Chypre perfumes are what I grew up with. They form part of my heritage because I practically grew up in the greater part of the world where they were conceived originally, the Eastern Mediterranean. Coty's version was a re-imagining. They also smell familiar because practically all the women in my family (and a few men) favored them. For us Southern Europeans the scents of powder, of dryness, of bitter-like scents, and associatively of lack of perspiration, indicate grooming and an immaculately polished appearance. Despite or perhaps because of the region's cultural preponderance to both a groomed rigidity and a carnal sexuality that oozes through every sweaty pore, chypres with darker, animalic elements have seemed both right and alluring. It's a paradox since high temperatures also favor a lighter scent; yet chypre fragrances have the added advantage to not only cut through the heat but almost alleviate it a bit to both the wearer's and the sniffer's mind thanks to their highly volatile citrusy top notes and their starched, mossy undertone.
In short they fit like a glove.
I like them all. Tailored chypres, classic chypres, nouveau chypres and patchouli florals too!
Initially my concept into sharing some of my personal favorite fragrances, as requested by readers, was to highlight less well known specimens. And in part that's what I did with my rather eclectic mix presented in my previous post on A few of my favorite less celebrated fragrances where I also matched them with some of my favorite verse. Chypres however for the reasons I have explained in that previous post have gained a status of rarefied "against the grain" chicness amidst the market selection.
Mossy fragrances can sometimes appear out of step too, dragging the "old lady perfume" stigma with them. I'm brushing that thought away with an assured "hell no care" shrug of the shoulders and I suggest you do the same. The truth is this fragrance family has included some of the most masterful perfumes in modern perfumery. And we can collectively sigh with pleasure at unapologetically liking them.
Here a few of my favorite chypre fragrances in alphabetical order.
NB. I did not include true leather scents though because technically these are a breed apart (though sometimes conflated with chypres). For leather scents please consult the Leather Series. Also discounted green florals, such as Chanel No.19 (which I love in summer heat) or Cristalle for similar reasons.
Armani original eau de parfum pour femme
I wore this in high school. A girl was so inspired she copied me relentlessly. Needless to say I'm heartbroken it got discontinued.
Aromatics Elixir by Clinique
Practically my very definition of a true chypre. Huge patchouli beast with rose, an enchanted forest. I first fell with love it in junior high. Almost every woman in Athens has worn it at some point or other. Huge best-seller and the most delicious trail on any passerby.
Bottega Veneta eau de parfum by Bottega Veneta
Rich prune fruity compote with a troubling under torrent. Delightful.
Cabochard by Madame Gres
My mother's beloved in its original formula and for that reason a poignant and sweet
Bandit eau de parfum by Robert Piguet
The scent of a dominatrix is also a fiercely green mossy one.
Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve (distributed by Avon in the US market)
What would you have expected from perfumista-celebrity La Deneuve? All that and more.
Diorella, Dioressence and Miss Dior (original) by Dior
I have covered all these in my Dior series. Linked above are detailed reviews & historical snippets.
Diorling by Dior
Cusp between leathery and chypre. Smooth as sin, beautiful like an angel.
Doblis by Hermes
La douleur exquise. Don't get me started. It's criminal that this smoothest of chypre -suede compositions isn't (and isn't going to be) re-issued.
Femme by Rochas
As feminine as its name suggests, as streamlined as a tailleur. I love the modern re-edition by Cresp where the note of cumin boosts the sexiness hundred-fold.
Jean Louis Scherrer I (original) by Jean Louis Scherrer
Liquid emeralds. This.
Jubilation 25 by Amouage
Proof that modern fruity chypres can be made to perfection.
Mitsouko by Guerlain
The reference fruity chypre with a mouthwatering (to me at least) cinnamon-clove addition, especially perceptible in the lighter concentrations such as the eau de toilette and eau de cologne.
Paloma Picasso (Mon Parfum) by Paloma Picasso
This is one of the loveliest, dense yet wearable chypre in existence. I don't know why people don't wear it more. It also lasts for eons.
Une Rose Chypree by Tauer Perfumes
Another modern fragrance that proves one can do a fabulous chypre with today's materials. My bottle has run out.
Y by Yves Saint Laurent
The most polished chypre gem. From the most elegant couturier to walk this earth. Deep love.
Concluding, it's not a coincidence I have reviewed in detail and referenced all of these perfumes many times. They resonate.
Feel free to add your own (or your own experiences with them) in the comments!