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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Chypres Dark and Bright: from Aperçu to “Y” - And a Prize Draw

By Donna

For some time I have been falling in love with Chypre perfumes all over again. Why now? I have found some new ones (to me) that I tried for the first time and also rediscovered favorites in either their current or vintage versions. The more I learn about these fascinating and sometimes odd perfumes, the more I appreciate them. (When I first smelled the great Rochas Femme many years ago, I had no idea what a chypre was, but I knew it was something really special and that I loved it.)

One moment of revelation came a few months ago when I took a chance on an eBay purchase with a small, very old sealed bottle of Ma Griffe with a rather shabby original paper wrapping. No one else seemed to want the bedraggled little thing so I bid on it and got it. When I opened it, there had been some evaporation but the fragrance, and it was Parfum strength, was as fresh as I could have hoped for, and the difference between this wondrous green chypre and the “modern” dumbed down, thin stuff sold under its name today almost made me cry. I just sat for a long time and inhaled the essence of it; it was like a dream in the heart of an ancient forest, a luminous emerald reverie.

One of the fascinations of chypre scents is how they can evoke such a powerful response in people, perhaps more so than many or most other fragrances. By this I don't just mean that they are either loved or hated, although that is part of it, but that the great ones are so connected to mood and emotion. I have been thinking about the range of these perfumes, from the somber to the lighthearted among them, and what my own responses to them are.

Of course, I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of all chypre scents; I have never gotten my hands on a bottle of Coty Chypre, though reading its description so many times almost makes me feel as though I have. (I had just about given up ever getting any, but recently I read somewhere that it has lilac in it, so now I have to get it, somehow, someday.) Its most direct descendant still in existence today is Guerlain's great fruity-chypre Mitsouko, with its unmistakable aura of peach that dovetails perfectly with the raw funkiness of the classic chypre base. It is one of the most coveted of all the perfumes in the world, and deservedly so.

I think one of the most lighthearted chypre scents of all is a recent discovery for me. I picked up an inexpensive bottle of Yves St. Laurent “Y” (pronounced EE-grek) in Eau de Toilette and was delighted to find it both sparkling green on top and pleasingly rich in the base. Intrigued, I was lucky to find a little sample of the Parfum too, and it's just wonderful. This 1964 release was the first for the house of St. Laurent, back when chypres were still in vogue, but of course it is long gone now. It has a certain sweet “fizziness” to it almost like ginger ale that keeps it uplifting, and putting it on is quite energizing.

The previously mentioned Ma Griffe by Carven is much in the same vein, though even drier and greener, and its pleasing character is most evident in the vintage; it has actually been through several reformulations, so “vintage” is not always a guarantee with of quality with this one. It has a definite sharp edge in the lighter concentrations, but in the older bottles there is a definite softness too. It is spring like and vivacious and like nothing else.

Another “happy” chypre is a recent discovery for me, but it is now on my list of all-time favorites. A relic from the glory days of the great French house of Houbigant, Essence Rare is a true delight. It bears a certain resemblance to the fiercely green and intimidating Chanel No. 19, but its warmer character and exuberant sex appeal make it my clear favorite between the two. It has a delicious round fruitiness at its center that is a perfect foil for its classical chypre elements. It is now on my list of things I never want to be without again, although it disappeared from stores years ago.

Closely following a long the continuum of this style is the great and majestic Miss Dior. The house of Christian Dior nailed it perfectly right out of the gate with their first fragrance in 1947, composed by master perfumer Jean Carles, the creator of Ma Griffe, in collaboration with Serge Heftler-Louiche. It starts out as a somewhat animalic and intimidating fragrance, but the lady's heart is warm, and soon the green mossiness appears along with a subtle spice note that smells something like nutmeg to me; it may is probably the real ambergris in the base that causes this. It never gets sweet or loses its classical structure, but it does soften to become something that can be worn anywhere. It has attained a place in my top ten of chypre favorites – if I had to choose, that is, which would be quite difficult! (Miss Dior is still made today, but it is now reformulated and only available in Eau de Toilette form, so it may as well be discontinued.)

