...That's interesting what you say about chypre's being part of the zeitgeist, when Les Garçonnes shocked the establishment with their short hair and gender disguising clothes. I can imagine how well Chypre would have gone with a mans style suit, or silver flapper dress, jade necklace and cigarette case.Quite the opposite of the come hither oriental with its much less challenging trope of otherness, the harem.Glad you liked my piece. If I go again, I will do some more reviews.No such luck to meet PdN, but Maurice Roussel will be giving a lecture soon!
...In amongst the many great classics held at the Osmothèque, Chypre by Coty is one of the most renown. François Coty was not only a great technician but a perfume visionary. Probably the most celebrated of his creations is Chypre, the perfume that started a new genre.We all know the formula is based on bergamot, labdanum and oak moss, and is reputed to be in the style of the perfume which first came from the island of Cyprus many years before.Without going into the details of its formula, which can be found on Yesterdays Perfume and elsewhere, I can tell you what I remember of the Osmothèque reconstruction and what remains on the touche after a few weeks.My impressions were of a substantial, somewhat resinous profile, with a surprisingly hard overtone and a cold, even slightly metallic air to the debut. Firmly supporting this head was a cool resiny-woody and green, dark brown colour-value core. Without any one note being evident, the character was dominantly resiny and mossy, the presence of moss making itself known in lending a bitterness and a slight coarseness to the texture, adding interest to what may otherwise have felt glassy - like a polished piece of amber fossil.Coty supplemented the heart accord in what is now classic fashion, with Jasmin and rose. Rounding out the hard and bitter unforgiving side of his materials with a delicate floral bouquet. At a guess I would say he may have used Virginia cedar for its dry aroma and texture. He probably used both natural florals and those isolates which were available in 1917, along with coumarin to bolster the floral sweet aspects, and to offset the heavy resins with some powdery effects. Vanillin which was widely available by then, and I have no doubt Coty would have put some in there, but not so much as to push the profile in an overtly oriental direction, and again for powdery effect.It is evident that the trajectory of the profile moves towards labdanum and oak moss - not an enticing prospect with all those heavy bitter resinous notes.From the drydown on the touche, which is now several weeks old, there seems to be the presence of heliotropin, sandalwood and vanilla, which leave a tang of bittersweet powderyness built around orris root. This gives a sense of both top quality naturals and judiciously dosed synthetics. Coty evidently mastered the prospect of the grim dry down afforded by heavy doses of labdanum and moss with the brilliant and novel use of synthetic isolates as well as sweet wood.I regret that I can't give you a fuller picture of its evolution, there were over a dozen samples given out and it was a lot to take them all on board at the time.However, I take my lead from Luca Turin on this, and I'm afraid to say I found it formidable and brilliant but not so loveable. I'm sure that given the chance to wear it a few times, I would be able to qualify my judgement and maybe find hidden corners in its heart where I could find myself. Others have since built on the brilliant and ground breaking innovation of Cotys' Chypre, but like the Model T Ford which was a phenomenon in its day, the original idea has been developed and improved in many directions.
...If you really don't like Pour Monsieur, you could try Eau Fraiche by Dior, Monsieur de Givenchy, and Eau de Monsieur from Annick Goutal, all of which have chypre bases, and Eau de Cologne de Chanel, and Eau de Guerlain which don't.
...Recently I visited the Osmothèque to attend a talk on the history of perfume.In the course of the lecture smelling strips are supplied for reference.Even though they are recreations, great classics are available for sampling.Personally I found Fougère Royale disappointing, a bit too hard and simple in profile.Although it's interesting, I would prefer to wear something more modern and complex.Another highlight, and for me the most outstanding perfume by far is La Rose Jacqueminot - the first Coty. A gorgeous verbena pink Rose with delicate powdery and creamy facets, its exquisitely imbalanced structure gives this masterpiece a truly fascinating allure.I was also privileged to be allowed to smell the reconstruction of Iris Gris.A wan pink fruity iris, quite peachy but evidently not containing C14 which was not around at the time it was composed, over a body accord based on the well known profile of iris butter.After all the hype, it turned out to be quite a modest thing.So for me, the great chefs d'ouvres by Coty are those I would run into a burning building to save, if only they could be resurrected from their chilly vault in Versailles.
...On the subject of cheap fumes, how low do you want to go?After several arduous forays along the guy's aisle, these are my picks from French supermarkets and drugstores.Ouragan by Bourgeois - a Mandarin and citrus depart which reveals a geranium and patchouli heart based on sandal accord and vanilla. Quite sweet but not bad, good for the summer.Ambrée Authentique from Mont St Michel - Ambery eau de cologne, a little bit metallic in overtone and poor longevity. Probably better as the soap.Bien Être colognes - there is whole range of these to try out, you can just unscrew the cap and take a dab on your finger. The regular and bourgeons de cassis (blackcurrant bud) are refreshing and short lived splashes.Savane apres rasage de Williams - a traditional style aromatic lavender fougère. A bit crude and not long lasting but pleasant enough without any off notes, and at €6 for 100ml you can lash it on!
...The first time I bought from TK Maxx (that's what it's called in the UK) it was Xeryus. First reaction to liberating this barber shop/powerhouse hybrid from its plastic security box was disappointment - I've wasted my money. At the time classic style perfumes were new to me and it was way out of my comfort zone.However, I came to appreciate its left field charm and it's now an occasional wear. So, emboldened by this minor triumph of getting a Givenchy for £22, I thought I was onto a good thing, and made regular forays into each TKM within a 20 mile radius.Sad to say nothing quite as good has ever popped up again. Most of the blind buys have been ok, but the last, and most dreadful one was the foul and cynical flanker Cerutti Image Harmony. A disgusting lash up that smells like battery acid and drain cleaner. I think its fair to say Coty spent more on the fancy levered spray mechanism than the juice inside.I didn't even try to sell it on eBay but just threw it in the trash.No more chancing my cash for me, I always smell it first, leave the shop and think about it later. And if it isn't adoration, then that's just too bad. Still saving my centimes for that must have thing in the fabulous boutique parfumerie.
...There is Ouragan. Its not bad, considering the kind of budget that would have been available to François Demachy, and the best of the Masculine range available from Bourjois.At around €16 you ain't gonna get Chanel, and you'd have to buy it from a supermarket...Certain sources describe it as an oriental, but I disagree. It doesn't have the base of an oriental and is too light and open for that. Better than some full price offerings of late, I would give it 48% for performance and 88% value for money.