Of all the truly grand perfumes which have ever been made, the chypres have to be the most grand of the Grand. Strong and commanding, somewhat astringent and leathery the chypres are made for a woman who nurses the secret hubris that she can wear such a fragrance and that it will compliment her.
Chypres are simply a combination of oak moss and other bass notes. Labdenum, vetiver, sandalwood, and patchouli are all favorite combinations with oakmoss in a “typical” chypre. The one consistent ingredient in all chypres is oakmoss, though, regardless of anything else. The resulting fragrance can flex around that one constant, and so there are chypres which are floral, or spicy, or musky but they all have that leather-ness to anchor them even if it is a note playing off in the distance.
The average chypre smells oddly old fashioned to our noses, and so to do one successfully it is important to take into consideration the modern tastes for musk and more astringent unisex fragrances (which puts chypres right in the lucky position of being just where the public’s taste lies…with a bit of tweaking).
A good chypre will be very very long lasting due to the number of bass notes that go into it. They are usually quite expensive as there are a lot of natural ingredients at play, and we all know that naturals are higher priced than synthetic ingredients.
Out of all the perfume genres, I identify chypres as being Western European. Somehow their character could not come from somewhere else. Though they were supposed to have been born on the Byzantine border in Cyprus, the image they conjure up is pure Paris, London, and Rome for me.
The great French perfume houses outdid themselves over the chypre genre especially after World War II. I can’t think of one real perfumer who didn’t have a prized chypre to offer the world at the beginning of the Atomic Age. Balmain had Jolie Madame and Miss Balmain, Robert Piguet brought out the remarkable Bandit (named for a highly successful stage play in Paris).Femme by Rochas is classified as a chypre and it is amazingly fruity along with the leather. Mitsouko is called a chypre, and I have no doubt it is one, but it has fallen victim of the European Union’s war on perfume ingredients and I would not recommend it. Aromatics Elixir is a chypre, and a very odd one to my nose at that being more fabric like than leathery (I suspect that is a heaping dose of labdenum which accounts for that, but I will never know for sure).
Because of the cypres’ leatherlike tones, it is a perfectly masculine feminine (and a perfectly feminine masculine). It is haute class unisex but it is unflaggingly sexy in all cases. A fine chypre swishes into a ball room in full fig, rides to the hounds in the starchiest of French riding habits, and can teach school all day long and still be ready for a shatteringly fabulous tryst after work. Everyone should own their favorite chypre, they are so useful and the best ones are strong but never tiring.
I have made up a special sample pack of chypres to show you what the different ones are like. Possets has 6 of them that you can try, three are 100% natural, but the sample pack will be sold for only $10 so that you can try and love the realm of chypre. Here they are.Come and visit my site to learn more: www.possets.com and don’t miss the podcast I recorded on this topic of chypres, too.