Miss Dior is a solidly constructed in the classical manner, and I have recently tried a couple of obscure older chypres that also display the “bones” of their genre very well. A tiny bottle of Bernard Lalande Chypre in Parfum strength is a straightforward and very good take on the type, although the top notes are not what they once were; I could not detect much in the way of bergamot or other hespiridic notes, but the white floral heart is pronounced and the base of labdanum, oakmoss and patchouli is practically a diagram of how to make a chypre. Years ago I would not have known this; thanks to my continuing perfume education, facilitated by both the generosity of my fellow perfume lovers and my own curiosity, .has enabled me to know right away, even when the bottle is old or the perfume damaged, that I am experiencing a true chypre scent. Another golden oldie I obtained for next to nothing due to its obscurity was Chypre by de Molines, a French house that is no more. Brilliant jade in color, it is a well-constructed scent with a sparkling green character that is a perfect reflection of its intense hue. It was still sealed and in excellent condition, so even though it is perhaps sixty years old, it is highly wearable. (Legions of perfumes were named simply “Chypre” in the wake of Coty's great 1913 scent, and virtually all of them are gone now.)

Chypres can be romantic too, such as the hazily gorgeous Demi-Jour, by Houbigant, released in 1987 (1988 in the U.S.) This oakmoss-heavy rose chypre laced with violet and heliotrope reminds me of a heavily draped boudoir full of murmured secrets. Perhaps the most famous and distinctive rose Chypre is Paloma Picasso's Mon Parfum, that icon of the Eighties that is no less fiercely beautiful and sensuous for being over-exposed back then. Powerfully infused with clove, patchouli and an almost scary animalic base paired with an intense heart of dark rose, it has no equal. The favorite rose chypre of many and one of the greatest perfumes of the Seventies is Lancôme’s Magie Noire. Its mesmerizing blend of rose, frankincense, myrrh and herbal notes is sometimes thought of as an Oriental style scent, but the mossy base rich with labdanum says otherwise. The 2007 reissue is a but a pale shadow of the original and it is more of a woody floral now; get the old juice and you will never be sorry. This is one of the sexiest perfumes ever created. And what list of romantic chypres would be complete with mentioning Jean Patou's Colony? The idea of a pineapple chypre is wildly creative; the execution was flawless. Heavy, syrupy pineapple drifts in a tropical haze, underscored by the most egregiously fabulous overdose of oakmoss I have ever smelled, and I love it passionately. Naturally, it is now gone forever. Oh well, you can't have romance without a little heartbreak I guess.

Moving on, a chypre of a very different character is the iconic green Crêpe de Chine by Millot. Smooth as the silk it was named after, its ladylike and elegant and deserving of its devoted following. Released in 1925 and and discontinued ages ago, it was then resurrected by Long Lost Perfumes, which acquired the formula. I have never tried the new version, but it cannot possibly compare to the good stuff; there is a good reason why the bidding wars on the auction sites reach a fever pitch when the Parfum of this one goes up for sale. If you want to experience the reference green Chypre of all time, this is essential.

I recently reviewed a modern green Chypre, Scherrer by Jean-Louis Scherrer. This one is near and dear to my heart, and it's amazingly good for a modern perfume; the current version is less redolent of oakmoss than the “vintage” 1979 juice, but it's still a great scent; for once something was not ruined by reformulation! It was one of my first really “grown-up” scents once I realized there was more to perfume than tender spring florals, and it opened up a whole new world for my olfactory pleasure.

Another good one in this rather dry, sophisticated style is Aperçu by Houbigant. It is what I would call a baseline chypre – classically composed, well balanced and suitable for just about any situation. Professional enough for the office but special enough for an evening out on the town, I reach for this spice-laced fragrance when I just can't figure out what else to wear. Be aware that this perfume is getting hard to find and is now sold by the Dana company in huge bottles as a “cologne” so who knows what has been done to it. Find an older bottle of the Eau de Parfum and enjoy. In a similar vein is Courant by Helena Rubinstein (1972), a dry chypre with a spiky galbanum opening that softens considerably as it wears, revealing white florals and a faint whiff of leather until it is actually quite sexy, like a prim librarian who wears black lace lingerie under her sensible suit. It's really too bad that this one is now gone forever like so many others.

