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  1. #1

    Default So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Chypres smell like Cyprus, but I've never been to Cyprus.

    If a fougere can roughly be described as "lavender on top, jasmine in the middle, and oakmoss/coumarin at the bottom," how would you describe a chypre in terms of structure?

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I don't think a "traditional" fougère contains oakmoss, which is one of the two main components of a chypre, actually. The other one is bergamot.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Traditionally, both chypres and fougeres contain oakmoss.

    The typical fougere accord is lavender, coumarin and oakmoss. Geranium is used quite often in fougeres as well. Tonka bean contains a high concentration of coumarin

    A basic chypre accord is citrus (usually bergamot) and oakmoss. While oakmoss is the star, patchouli and/or labdanum appear quite often in the base notes of a chypre.
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, ...... I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost

  4. #4

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Grant provides a succinct summary of fragrance families in the "Reference" section of Basenotes (click on the Reference tab at the left of the screen).
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan

  5. #5

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    The best explanation I've read here on Basenotes of what a Chypre is was written by mrclmind and can be found in this thread:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showt...ghlight=Chypre


    Quote Originally Posted by mrclmind View Post
    Companies can be VERY confusing!

    I don't want to beat a dead horse here at all, but think of it this way. If you had some samples (diluted to prevent fatigue) of the following raw materials: Coumarin solution, Distilled lavender essential oil, distilled bergamot oil, oak moss absolute and labdanum absolute; and suppose you dipped a different testing blotter into each one (making sure to label them appropriately). If you smelled the lavender and the coumarin blotters together, you would get an immediate fougere accord, very distinct and noticable. If you did the same with the bergamot and oak moss blotters you would get a very distinct chyphe accord.

    If you combined the lavender and the oakmoss, you would smell oakmoss and lavender. If you combined the bergamot and the coumarin you would smell bergamot and coumarin. If you tested bergamot and labdanum you would smell bergamot and labdanum. There would not be the distinctive "ghost notes" as you got from the chypre and fougere experiments.

    If you combined the chypre and fougere blotters (the lavender, bergamot, coumarin and oakmoss together) you would probably smell a bit of a fight going on. This could be the beginning of either a remarkably complex perfume, or the beginning of a big mess depending on the person formulating it. If you added labdanum to the chypre combination you would get a much fuller expression of the chypre accord.

    I don't know if I'm making any sense here or not, but the point I'm trying to make is that those two accords: chypre and fougere are quite distinct; they have been built up quite a bit over the years and many hybrids have emerged, but by familiarizing ourselves with the basic accords in more classic expressions of these scents it is much easier to recognize them when we smell them.

    I'll stop going on about all this now; but I love these kinds of topics!

  6. #6

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Has anyone done the experiment that Scentsual described, and can they attest that it works? Sounds like a lot of fun! I've been telling myself for quite some time that the only way I'm going to break through to the next level in fragrance awareness is to buy some essential oils and experiment with them. So far, I've been too lazy to get started...
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan

  7. #7
    AromiErotici
    Guest

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by scentsual View Post
    The best explanation I've read here on Basenotes of what a Chypre is was written by mrclmind and can be found in this thread:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showt...ghlight=Chypre
    Quote Originally Posted by Snafoo View Post
    Has anyone done the experiment that Scentsual described, and can they attest that it works? Sounds like a lot of fun! I've been telling myself for quite some time that the only way I'm going to break through to the next level in fragrance awareness is to buy some essential oils and experiment with them. So far, I've been too lazy to get started...
    It does sound like fun and something I may have to try soon. I'm absolutely sure "The mess" mrclmind noted is something I'll achieve once I get started on this. There's no doubt I'll concoct a cluster*#!& and it'll be pretty unwearable, but trial and error isn't such a bad thing ( if you don't mind shelling out a few $$$).

  8. #8

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by scentsual View Post
    The best explanation I've read here on Basenotes of what a Chypre is was written by mrclmind and can be found in this thread:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showt...ghlight=Chypre
    Had I not been so sleepy when I originally posted that, I would have mentioned that patchouli is an all but indispensable part of the chypre accord. It, combined with oakmoss I find is more important than the labdanum I described.

