Chypres have always struck me as one of the most interesting perfume genres. They manage to capture a strange idea of beauty, where the sharper and more angular aspects of perfumery are celebrated. I suppose that you could say that they aren’t classically beautiful and its the asymmetry in their composition that ultimately makes them so beguiling.
For this week’s Escentual post I’m taking a look at the chypre, mapping its evolution through three ‘reference’ perfumes; the classic, the modern and the contemporary. This is a first in a small ‘guide to’ series for Escentual, where I’ll be casting a fragrant spotlight on a number of perfume genres.
To read the piece, please click on the image above to head on over to the Escentual blog. Whilst you’re there, do make sure to tell me what your favourite chypre is, and what fragrances you would pick to represent the classic, modern and contemporary interpretations of the genre.
When Carven released their first perfume – the aptly named ‘Ma Griffe‘ (‘My Signature’) – in 1946 the brand dropped hundreds of parachutes over the skies of Paris, each of which carried a special piece of cargo – a sample of Madame Carven’s signature perfume. In a genius stroke of early PR, this stunt ensured that the scent of Ma Griffe was simply unavoidable:
“The lingering scent of Ma Griffe floated everywhere: at the Opera, at charity balls, at the most fashionable sports events from Deauville to Monte Carlo…”
Flash forward to 2013, following the resurrection of the fashion arm of Carven and the launch of the brand’s modern signature fragrance ‘Le Parfum‘, it is time for the relaunch of Ma Griffe. This time Carven has opted for a much more muted launch, almost silently slipping the classic fragrance back on the market in the hope that it will once again float weightlessly around city streets.
Following the earlier review of Le Parfum one was intrigued to discover the world of Ma Griffe, purely as an exercise to see how the house has changed from 1946 to 2013. The truth is that the differences between the Carven perfume of days gone by and the Carven perfume of today serve as a microcosm for how the world of perfumery has evolved over the last 70 years.
Not having spent time with Ma Griffe before its 2013 re-release has allowed one to approach it from an entirely objective point of view, reviewing it not as a long gone piece of the past but as an old school signature presented amongst the modern trends of perfumery as they are today. To say the process was an eyeopener would be an understatement…
I didn’t envy Amouage the task of topping their masculine & feminine duo from last year. Both Interlude Woman and Man were triumphs of perfumery, taking chaotic notes and throwing them together to create two challenging, yet wearable (and not to forget bloody gorgeous) fragrances.
This year’s duo – Fate Woman and Fate Man – certainly have big shoes to fill and it appears that Creative Director Christopher Chong has pulled out all of the stops to create two fragrances that are bold enough to mark the “end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative” and leave one excited for exactly what wonders the beginning of the next cycle may entail.
Fate Woman (created by perfumer Dorothée Piot) and Fate Man (created by Karine Vinchon) “explores the uncertainty of the future and the universal principal by which the order of things is inescapably prescribed” and in their own, very distinct ways illicit polarising responses. They, as with many Amouage perfumes, are for those that adore excess and do not shy away from bold statements.
Le Labo is one of those brands that I’ve only really had a passing interest in. On the one hand they appear to create, for the most part, good quality scents with more than your usual level of artistry (let’s face it, there are so many niche houses that don’t), whilst on the other they’ve always seemed a tad gimmicky for my tastes.
Maybe I’m just being a grump, but there’s something about their industrial aesthetic, the odd naming system (the name of the most prominent ingredient followed by the number of ingredients) and the ‘blended on the spot’ approach that narks me, almost as if they are trying just a little bit too hard to be ‘hip’. Still, none of that should get in the way of the fact that the majority of their output is solid, wearable and interesting.
This summer the brand has launched two florals – Lys 41 and Ylang 49 – a duo that they are calling “the imperfect twins”. Working with perfumers Frank Voekly (Ylang 49) and Daphné Bugey over the last three years, Le Labo have created “two new floral statements” that are likely to surprise, ensnare and entertain many a perfume-lover.
This week’s Escentual post is a review of a fragrance that took me wholely by surprise – Dahlia Noir L’Eau by Givenchy. The original Dahlia Noir made next to no impression on me whatsover (very much in line with most Givenchy offerings) and I am, as you know, not a massive fan of anything remotely green – so it is with great surprise that I give a big thumbs up to Dahlia Noir L’Eau!
Please click on the image above to head over to Escentual.com and read the full review. Don’t forget to leave a comment!
The best perfumes are those that have a transportive quality. They take you to another place in space or time, linking back to often forgotten memories or cementing themselves as catalysts for new memories. Perfume is often referred to as “liquid emotion” because of this ability to conjure up the past and one often finds that a single spritz is all that is needed to play out forgotten moments right in front of your nose.
I grew up in a small village surrounded by fields, farmland and woods so much of my formative years was spent exploring the countryside, climbing trees and getting as muddy as possible with my siblings. To this day I don’t think there is anything quite like the smell of an English wood; the cool, damp of earth, the fusty wetness of moss and sweet, mineralic quality of tree bark. It is the smell of childhood.
Those punky rebels at Etat Libre d’Orange in collaboration with performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond and perfumer Ralf Schwieger have created a perfume that captures the spirit of a forest walk. Named The Afternoon of a Faun after Nijinksy’s controversial ballet, the theme of the fragrance is the “relationship between the suggestive fantasy and seductive reality”  and what better genre of fragrance to explore suggestion, fantasy, seduction and reality than the classic chypre?
Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.
That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.
“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.