Rose Chypre Mansions

Chypre mansionThe newer younger flashier chypres, those not based on oakmoss, have been springing up  on perfume counters for a while now, and most have me wondering if anyone has yet stumbled on the master plan for this new kind of perfume construction?

For a while it looked as if maybe the new chypre would be built of wood and musk as in Narciso for Her, and there were plenty of reconstructions of that scent, but it seems to have given rise to whole other perfume suburb, the floral woody musk, a town that has rapidly acquired population, even among Guerlains.

But for chypres, the consensus still seems to be that you require wood, some dryness, some shading in the perfume so that the chiaro-scuro of the genre makes its lighted windows glow against its shadowy depths. You need timber for this construction, and that has meant a flurry of patchouli perfumes, this being one of the presumably less expensive kinds, starting with things like Miss Dior Cherie (now Miss Dior!), or else oud (which ironically is one of the most expensive if you use the natural form) and that has probably been the reason for so many oud fragrances.  They are taking the place of the gutted chypre mansions in Western perfumery.

gutted mansionPatchouli, it seems to me is a bit too dark for this job.  Today I’m wearing Chypre Fatal, the patchouli, vanilla, rose and peach deconstruction of presumably Mitsouko, in the Elixir Charnel series from Guerlain.  CF has lift, and sweetness, subsequently a distinctly camphoraceous quality, that is common to certain patchoulis or possibly to certain fractionated patchoulis. But what happens here is that the camphor takes up exclusive residence in Chypre Fatal so that all references to Mitsouko are crowded out, until the very final hours when the peachy and vanillic gold of the drydown dominate its decor.

I think this Guerlain should be reworked and released as a masculine.  Chypre Fatal might be more successful on males.  Comments on Fragrantica tended to be favorable if they came from men.  This is probably not coincidence, as it may be that the patchouli here heats and combines with the peach note better on thicker, oilier, men’s skin and comes back to the nose as rounded and sensual rather than harsh, which is my reading off my thinner, dryer epidermis. Either that, or else the patchouli framing here might be swapped out for a lighter wood note, and even cedar might hold up this structure.  As things stand, the best part of Chypre Fatal on me is the ending, which I like, but that may not be enough to charm most female buyers into making this chypre house a home.

Compared to the other chypre design I’m inhabiting, Parfums de Nicolai’s Rose Oud, Chypre Fatal is a trifle ornate.  The Rose Oud, is a low roofed, but cozy residence with few pretensions, and a total lack of drafts.  Inside, oud and rose do indeed cohabit and do so remarkably amicably. However you may find your visit a tad dull.  You’ve met this sort of couple before and can guess most of the conversation before it gets out of anyone’s mouth.

file1061286392784Bijou residenceIf you’re looking for a real mansion of a rose chypre sort, you can’t do better than Portrait of a Lady, with its echoing halls of rosiness and woodiness.  As mansions go it is rather grand, but you can always find means to fill it.  By comparison, these two other constructions are less arresting.

The takeaway from this house tour is, maybe no one has devised the bijou chypre residence yet, but they’re working on it.


(My samples are courtesy Guerlain at Bergdorf Goodman’s and my own purchase at Luckyscent.)

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4 thoughts on “Rose Chypre Mansions

  1. Ah, rose chypres. (You know, I am rather fond of floral woody musks myself. No, they’re not particularly arresting constructions, but some of them are rather nice anyway.)

    I have favorite rose chypres, but I admit I haven’t tried two of your three mentions. I liked PoaL very much until it got down to that Opium/Youth Dew stuff (which I think is perhaps peru balsam? something dusty and balsamic, anyway) in the basement, and I just. can’t. just can’t. do it. I still love L’Arte di Gucci, which does have a ton of green-smelling, herby patchouli, and Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges is really nice in that vein as well. MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, too. All of those are clearly chypres with noticeable patchouli as well as moss and amber; Ballets Rouges is possibly more traditional chypre with the Smack-you-in-the-eye bergamot up top.

    Ungaro Diva is still good, I think. A more modern, less-mossy rose chypre might be Agent Provocateur, the original, which also relies heavily on that cleaned-up patchouli (I mind that less than a lot of people seem to, because I really do not like dusty, earthy patch). Or Idylle, have you smelled that? The edp was waaaaaay too much patch for me, but it’s toned down a bit in the edt and I can wear that (I have a decant).

  2. Liked both Agent Provocateur and Diva, and Lumiere Noire didn’t really register with me-which is odd since normally I really like a chypre and tend to remember them.

    Portrait was one of those perfumes that I know are good ( you know how you know) but not something that I could pull off. Green rose chypre lovers seem to adore it though, and didn’t notice if there was dust in the basement, though there might have been.

    Idylle yup, now there’s an offbeat Guerlain! Nothing like their normal production. I still can’t really class it in with other Guerlains to tell you the truth. This one, Chypre Fatal does end quite well, but that PATCHOULI is so loud. If they turned down the volume or changed out the woods you might like it-well not as much as Florale Romatique maybe 🙂

    1. Or a luxury condo? Though I like it too.

      Then again, maybe it’s one of those Woody Musk Florals rather than a chypre, and so while not a mansion not a hovel either 🙂

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