Some of the green chypres can be a bit prickly, as we move into the area of Coriandre by Jean Couturier. It was once far better than it is today, but it has always been a bit strange, with the soapy/herbal opening and astringent character. I always admired it, but I am not a fan of the leafy herb coriander, also known as cilantro, though I adore the dried spice made from the seeds, which smells nothing like the fresh leaves which always make me think I am eating a bar of Irish Spring soap. Coriandre is the perfect perfume for when you need to be intimidating and in control.

Another “difficult” chypre is Miss Balmain by Pierre Balmain, which is a fascinating composition, dry and a bit dusty upon opening, also featuring coriander but it smells like the dry spice to me and not the leaf, with a faint ashtray note at first– yes, really - but something about it draws me in, and its puzzling complexity keeps me guessing. Do I smell flowers? How can there be flowers since this is not in the least sweet? Yet there they are, somewhere, along with oakmoss and vetiver and leather. Narcissus is here, but it's the earthy, almost camphoric kind, not the sweeter type. It would make a superb masculine scent, and if I did not know what it was I would think it was one. Give it a chance on skin, because out of the bottle on a test strip it reveals very little of itself. Recently I was able to compare a tiny sample of the vintage Parfum to the next-to newest formulation of the modern EDT; though rounder and fuller and more floral, it still had that weird dusty note and a grassy astringency. I don't think I will ever truly love it, but it has an eccentric beauty all its own.

So now we come to the darkest chypre perfumes, the ones that make an instant impression that sometimes drives people away before they have given the fragrance a chance to come alive on skin. These are the big leather chypres in all their glory. Perhaps the grandest of all was Cabochard by Grès as it used to be; don't look to the new de-fanged version for the trademark wallop of almost greasy leather and pungent patchouli. Its closest competition is Robert Piguet's Bandit, which could easily be a masculine and indeed it has become a favorite of men everywhere. The 1999 reissue is very good, but the vintage 1942 masterpiece by the great perfumer Germaine Cellier is the standard by which all others of this kind are judged, though not many are left and none are being produced today due to the restrictions on many ingredients, most notably oakmoss, one of the backbone materials of chypre scents. This one is not for the faint of heart or those who do not want to be the center of attention. Mlle. Cellier also created Jolie Madame for Pierre Balmain, and this is my own favorite among the “leather girls.” Its heart of narcissus, orris and other flowers combined with a rich base containing castoreum and a generous dose of oakmoss makes for an earthy scent that smells to me like the chilly awakening of spring, with fresh flowers barely obscuring the aromas of damp earth and forest creatures. It has been reformulated several times since its debut in 1953, but it has not been ruined yet. I have tried the vintage in EDT and Parfum and two later versions in EDT. I liked them all and I never want to be without this scent in any of its forms.

I have only touched on some of the wonderful chypre scents, and I hope to discover many more of them as I continue my perfume explorations. Which chypre perfumes have you loved, or hated, or found compelling even though you could never wear them? Are there any truly modern chypres that fit the traditional formula, or have they all gone away in the wake of the sweeping changes to the perfume industry? (I admire Chanel's 31 Rue Cambon, but I can't say that I think it's really a chypre scent, as it is purported to be; I think it needs a new category. No oakmoss, no chypre, I say. Or should I be more flexible?)

Don't be afraid to delve into this rich vein of perfumery, often considered outmoded today but nevertheless enduring. For almost a century, perfumes constructed in the chypre style have endured, and many of them are in the pantheon of the all-time classics. That there is such wide variety in this fragrance family is one of its great strengths.

Now for the good part: I am offering a “gambler's choice” selection of chypre perfume samples from my own collection. Some will be vintage but a few may be newer or at least “new vintage.” Please note that I can only ship to U.S. addresses. Indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered. (If you comment as Anonymous, please put a first name or nickname in the body of your comment in order to be included in the draw.) The winner's name will be selected using an online list randomizer program the week after this post appears. Good luck!

Image credits: Coty Chypre and De Molines Chypre perfume bottles, Perfume Intelligence.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to try some of your chypres!

-Kari H.

6:53 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to be entered into the Chypre samples drawing.
Ursula at

7:03 PM EST  
Blogger Carol said...

oh yes, me too!! The Patou sounds amazing!!

7:10 PM EST  
Blogger Carol said...

oh and PS for me w/Miss Balmain it's the aldehydes I just cannot get past...I will learn one of these days to understand that dastardly things!

