The first chypre I ever met was, of course, the masterpiece Mitsouko.
She didn't like me.
And, to be honest, I don't like her. Oh, I tried. I tried edt and edp (I gave up on finding the parfum version, since a .5ml sample at The Perfumed Court is, what, $14? anyway, too pricey for something I'm not ever gonna love). I tried it in different weathers and different moods... no dice. And I tried other chypres, too, green ones like Jacomo Silences and Niki de Saint Phalle. Shall we just say, not good?! I think I'll leave it there, with the words EPIC FAIL ringing in the silence.
So while I was complaining busily that there was absolutely nothing shameful in smelling girly in rose-violet and powder, or voluptuous in big white florals - while I snarked that I hated chypres, I found them too demanding, too evil-tempered, too nasty, too witchy... the rose chypres were stalking me from my blind side.
As practically everyone with half an eye on the perfume world knows, the classic chypre accord is a tripod of bergamot, oakmoss, and amber (from labdanum/cistus/rockrose). It is aromatic, bitter, and bracing; it smells of the Wild World; it feels sharp and dangerous. The addition of floral notes to the chypre accord softens this uncompromising sharpness, teaching it manners and softness. Rose seems to have a special affinity for chypres, creating a feminine strength, a beautiful power, out of what was once something of a bully.
Rose chypres seem, to me, to be the way a woman - a strong, secure, beautiful woman - should smell. She should be confident; she should not be naive; she should wear whatever she wants, whether that means red lipstick with her rubber barn boots, or ripped jeans and a girly white lace blouse. She should be curious and creative and willing to take care of herself as well as the other people in her life. And she should smell of both her soft side and her independent side, as rose chypres do.Here is an incomplete list of rose chypres (actually, some are floral chypres with a strong rose component, one is a woody chypre with rose, and at least one has an added oriental facet)
- L'Arte di Gucci
- Parfum d'Empire Eau Suave
- Ungaro Diva
- Ralph Lauren Safari
- Estee Lauder Knowing
- Tauer Une Rose Chypree (Floral chypre oriental)
- Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit
- Parfums de Rosine Une Folie de Rose
- Frederic Malle Une Rose
- Montana Parfum de Peau
- L'Artisan Voleur de Roses
- By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses
- Agent Provocateur
- Agent Provocateur DD Diamond Dust, a limited edition
- Jean Couturier Coriandre
- Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum
- Lancome Magie Noire (Woody chypre, with rose-floral heart)
- Deneuve (Floral chypre)
- Victoria's Secret Victoria (Floral chypre)
- Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance
- Gres Cabaret (Floral woody chypre)
- Sisley Soir de Lune
- Teo Cabanel Oha-
- YSL Rive Gauche (Aldehydic floral chypre)
- Perles de Lalique
Unfortunately, the rose chypre seems to be a style of the past, particularly of the 1970's - a decade with which I have very little affinity, but which seemed to smell great. Rose chypres can be quite sophisticated, and that's not fashionable these days, with everyone wanting to smell of cotton candy and fruit... but I digress. Rose for femininity, chypre for backbone: what's not to love?
Images: A Late Given Rose by kuzeytac at flickr; Mossy Forest Floor by lonejeeper at flickr; Rose d'Anjou II by Ira Tsantekidou.