chypre: 16 posts

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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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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Givenchy Ysatis : Fragrance Review

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Patricia tries on Givenchy’s Ysatis, once one of her signature perfumes, to see if it still fits.

The 1980s were a big decade. Big shoulders, big hair, a boom economy, and over-the-top perfumes. Givenchy Ysatis, a mossy floral created in 1984 by Dominique Ropion, was one of these, and I wore it happily for several years. At the time I was a serial monogomist where perfume was concerned, and Ysatis fit neatly between K de Krizia and Jean Louis Scherrer, Scherrer 2 in my rotation. As a mother of very young children, I enjoyed an occasional evening out, dressed to the nines and enveloped in a cloud of Ysatis.

ysatis

The perfume starts out with a blast–woody, floral, sweet, and powdery, accompanied with refreshing citrus notes and creamy coconut. Lush white floral notes, mostly fruity jasmine and ylang-ylang, dominate for the next few hours, before mellowing into a sweet and creamy dry down. It’s a  high-calorie feast of musk, amber, vanilla, and sandalwood that reminds us that Ysatis was born in the “more is more” fashion era. The dry down reminds me of the baby powder I once used on my children. While I liked this at the time, it now strikes me as cloying.

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Cartier La Panthere : Perfume Review

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Why did “the feral floral,” a tag line used by Cartier to describe its perfume, La Panthère, catch my attention? It’s not that I’m all that keen on the smell of unwashed animals; otherwise, the camel leather belt I bought for my husband in India (now banished to the outside closet) would have satisfied that craving and more. Cartier’s perfumery, on the other hand, is in the hands of talented Mathilde Laurent, and if anyone could make feral smell good, it would be her.

cartier

La Panthère was the nickname of Jeanne Toussaint, the flamboyant artistic director of Cartier jewelry from 1933 to 1968, who was responsible for some of the most dramatic examples of Cartier’s art. Named after this tremendous character, the perfume couldn’t be just another well-behaved floral, and Laurent decided on a composition based on contrasts: moss and leather; gardenias and patchouli.

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Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on roses, moss, and brocade.

Some perfumes take only moments to love, but years to understand. Such was the case for me with Une Rose Chyprée, a perfume from the indie line created by Andy Tauer. From the first sniff, I knew it was special. But I struggled to grasp why or how. It was not, to my nose, a chypre (a mossy-woody blend) at all. It was not of the sharp, haughty variety like Paloma Picasso; not chilly and green like Yves Ssaint Laurent Y or Chanel No. 19; not, like the more recent Agent Provocateur, saffron-sour up top and musky-dirty at the bottom. So what was it, then?

tauer

After spending a few years with his collection, I realized that Andy Tauer’s true muse is amber. And Une Rose Chyprée is not a straight chypre but an amber in conversation with a mossy rose, melding into its bittersweet floral-herbal personality, but not losing its own round, full, and resinous scent.

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