Mystère is a grim, glowering green chypre – a Givenchy III or Y that‘s gone over to the dark side. It’s wonderful.
Chanel No. 19, with its bitter green accord and iris, has been called sharp, cold, and intimidating, but it’s got nothing on Mystère. This fragrance doesn’t beat around the bush for an instant. It s opening salvo is all bitter green notes, galbanum, and aldehydes, and these stay in place as dark leather, patchouli, and an enormous load of oakmoss establish a sepulchral chypre accord that yields no quarter even to Piguet’s Bandit in its brooding, craggy physiognomy. A powdery amber and a cold, venomous iris worthy of Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist eventually soften Mystère’s texture, but they render the scent not a jot more affable or cozy. Indeed, Mystère remains stubbornly true to its name from start to finish: always rather stern, veiled, and glacially aloof, eventually yielding, but never, ever warm.
Don’t imagine that Mystère’s reserve amounts to shyness. It’s actually quite potent and enduring, with ample sillage and the capacity to project well off the skin. The drydown features plenty of that cold, powdery iris root, alongside so much moss that I doubt Mystère could be re-released in its original form under current EU regulations. Too bad. It’s not ever going to have broad appeal, but it’s a fascinating sent that takes perfumery about as far as I can imagine in its particular direction.
The original Mystere, now sadly discontinued, was one of the best floral chypres ever created. Sophisticated, warm, dark, powdery - very elegant. I am reminded of a lady wearing furs at the opera.
Coriander and Hyacinth combine with a floral heart of Rose, Jasmine, Tuberose, Orris, Carnation, Ylang Ylang and Muguet. This floats over a base of Cedar, Oak Moss, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Musk, Styrax and Civet.
The prominent notes are the Coriander, Carnation, Styrax and Civet.
When looking for vintage, buy only the oval bottle with the square black top, as pictured above. Quite expensive but worth every penny. The reformulation going under the same name and displayed in a clear bottle is just awful. Shame on Rochas for trying to dupe its loyal customers.
06th April, 2014 (last edited: 06th June, 2014)
This is one of my all-time favorite scents. I was walking down the halls of the Smithsonian in D.C. where I worked at the time (early 80s). I kept smelling this incredible aroma and was trying to follow it to its source. I eventually traced to another employee down the hall and around the corner; I only caught the trail of the scent that she left exiting the lady's room. I cornered her and found out the name and immediately went to Garfinckel's (sadly RIP) angdbought a bottle, a big splurge on my income at the time. It has been in my scent wardrobe ever since, even thought it was discontinued for a while and then resurrected (hate the new bottle). Warm, dark, woodsy and slightly herbaceous, mysterious and slightly possibly dangerous. You don't wear this to an early AM meeting; too heavy. But once the sun goes down . . . . a very ambery scent, and a brave man could wear this as well.
I have a little vintage mini, not sure of it's condition. On me, a very dry cooking-spice note dominates the top and hangs on into the heart. Coriander is listed; I would have guessed cumin. No other note makes it through the fog. I smell like a sink full of dishes at a noodle house.
Eventually, some florals worm their way into the mix and soften the cooking-spice a little bit, but by this time the scent as a whole is fading. Remains dry, and would make a decent masculine. I don't smell enough moss to identify this as a chypre.
Overall, not a favorite. I was surprised to see it compared to Magie Noire in "Perfumes: The Guide" as that is scent that sends me straight over the moon. Perhaps my sample has aged ungracefully or maybe coriander is just too difficult a note for me.
Incredibly complex, but still collected, bouquet. Absolutely unique and, well...mysterious. Mystère makes you dream.
29th April, 2010 (last edited: 03rd June, 2012)
I adore this classic, warm, chypre scent. I hope someone resurrects it!