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  1. #1
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    grayspoole's Avatar
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    Default Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    I have been thinking about this recent article on the Other Forum and the comments it has elicited, and I’ve wondered what the Basenotes vintage gang would say...

    https://www.fragrantica.com/news/Pur...re--13113.html

    Now I think some articles are posted just to get a rise out of people, so I have not taken the bait. But I do wonder...what does it mean to call anything a chypre? As a vintage geek, I mutter my catechism of “bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum,” and maybe a little patchouli, isobutyl quinoline, and galbanum, but I have also learned that I am supposed to call perfumes that replace oakmoss with that modern patchouli stuff that doesn’t smell like patchouli to me, along with gobs of tonka and ethyl maltol, chypres as well.

    Now Bulliq is taking the popularity of the NR musk perfumes (and apparently Pure Musc smells quite a bit like a high quality dryer sheet) as a sign that the chypre is truly dead in contemporary designer perfumery, or as the Munchkins sang, “Most sincerely dead.”

    Pure Musc signifies the definitive death of the classic chypre in commercial composing pressurised by the shadow of sweet gourmand blends. Pure Musc is the epitome of the current-day chypre – superficially aligned with the category on paper by emphasising the opaque depth of woods and musk related to the oakmoss family, yet in olfactory reality bears almost no resemblance to the qualities that originally defined the family and its characteristic base notes (resinous, animalic, humid, earthy, rough-textured, forest-like). You could certainly point to examples such as Twilly and Nomade to defends chypre’s legacy, but the influence of the new Miss Dior and Coco Mademoiselle (as well as IFRA restrictions, new trends, new materials) have branded the old burnt-flower browned oakmoss accords of Caron, Guerlain and Piguet as defunct currency. There are indeed historical links to be teased out between today’s Gen Z chypres and the 1920s genre-defining Parisian chypres but, if we’re honest, they smell nothing alike and their meanings for today’s consumer couldn’t be more different.

    I believe Bulliq is saying that we should stop using the word “chypre” to refer to these fluffy white musky things, and possibly the pink faux patchouli things as well, and I agree. The word “chypre” does need to have some conventional meaning. But I do think there is still life in the traditional chypre structure, that is, “the old burnt flower browned oakmoss accords.” Vide Chypre Siam, and, I gather, Areej le Doree’s Antiquity (haven’t tried, but I would love to, if anyone is willing to share a smidgen). And Guerlain is still making a decent Mitsouko...

    What do y’all think?

    Further reading...

    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/194...es-New-Chypres

    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/193...Classic-chypre

  2. #2

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    I'm generally in favor of stricter, more traditional definitions, if only for the sake of clarity.

    At a certain point, these terms become so vague they're useless.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    one of the most distinctive elements of the chypre was the oakmoss in the base, so yes, basically it is defunct as a genre

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Thanks grayspoole for the excellent discussion point.
    I was never happy with the ever changing definition of Chypre, Fougere and I guess reading your post has finally made it clear to me that there is no modern chypre or modern fougere. It is just a term coined by marketers to keep selling shite in chypre's garb.
    Folks can use whatever terms they want but I believe that if you remove black and brown color from original Monalisa you don't get to call it Monalisa.
    Beauty needs no morality or righteousness.
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  5. #5

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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Agree again. Chypre is a specific term, no point in reusing just for the sake of it

  6. #6
    Basenotes Institution freewheelingvagabond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Quote Originally Posted by Brooks Otterlake View Post
    I'm generally in favor of stricter, more traditional definitions, if only for the sake of clarity.

    At a certain point, these terms become so vague they're useless.
    Quote Originally Posted by epapsiou View Post
    Thanks grayspoole for the excellent discussion point.
    I was never happy with the ever changing definition of Chypre, Fougere and I guess reading your post has finally made it clear to me that there is no modern chypre or modern fougere. It is just a term coined by marketers to keep selling shite in chypre's garb.
    Folks can use whatever terms they want but I believe that if you remove black and brown color from original Monalisa you don't get to call it Monalisa.
    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    Agree again. Chypre is a specific term, no point in reusing just for the sake of it
    I concur with these thoughts.

    There are still chypres that are being made today, but as far as I have seen only in the indie/artisanal segment.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    In Thai cuisine, they have the idea of balance between sweet, salty, sour, and pungent. I think a good Chypre has a similar balance. I am not sure it can be achieved without the Moss though. Interestingly enough, weren’t chypres originally a feminine fragrance family? Not that that means anything, but I find it interesting that some of the finest examples are the old féminines.
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    It should still be possible to make convincing new chypres with low-atranol oakmoss. Most houses apparently don’t want to, whether it’s because they fear a complete ban is around the corner or because proper chypres are simply out of fashion. Either way, they should eschew the bait-and-switch “chypre.” There’s nothing wrong (and perhaps much right) with basing new fragrance structures on old ones, but they’re still not the old ones, so they should have a new name.

