hi rainboweyes, We certainly seem to like many of the same fragrances.

      I haven’t tried Perles de Lalique, though. What is it like? December 10, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: Perles de Lalique is the only rose scent I can wear, maybe because the rose note is not very pronounced, at least on my skin.
        It’s green and dry, sometimes it’s even described as scratchy, but also powdery at the same time. I can smell peppery notes, too and the drydown is dominated by woods and patchouli. I usually wear it at the end of winter, in anticipation of spring. December 11, 2013 at 3:59pm Reply

        • Patricia: Anything with a drydown dominated by woods and patchouli immediately gets my attention :). December 11, 2013 at 4:09pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I discovered chypres too late to be able to really have good access to the old fashioned “mossy” ones. My mother was the only one around me wearing perfume and wore L’Air du Temps for as long as I can remember. A penchant for soft aldehydic florals must have come through her, as it is one of my favourite genres.

    However, I love chypres as well. Aromatics Elixir, Diorella, both old and new(ish), Chanel 19,Cristalle and Pour Monsieur, Mitsouko, Bandit, Odalisque, Yvresse and last but not least; La Promesse de l’Aube., which had a similar effect on me as apparently Chypre Palatin had on you. December 10, 2013 at 4:40pm Reply

    • Patricia: I prefer Capricci and Farouche to L’Air du Temps, which I always found a bit pale and uninteresting.

      But I will need to visit Promesse de l’Aube. MDCI Parfums is one of my favorite perfume houses. December 10, 2013 at 6:02pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I never tried either Farouche or Capricci. I love their original Nina and also like Fleur des Fleurs.
        MDCI has some beautiful fragrances. Invasion Barbare is another gem in that line. December 11, 2013 at 7:22am Reply

        • Austenfan: Oh and I am not that fond of lÁir du Temps myself, it’s just the fragrance that I remember smelling the most when I was still a child. December 11, 2013 at 7:26am Reply

        • Patricia: I prefer the so-called “masculines” in that line as well. Invasion Barbare is a good one :). December 11, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

          • Austenfan: I only remember trying La Promesse, Chypre and Péché Cardinal. I’ve got a small decant of Invasion Barbare.
            What is their Ambre Topkapi like? December 11, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

            • Patricia: It’s a nice spicy lavender…but no amber! There is a fair amount of vetiver, which is problematic for me, so I won’t be replacing my sample with a full bottle, especially at MDCI prices. December 11, 2013 at 4:20pm Reply

              • Austenfan: Thanks for explaining.
                It’s a great post by the way, and judging by the amount of comments one that has met with a huge response. December 12, 2013 at 4:28am Reply

                • Patricia: Thank you, Austenfan :). I’m so pleased by the enthusiasm for all things chypre. December 12, 2013 at 7:38am Reply

  • mough: Has anyone mentioned Diaghilev? Stunning chypre. I wear it almost 3 out of every 7 days. Then I have found some old Helena Rubenstein chypre in a cheap antique market. Can’t remember the name. Courant. That’s it. I thought the expensive Fetish by Roja Dove didn’t smell that much better than the 2 dollar Courant… December 10, 2013 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Patricia: The only one I’ve tried of these is Fetish, and I loved it, but it is much too expensive imho.

      Would Diaghilev and Courant be available via online auction? Three out of seven days is quite a commitment for a perfumista! December 11, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Maren: Just had to jump in here and say how much I am enjoying this post and these comments as another chypre lover. I just started exploring perfume about a year ago, and so far I seem mostly drawn to chypres and agreeing on many of the fragrances mentioned.
    Tonight I was wearing 31 Rue Cambon, from a small sample i have, and my husband commented on how nice it is, and he rarely comments, so guess what’s going on the wish list? Plus a lot more ideas for the sample list after reading the comments. December 11, 2013 at 12:12am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Maren, I’ve filled a whole sheet with samples to try, too! Glad you enjoyed the article.

