What is a chy·pre? (noun)ˈshēprə

What is a chy·pre? (noun)ˈshēprə

In the past couple of years, we have seen the resurgence of Chypres: and we are often asked to explain what exactly the term means. So for the record: Chypre is a class or family of fragrances named for Francois Coty’s eponymously named perfume launched in 1917. (And by the way, thank you Francois.)

Coty’s creation was a combination of jasmine, vanillin and coumarin, and an overdose of woods, including patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, bergamot and oak moss. Chypres, that have followed in the wake of this original, are characterized by their distinct combination of woody base notes, floral heart notes and citrus top notes. They are multifaceted, warm yet feminine, bright yet deep and not without a certain mystery.

And we must give credit where credit is due as any modern-day chypres owe their existence, at least in part, to the charm of Coty’s olfactory icon: Mitsouko by Guerlain (1917), Y by Yves Saint Laurent (1964), Aromatics Elixir by Clinique (1972), Calèche by Hermès (1961), Eau Sauvage by Dior (1966) and Diorella by Dior (1972).


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.