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.
If this were released today it would be a niche unisex fragrance. It starts with an icy, martini-like blast of alcohol, then settles down immediately to a rich cedar woods with hints of sage that is reminiscent to my nose of Serge Luten's Cedre or a more rich Tam Dao or some of the Ormonde Jayne fragrances.I also get a hint of leather.
This isn't overly sweet to me, nor does it smell like the tobacco it's supposed to evoke.
But then I cannot vouch for the quality of the vintage manufacturer's sample I've got. It's scrawled in cursive "Snuff de Schiaparelli.
I've never smelled the earlier women's version so I have no basis for comparison, but my sample has good longevity and has bloomed nicely in the heat.
It's a pity that Schiaparelli couldn't have held on to producing this for awhile, because this would have found a new appreciate and market today.
Virgilio is not GREEN to me, it's the scrubby, lower-case gray-green of wild herbs baking in the August sun. It's also bracing, cool (the mint) and refreshingly adamantly un-sweet.
No one has mentioned oregano but I get that herb, very diffused and almost abstracted, more than basil. This is a masterful and austere blend, capturing the kind of natural wild living Mediterranean resinous herbal incense that rises from the hillsides of Crete (and the Southern California coastal ranges) in late summer afternoons as the ocean breeze (the subtle saline underpinnings of Virgilio) kick in.
Also reminiscent of the wafting top note as someone walks by at a distance wearing the long lost Max Factor masterpiece Geminesse.
Bring it back, Maxie, all is forgiven.
I get aquatic, very masculine Grey Flannel notes when first applied, but fortunately the smoky woodsy lavender quickly kicks in as GC grows deeper, more elegant and creamy and complex. (I have to disagree w/those who say it's linear). If there was a smoky, aromatic lavender-infused single malt scotch, it might smell like this. An elegant, grey-violet scent with a faintest dab of animalic, (the citrus-amber?) that makes it a very grownup scent. I like that it's not overly sweet, but I do appreciate the touch of amber sweetness in the drydown - never cloying - that takes in into a more complex, sophisticated realm than the beloved and comfortable lavender sachet of memory. A thinking person's lavender-inspired scent. I think it might just be a masterpiece.
Totally over the top white buttercream frosting on angel cake in your Mom's kitchen of nostalgia, everything homemade and delicious. A spray of this sates my craving for a sugar fix. It's that evocative and potent.
I love it for its homey, vanilla-on-steroids baking smell. I hate it cuz it's so over the top and cloying. It's a guilty pleasure. Good for layering too, especially with something fruity like J'Adore to create the vanilla-peach accord.
Now discontinued and thus highly sought after.
An excellent unisex chypre (but then I'm a girl who likes men's frags.) Its bold appealing notes reminds me in part of the classic 1940-50s female scents by the great French houses, the chypres that eschewed sweetness for elegant style -- vintage Cabochard, the 2nd formulation of Raphael Replique. To my nose, this is what lies at the heart of Aramis 900, which is then overlaid with more mysterious woodsy, mossy Oriental notes.
Timeless, elegant, classic. And yes, reminiscent of AE as several have pointed out, but aging mellow like an oak barrel instead of sharp.