  9. #9

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    A Chypre starts out bright and fruity and slowly works it way down to oak moss. They take you on a journey from heaven to earth.
    Modern chypres often replace the oakmoss with something else.
    Perhaps chypres are structured like a tree in springtime, blossoms on top, branches in the middle and roots planted in the soil as the base.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 18th October 2008 at 02:54 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    A Chypre starts out bright and fruity and slowly works it way down to oak moss. They take you on a journey from heaven to earth.
    Modern chypres often replace the oakmoss with something else.
    Perhaps chypres are structured like a tree in springtime, blossoms on top, branches in the middle and roots planted in the soil as the base.
    That's a great way to describe a chypre Ruggles. Chypres are a play between light and shadow...

  11. #11
    AromiErotici
    Guest

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I wonder how feasible it actually is to purchase some good oils and try to recreate a frag you love that's discontinued? I'm not referring to a clone naturally, but something in the same vicinity of the original.

  12. #12

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by AromiErotici View Post
    I wonder how feasible it actually is to purchase some good oils and try to recreate a frag you love that's discontinued? I'm not referring to a clone naturally, but something in the same vicinity of the original.
    The problem you may find with that is that in contrast to a fragrance profile (i.e. pyramid) most well-designed fragrances are actually formulas using a combination of fragrance chemicals, essential oils and absolutes in painstakingly accurate micro-measured amounts. A good formula can take years to develop and even very experienced noses with full access to a wide ranging perfumer's organ will do a second rate knock off at best.
    Last edited by mrclmind; 18th October 2008 at 03:31 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    The discussion about what bites belong to Chypre accord and what not is endless. There are no strict definition of what Chypre exactly is. PerfumeShrine in her blog has done a nice research about the Chypres - http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/se...hypre%20series

    The classical Chypre accord consists of:
    Citrus notes (bergamot, orange) versus Mossy notes (oakmoss absolute) enriched with Amber notes (labdanum), Animal notes (musk, civet, castoreum), Floral notes (rose, jasmine, carnation) and Woody notes (sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver)

    A lot of modern Chypres may use different ingredients for the same notes. Like the use of Oakmoss is restricted by IFRA and is mostly substituted with different aromachemicals (like Evernyl).

    When you introduce different new notes and accords to classic Chypre formula you get different variations: Fruity Chypre, Green Chypre, Aldehydic Chypre, Floral Animalic, etc.
    Last edited by AromaX; 18th October 2008 at 03:33 PM.
    Anais Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"
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  14. #14
    AromiErotici
    Guest

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrclmind View Post
    The problem you may find with that is that in contrast to a fragrance profile (i.e. pyramid) most well-designed fragrances are actually formulas using a combination of fragrance chemicals, essential oils and absolutes in painstakingly accurate micro-measured amounts. A good formula can take years to develop and even very experienced noses with full access to a wide ranging perfumer's organ will do a second rate knock off at best.
    Exactly !!! I'm referring to the possibility of making one's own third rate knock off by sheer,uneducated trial and error.

  15. #15

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by AromaX View Post
    The discussion about what bites belong to Chypre accord and what not is endless. There are no strict definition of what Chypre exactly is. PerfumeShrine in her blog has done a nice research about the Chypres - http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/se...hypre%20series

    The classical Chypre accord consists of:
    Citrus notes (bergamot, orange) versus Mossy notes (oakmoss absolute) enriched with Amber notes (labdanum), Animal notes (musk, civet, castoreum), Floral notes (rose, jasmine, carnation) and Woody notes (sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver)

    A lot of modern Chypres may use different ingredients for the same notes. Like the use of Oakmoss is restricted by IFRA and is mostly substituted with different aromachemicals (like Evernyl).

    When you introduce different new notes and accords to classic Chypre formula you get different variations: Fruity Chypre, Green Chypre, Aldehydic Chypre, Floral Animalic, etc.
    While I agree with you, a classical chypre structure does exist: bergamot, oakmoss (and patchouli) is the classical skeletal structure that perfumers have been using for decades.
    Last edited by mrclmind; 18th October 2008 at 03:41 PM.

