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  1. #1
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Hello everyone! As you can see, I'm very new to this forum, as well as to the art of fragrance DIY. I've been collecting vintage perfumes for some time, always searching out the grail: Coty's original chypre (not the 1980s reformulation.) I finally found a tiny remnant in a bottle via ebay, but unfortunately the top notes are ruined; the heart and base are still gorgeous, though. The search continues.

    I should explain that I love all chypre fragrances. In fact, that's how I got into the study of the history of perfumes in the first place: I discovered that almost all my favorite scents are chypres.

    I recently found what is apparently a formula for Chypre on the Perfumers Apprentice web site, but I confess I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the ingredients. Some day, though, when I get a bit more practice, I want to try recreating this formula.

    So ... I just splurged on a chypre kit from Nature's Gift. I hope I didn't go overboard. It's a crazy extravagance for me, but I love chypre fragrances so much I couldn't resist.

    Should I try something really simple first, just to get the hang of it? Or is this situation like a beginning piano student who should be practicing Three Blind Mice, but attempting Beethoven instead??

  2. #2

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Hello St. Louis!
    Chypre base chord it's bergamot+labdanum+oak moss.
    It's possible for piano students to attempt Beethoven http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkGQh...eature=related
    I think differense between this exercise and real Beethoven "Ode to Joy" like difference between chypre base chord and good chypre parfume

  3. #3

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    As a fellow newbie, I can't offer any advice regarding perfume-making. However, as a professional artist, I can tell you that if you have a specific vision in mind, it's best to make that vision your goal, even if it means failing the first hundred times. In other words, go for it.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    It is, in a way, rather sad that you love Chypres. Because of IFRA restrictions it is not possible to smell any anymore. The key ingredient is Oakmoss, and any new "Chypre", or any reformulation of an old Chypre will not have enough Oakmoss. Oakmoss, Labdanum, Musk and powdery notes are key. If it is for your own pleasure then go ahead. Formulating the Perfumer's Apprentice Chypre will give you some understanding of the structure. It is always useful to compound something yourself.

  5. #5
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Thank you for all these thoughtful replies. Yes, it was the fact that I couldn't find the original Coty Chypre, and then upon further study learning that chypres are now an endangered species, that made me feel as though I had to understand this type of fragrance. I wanted to know what it was, specifically, that appealed to me so much.

    I do appreciate the encouragement, though. I'll report back when my kit arrives and I begin the adventure.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    There are low atranol, IFRA approved oakmoss absolute available at Nature's Gift and elsewhere. The price isn't friendly, but at least it's possible. And if you are only making the accord for personal use, you don't have to follow any of the IFRA rules.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    But also oak moss absolute non Ifra is available, I have bought it, if one want a perfume for himself he can not respect Ifra rules.

    - - - Updated - - -

    But also oak moss absolute non Ifra is available, I have bought it, if one want a perfume for himself he can not respect Ifra rules.
    Giovanni Sammarco
    natural perfumer

  8. #8
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Oh, yes, thank you -- I am doing this as a way of educating myself about chypres (and about perfumes in general), and I don't really see myself as ever making perfumes for sale. If this experiment goes well then I can imagine maybe making fragrances for family members or friends.

    One other thing about all this: I have been collecting vintage fragrances for some time, and I have quite a few tiny bottles full of beautiful perfume now -- perfume that is a total mystery to me. I can't find out anything about these scents. I think most of them date back to the 1930s and 1940s. So I thought if I began learning the basics of perfume making I might be able to learn more about the individual notes in these lovely scents.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Do the fragrances have names? One of the basics of perfume making is to learn about the individual notes; Essential Oils and chemicals. Before learning what happens when they are mixed together it is necessary to find out how they behave alone.

  10. #10
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Thanks, David. As for those fragrances, I believe they are all by Helene Dale, who was making beaded purses in Paris some time in the 1930s or 1940s. She also seemed to have a side line of creating these tiny perfumes. One is called Chant des Isles, another is simply No. 7 (which is I think part of her a dress) and the third has no identifying label. I've been researching them & haven't come up with too much more information, I'm afraid. That's why I got into the DIY end of it; I thought if I could educate myself on the notes, I would be able to learn more about these beautiful fragrances.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    As it happens I spent some of the weekend making up a batch of my own interpretation of the Chypre fragrance family - there are 50 or so ingredients in it so it's not a quick job even though I designed it a couple of years ago.

    The Perfumer's Apprentice formula does not purport to be the original (or indeed the 1980 reformulation) of Coty's classic, but only a facsimile useful for learning from, but it is a pretty good facsimile just the same.

    The trouble you're going to have with the Nature's Gift kit (and my goodness that's a lot of money for a set of 2ml vials already diluted to 10%) is that it does not contain any musk - a vital part of the Chypre formula as David has already pointed out.