      My husband is the same, if he comments it’s the sign of a true winner. 31 RC is a great one to own. I bought a partially used bottle online, which helped with the cost and turn to it often on days when I’m not really sure what to wear. December 11, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

  • Elia: There are so many chypres I’ve still not gotten to, but I like the family and intend on trying more. There are at least a few mentioned here I’d like to get to. Hard to pick a favourite yet, but I see Givenchy III has not gotten a mention and I like to think of it as a good baseline chypre.
    Personally I don’t categorize Chypre Palatin as a chypre, I also think of it as a bad fragrance, top heavy on hyacinth and galbanum it’s unbalanced and unlikeable; when I tried it on I had all noses nearby pull away. I’d rather take Chamade if I were to go that way, at least there are better balances.
    I’ll have to try K de Krizia again, but from memory I don’t think that’s a chypre either. December 11, 2013 at 8:21am Reply

  • Patricia: Givenchy III! Thank you for mentioning it, Elia. I have a small mini somewhere that I’m going to have to find, as I don’t have a clear memory of what it smells like.

    I get heavy oakmoss in K de Krizia, but it could also be considered a floral aldehyde.

    Am in agreement with you that Chypre Palatin is top heavy, but I think that’s part of its charm for me :). December 11, 2013 at 9:43am Reply

    • Elia: I guessed you’d be liking the top heavy aspect 🙂

      I’ll have to search for my K de Krizia sample soon and look for the oakmoss aspect. December 12, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

      • Patricia: Sometimes I think subtlety is overrated :). December 12, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

        • Elia: lol.
          I meant to say as a truer modern chypre there’s Jubilation 25 which certainly is better than most modern attempts and as it happens lacks some subtelty. Big gun! December 12, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

          • Patricia: Gotta love those big guns! December 12, 2013 at 1:23pm Reply

  • JB: Chypres are my cup of tea too.
    This Christmas I already bought for my wife a bottle of Soir de Lune from Sisley and I decided to offer myself a bottle of Rien from Etat Libre d’Orange.
    Some days ago I also bought Preludio d’Oriente from Cale Fragranze d’Autore and I will always miss the original formula of Bel Ami from Hermes.
    Next year I will point batteries to Fetish Pour Homme from Roja Parfums.
    Chypres speak to me in a way no other type does.
    Nice to read your blog.
    Thank you December 11, 2013 at 7:00pm Reply

    • Patricia: Your wife is a lucky woman :). I’m glad you bought yourself something as well. I tried the Fetish Pour Femme in Paris this fall, and it was fantastic with an equally fantastic price tag! December 12, 2013 at 7:33am Reply

  • meganinstmaxime: Thanks for this article. I am only just starting to understand chypres – and I’m still not totally clear on what they are because they seem to span such a wide range of scents. Anyway judging from these examples above there are plenty to sample. Like JB above – I tried Soir de Lune and Rien this week and loved them both. I also like Aromatics Elixir. Definitely want to try Rue 31 Cambon next. December 12, 2013 at 6:21am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Megan, Chypres can be mysterious, can’t they? Let us know what you think of 31 RC when you have a chance to sample it. I’m wearing it today :). December 12, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

  • Karen: Does sisley’s Eau de soir count as a chypre?
    Not sure…really enjoy it though. Xx December 13, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

    • Patricia: I haven’t tried Eau du Soir, but looked it up on Frangrantica where it is listed as a “floral chypre.” Thanks for your comment, Karen :). December 14, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

  • Yvonne: Patricia, we may have lived similar lives! I have not known anyone else who has named all the perfumes I wore as a kid growing up, especially K de Krizia! I absolutely adore Miss Dior and was so pleased to reminisce through your article. Paloma Picasso was also one of my favorites, along w Coco, my 80s signature scent that even today is one of my top 5! Thank you for singing Miss Dior’s praises, reformulations and all I still love it!! And now…I need to find a new sample of K de Krizia as I ran out of it long ago! December 14, 2013 at 3:53am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Yvonne, At the very least we are scent twins :). I wanted to buy some Coco extrait in the CDG airport this fall, but it was sold out. The kind sales associate let me fill a Travelo travel atomizer from their Coco tester just for the (minimal) cost of the Travelo. Apparently this is common practice, just not usually for the parfum concentration. December 14, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

  • Yvonne: One more thing, I also loved Yvresse which used to be called Champaigne and I gifted it to my mother so I could enjoy it around her. It’s a lovely scent but a little too strong for me. She loved it too! Makes me want to hug her all the time! 🙂 December 14, 2013 at 3:58am Reply

    • Patricia: Yvresse is a real powerhouse, I agree, and for some inexplicable reason I have a back-up of it!

      Always good to have more reasons to give your mother a hug. She smells great :). December 14, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

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