chypre: 16 posts

New Style-Chypre Perfumes

Chypre perfumes that rely on an intricate interplay of citrus, florals, moss, woods and musk are among the most intriguing and complex. As I’ve described in Revolutionary Perfume : A Brief History of Chypre, it attained the form we recognize today in 1917 with the creation of Coty Chypre, although the idea of a mossy-citrusy accord is much older. Many iconic fragrances are classified as chypre, from Guerlain Mitsouko to Chanel No 19. However, given the IFRA-mandated restrictions on the use of oak and tree moss in perfumery, the classical chypre is an endangered species. Its dark, warm accord contrasted with the effervescence of citrus can’t be achieved without the inky richness of moss.

For a perfumer, however, the only choice is to experiment with ingredients that can evoke a chypre-like effect. Patchouli, oud, musks, dark woods and woody-ambery aromatics can in part produce the unique sensation of a good chypre perfume–I describe it as the crinkly feel of raw silk. Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, for instance, is an excellent new style chypre, even if it doesn’t include moss.

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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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Favorite Summer Perfumes : Around the Fragrance Wheel

A fragrance evoking crushed green leaves, or perhaps a smoked lily. Or a blend that smells of damp wood and moss. For my summer selection this year, I decided to unfold the fragrance wheel and visit 5 of my favorite styles–green, chypre, citrus, white flowers and incense. I wore one type of perfume for several days in a row and below are my discoveries.

Green

I have always thought that my favorite part of the fragrance wheel was the one where the white flowers bloomed in profusion–the tangles of tuberose, the jungles of jasmine, the groves of gardenias. Yet, this year I realized how much I like green scents, from the delicate and fresh Parfums de Nicolaï Temps d’Une Fête to the intensely green Diptyque Eau de Lierre. I can add more to this list:  L’Artisan Parfumeur Violaceum, Tom Ford Vert de Fleur, Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio, Byredo Green, and Chanel Bel Respiro. One of the new discoveries is Parfums Dusita’s Le Sillage Blanc, a classical mossy chypre with a beautiful green accord.

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Arquiste El and Ella : Perfume Reviews

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Dark, smoky, spicy – and properly indulgent — is Arquiste Anima Dulcis, a bitter chocolate and amber perfume. In my FT column, A perfumed treat to satisfy a craving, I talk about Anima Dulcis and other Arquiste creations. Also, I recently tried Él and Ella, a duo created by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux and I include my reviews.

arquiste

I first came across Arquiste Parfumeur when I was looking for an original gourmand fragrance. Most of the dessert-inspired blends crossing my path were of the cotton candy and crème brûlée variety, but what I wanted was bitter chocolate. “Why not try Anima Dulcis?” suggested a friend, and gave me a small sample of cognac-coloured liquid. It turned out to be the treat I was craving – dark, smoky, spicy and properly indulgent. To continue, please click here.

Have you tried Arquiste perfumes? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Glamorous State of Mind and Perfume

When most fashion magazines have spreads of Easter egg colored couture, my most glamorous look features faded black jeans and a Zara puffy jacket, a dreadful thing that sheds copious amount of feathers. Then there are my layered outfits, and I don’t mean tastefully put together layers of chiffon and cashmere suggested by Vogue. In the Ukrainian countryside, where spring is still tentative and the heating costs astronomical, we layer by putting on as many pieces of clothing as possible while still retaining the ability to lower our arms. I even sleep in a layered ensemble that includes tights, pajamas and a red sweater made by Miu Miu many years ago, but I betcha Miuccia Prada wouldn’t recognize it as one of her own now. Occasionally, I even do vintage by combining my grandfather’s track suit bottoms with my great-grandmother’s boucle jacket, a hideous look but perfect for whitewashing the cherry trees.

perfumes-spring-glamour1

While I love dressing up (and indeed overdressing; I wouldn’t think twice about wearing a turquoise Betsey Johnson dress to the most staid of occasions), I relish the chance to dress purely for comfort. I enjoy dispensing with concerns of well-selected outfits and I stop worrying about my state of elegance according to any sort of fashion standard. In my grandmother’s village, my standard is the garden, or rather my ability to work in it without getting cold, wet or overheated. If the roses can be pruned and the apple trees whitewashed in comfort, the rest doesn’t matter.

What I don’t set aside is a glamorous perfume. Fashion designer Jean Patou called his fragrances “invisible couture”, and as the most intimate of adornments, scent is the most powerful. A few drops can create the ambiance you seek, make you travel in time, or even in my case, give an instant dose of glamour.  Why on earth should I care about not looking exactly like a cover girl when I’m trailing Mitsouko behind me? Plus, nothing is more perfect for collecting last year’s leaves than this autumnal golden peach chypre.

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