  16. #16

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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I posted a question a few weeks ago (to which mrclmind answered, his answer quoted above) as to what the most 'classic' chypres would be. I asked so I could use those as a reference and then be able to identify variations on the theme. People advised that classic chypres to try would be Givenchy III and Chanel Pour Monsieur (original). I tried this and also a sample of Histoire de Chypre by Aedes/Molinard.

    If you sample 2 of these 3, you can definitely see the common theme and smell the 'ghost note' as described by mrclmind. Identifying this has helped me 'get' what a chypre is (by smelling) and identify its variations. I enjoy this genre and some other variants I can recommend are Diorella (fruity chypre), Tiffany for Men (oriental/chypre), Montale Chypre Vanille (duh) and so on.

    So anyway, my recommendation is to find yourself a sample of PM original and/or a Givenchy III sample (they sell minis of G-III at perfumecountry.com).
    Last edited by bbBD; 18th October 2008 at 04:11 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    The first time I sampled Guerlain's Derby, I associated immediately to Mitsouko (of which I have some vintage parfum). But I'm still working on that chypre "ghost note". I doubt if I would have noticed it immediately in Givenchy III (of which I have a sample of the reissue) or YSL's Y if someone hadn't told me they were chypres. I can see I have some homework to do.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by scentsual View Post
    The first time I sampled Guerlain's Derby, I associated immediately to Mitsouko (of which I have some vintage parfum). But I'm still working on that chypre "ghost note". I doubt if I would have noticed it immediately in Givenchy III (of which I have a sample of the reissue) or YSL's Y if someone hadn't told me they were chypres. I can see I have some homework to do.
    Derby and Mitshouko are another two I identify the 'chypre note' in... the G-III mini I have is the original, not the reissue, and I notice this note right away. It's difficult to articulate, but it's almost like a powdery note that smells clean... I don't know, I'm not good at describing such things...

  19. #19
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Miss Dior is a good one to try since the recent one isn't half bad. The vintage version is lovely. The same goes for 'Cabochard'. I tend to think of a powder note as too sweet to be in a chypre. To me, a chypre is more in the sour catagory. As in citrus/tangy, not as in spoiled. They are sometimes green which confuses them with fougeres (moss/fern notes) or aldehydes are sometimes added for even more pizzazz as in modern 'Cabochard' & modern 'Miss Dior'. In both, they seem to have replaced the lack of oak moss with more aldehydes.

  20. #20

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I prefer the vanilla and spice (perhaps with some wood) with amber (as in Carven Homme) to the chypre frags. They are nice, but they seem to be missing something to me. It may be that I got used to certain combinations, and now I sense "absence" if one of those things is missing.

  21. #21
    smeller
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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Michael Edwards considers Chanel pour Monsieur the closest to Coty Chypre.

    Anyway, I'm often confused with these categories.

    Bergamot is supposed a classical feature of chypre, but most so-called chypres have no noticeable bergamot to me. Meanwhile, most of the aromatic fougéres - I would call them Eternity derivatives, like Safari, Platinum Égoiste, and so on - are plenty of bergamot and possibly no detectable lavender...

    Sorry to be simplistic, but what makes me believe I have a fougére, oriental or chypre is simply the evolution, and specially, the drydown. I search the forementioned accords and notes, but if the drydown has a dominating mossy/earthy feeling (I tend to think not only about oakmoss, but also about leather, woods or vetiver), it could be only a chypre. I relate fougéres to a lavender feeling going through the evolution, and orientals to dominating gourmand, vanilic, ambery or spicy notes (possibly a very wide range).

    I know it's a huge simplification, but I don't see how a fragrance could be classified based only in specific notes (which could be toned down) instead of its whole structure/message.

  22. #22

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I kinda like the wikipedia definition:

    Chypre is a name used to describe a family (or concept) of perfumes, usually with a top note of citrus and woody base notes derived from oak moss and ambergris.

    The basenotes references feature says that a Chypre fragrance contains woody, mossy and floral notes. I thought the citrus top note was a key factor in defining a fragrance as Chypre. That said, it looks like there is definitely room for varying interpretation. As basenotes puts it, "Fragrance families are quite subjective."

    An example would be how basenotes describes Dior's Eau Sauvage as a citrus fragrance (as would I). However, nowsmellthisblog calls it a classic Chypre.

