Moss: 5 posts

Revolutionary Perfume : A Brief History of Chypre

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1917 was the year when the Bolshevik Revolution took place. It was also the year when another revolution happened. It wasn’t bloody, its scale was small, but for the history of perfumery it was as galvanizing as the events in Russia for the rest of the world. This revolution was the creation of Chypre by François Coty. The name Chypre referred to the island of Cyprus, which had been famous for its fragrant moss since antiquity, and while chypre-style fragrances, warm and moss-laden, were popular long before Coty’s creation, his Chypre of 1917 was different.

For one thing, Coty wasn’t afraid of making bold statements. To give a heavy note of oakmoss radiance, he used a novel aroma-chemical called isobutyl quinoline. Pure, it smelled pungently of leather and burned rubber, but when used as part of an accord with bergamot, dry woods and moss, its effect became sensual and luminous. Coty then increased the proportion of green notes and added a delicate floral twist. Chypre evoked the Mediterranean sea breeze and lemon orchards and reminded you that even on the most sunlit of days, shadows are present. Dark leather and inky moss provided the dramatic contrast in his composition.

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Yves Saint Laurent Y : Perfume Review

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Elisa on a timeless, elegant and somewhat underrated chypre.

A green chypre can feel golden and warm, like the opulent Safari by Dominique Ropion, or chilly and aloof with iris, such as the archetypal Chanel No. 19 and Paco Rabanne Metal. I associate the warm, galbanum-dense chypres with autumn, while I always seem to reach for cool chypres like Metal in spring.

ysl y

YSL’s Y, released in 1964, is immediately recognizable as a green chypre, but has a different feel from others in this family. To me, it’s a summer chypre, with the same aspirational mansion-in-the-Hamptons air as Estee Lauder White Linen. When I play tennis, I do it on free courts, not in backyards, but either way, this seems like the perfect perfume for a doubles match, especially if you’re wearing a skirt. If you prefer to watch from the lawn with a glass of white wine, it would be lovely for that too.

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Tom Ford Private Blend Fleur de Chine : Perfume Review

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Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection is a mixed bag. It’s too large and hard to navigate. Some fragrances are excellent enough to justify the high prices; others barely stand out. I can list further complaints, but the truth is that I keep returning to the collection and smelling all of its launches, because when Tom Ford scores, he really does offer something impressive. Such is the case with Fleur de Chine.

fleurdechine

When I first tried Fleur de Chine, it intrigued me, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  Shanghai Lily from the same Atelier d’Orient collection (it also includes Plum Japonais, Fleur de Chine and Rive d’Ambre) was an instant hit for its lush white flowers and generous dose of spice. Fleur de Chine wasn’t going to open up so easily, though. I loved its baroque, ornate character and its hints of retro glamour, but it took its time to grow on me.

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Paco Rabanne Calandre : Perfume Review

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Patricia revisits Calandre, a metallic green rose with a chypre heart.

Nineteen Sixty-Nine was a year in which I watched with my family as men walked on the moon, 400,000 young people crammed into the then little known town of Woodstock, NY for a three-day music festival, and the hugely unpopular war in Vietnam was escalating with accompanying casualties on both sides of the conflict. In the same year, Calandre, an avant-garde perfume from the fashion house of Paco Rabanne and created by nose Michel Hy, was launched.

calandrer

Betty Friedan, considered by some to be the mother of the second wave of American feminism, had written The Feminine Mystique in 1963, and the sixties provided fertile ground for the growing Women’s Movement. Perfume styles were changing as well. The more formal floral style of the fifties and early sixties was giving way to more modern interpretations.

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Estee Lauder Knowing : Fragrance Review

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Estée Lauder Knowing blends roses and moss, one of Elisa’s favorite perfume pairings. She revisits this glamorous and plush fragrance today.

There’s just nothing like a rose chypre. Though the perfume world has given me no shortage of beautiful options in this moss inflected category, there’s something about it that feels endlessly variable to me, and if I ever had the money and good fortune to commission a bespoke fragrance from a great perfumer, the perfect rose chypre is what I would chase.

knowing

As luck would have it, this category hasn’t yet been ruined by time or perfume regulations (unlike, say, lily of the valley). The classical chypre accord, traditionally a harmony between bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum, is harder to achieve since oakmoss was identified as an allergen in 2001. But perhaps because rose plays so nicely with earthy materials like patchouli and vetiver, only a touch of the now restricted oakmoss is needed to create a dramatic effect. So, for example, Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumiere Noire Pour Femme (2009) is almost as beautiful as L’Arte di Gucci (1991).

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Latest Comments

  • Sebastian in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Salome would interest you in the context of your question. It is a perfume that is reminiscent of the 70s, and in that time would have been considered definitely feminine. October 30, 2020 at 3:42am

  • Ninon in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Hello Peter! Anubis is on my to-try list, I think perhaps because of your recommendation (unfortunately the samples are currently out of stock at LS). I do not usually get… October 30, 2020 at 1:23am

  • Ninon in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Totally agree–I’m another non rose person who loves Mohur, especially the extrait. The other “rose” I like is Une Rose de Kandahar, but it’s really more about almond, apricot, tobacco,… October 30, 2020 at 1:19am

  • Peter in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Hello Ninon. Have you tried any of Liz Moores’ Papillon perfumes? Salome is a slightly skanky retro potion. Fragrantica classifies it as a Chypre Floral with woody, leather, musky, white… October 29, 2020 at 11:04pm

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