The opening is a mix of bergamot and a beautiful rich rose, which in the drydown is enhanced by jasmine and a slightly earthy lilac. A somber and somewhat shadowy floral bouquet, with a soft carnation providing a touch of a warm glow.
In the next phase a rich tapestry of notes is woven together: the core is the oakmoss, which is a soft and rounded mossy impression, lacking any shrillness or harshness, as is the patchouli that is interwoven with the oakmoss. Hints of tonka and styrax add a tad of sweetness, whilst labdanum and a dark musky note provided added depth. Underlying is a woodsy undertone that round it all off.
I get moderate sillage, very good projection and a splendid thirteen hours of longevity on my skin.
This gorgeous creation for spring evenings is noteworthy for historical reasons: the juxtaposition of bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli and musk, in varying combinations and permutations, has initiated and defined the whole genre of chypre for future generations.
Additionally, this magnificent creation is composed of ingredients of the highest quality, is blended most exquisitely, and delivers an exceptional performance. At times it lacks some vividness and luster, probably lost over the many decades since it was created, but otherwise this is one of the greats of the last century. 4.5/5.
I had long hoped to sample Coty's Chypre, not only to experience the smell per se, but to catalog in memory the central accord that launched a fragrance genre whose fertility is rivaled only by the orientals born of Shalimar and the descendants of Fougère Royale.
Having worn Chypre, I can say without implying disappointment that it smells very much as I'd expected of the "ur-chypre." For those who never get a chance to sniff the real thing, Chanel pour Monsieur and Monsieur de Givenchy both come fairly close as they approach drydown. Mentally subtract some citrus from either, and most of the lavender from the Givenchy, and you'd have a reasonably accurate approximation of Coty's Chypre at its heart.
Bergamot dominates the top notes, but prominent moss follows quickly, and it's only a few moments more before a labdanum-rich amber and a generous helping of patchouli arrive to fill out the classic accord that bears this scent's name. If I had to ally it with any of the subgenres it spawned, I'd lean toward the green chypres (Givenchy III, Y), rather than the floral (1000), fruity (Mitsouko, Baghari), or leather (Bandit, Aramis).
Built largely of durable, resinous materials, the chypre accord presented here is relatively linear and stable. The bergamot is fist to exit, followed much later by the moss, so that the last stage of the drydown consists mostly of patchouli and labdanum. Chypre is moderately potent, projects well from the skin, and lasts for several hours.
While I mourn the loss of so seminal a fragrance, Chypre's prolific offspring leave us with plenty of options for general wear. As I've already suggested, Chanel pour Monsieur or Monsieur de Givenchy capture much of the same mood and content. For something slightly brighter and greener, there's Givenchy III, and for an analog with greater depth, complexity, and a touch of leather, I'd also recommend Derby. (Mitsouko, while often touted as Chypre's direct descendant, is far more sweet, indulgent, and voluptuous than its relatively austere predecessor.)
I once got a miniscule sample of the original Coty Chypre in pure perfume concentration. That was one of the most perfectly beautiful scents I have ever experienced and it made me long for this perfect chypre. I have been searching the Internet from time to time ever since to find this marvel again, but it is just not to be found. What can be found is the 1980s reissue, in a beautiful art deco inspired bottle. This scent was a disappointment however. It is not a bad fragrance, but it is not nearly as wonderful. And despite of it being from the eighties it feels old and dated, a little bit like the bathroom of an older couple we sometimes visited when I was a child in the 1960s. Not something I would wear other than at home, for the nostalgia and vintage feel.