The common strain that identifies a chypre scent is the contrast between fresh, citrus notes and deep woody or mossy hints. But modern chypres come in innumerable guises, from exotic and leathery to sweet, floral and green. Here’s our pick of the best contemporary compositions.
Words: Charlotte Jolly
Bottega Veneta Eau Légère Eau de Toilette
A fresh take on the original Bottega Veneta (a pungent, leathery floral chypre); it retains that characteristic earthiness which alludes to sunbaked Venetian countryside, but this incarnation has delicate gardenia accents.
Eau Légère Eau de Toilette, £60, Bottega Veneta; harrods.com
Laura Mercier Lumière d’Ambre
Ms Mercier says the inspiration behind this scent is a prism of golden light reflecting through a piece of amber. It’s luminous, glowy quality comes from a rather buoyant blend of mandarin, water lotus, pink pepper and jasmine, on top of the warm amber and musky dry notes.
Lumière d’Ambre, £54.50, Laura Mercier; spacenk.com
Illuminum Arabian Amber Perfume
This fragrance has an alluring exoticism thanks to a condensed blend of bergamot, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and frankincense. It’s reminiscent of a bustling, sun-drenched souk.
Arabian Amber, £70 (50ml), Illuminum; amazon.co.uk
Yohji Yamamoto Senses Eau de Toilette
On top of the mandatory musk and woody chypre tones, this fragrance is all freshly cut flowers and balmy summer days with its string of neroli, lemon, pear and ylang-ylang notes.
Senses is available at Yohji Yamamoto, Conduit Street, London and online at amazon.co.uk
Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri
A caramel and musk base just about manages to permeate this fragrance, but it’s mitigated by orange essential oils, mandarin and lemon and almost overshadowed by lingering cardamom and petit grain notes.
Arancia di Capri, £64 (75ml), Acqua di Parma; escentual.com
Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau
Characterised as a ‘fleur fatale’ fragrance, a sweet citron and neroli accord, and a muted rose petal heart, pave the way for a discreetly chypre trial. It has a translucent, veil-like effect on skin.
Dahlia Noir L’Eau, £51.55 (125ml), Givenchy; perfume-click.co.uk
Angela Flanders Precious One Eau de Parfum
A rich fragrance with a convoluted structure; underpinned by a velvety chypre base of oak moss and smoky vetiver, this divergent scent leads with sweet tuberose and jasmine. It has a unique, artisanal quality.
Precious One, £55 (30ml), Angela Flanders; angelaflanders-perfumer.com
Yardley Polaire Eau de Toilette
Yardley London has dressed up a typically earthy chypre base with rose, ginger and pink pepper, and top notes of pear and freesia, and named it after a silent film actress from the early twentieth century. It’s quite captivating.
Polaire, £9.99 (50ml), Yardley London; fragrancedirect.co.uk
Miss Dior Eau De Toilette
The original Miss Dior sparked a trend for green chypres back in the 1940s. This chypre is distinguished more by its florals; neroli essence, rose and patchouli, but the notes only really catch when the fragrance settles onto skin. The initial blood orange accent also sets this composition apart from modern chypres.
Miss Dior Eau De Toilette, £54 (50ml), Christian Dior; allbeauty.com
Bergamote 22 Perfume Oil
A natty option for anyone who steers clear of alcohol formulas. This aromatic blend has stellar chypre credentials, covering off vetiver, musk, amber, grapefruit and petit gran. Safflower oil is the carrier oil and it also contains hydrating linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid). Smooth into skin and the tips of your hair.
Bergamote 22 Perfume Oil, £80 (30ml), Le Labo; liberty.co.uk