7:13 PM EST  
Blogger laura said...

Oh! I die. They all sound beguiling.

7:17 PM EST  
Blogger Indrani said...

Forever an anonymous hanger-on at this blog, I'm going to throw my name into your drawing. I'd give an arm and a leg for the old Miss Dior...

7:40 PM EST  
Anonymous chris g said...

Please enter me in the draw. Chypre is my favorite category. Thanks!

7:46 PM EST  
Anonymous HemlockSillage said...

Thanks for your chypre tutorial. These fierce green beauties have been one of the last realms of perfume for me to explore. I just didn't get the idea.

With the exception of Y, I've not tried these. They sound fascinating. I feel a trip to the decanteurs coming on, once my new year's perfume purchase embargo expires.

I'd love to be in your drawing! Thanks.

7:47 PM EST  
Blogger Illuminated Perfume said...

A very interesting read dear Flora, thank you for sharing your observations. So many of these fragrances remind me of my mother. I'd love to be entered in the draw and have an opportunity to sniff a vintage Chypre!

8:09 PM EST  
Anonymous DLA said...

Yay! Enter me! :)

8:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this review. I did read your prior post on Scherrer and am glad to say that I promptly ordered a small bottle. I would love to try some of your other favorite chypres so please enter me in the drawing. JESS

8:45 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooohhhhh my faaaaavorites... Have to agree with you on the Rue Cambon. Not chypre at all, and quite the let-down after the initial glorious deep velvety opening. I swam in Magie Noire in high school (in Paris) and can remember the horrified looks on my fellow Metro passengers early in the morning. Other favorites:
Unconventional but absolutely divine is Le Parfum de Therese, with its melon opening and dry dry leathery base, Rive Gauche (bien sure!). And, of course, Caleche.
You made me want to revisit Paloma and Scherrer. I too just picked up Y and have been loving it this winter. Thanks!

9:06 PM EST  
Blogger DWR said...

Ooooh! This is an area of perfume I haven't really explored yet, so I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks for the opportunity!

9:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include me in the draw. I am familiar with some that you have commented on, and love Mitsouko and Y. Thank you!

9:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Margot said...

I would love to be entered in the draw - thank you for offering it!
I enjoyed your descriptions of the range of chypres - Mitsouko and Y are two of my favorites. It would be such fun to sample some of the other classic chypres.

9:59 PM EST  
Anonymous Margot said...

I would love to be entered in the draw - thank you for offering it!
I enjoyed your descriptions of the range of chypres - Mitsouko and Y are two of my favorites. It would be such fun to sample some of the other classic chypres.

10:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Margot said...

I would love to be entered in the draw - thank you for offering it!
I enjoyed your descriptions of the range of chypres - Mitsouko and Y are two of my favorites. It would be such fun to sample some of the other classic chypres.

10:01 PM EST  
Anonymous PhinClio said...

Please enter me in the draw!

I love chypres. My Mom wears (and my Grandma wore) Mitsouko as her signature scent. I'm sure it makes a wonderful masculine, but personally I can't imagine wearing it (I'd smell like my mom!). Nevertheless its constant presence in my home has made me a lifelong chypre (and Guerlain) fan.

Some personal favorites include: Bandit (my recently purchased bottle of which smells significantly less rich than the also non-vintage decant I got from Posh Peasant....has this been reformulated yet again?), Chanel PM, Balmain de Balmain (a wonderful green chypre that is plenty unisex IMO), and Tauer's Une Rose Chypree. I have (and like) the new version of Cabochard, but I've never had the opportunity to smell the vintage, which everyone seems to agree is far superior.

10:49 PM EST  
Blogger womo531 said...

I'll conjure up a US address =) What a lovely piece devoted to Chypres, and even better for sharing the love =) (seriously though if I win I'd have you send it to my friend in the US...hehe)

11:04 PM EST  
Anonymous zeram1 said...

Thanks you for the wonderfully described path of chypre perfumes. It was a great read. Please enter me in the drawing as well.

11:13 PM EST  
Blogger Olivia said...

Oh, chypres are something I must learn more about! Thanks for all of the info (and of course a list of more perfumes to try!! :-) )

I would love to be entered into the drawing, please... Thank you! :-)

- Olivia

11:35 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Since I'm a contributor to this site I will content myself to congratulating you on another marvelous article, even though I might commit crimes to get those samples...

