chypreA well loved classic which few people know anything about, the blend called Chypre is actually named after the island of Cyprus where the original idea emerged. Europe went wild for a new perfume they had never smelled before and it came from dealers on Cyprus. It was a combination of bergamot, labdenum, and oakmoss and smelled ever so much better than the straight up essential oils which the good people of Europe had been using as perfume. Complex, dark and elemental, Chypre took the West Countries by storm and soon they were producing their own version of this item.There is some magic which happens between the two foundation elements in a good chypre, and a lot of it depends on the quality of those ingredients. I have tried chypres which just did not make the grade even though their elements were of the best sort, and I have tried chypres which were divine with great elements, too. Depends on a lot of factors, if the perfume works or not.

Chypres can be dressed up quite a bit, with citrus or leather top notes, floral tops, resins, patchouli, or amber. It is a very versatile category.  Out of all the places which are renowned for chypres, France has to be the most famous. They were the source of such blockbuster perfumes as: Bandit, Cabochard, Mitsouko, and Femme.

A hallmark of the 20th century, chypres fell out of the public preference when aggressive musks and candy sweet scents came along. With the simulacra of fragrances, novelty made chypre seem “old fashioned” and quaint. That started in the 1980s and here, about 40 years later, chypre is re-introduced to a new generation which sees it as being a break from the oh, so expected sharp musk and fruity scents. Chypre does deserve its place among the perfume families and so it is back with a vengeance. I say hooray. One of my favorite chypres is a blend I made and named Sorrow; it’s a classic into which I have inserted a good deal of galbanum. It’s named after a character in a Thomas Hardy novel.

Fougere is a member of the chypre family, too. A fougere is the combination of oakmoss, lavender, and coumarin. I think there is a similarity between that and chypre due to the oakmoss base which is uncommon in other sorts of perfume blends. One of the most famous fougeres (which you never knew was one) was Gillette Foamy shaving cream’s fragrance! It was a beautiful fougere and highlighted the fact that it is considered a man’s sort of scent.

Fougere Royale was first made by Houbigant and it was rumored to be the first perfume which used artificial ingredients as the coumarin (vanilla scent) in it had been manufactured in the lab! It was said to have been presented to the French Empress Eugenie, who was the supreme taste maker for her generation. Her approval signaled the beginning of the rage for artificial scent which persists to this day.

And, the term fougere means fern in French, and refers to the fact that this fragrance is very much like the scent of dried ferns. My perfume, Landscape in Suffolk is a fougere and one of a modern type which still carries the unmistakable traces of the genre.

Hop over to Possets and take a look at our brand new Yule listing for 2015. There are representatives from each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. This year our Yule theme is Portraits and we are offering free shipping on all orders through December. Now is the time to stock up and give your gifts (we always have a great presentation, perfect for gift giving right out of the shipping envelope!

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