Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

I have been thinking about this recent article on the Other Forum and the comments it has elicited, and I’ve wondered what the Basenotes vintage gang would say...

Now I think some articles are posted just to get a rise out of people, so I have not taken the bait. But I do wonder...what does it mean to call anything a chypre? As a vintage geek, I mutter my catechism of “bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum,” and maybe a little patchouli, isobutyl quinoline, and galbanum, but I have also learned that I am supposed to call perfumes that replace oakmoss with that modern patchouli stuff that doesn’t smell like patchouli to me, along with gobs of tonka and ethyl maltol, chypres as well.

Now Bulliq is taking the popularity of the NR musk perfumes (and apparently Pure Musc smells quite a bit like a high quality dryer sheet) as a sign that the chypre is truly dead in contemporary designer perfumery, or as the Munchkins sang, “Most sincerely dead.”

Pure Musc signifies the definitive death of the classic chypre in commercial composing pressurised by the shadow of sweet gourmand blends. Pure Musc is the epitome of the current-day chypre – superficially aligned with the category on paper by emphasising the opaque depth of woods and musk related to the oakmoss family, yet in olfactory reality bears almost no resemblance to the qualities that originally defined the family and its characteristic base notes (resinous, animalic, humid, earthy, rough-textured, forest-like). You could certainly point to examples such as Twilly and Nomade to defends chypre’s legacy, but the influence of the new Miss Dior and Coco Mademoiselle (as well as IFRA restrictions, new trends, new materials) have branded the old burnt-flower browned oakmoss accords of Caron, Guerlain and Piguet as defunct currency. There are indeed historical links to be teased out between today’s Gen Z chypres and the 1920s genre-defining Parisian chypres but, if we’re honest, they smell nothing alike and their meanings for today’s consumer couldn’t be more different.

I believe Bulliq is saying that we should stop using the word “chypre” to refer to these fluffy white musky things, and possibly the pink faux patchouli things as well, and I agree. The word “chypre” does need to have some conventional meaning. But I do think there is still life in the traditional chypre structure, that is, “the old burnt flower browned oakmoss accords.” Vide Chypre Siam, and, I gather, Areej le Doree’s Antiquity (haven’t tried, but I would love to, if anyone is willing to share a smidgen). And Guerlain is still making a decent Mitsouko...

What do y’all think?

Further reading...

This post first appeared on Grant Osborne, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre


Subscribe to Grant Osborne

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription