Smoky leather and green jasmine… The first time I smelled Coty Chypre I was startled by its wistful aura. For months before Chypre and I finally met I had fantasized about how dramatic and roughhewn it must have been to simultaneously set a new trend and to shock its contemporaries. But as I discovered, Chypre is alluring and harmonious, if not exactly well-behaved. I fell hard for its dark leather accord, which I subsequently spotted in Chanel Cuir de Russie, enjoyed in Robert Piguet Bandit and mourned in the reformulated Parfums Gres Cabochard. Finding Knize Ten is a flashback to the first time I dabbed a few dark drops of Chypre on my wrist and discovered that leather can be devastatingly seductive.
Knize Ten was created in 1924—just seven years after Chypre—by François Coty and Vincent Roubert, and it isn’t surprising that someone who loves the early 20th century perfumes would be taken by it as well. (A perfume lab rumor is that Ernest Beaux also was involved, which makes Knize Ten one of the best collaborative efforts.) More unexpected is how well this gem has weathered the past century. Today the fragrances are reformulated on what seems to be a daily basis, and anything older than a year is likely to be altered. Knize Ten, however, has managed to survive more or less intact. As I’m writing this review, I have the current Eau de Toilette on one wrist and the 1950s formulation on another. The new version is wonderful.