    I would recommend you get at least one, preferably two or three musks to add to it. My top choice for this would be velvione (dry and powdery), but if the Chypre is not for sale you could also consider using musk xylene.
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  12. #12
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Oh, my goodness, I certainly hope I didn't misread that -- I was under the impression that they were 15 ml vials! Well, it may not be too late to cancel the order if I've made a mistake. I think getting the kit was just a question of intimidation -- I would have to learn all this on my own, because I don't know anyone here who knows anything about making perfumes. I thought the kit might at least get me started in the right direction.

    Thanks very much for the recommendation on the musk. There were one or two other things on the Perfumers Apprentice list that I might like to add, so I will definitely look for those.

    By the way, Chris, I've learned a great deal from your blog, so I'm really happy that you've chimed in on my post!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    My reading was that the basic kit is 15ml, with the advanced items at 2ml each - a bit steep for ~$100 I thought - however I could be wrong.

    Happy to help and glad you find the blog useful, that's what I write it for, so it would be sad if it wasn't helping.
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    The Nature's Gift set is all natural materials, which I think is a bit overkill. If you are not strictly into natural perfumery, I would suggest you look into PA's starter kits.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    If you want to learn perfumery, you must get some synthetics as well as Essential Oils and Absolutes. Despite what the natural perfumers say there are some notes that cannot be achieved without synthetics.

  16. #16
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Yes, I definitely intend to. I was thinking that I would begin with some ingredients from Chris's list. Either that or maybe just try to get a few other ingredients from that chypre formula I mentioned earlier. This is all so new to me that I feel I ought to slow down a bit first and at least build a few skills. I certainly don't feel that I am knowledgeable enough to form opinions about natural versus synthetic, but that said, I have no personal animus against synthetics or strong feelings one way or the other. As I said earlier, I am a bit worried that I'm jumping in at the deep end!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by St. Louis View Post
    Yes, I definitely intend to. I was thinking that I would begin with some ingredients from Chris's list. Either that or maybe just try to get a few other ingredients from that chypre formula I mentioned earlier. This is all so new to me that I feel I ought to slow down a bit first and at least build a few skills. I certainly don't feel that I am knowledgeable enough to form opinions about natural versus synthetic, but that said, I have no personal animus against synthetics or strong feelings one way or the other. As I said earlier, I am a bit worried that I'm jumping in at the deep end!
    . . . diving in at the deep end is both safer and more fun than diving in at the shallow end . . . go for it and enjoy yourself. Don't expect to get great results first time, but every experience will teach you more about the materials you work with and you'll almost certainly discover unexpected delights along the way. I still do.
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  18. #18
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Upon further reading, I found a very interesting 1857 recipe for an Eau de Chypre in The Art of Perfumery, by George Piesse (available on google books.) While this isn't exactly what I was looking for in my initial quest, I'd like to mess around with this recipe. I would imagine that the proportions should be fairly easy to reproduce, even if the actual materials will be different from the ones M. Piesse had available:

    Page 137, Eau de Chypre

    Extract of musk, 1 pint

    ambergris
    Vanilla
    tonquin bean
    orris, of each 1/ pint

    Esprit de rose triple, 2 pints

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Because of IFRA restrictions it is not possible to smell any anymore. The key ingredient is Oakmoss, and any new "Chypre", or any reformulation of an old Chypre will not have enough Oakmoss.
    Sub rosa I heard that Guerlain doesn't use real oak moss since 2008. It seems that the perfume industry is much better in recreating essential oils with aroma chemicals than we believe.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Some things we can do, some we cannot. If Guerlain hasn't used any Moss since 2008, it shows in the lousy reformulations that they pretend are the genuine vintage perfumes. If you can find some vintage Guerlains and compare with the stuff they are selling now, you will see (smell) the difference.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Domek View Post
    Sub rosa . . .
    Now there is a beautiful expression you don't see used much any more!
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  22. #22
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Just by way of a quick update: I tried a few versions of various chypre recipes about a week ago, and so far -- not terrible. My first few essays were not a complete failure. Not chypres, either, though, I'm sorry to say.

    Judging my main version: basically all I can smell at first is jasmine; then it becomes sort of a creamy spicy thing; but I cannot detect the oak moss or patchouli. Yet those two ingredients make up nearly forty percent of my recipes. I had no idea jasmine was such an overwhelming scent (it's about five percent.)

    Well, that was interesting. Onward and upward. I have some other questions, but I think I'd better post them in a new thread.

    Thanks!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    It may be easier for you (St Louis) to make a backnote base with your Patchouli, Moss etc. I would also add to it some musk and some powdery effects such as Orris or Ionones, but that's up to you. When you are happy with the smell of what will be, essentially the dry down of your fragrance you then go on adding middle and top note materials. I always think composing a fragrance in this way is a bit like painting. You apply one colour, then can add others of greater transparency over that base coat. Base note materials can affect middle and top notes in the same way that the base colour can affect those glazes put on top of it.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    It may be easier for you (St Louis) to make a backnote base with your Patchouli, Moss etc. I would also add to it some musk and some powdery effects such as Orris or Ionones, but that's up to you. When you are happy with the smell of what will be, essentially the dry down of your fragrance you then go on adding middle and top note materials. I always think composing a fragrance in this way is a bit like painting. You apply one colour, then can add others of greater transparency over that base coat. Base note materials can affect middle and top notes in the same way that the base colour can affect those glazes put on top of it.
    Thanks for that analogy David: this is the way I generally build my fragrances (bottom up) but I've not heard it described so evocatively before.
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  25. #25
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Thank you both. As always, the answers here are illuminating: not only helpful and informative, but also very well written and clear. This forum is the best possible resource for the intrepid but unwise beginner. Thanks. I'll do precisely as you suggest.

