If you've always wanted to know what Chypres smelled like in those days when oakmoss was allowed to be used without restriction, you have two options: either you can look for a vintage scent, which should be quite 'vintage', since the use of oakmoss was limited in the 90s, or you can go for this scent.
Manuel Cross, the owner and perfumer of the label 'Rogue Perfumery', doesn't care one bit about the European guidelines and puts into his fragrances what in this country is only found in the poison cabinet: musk ketone, musk xylene and tons of oakmoss. Oakmoss with all the trimmings, spiked with atranol and chloratranol.
No wonder that his fragrances are not allowed to be sold here, but they are in faraway California, where life is a bit more casual anyway.
One can call 'Chypre Siam' a small act of rebellion against a bureaucracy that wants to protect us from health damage through total bans on fragrances, which trigger an allergic reaction in about 3% of consumers, but is extremely lax in its requirements for tobacco, alcohol or pesticides such as glyphosate.
The pleasure of being able to sniff 'Chypre Siam' in the middle of Europe is therefore almost subversive and increases the attraction immensely.
But 'Chypre Siam' is also such an extremely attractive fragrance. When I sprayed it on myself for the first time a few days ago, it was like seeing old friends who had moved awfully far away and whom you hadn't seen for half an eternity. The familiarity is instantly restored, but at the same time the painful feeling of being absent for too long.
Chypre Siam' makes them resurrect, the chypre stretches of the past. But without being a mere copy - the fragrance rather quotes them. Above all, the super-chypre par excellence: the legendary 'Chypre de Coty'. Unfortunately I don't know François Coty's 'Chypre', and you have to travel to the Osmothèque in Versailles to sniff at this legend, but I could imagine that 'Chypre Siam' is not too far from Coty's masterpiece. At least the interplay of jasmine, civet, musk and oakmoss seems to characterize both fragrances. Judging by the notes, Coty's 'Chypre' tends to be more floral-animal, while 'Chypre Siam' tends to be more spicy-animal leathery, beyond a similar floral heart. It's precisely these facets in the base that make the Rogue fragrance almost a typical leather chypre à la 'Cabochard' or 'Azurée', but only almost. The leatheriness remains a nuance that characterizes the base, but not the whole fragrance. Mitsouko' and 'Femme de Rochas' also have this leathery touch, but in 'Chypre Siam' it becomes more obvious. What the rogue fragrance lacks in contrast to 'Mitsouko' and 'Femme', however, are the aromatic sweet fruit aromas - no peach and plum far and wide.
But the fragrance starts with a fresh, bitter-tart and at the same time green-spicy opening, which is said to be due to kaffir lime and basil.
Had I not read the two notes in the pyramid, I would not have recognized them.
After several times into the fragrance, however, I suspect that it is these notes, together with an intense, indolisch-sweet jasmine note in the centre, which are supposed to give the name 'Siam' a fragrant touch.
Siam - for some reason, which I can only halfway explain, chypre fragrances are often linked to the Asian region: 'Mitsouko', 'Kintsugi', 'Siam'. It must have something to do with the mostly strongly contrasting chords, which together form a unity, a kind of Yin and Yang. Here the dark, bitter-moossy Yin, there the optional fruity-sweet, floral, or powdery-green Yang. In addition, the variety of aromas in Asia offers many such contrasts. Just think of the Asian cuisine, which is characterized by many taste contrasts such as sweet, sour, bitter and spicy.
This hesperidic-spicy prelude with a slight Asian touch is then instantly enveloped by a mighty oakmoss sound, the likes of which are actually only known from ancient 'Mitsouko' leftovers. And he is almost brutal, which may also be due to the fact that Manuel Cross, with all due respect for his skills, is no Jacques Guerlain after all. The oakmoss attack in 'Mitsouko' is much more civilized and rounded, dressed in haute couture, whereas in 'Chypre Siam' it is quite rough and wild. It literally hits you in the nose - a very interesting experience nowadays, since you usually only come across homeopathic doses of this fragrance or various synthetic substitutes, or more recently, as in the case of 'Kintsugi' or 'Chypre 21', a massive patchouli-algae chord that is supposed to copy the effect of the original oakmoss.
But here, in 'Chypre Siam' the real thing is really at work, and for a Cypriot like me, that is of course a real blast!
But despite all the joy of experiencing the famous chypre effect once again pure and in full regalia, the fragrance - contrary to expectations - did not knock me off my feet.
Yes, he smells great, and yet a slight disillusionment sets in.
Expecting too much? Maybe so
Anyway, I didn't have that famous wow moment that we perfume junkies all know so well. It was more of a: oh yes, very nice, not smelled for a long time, reminds me of this or that great fragrance.
With 'Kintsugi' and also 'Chypre 21', which some people think are fake chypre, it was different. That's when I felt this wow that just blew up in my face Maybe I am missing a more modern, contemporary language of fragrance after all. Smelling 'Chypre Siam' is a bit like looking at old paintings in a museum. Although this is sometimes exciting, it only contributes to the present day within a manageable framework. Newly conceived Chpyres like the ones already mentioned, but also 'French Affair', 'Chypre Shot' or 'Afternoon of a Faun', on the other hand, seem to me like contemporary art, the rooms open up to look ahead.
Sure, looking back is necessary to understand today, and sometimes it makes you wonderfully nostalgic, but in the long run it's the look ahead that tempts me.
So it remains a pleasure for me to smell 'Chypre Siam', but I will not wear the fragrance. If I did, it would be a little like wearing the Persian coat of my old piano teacher Strange comparison, I know, but somehow he gets it In a certain way, 'Chypre Siam' is quite old-fashioned, in a charming way, but 'modern' is really different, resp.: smells different.
By the way: the fragrance has a good persistence, with the final, powdery-mossy-leathery phase lasting the longest. The projection is quite lush, at higher dosage space-filling.
And don't fear the animal! Musk and civet are distinct components, especially of the middle fragrance, but are miles away from 'kouros' dimensions.