  23. #23

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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by smeller View Post
    Michael Edwards considers Chanel pour Monsieur the closest to Coty Chypre.

    Anyway, I'm often confused with these categories.

    I know it's a huge simplification, but I don't see how a fragrance could be classified based only in specific notes (which could be toned down) instead of its whole structure/message.
    I may be wrong here, but it's not that the classification is based solely on the presence of certain notes in and of itself, but rather because those notes, as ingredients, in the correct amount/proportion, create a structure upon which the rest of the fragrance rests. Also, just because bergamot and oakmoss are present as notes doesn't mean you will smell them as individually... in fact quite the opposite as they combine to create something new (like 'yellow and blue makes green'). As silly as it sounds, the definition of chypre - which historically derives from Coty Chypre - is the bergamot/oakmoss (and to a lesser extent labdanum) combo and not just an earthy drydown. Is this an arbitrary definition? Sure. But it is what it is. Of course the entire discussion is academic and not really necessary for the enjoyment of any fragrance. I thank all of those who were involved in the previous thread on chypres for prompting me to do more research on the subject.

  24. #24
    smeller
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    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by bbBD View Post
    I may be wrong here, but it's not that the classification is based solely on the presence of certain notes in and of itself, but rather because those notes, as ingredients, in the correct amount/proportion, create a structure upon which the rest of the fragrance rests. Also, just because bergamot and oakmoss are present as notes doesn't mean you will smell them as individually... in fact quite the opposite as they combine to create something new (like 'yellow and blue makes green'). As silly as it sounds, the definition of chypre - which historically derives from Coty Chypre - is the bergamot/oakmoss (and to a lesser extent labdanum) combo and not just an earthy drydown. Is this an arbitrary definition? Sure. But it is what it is. Of course the entire discussion is academic and not really necessary for the enjoyment of any fragrance. I thank all of those who were involved in the previous thread on chypres for prompting me to do more research on the subject.

    I see your point, but it seems like it's perfectly possible to a non-chypre fragrance carry bergamot and oakmoss. In fact, many fougéres do.

    Boss Number One, YSL Jazz, Gucci Nobile and Safari for men, all of these are commonly classified as an aromatic fougéres. All of them contain bergamot and oakmoss in their pyramids. From these, Safari for men is the one in which I can recognize a discreet chypre character, but it's due to leather, not oakmoss.

    Dolce & Gabbana has bergamot. It's supposed to have oakmoss (not sure about it), otherwise it would not fit in the fougére group.

    Patou pour Homme also has bergamot and oakmoss, and it's an oriental for most noses. For a few others, a fougére.

    That's why I think these classifications, if made based only on the presence of certain notes, may be somewhat confusing.

  25. #25

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    I think its a sound a bird makes
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  26. #26

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by AromiErotici View Post
    Exactly !!! I'm referring to the possibility of making one's own third rate knock off by sheer,uneducated trial and error.
    Well, regardless of whether or not you succeed in knocking off a fragrance, that exercise will do nothing but deepen your understanding of perfumery and help to sharpen your nose (so to speak). I think it's a great idea actually.

  27. #27

    Default Re: So what's a chypre, anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by bbBD View Post
    I posted a question a few weeks ago (to which mrclmind answered, his answer quoted above) as to what the most 'classic' chypres would be. I asked so I could use those as a reference and then be able to identify variations on the theme. People advised that classic chypres to try would be Givenchy III and Chanel Pour Monsieur (original). I tried this and also a sample of Histoire de Chypre by Aedes/Molinard.

    If you sample 2 of these 3, you can definitely see the common theme and smell the 'ghost note' as described by mrclmind. Identifying this has helped me 'get' what a chypre is (by smelling) and identify its variations. I enjoy this genre and some other variants I can recommend are Diorella (fruity chypre), Tiffany for Men (oriental/chypre), Montale Chypre Vanille (duh) and so on.

    So anyway, my recommendation is to find yourself a sample of PM original and/or a Givenchy III sample (they sell minis of G-III at perfumecountry.com).
    I think "Y" is another good stripped down chypre as well as Diorella and Givenchy III. I personally find Tiffany for Men dips it's toes more into the oriental category, although I can certainly understand and respect where many people categorize it as a chypre.

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