    Oh, I have one other somewhat unrelated qeustion. In the original recipe posted on the Perfumers Apprentice site (link is in my first post above), the quantities are indicated as simple numbers. I assumed those were "drops" not grams. Am I wrong about that? I haven't tried this complex recipe yet, and won't do so until I learn more (as per David's post) but in the meantime I thought I'd better clarify. Thanks again.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    It is a convention in perfumery that formulas for fully specified fragrances are normally expressed as proportions of 1000 - so there isn't a unit as such. However the presumption is that you will make it up by weight so whether you are making a tiny amount and each unit is 1 thousandth of a gram or an industrial size batch where each unit is 100kg the formula is the same.

    The PA Chypre formula comes out at 1005 (or 1068 using the vanilla tincture option), so I think there is probably a typo there somewhere:

    Bergamot - 225
    Cardamom 10%- 5
    Tarragon 10% - 35
    Clary Sage - 25
    Sweet Orange - 25
    Methyl Salicylate, 10% - 5
    Jasmin Absolute (or Jasmine Blend*) - 40
    Rhodinol (Dimethyl Octanol or Rhodinol 70)- 30
    Oak Moss 50% - 20
    Benzoin Oil - 50
    Civet Absolute (can nicely substitute Civet Blend *) - 10
    Labdanum - 10
    Orris Concrete 10% (or Iris Blend *) - 25
    Styrax (Storax) - 5
    Tonka Bean Absolute - (can nicely substitute Coumarin - 20
    Vanilla Absolute (can substutute vanilla tincture - Tahition preferred) -
    7 for absolute 70 for tincture
    Bulgarian Rose (can substitute Rose Blend *) - 3
    Rose de Mai Absolute(can very nicely substitute Wardia *) - 30
    Methyl Ionone (violet) - 40
    Patchouli - 25
    Vetiver Acetate - 25
    Musk Ketone - 30
    Jasmine Blend * - 95
    Ambrene 50 * - 25
    Ambergris Tincture (can nicely substitute Cetalox*, 5%) - 30
    DEP or IPM or DPG - 165

    The original (it is taken from a Louis Appell book) calls for 25 of Ambrarome at 5% rather than 30 of ambergris tincture so I guess that's where the error is.

    He is also specific that the 165 is DEP (diethyl phthalate) and specifies Benzoin resinoid rather than oil. There is one other anomaly in that Appell uses the notation tpl after the abbreviation he uses for Orange, which is unhelpful as it could be a typo of either tls = terpeneless or tps = terpenes. I suspect that Linda decided to go with whole orange oil since his intent can't now be determined. However you could try a version with each of terpenless orange and orange terpenes (aka d-limonene) and see which seems better to you.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 18th August 2012 at 05:30 PM. Reason: minor corrections
    ďBattle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise.
    ― David Bowie
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    Fine fragrances hand made in The Shire
    Quality perfume making ingredients
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume
    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog for more info about perfumes and perfumery.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Why thank you Chris. When I taught an Introduction to Perfumery Materials course at work I found that that analogy seemed to make things clearer.

    St L as Chris writes Perfume formulae are usually by weight rather than volume, as we use some solid materials. The first company I worked for also made flavours, and oddly the flavourists did compound by volume. We (perfumers) could never understand that.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    You can occasionally get Coty Chypre on ebay. I have quite a few and it is the most delightful perfume. A well crafted scent that is almost unremarkably subtle for something so famous.
    Currently wearing: Armani by Giorgio Armani

  29. #29

    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    Mumsy, do you honestly think that it is the original formulation?

  30. #30
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie + Chypre = Adventure

    This is a question I've been researching for some time. I've acquired decants of various versions of Coty Chypre from many different sources (mostly online decant services) and have come to the conclusion that they are all the 1980s formulation. I say this for two reasons: first, they're all identical, no matter the source. Even at my untrained level I can't detect any difference.

    Second, I managed to win an ebay.uk auction for a 1940s version (which I managed to get for a surprisingly low bid) and it doesn't much resemble the decants. It's a much dryer, more resinous, less floral, more complicated, -- richer, I suppose. I'm new to describing perfumes, so I'm sure I'm missing some important notes. Now, I have no idea whether the perfume was reformulated between 1917 and the 1940s; nor do I know whether the remnant in my 1940s bottle has changed over time. I do know it's from the 1940s, though, because I looked up the bottle in a collector's guide.

    By the way I'm impressed, Mumsy, that you've been able to acquire quite a few bottles of Coty chypre -- I always look at them on ebay, but they always begin with a minimum bid that is way out of my budget.

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