12:05 AM EST  
Anonymous ElizabethN said...

Mmm, chypres! I feel like a novice at these, so please enter me in the drawing - thanks!!

12:39 AM EST  
Blogger EricBrandon said...

I wouldn't even try to venture I know much about chypres, but I've fallen so hard for Mitsouko. I haven't had any vintage (and indeed, heathen that I am, I will insist that the EDP is better than the parfum, in terms of price:quality) but it's so beautiful.

I've tried other chypres (none that you mentioned, sadly) but I can't for the life of me think of them off-hand. I agree on 31 Rue Cambon, though; it's like a huge gold picture frame with the picture (oakmoss, of course!) cut out.

I would love to be entered in the draw.

1:08 AM EST  
Blogger Brian said...

please enter me in the draw as well!

1:34 AM EST  
Blogger Tama said...

Wow, such a thorough report! I am still very new to the chypre concept and have no experience with vintage at all. I would love to be in the draw.

2:30 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh goodness, I would love to be entered into this draw! Thank you!

2:49 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a chypre girl. I tame leather like nobody (Lonestar Memories is almost as sweet as myrrh and tonka can be on my skin), so I can wear Bandit in public without fearing the skank factor. I also love Mitsouko (strangely, the EDT version).
But I think that Une Rose Chyprée is the ultimate womanly chypre.


4:10 AM EST  
Blogger LaBoheme said...

Excellent entry, thank you! Chypres (esp. vintage Cabochard and Bandit) are my favorites.

Please enter me in your drawing too. thnx!

5:14 AM EST  
Blogger lutefisk said...

thank you for all of the details.
please enter me! thanks

7:09 AM EST  
Blogger Mary S said...

Please enter me into your Chypre sample drawing. What wonderful childhood memories of my grandmother whose signature scent was Coty Chypre. This started my love affair with Chypres!


7:58 AM EST  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

Chypre is becoming my favorite "category" of perfume! Thank you for writing on the "bright to dark" aspect, something I had not yet contemplated in any organized way. I do love both Jolie Madame and Y. It's good to have the names of a few more to seek out. Please enter me in the samples drawing--thanks!

8:23 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a great detailed review. I love chypres, two of my favorites being Magie Noire and Y. Would love to win one of those vintage vials. Please enter my name in the draw. Thanks, HOLTA.

8:46 AM EST  
Blogger Kater said...

Please enter me into the drawing for your delightful chypres!


8:47 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Pleease enter me in the draw, Donna! I have only recently begun to explore chypres but I really enjoy several and your review gives me many more to seek out.

9:20 AM EST  
Blogger Tania said...

I'm in the UK, so no draw for me... ;-)
I had to 'grow into' chypres. It wasn't until my thirties, with Femme de Rochas, that I lost my chypre cherry. And in those days, I didn't even know it was one, just that it smelled goooood to me! This was in the pre-reformulation days, and oh how I wish I still had that bottle.

Nowadays, I reach for a chypre more than any other type of perfume. I adore Bandit and Mistouko, Y and Miss Dior, Party in Manhattan (it is one, right? Smells like it to me!), Acqua di Parma Profumo, and Arpege. I also love Azuree, which again, I think is a chypre, though I can't swear to it. But I'm careful where I wear that one - it bites! ;-)

9:21 AM EST  
Anonymous roberto said...

Please enterme in the draw, many thanks!

9:26 AM EST  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Oooh.... since I've both fallen in love with the category and recently lost out on a bottle of Crepe de Chine, I'd love to be entered in the draw. Thanks!


9:51 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post! You described some fragrances that I love, and made me eager to try some that I'm not familiar with yet. Please enter me in the drawing. - Diana S.

10:02 AM EST  
Anonymous hillaryart said...

I love your perfume reviews and your article about some of the great Chypre perfumes makes my mouth water?
Please enter me into your sample drawing.

10:03 AM EST  
Blogger Dink said...

I have always loved chypre frags and didn't even know it. They remind me of my mother's fragrances when I was a little girl. I want to buy Magie Noire, but it seems a mere whisper of what it once was. What a shame...

10:31 AM EST  
Blogger Dink said...

