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BEFORE "CHYPRE" BECAME CHYPRE


Most perfume aficionados are familiar with the term "chypre", which designates a fragrance family. Yet the subject isn't completely straightforward. Thierry Wasser has re-created Jacques Guerlain's Chypre de Paris (1909), and this scent reminds us that around 1900, hundreds of perfumes with the name Chypre were being produced, without designating any common accord. Many of them shared an oakmoss accord though, that to modern tastes might smell rather inelegant. The annals suggest that there was a Guerlain perfume called Chypre as early as in 1840.

The name "Chypre" originated from the French word for the Island of Cyprus, however the Osmothèque suggests it was born of an independent etymology referring to "oakmoss". It wasn't until Coty made his Chypre in 1917, an amazing and very novel accord of bergamot, labdanum resin and oakmoss, that the word chypre began to change from name to noun. "'It's a Chypre,' perfumers would say of perfumes similar in structure to Coty's Chypre," explains Will Inrig from the Osmothèque. "Later would appear the common noun 'chypre' and the French adjective 'chypré', both referencing a genre sired by Coty's Chypre and propagated, somewhat confusingly, by Guerlain’s fruity chypre Mitsouko."

Chypre de Paris is not a chypre. It has oakmoss but no labdanum, and the bergamot is subdued.
(September 2015)


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