Everybody talks about the disappeared genre of chypres these days, but quite frankly they’re not the only type of perfume that’s gone AWOL in the last decade or so. There’s also the aldehydic floral. Those perfume bloggers and critics who mention them seem to do so in the past tense.
Lovely, they say, lovely perfumes from past times never to be revived. This of course ignores the fact that No.5 is still one of the world’s top selling perfumes and that the public seem to be tiring of sweet fragrances and may be looking for more sophistication. What better genre to revive than the aldehydic floral perhaps using some new molecular confection in the top notes? I mean, I’d buy it.
This brings me back to the perfume that I wanted to mention, namely Weil Antilope. This dates back to 1946 and is unusual for a floral aldehyde because of the chamomile in the head note. I can’t think of too many other perfumes that contain chamomile outside of Yohji Yamamoto Pour Femme and Aromatics Elixir, although there must be others. This however predates those two by many decades and is right on the line between floral aldehydes and floral chypres. By this I mean that Antilope is not sweet at all; in fact it is rather a salty perfume and has a distinct soap note, and also something animalic in its dry down, along with the oakmoss you might or might not have been expecting.
Here is the thing though, Antilope is very sophisticated, and very understated, and also completely wearable by either men or women. The version sold now is so light and lasts such a short time – barely two hours – that I’d risk calling it an office friendly perfume. Chypres may be returning to favor as work fragrances (see The Anosmic Manager).
Antilope of course is not actually a chypre, but though an aldehyde, is so un-sweet and so subtle, that it can easily go where more beefy and loud perfumes could not squeeze themselves in, namely meetings and cubicles. Antilope is a sister scent to the lovely spicy aldehyde Zibeline of 1928 also by Weil, and very much worth smelling if you can find a bottle.
The very best thing about Antilope? The price. The current version can be had on line for less than thirty dollars in some places and not much more than forty in others. Frankly you could do a lot worse for a tame antilope, and this one does not even have to be walked.