Oh, I forgot to say to please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

10:32 AM EST  
Blogger krnszn said...

What a fun offer, Donna! Please include me in the draw - thanks! I recently split a bottle of 31 RC. Love it. As you say, though, it isn't a straight up chypre. It is beautiful, though!!! And my mom's worn Y for years...

10:36 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes!!! I want to try some of your chypres!


10:45 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes!!!
I want to try your chypres!!!

10:47 AM EST  
Anonymous Kathleen F. said...

Oh, yes, please! I am a chypre girl

10:48 AM EST  
Blogger StyleSpy said...

I read this post as I sit waiting impatiently for delivery of my bottle of Enlevement au Serail, my favorite new chypre and what I think is bound to be one of my favorite scents of all time. M, if you haven't sniffed this one, you're missing out. It's stunning.

Oh, I'd love to be entered in the drawing. I never win (::sigh::) but enter me anyway!

11:06 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include me in your drawing--the chypres sound wonderful!

~Judy S.

11:14 AM EST  
Anonymous Nina Z. said...

Great article! I have a long history with chypres (I wonder if it isn't because I grew up loving the landscape of Southern California, which is chaparral, similar to the smell of a chypre?). My first fragrance love as a teenager was Ma Griffe. I wore that to high school. Then in college I switched to Cabochard, which I wore for many, many years. Later on I switched to Magie Noire.

Now I'm longing to smell Ma Griffe again! (I've been looking at bottles on ebay, but so far have chickened out.) I do have some vintage Cabochard, and it is as amazing as I remembered it. I could go on and on, but basically I'd love to be included in the draw because I'm obviously so drawn to this type of fragrance and want to learn more about it! Thanks!

11:16 AM EST  
Blogger cbstarker said...

Chypres are not my favorite fragrance style but the right ones are absolutely stunning. I find that if I stick with the more animalic ones, like Cabochard's Gres, or the leather chypres (Chanel's Cuir de Russie comes to mind), we have some of my favorite perfumes ever. I tried Magie Noire but we disagreed from the beginning, better that I stay in the dark areas of chypres. Please include me in your drawing, thre is always more to learn!

11:39 AM EST  
Anonymous coffeesmellandlilacskin said...

oooooh, yes, please... loved your comment about the 'spring florals' as yr beginner scents now maturing. you describe me well.

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger Kristen said...

I'd love to be entered. I'm also delighted and rather surprised to learn that the original Magie Noire is a "rose chypre" -- that was MY first "grown-up" perfume, in the 1980s. I'll have to start hunting for some of the old juice.

12:01 PM EST  
Blogger Lorelie said...

Please count me in---I love my Cabochard Gres even though it's a far cry from the original. A nurse who I worked w in 1976 wore it--she was very beautiful and a bit exotic--her sillage was heavenly... I too remember the MaGriffe days and how it was like nothing else at that point in time.

12:07 PM EST  
Blogger Lindsey said...

Oh please enter me in the draw! I love chypres and my first chypre love was Femme. :)

BTW, I also love 31 Rue Cambon...whether it's technically a chypres or not....

12:19 PM EST  
Blogger Norma said...

OOh please enter me in the draw, I love chypre!

12:36 PM EST  
Anonymous Fernando said...

Neat prize draw. Please include me in it. My experience with chypres is quite limited, but my wife loves Andy Tauer's Rose Chyprée, and if yours are anything like that we want to smell them!

12:47 PM EST  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

What a fabulous round up! I absolutely love chypres, though I have to admit, I still have trouble with Mitsouko--for some reason, the peach just screams on me. Every now and then I can wear it without being ambushed by the peach, and it is indeed then lovely. (Obviously, as a perfume nut, I'm willing to go back to the hand that slaps me... :) )

I have some vintage "Y" also, and love it, as well as Chanel No. 19--which I find gets a bad rap, as half the time it's all about the green floral second half on me. I have been lucky enough to try the Millot Crepe du Chene, which I found absolutely heavenly.

Have you tried Jacomo Silences? It is another happy place for the dark, earthy (not fruity) chypre kind of way.

Please include me in the draw...this is a kind of gambling I could get into!

1:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh! I want to be entered! Years ago, I had a small bottle of the Coty scent, and I saved it for special occasions. It was so *unique*. I love chypres!

