I had long hoped to sample Coty's Chypre, not only to experience the smell per se, but to catalog in memory the central accord that launched a fragrance genre whose fertility is rivaled only by the orientals born of Shalimar and the descendants of Fougère Royale.
Having worn Chypre, I can say without implying disappointment that it smells very much as I'd expected of the "ur-chypre." For those who never get a chance to sniff the real thing, Chanel pour Monsieur and Monsieur de Givenchy both come fairly close as they approach drydown. Mentally subtract some citrus from either, and most of the lavender from the Givenchy, and you'd have a reasonably accurate approximation of Coty’s Chypre at its heart.
Bergamot dominates the top notes, but prominent moss follows quickly, and it’s only a few moments more before a labdanum-rich amber and a generous helping of patchouli arrive to fill out the classic accord that bears this scent’s name. If I had to ally it with any of the subgenres it spawned, I’d lean toward the green chypres (Givenchy III, Y), rather than the floral (1000), fruity (Mitsouko, Baghari), or leather (Bandit, Aramis).
Built largely of durable, resinous materials, the chypre accord presented here is relatively linear and stable. The bergamot is fist to exit, followed much later by the moss, so that the last stage of the drydown consists mostly of patchouli and labdanum. Chypre is moderately potent, projects well from the skin, and lasts for several hours.
While I mourn the loss of so seminal a fragrance, Chypre’s prolific offspring leave us with plenty of options for general wear. As I’ve already suggested, Chanel pour Monsieur or Monsieur de Givenchy capture much of the same mood and content. For something slightly brighter and greener, there’s Givenchy III, and for an analog with greater depth, complexity, and a touch of leather, I’d also recommend Derby. (Mitsouko, while often touted as Chypre’s direct descendant, is far more sweet, indulgent, and voluptuous than its relatively austere predecessor.)
This is for the 1980s version
I once got a miniscule sample of the original Coty Chypre in pure perfume concentration. That was one of the most perfectly beautiful scents I have ever experienced and it made me long for this perfect chypre. I have been searching the Internet from time to time ever since to find this marvel again, but it is just not to be found. What can be found is the 1980s reissue, in a beautiful art deco inspired bottle. This scent was a disappointment however. It is not a bad fragrance, but it is not nearly as wonderful. And despite of it being from the eighties it feels old and dated, a little bit like the bathroom of an older couple we sometimes visited when I was a child in the 1960s. Not something I would wear other than at home, for the nostalgia and vintage feel.
I have been fortunate in obtaining a sample of the vintage CHYPRE and it is lovely.
A soft floral over an only slightly dry base. It certainly is classy and I do wish Coty would bring it back. Overall, a gentle introduction to what was to become a scent genre.
First Edit: Upon wearing the vintage Chypre for a number of months now, I can say that it is very earthy, like rich fresh potting soil, overlain with a minty carnation. It is not at all feminine and is not really masculine either, just odd and unique. It is the same scent that is the base for Guerlain's Mitsouko, created eight years after Chypre. Not one that is outstanding or that I would wear regularly, more a museum piece than a fragrance that has withstood the test of time.
Second Edit: I find it odd that the strong central carnation note is not mentioned in any reconstructed note tree. This part of the formula I can see influencing Caron's Tabac Blond two years later, just as the minty, earthy note evolved into Guerlain's Mitsouko.
Very interesting scent all chypre lovers should expose themselves to.
02nd October, 2012 (last edited: 28th September, 2016)
I have a 1 oz. bottle (EDP) of this that is most likely from the 1970's, when it was discontinued. I agree 100% with with Miss Denise's review of Coty Chypre: as you wear it, you can get a hint of almost every one of the classic chypres that was ever made and so wearing it is like getting a lesson in the history of the chypre genre as it unfolded down through the years, as I sniffed it at different times during its development, I found myself calling out the names of several of the other chypre perfumes I've had the opportunity to experience. I can see how this can be considered the mother of all chypres. If your looking for something classically pretty and beautiful in this scent, you won't find it. This scent has a more "jolie laide" (spelling?) kind of beauty, which makes it all the more mysterious and compelling to me. Clean, fresh, fruity-floral lovers will run screaming in the opposite direction because this is as far from that as you can get. I'm one of those believers in the theory that when Coty fell on hard times, he sold some of his formulas to Guerlain, What confirmed that for me was when I first opened my 1930's bottle of Emeraude. "Mother of Shalimar!" was my first thought. With Coty Chypre I get aspects of Mitsouko, Parure, Bandit, Miss Dior and on and on! Now I'm dying to get my hands on just a little of the pure parfum.
Original Coty Chypre opens with a blast of citrusy civet, dirty and surprisingly animalic. This is rich potent stuff. I smell oakmoss from the get-go, but Chypre mellows as it develops and draws closer to the skin.
Since it's the ur-chypre, the very foundation of an entire fragrance family, I can only compare it to later fragrances that used it as a touchstone: vintage Cabochard, vintage Lubin Nuit de Longchamp, vintage Mitsouko of course, (especially if one believes the Francois Coty-sold-the-recipe-to-Guerlain, who-added-a-peach-note story.) There are echos of Coty Chypre in vintage Aramis, vintage Bandit, original Raphael Replique, vintage Azuree, Guerlain's (sadly discontinued) Parure. I don't get the bitter green or fruit or or floral that other reviewers have mentioned, (though there must be some jasmine) but rather a rich, mellow smooth heady fragrance.
I also don't agree with whoever said (can't remember where I read this) that Guerlain's addition of a peach note was an improvement on Coty's original chypre. This stands on its own, proudly. It's a take-no-prisoners, say it loud, I'm THE CHYPRE and I'm proud perfume.
Vintage bottles of the same scent can vary tremendously, depending on how they've been stored, variability from batch to batch etc, and Chypre from later vintage 40s/50s? probably smell somewhat different than those bottled in 1917. Perhaps this accounts for the different impressions recorded here by reviewers. The chypre I sampled from dates from the 1920s/30s, based on the glass bottle design & frosted glass stopper and the raised gold bas-relief lettering on the label.