Members of the Chypre Family
The Chypre family is versatile, inclusive, tolerant and embraces many different nuances and variations on the chypre theme. It is, perhaps, the very loose and laid-back attitude of Chypre that is working against them now in the prolonged and painful process of extinction, as the Chypre family adopts bastard chypre-wannabes that do not contain even a drop of oakmoss!
More about that in the future article “The Dawn of Pink Chypres”. This is a sad story… But before we start weeping, let’s see what are the different sub-categories of the large and beautiful Chypre Family!
Heavy with a peach-like fruitiness. Often combine notes of peach, plum and apricot – which highly complement the dark earthy notes and the sparkling citrus notes of Chypre. This division of the family includes trendsetting classics such as Femme and Mitsouko, and also more modern scents such as Y (YSL) and my very own Autumn perfume, which is in fact an Homage to Femme, using natural essences only.
CHYPRE FLORAL ANIMALIC
The most innovative and of all the Chypre family, Chypre Animalic Florals sometime have a leathery, dry effect that may suggest masculinity. Dzing! (l’Artisan Parfumeur) is one extreme example, also bordering on the leather; Agent Provocateur reeks with indole, musk and aldehydic florals; and there is also the classic Miss Dior, originally underlined with sizzling-hot civet base (review of different versions and concentrations of Miss Dior will be posted here very soon), and similar to it is also Ma Griffe. My personal addition to this sub-category is one of my most avant-guarde creations – Schizm, which pairs intense tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine and pepper over a base of oakmoss, cedar and wild mushrooms (which lend the animalic quality).
Originally, these were gardenia infused Chypre. Chypre Florals now contain many other florals as well – such as rose, jasmine, tuberose. Patchouli is added to the base, for emphasizing the floral notes. Here you will find Soft classics such as Le Dix (Belanciaga), the bold American Knowing (Estee Lauder), aldehydic princesses such as Parure (Guerlain) and fragile florals such as Chant d’Aromes (also by Guerlain).
Though extremely long lasting, these Chypre feel fresh and radiant and usually have pronounced citrus notes. The sparkling hedionic jasmine and citrus infused Eau Sauvage, Diorella and Le Parfum de Therese (all by genius perfumer Edmond Roudniska) are the beacon after which everybody else followed – including, for instance, Annick Goutal’s most successful and delicate Eau d’Hadrien, Chanel’s brilliant and sparkling Cristalle, and my very own ArbitRary. This category, for the most part, tends to be unisex oriented.
These are often the lightest chypre – usually with a leafy-green, at times herbaceous and coniferous notes. Galbanum is one of the most popular additions to green Chypres. These are often border-line with green florals.
These are usually extremely elegant and clean-cut composition, including No. 19 (Chanel), a masterpiece of galbanum, citrus, jasmine, rose, orris, woods, oakmoss and a hint of leather; Ivoire (Balmain), a refined dry composition of roses, greens, moss, and a hint of leather sweetened with raspberry; Private Collection (Estee Lauder) juxtaposing galbanum, orange blossom, rose, jasmine and oakmoss; Chamade (Guerlain), which is also an unusual cross between green chypre and aldehydic floral, with notes of galbanum, hyacinth, ylang ylang, oakmoss and vanilla; Ayalitta, which is an earthy-green Chyprey; and my recent Spring release newest version of Grin, in which the green of galbanum announces the presence of green dewy florals such as freesia, boronia and rose, underlined with oakmoss, vetiver and precious woods.
Prominent base notes of sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver add a dry, clean edge to those Chypre compositions – usually (but not always) these are very masculine. Somehow I went almost completely blank trying to find examples for Chypre woody perfumes besides Mitsouko, even though it's not particularly masculine strictly speaking; Agent Provocateur, an unusal Chypre as it is not truly mossy but achieved the diffusive mossy effect by using massive amounts of vetiver and aldehydes; and my own Democracy, which is masculine and somewhat ambery-animalic, and Megumi, which rather feminine and floral. If you have any suggestions, please post your comments...
Dry, smoky compositions those are dark and masculine. These include the Cuir de Russie pungent-dry leather compositions (Chanel, Piver, Creed, etc.), Jolie Madame (Balmain) which interestingly uses sweet violets as well as generous amounts of moss; Bandit (Piguet), Miss Balmain (Balmain), Yatagan (Caron), Bel Ami, and Caron’s legendary Tabac Blond.
With an outdoorsy scent – these are sporty and refreshing, and usually masculine in nature. Pino Silvestre and Rainforest are the best examples I can come up with at the moment (if you know of other suggestions, please comment!).