Laurie at

2:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm finally starting to appreciate chypres, after about 2 years of perfumista-hood! I would love to be entered in the drawing.

2:45 PM EST  
Blogger Dolly Dagger said...

Great article about a fascinating subject. Please enter me in the sample drawing.


2:45 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would like to be entered into the chypre sample giveaway! sharon mason

2:53 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm in. (i had a chypre-hating friend who called my favorite one "crap de chien.")-lida

3:05 PM EST  
Anonymous Lora said...

I would love to be included in the draw. Thanks!

3:10 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tutorial; we babies need our lessons! Can I be in the drawing?

-- Heidi C.

3:57 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:01 PM EST  
Blogger cornlily said...

Yes, please include me in the draw. I first encountered the smell in my teens, by chance. It was nothing at all like what I'd thought perfume to be, what I'd encountered before. It changed my view of the world a bit. Thanks for the remarks, above.

4:40 PM EST  
Blogger Katherine said...

I would like to be entered in the drawing for some chypre samples! Sounds like instant education :)

- k-scott

4:53 PM EST  
Blogger Gator Grad said...

Oooh! Pick me! I've just gotten into chypres and have a HUGE wishlist.

6:19 PM EST  
Blogger Balutakat said...

Wow, I would have been excited by one, but a whole palette?? Please enter me!

7:13 PM EST  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I was lucky enough to score 3 bottles of vintage Miss Dior on ebay. There was alot of evaporation, but to me this only distilled all the goodness to a more intense form. I would love to try some of your samples.
Cynthia L

7:42 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Love chypres. Please consider me.
Jill S

7:45 PM EST  
Anonymous Mrs. Honey said...

Have you tried EL Knowing? That one is supposed to be a chypre. My favorite from the 70s is Aromatics Elixer.

9:56 PM EST  
Blogger Dixie said...

Thank you for such an informative article. I can't wait to try some of these! I would love to be included in the drawing.

11:20 PM EST  
Blogger sunnlitt said...

Thank you for a lovely bit of writing. It's just so sad that most of these scents are no longer available.
Please enter me in the draw.

11:43 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented, all who requested will be entered! (And thanks to Marina, who lets me rant and rave about vintage perfumes!)

For those who mentioned Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree, thank you for reminding me that at least one new "real" chypre is out there today, and it's a great one!

I did not expect to see so much love for "Y" out there - why in the heck did that ever get discontinued, anyway? It's just about perfect!

Roxana, I think many of us recall our mothers' and grandmothers' "perfumey" perfumes and that brings back the memories. If only there were more real chypres around today! Every time I open one of my vintage bottles I get that initial aroma like the inside of an evening bag, the signature of a chypre scent, a grown-up lady all dressed up for a night on the town.

ScentSelf, I do love Silences, but I think of it a sharp green floral like Vent Vert; it does not have enough of a base for me to be considered a chypre, though its character is very similar to some green chypres. A friend insisted that I try it and I finally did, and wow! Another perfect summer scent.

Mrs. Honey, I am not very familiar with Knowing, but I wore Aromatics Elixir back in the day, and I still love it. The only problem is how very strong it is, so I can't imagine wearing it to the office! Of course, back in the Eighties it was practically a wallflower next to Giorgio, et al, but now that half the world seems to want to smell like clean laundry, it stands out a bit TOO much.

12:09 AM EST  
Blogger Proximity said...

I would love to be included in the draw, chypres represent an area of fragrance that I really want to explore, but just haven't known where to begin. Thanks :)

9:05 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome piece! I love chypre's.
Please enter me in the draw!
Thank you! DLB

9:24 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great read this was! Long before I became interested in perfume as an art, I simply wore perfumes that I loved. Before I even knew how to spell it, I was a chypre-lover. Gres, Ma Griffe, Coriandre, Colony--I wore and loved them all. Oh, thanks so much for writing this, and please put me in that random draw!

2:30 PM EST  
Blogger Charlotte Vale said...

Please enter me in the draw...I love chypres too.

2:44 PM EST  
Blogger Villain Extraordinaire said...

I would love to be entered in this drawing!

