Perfumery term “chypre” has its roots in a French toponym “Chypre” which means Cyprus. Also, this is the name of the first fragrance which became the ancestor of chypre perfumes family – Coty Chypre by Francois. Its composition includes notes of oak moss (collected in Cyprus), bergamot, sandalwood, patchouli and rockrose. This fragrance has become so popular that it started the wave of chypre aromas. What unites chypre perfumes is the combination of the same notes: oak moss, bergamot and labdanum.
50s and 60s were noted as the great era of chypre, this family of perfumes is very popular nowadays as well. The fragrances sound rich, sparky, light. They smell of wealth and festive mood. But for some time it’s been prohibited to use oak moss. Perfumers use different ingredients to compensate for oak moss: galbanum, other mosses, synthetic moss notes. That is why it’s impossible to smell real authentic chypre nowadays.
Key characteristics of chypre perfumes
These are the main characteristics commonly found in chypre perfumes:
- It is mandatory that mossy notes were present in the composition base; they give a subtle groundy smell.
- The scent opens with citrus notes (bergamot notes, to be specific).
- The composition is not too dense, it has three-layers, but still, it’s very deep.
- Labdanum may be present in the composition (also known as rockrose) which gives more depth, patchouli will increase the groundy smell of the composition.
- The scent is characterized as composed and noble: no insolence and barbaric glamour, on the other hand, it’s laconic and elegant.
Percentage of chypre perfumes regarding their “gender” goes as follows: 45% are for men, 30% – for ladies, the rest is unisex, but chypre perfumes bear this unisex quality in general anyway.
Which categories of chypre perfumes do exist?
These are several categories of chypre perfumes with the description and examples:
- Traditional chypres are mostly represented by fragrances for men. They are characterized by strictness, coldness and mandatory wood notes. Examples: Coty Chypre itself (though it was for women), Lanvin Monsieur, Guerlain Derby
- Floral chypres are represented by various floral tones. Typical representatives will be: Chanel #19, Chanel Cristalle, Miss Dior
- Leather chypres, as you can judge from the name, such perfumes incorporate leather notes, but also can have tobacco notes, this gives them a smokey tone, among the examples we may see Robert Piguet Bandit, Gres Cabochard
- Green chypres are characterized by green accords and grassy tones, one of the first green chypre fragrances was Chanel #19 Eau de Toilette, also I can name Sisley Eau de Champagne, L’Artisan Perfumeur Timbuktu
- Fruit chypres is the most paradoxical but still very charming group in this family of fragrances. it seems impossible to mix strict and cold chypre base with light and playful fruit notes, but it actually is possible, let me set an example of amazing Guerlain Mitsouko (by the way, it is one of the favorite perfumes of Princess Diana), Coco mademoiselle by Chanel, Paloma Picasso, Soleil by Rochas
- Woody chypres due to the woody notes the mossiness of such fragrances is more expressed, most of the perfumes in this group are for men: Aramis by Aramis, Chanel Antaeus.
The best time and place for chypres
If you want to wear a chypre aroma so it was to the point, you may listen (or not) to my advice. Anyway, everything is relative, but the common advice will be to wear it in autumn, chypre aromas love the humid and cool air, though sometimes crisp frost may open them in a unique and unbelievably amazing way. Some famous perfume experts claim that it’s good to wear chypres to the restaurants or public places with food (strong smell of food). Let’s try this advice, and let me know what was your experience!) Conclusion
Well, that was a great journey to the world of chypre fragrances, I really enjoyed it, I hope you did as well! I believe that every person should have at least one sample specimen of chypre fragrance, just because they are so different and diverse, one may easily find the best scent and enjoy it. Chypre aromas are really unique, they are so elegant, so outstanding, stylish and just delicious.
Good luck in your searches,