I misunderstood Chypre 21 at first and felt that reserve and polish the two essential qualities of many Heeley creations didnt serve this one well. This was because my first impression of Chypre 21 was of a traditional refreshing cologne-style perfume with added mossy shade. However, it seemed that the ebullience and sparkle required to make colognes sing was here being held in check as was the moss twist (more a hay and salty marine air accent than true moss but job done in my book) here a sombre spectator to proceedings rather than active mover of furniture. So, one got a bit of a both a cologne, a chypre but at a remove. Undoubtedly the result smelled good, especially in the bed-of-violet-leaves drydown but I wished for a kicking up of heels from something in this perfume whether a bolder dash of citrus or a punchier rose accent or .
And then I took a deep breath and let Chypre 21 be what it was all along rather than what I was imposing upon it: a lazy, relaxed summer perfume, with light floral and citric notes dancing like the milky haze of a seaside memory and the cool invitation of violet leaves offering a secluded well of canopied shade. And all was well. And even seductive. But this remains modest in both projection and staying power.
Oakmoss and Labdanum are absent, however the Rosemary, Petitgrain, Patchouli triumvirate provide an allude to Moss and Shrubbery.
An overlay of Bergamot, Bigaradia and Rosa points to a Mediterranean Garden, light, breezy with whispers of Saffron Iodin-ic Leathered saltiness.
Clean White Musk and Woodiness marries to the Rose Citric to create a Sandal Savon.
The finish offers a tinkle tinkle in my brain cells familiar to Female Chypre.
Nice trick, Huh! with another Heeley clean architecture-ed scent.
He fresh opening of bergamot, neroli and petitgrain are traditional and pleasant, nicely and gently refreshing. Whiffs of sea salt are present. The drydown turns sweeter and floral, with a rose impression fleshed out with a somewhat generic saffron.
The base is centred around a white musk, a soft patchouli, as well as an impersonal woodsy impression. The sweetness prevails in the latter stages, and at times have a nigh yang-ylang-like creaminess to it.
I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and a splendid ten hours of longevity on my skin.
This is a nice scent for cooler summer days. It is not a Chypre, as only the top notes follow that route. The is no oakmoss detectable on my skin -
nada! Still, it makes an agreeable composition, and with the commendable performance it - just! - scrapes home to a positive score. 3/5.
Is Chypre 21 a chypre? Absolutely not at least not to my nose. But it is a beautiful, sheer ozonic fragrance, and one that I would happily wear in summer.
The opening notes of fresh, watery violet leaf and citruses remind me somewhat of Cuir Pleine Fleur briefly before being washed down in a crispy, bright ozonic breeze with a fair bit of sea salt in it.
In a recent interview with James Heeley, I read that he used algae notes to replace the oakmoss in this fragrance. The algae notes are indeed quite noticeable here and the final result is something more in the direction of his wonderful Sel Marin than a true chypre.
It smells exactly like that wonderful aroma you breathe in when you are collecting clean laundry from the line a blast of clean, yes, of course, but also the smell of outdoors air, and the salt-laden breeze from a nearby sea. There is something so linen-fresh and ozonic about this that Im reminded not only of Sel Marin but of some of Francis Kurkdijans white shirt fragrances such as Cologne Pour Le Matin, Acqua Vitae, and so on. You know the type.
Chypre 21 goes on in this lovely Eau Sauvage-cum-Sel Marin-cum-Acqua Vitae kind of track for a while. It is never less than crisp and clean. A slight woody undertone develops, bringing in some clean patchouli and a hint of rose. The notes list oakmoss too, but I dont smell its rugged bitterness in the composition at all. Finally, saffraleine offers its leathery, rubbery flavor to the composition, anchoring it slightly at the base.
But saffraleine does not and cannot replace either fixative powers of moss or the sweet, smoky heft of labdanum. So, despite the name, I must admit that Chypre 21 is not a chypre to my nose. It is beautiful, though. As long as you go into Chypre 21 expecting a citrusy, slightly woody ozonic fragrance and not a chypre, you will not be disappointed.