Chypre perfume: the origins of the cyprus olfactory family

What is a cyprus perfume? Discover the origins of the Chypre olfactory family.

When the heat becomes overwhelming, you have only one desire: to take a break and breath some fresh marine air, your feet comfortably settled into a warm sand, listening the waves singing… But if seaside holidays are not for you this year, you can still escape with a chypre perfume. By the way, where does the name of the olfactory family Chypre come from and, more importantly, what exactly does it smell like? A look back at an emblematic accord with a history rich in scents!

Chypre perfume, a characteristic accord

Each perfumer interprets chypre in his own way. But originally, the chypre perfume is based on an accord built around oakmoss, bergamot and ciste-labdanum. Citrus brings a fresh and invigorating top note. This is followed by a generally floral heart in which you might find rose or jasmine. In the base notes, ciste-labdanum and oak moss add character to the composition by giving it a woody and vegetal facet. As oak moss is quite allergenic, it has been replaced for several years by synthetic ingredients, orcinyl 3 and evernyl.

It is quite difficult to translate the scent of a chypre fragrance. It can give off a sensation of humid undergrowth, reminiscent of autumn scents.

Since its creation, the chypre accord has been modernized and reinterpreted according to the noses. The powerful notes of ciste-labdanum have been replaced by patchouli and other woody notes like cedar or vetiver.

Chypre by Carrément Belle

In our Collection, this family is therefore represented by our chypre perfume ïōdé. Its composition releases a marine scent with a floral heart that combines jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose. Sandalwood, patchouli and amber finally bring it a soothing and woody wake. This fragrance was created as an eau de parfum and then declined in a pure perfume even more intense. But you can also savor its marine notes at home thanks to its scented candle or incenses, to escape to the open sea without leaving your sofa!

The origins of chypre perfume

Travel in the Mediterranean

How did a small Mediterranean island influence the world of perfumery by giving its name to an olfactory family? To understand it, you have to go back in time to the Middle Ages. Associated with perfume, the qualifier “chypre” has been used since the end of the 14th century. At that time, the island was located at the heart of a commercial crossroads where raw materials were exchanged between East and West. The Cypriots imported olibanum, nard and cinnamon from Syria and Phoenicia. But Cyprus is not to be outdone and its ecosystem is home to a wide variety of fragrant materials such as cistus labdanum, marjoram, iris and of course oak moss. Cypriot perfumers took advantage of all these ingredients and created the eau de Chypre. This scented water was exported throughout Europe and its recipe was taken up by French perfumers. At the time, this fragrance was invigorating, with a dry, almost rough smell. It was mostly worn by men.

Little by little, perfume is used to hide bad smells, dirt and to protect against diseases. Thus, a few years later during the Renaissance, the eau de Chypre was also used as a powder for hair and wigs. At that time, the so-called “Cyprus birds” also appeared: solid preparations that were thrown into the fire to perfume the atmosphere and rid it of miasmas. From perfume to powder, the formulas of these different preparations differed little and all included civet, musk and amber, which were combined with oak moss and iris. An olfactory construction that will inspire many noses over the centuries…

The birth of an emblematic perfume: Chypre by Coty

But if there is one fragrance that really gave birth to the olfactory family of chypre, it was François Coty’s Chypre in 1917. This innovative and mysterious juice will titillate the noses of the whole world. This perfume met an important success and became a full olfactory family. But what does this emblematic juice smell like? It is a blend that is both powerful and harmonious, where citrus fruits (bergamot at the top) combine with flowers (jasmine and rose among others) and characterful materials such as oakmoss and ciste-labdanum.

When it was released, the fragrance intrigued women, who were previously used to soft, floral fragrances, or fresh, light eaux de Cologne. Coty’s creation remains mythical to this day. However, if you take a closer look, it is not the first chypre perfume of this generation. Indeed, as early as 1850, Guerlain launched Eau de Chypre, followed by Chypre Tentation by Roger & Gallet, and a few other creations until the early 1900s. But if Coty’s success is so dazzling, it is because it managed to mark a real breakthrough. While perfumes were distributed in a very limited way and often reserved for a wealthy elite, Coty made a mainstream creation that would appeal to all women, the beginnings of a marketing plan in short! It would mark a whole era and influence contemporary perfumers.

Large family

The wealth of cyprus notes goes particularly well with fruity or floral ones. This family gathers fragrances of character, easily recognizable, and is therefore divided into two main subfamilies. In the one hand the floral chypre (as Chypre by François Coty, or the chypre perfume ïōdé by Carrément Belle), and on the other the fruity chypre (created by the launch of Mitsouko by Guerlain in 1919, or Femme by Rochas in 1944 for example). But there are a multitude of other subcategories that take up the fundamentals of chypre by adding new notes. These include oriental, aromatic, leather, green…

Did you know the origin of the olfactory family of chypre perfumes? Do you like its notes?

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