My Only Real Chypre
While preparing for a future sniff-fest, I decided to search the perfume database on classic chypre notes to make sure I hadn't missed any chypre fragrances among my FBs and samples. According to everybody, those notes are: citrus (usually bergamot), cistus labdanum, oakmoss and musk.
What a surprise to discover that of the forty-seven I've gathered, only Enslaved has all the chypre notes. Not Chypre Rouge or Chypre Palatin, not even my adored vintage Chypre de Coty and Mitsuouko. Chypre de Coty has civet instead of musk. Mitsuouko has ambergris and per the notes pyramid, it has no labdanum. Can that be right? Time to investigate. Sniffing cistus labdanum from my perfumery notes kit. Now smelling Misuoko. Wow, I don't think it's there. Checking Fragrantica. Nope, Mitsuoko has no labdanum. Do classic chypres deviate from the classic definition or is Enslaved the only true chypre I have?
Personally I'd classify Enslaved as a Chypre/Oriental, missing only a classic oriental's amber, but labdanum stands in nicely for that. Wait, I think I read that many ambers used in perfumes are really a combination of labdanum and vanilla? Okay, then check. It has amber.
Enslaved certainly smells like both genres, has a chypre's dry haunting allure, an oriental's exuberant luxury -- both muted in this case, yet the result is satisfying. I suppose Enslaved is especially good for non-extremists who want to smell terrific without knocking others over with their scent.
In the years I have left to smell things, I seek the glorious reek. Give me the original Mitsuoko, give me Bal à Versailles. I pursued them both with breathless passion, not caring one whit what they cost. When I looked up Enslaved, I decided it was too expensive. Or maybe it's just very British, like its designer, Roja Dove.
One day when I'm finished buying everything else I think I'll adore, I might consider owning the beautifully reserved Enslaved, my (apparently) only true chypre.
p.s. Now I see it's musk that's eliminating so many from my chypre database search. When I search on the basic accord of bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss, a few more perfumes show up. Still, many chypre fragrances don't contain all of those three, Mitsuoko being a prime example.