7:07 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to try some Chypres. Please enter me in the draw. Rosie

8:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

I can't believe how many of my favorite scents you mention in this wonderful survey of chypres. Mitsouko has been my faithful companion for more than a decade and I can't imagine ever tiring of the images it conjures up and the dreams it evokes. Thank you for such a beautifully descriptive and informative review. I shall definitely refer back to it when I feel the need to add another chypre to my collection!

10:43 PM EST  
Blogger dragonfly411 said...

I would love to be entered for the Chypre samples!!

10:46 PM EST  
Blogger Madelyn E said...

Oh Thank you for this chypre update. I adore chypres as a class - they are my favorite category of fragrance. From Azuree, Miss Dior, Cabochard so many. Oak moss gives such depth and heft to the body and sillage of a perfume. Please enter me in your draw - I would love to experience some of your special collection.

2:03 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, yours are the the best, most informative descriptions of fragrances--anywhere; and I've read lots! Not mere descriptions, but micro love stories; fabulous reading. Please add my name to this drawing.

8:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous article about one of the most intriguing categories of fragrance. I'm old enough (I won't say how old) to remember some of the great chypres you mention, including Crêpe de Chine, Ma Griffe (a heart-stoppingly beautiful scent) and classics such as Femme and Magie Noire before they were reformulated (the new versions are a huge disappointment compared to the originals).
Since I'm Canadian, I can't enter your draw, but I am a faithful reader of your blog.

9:53 AM EST  
Anonymous gautami said...

The article beautifully weaves information with short stories; so thanks for such an interesting read.
My favorites are Mitsouko and #19 so far, but then I have not sampled any of the vintages yet, so please enter me in the draw.

10:27 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please enter me in the draw! :)
svitlana d.

3:42 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fascinating post. I'd love to encounter more chypres-- at present, apart from Mitsouko I only know a few of the recently-released "faux moss" chypres. Crossing my fingers for the lucky draw,

6:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the story: very educational for a relatively new sniffer. Please enter me in your contest. Getting to sniff your picks, new or old, would be educational too! ;)
Laura M

7:04 PM EST  
Anonymous birdwingwhir said...

Oh! Hope I'm not too late to be entered into the draw. I love chypres--this is my favorite category of perfume--and yet I still haven't tried many of those you've reviewed. My sampling list is getting long...

12:13 AM EST  
Blogger Robin E. said...

Oh - now I"m regretting not bidding on that Miss Dior last week! Please enter me in the draw if it's not too late.

10:54 AM EST  
Blogger Prosetry said...

I think I'm too late for the draw but I just wanted to say I was pleased by the serendipity of this post. I just recently tried vintage Mitsouko parfum for the first time and I FINALLY got it. What all the hype was about. And since then, I've been going through my chypres (which had respected but little-used positions on my table) and wearing them. I have the newer version of Miss Balmain and wonder if I'm missing out terribly on something, since it's not vintage. Your post was lovely and informative and now I feel like I have lots to search for and try. So exciting! Excellent work.

8:13 PM EST  
Anonymous 2scents said...

I love green chypres and have many more to look forward to sampling. I love No 19 parfum for that crazy green velvety thing you describe and Givenchy III and Jolie Madame are daytime favorites. I would love to try your samples!

11:08 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Zeina, Prosetry, etc. it's not too late, you are in! I will leave a comment when the draw is closed.

Also, a reminder to everyone, please do not publish your e-mail addresses in the comments, for your own safety. The winner will need to contact Marina directly to give her your mailing address, so please watch for the announcement soon.

11:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chypre samples sound interesting to wear.I would like to be entered into the Prize Draw.

Suzanne of Texas

5:05 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you everyone, for your kind words and interest. The drawing is now CLOSED and the winner will be announced soon. Good luck!

10:32 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Please enter me in the drawing!

5:45 PM EST  
Anonymous said...

Я также не сразу подобрала свой аромат.
Мой любимый аромат Chanel Шанс

9:22 AM EDT  
Anonymous said...

Look the Articles about a fashion Bruna

9:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Fakharuddin40 said...

These are adorable and pleasant. Really I like it I love perfumes. Thanks for the nice share and keep sharing.

Send flowers Pakistan

8:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not too late. Count me in to win. I'm a Chanel 19 gal. I'd be fragrantly honored! Thank you.

11:19 PM EDT  

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