    I mean, aside from the impolite names we give them.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    It should still be possible to make convincing new chypres with low-atranol oakmoss.
    Agreed.

    Patricia de Nicolaď has been able to convincingly create an oakmoss effect while remaining IFRA-compliant.

    I just don't think the will is there when it comes to the mainstream houses.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    Chypre is a specific term, no point in reusing just for the sake of it
    True enough.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Quote Originally Posted by grayspoole View Post
    Now Bulliq is taking the popularity of the NR musk perfumes (and apparently Pure Musc smells quite a bit like a high quality dryer sheet) as a sign that the chypre is truly dead in contemporary designer perfumery, or as the Munchkins sang, “Most sincerely dead.”

    Pure Musc signifies the definitive death of the classic chypre in commercial composing pressurised by the shadow of sweet gourmand blends. Pure Musc is the epitome of the current-day chypre – superficially aligned with the category on paper by emphasising the opaque depth of woods and musk related to the oakmoss family, yet in olfactory reality bears almost no resemblance to the qualities that originally defined the family and its characteristic base notes (resinous, animalic, humid, earthy, rough-textured, forest-like). You could certainly point to examples such as Twilly and Nomade to defends chypre’s legacy, but the influence of the new Miss Dior and Coco Mademoiselle (as well as IFRA restrictions, new trends, new materials) have branded the old burnt-flower browned oakmoss accords of Caron, Guerlain and Piguet as defunct currency. There are indeed historical links to be teased out between today’s Gen Z chypres and the 1920s genre-defining Parisian chypres but, if we’re honest, they smell nothing alike and their meanings for today’s consumer couldn’t be more different.

    I believe Bulliq is saying that we should stop using the word “chypre” to refer to these fluffy white musky things, and possibly the pink faux patchouli things as well, and I agree.
    I guess I wasn't aware anyone was using the term "cyphre" (modern or otherwise) to describe Pure Musc, Coco Mad., or Twilly in the first place (haven't smelled Nomade or new Miss Dior). I don't read marketing copy, though. I would call them floral musk, fruity floral patchouli, and spicy woody floral, respectively. And I like all three. They don't need to be cyphre definition-extenders. If I squint my eyes really hard, maybe I can see a glimmer of cyphreiness in Coco. Maybe.

    So, is the article's premise a bit of a straw man? Or at least, made to sound more controversial than it is. No, those aren't cyphres. Yes, the cyphre is mostly dead in designer perfumery (speaking of new releases), but that happened awhile ago, and Pure Musc surely doesn't represent any kind of finality there. It's just...not a cyphre.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  12. #12

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Chypres are not made the same way they were 30 or 40 years ago save some indepenent makers. Most of what are called chypre today are not and have nothing to do with them. To say a chypre is just achieved by mixing bergamot, labdanum and oakmoss is an oversimplification; these are essential ingredients though and there is an accord which comes about by mixing them in a certain proportion which most call the chypre accord. If you were around in the 70s or 80s the likelihood is you would have smelled it. Certain aspects might come close but I suspect the limiting of oakmoss to 0.1% of the total volume of the fragrance means there isn’t enough of it available in the proportions needed to achieve a ‘chypre accord’. Besides the ‘skimmed’ version of oakmoss, restrictions on other ingredients like certain musks, civet etc also make it harder to achieve a bonafide classic smelling chypre.

    If a maker is going for a chypre theme to give the idea of a chypre but the three essential ingredients aren’t included then perhaps calling it a pseudo or faux chypre would be more appropriate.

    Fougeres have IMO fared regulation better than chypres with twists on the theme which has spawned a number of successful sub genres.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Chypres, Neo-Chypres, and the Death of the Chypre

    Thank you for posting.

    Being only familiar quantitatively with more male chypres, especially as total figures but also specifics, rather than feminine ones, tending to overlap mostly the first rather than second category mostly with vintages and/or powerhouses. And while sad that their price increasing, still happy that not all of them are discontinued yet, nor only available at overpriced Ebay style rates.

    While the definition of chypre may be different almost for anyone (including most of the BN contributors), there are many categories of notes, ingredients, characteristics that seem to reach a certain overlapping as identifying common grounds for what a classic, including but not limited to vintage, chypre may include and require or not.




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