I’m a pushover when it comes to chypres. The most sophisticated (to my mind) perfume type that soon divides the girls from the women or the men from the boys, chypres have an old world allure: A mystery and hard-to-define womanly aura that’s pre the pushover days of sweetly sick, over ripe and over used gourmand or fruit accords or the multi-use of pink pepper in, well, just about everything.
Taking the starting point as Parisian elegance and the devastating chypres of the early 20th Century as influencers, Heeley has created a contemporary take on the classic chypre using the same ingredients with new twists here and there. The main.difference (to this nose) is the beautiful airy…almost alpine airiness of the fragrance that is as dry as powdered fragrant saffron stems and husky veils of dried musk, sandalwood and patchouli.
This dryness has a sharp enigmatic feel. Like breathing in hints of bergamot and violet leaf (topnotes) on fresh, crisp, linen with lots of floral back-up of Bulgarian rose and neroli that lifts the fragrance further.
Now, the press release states that the powdery, feminine notes associated with ‘ye olde chypres’ has been left behind. It may solely be me, but I feel that the beauty of this fragrance comes from the mix of fresh zingy bergamot, rosemary and violet leaf but with a wonderful dryness and powderiness that trails in via the base of patchouli, sandalwood and oak moss. Like the latter have been dried to brittle wispiness with the sharp tang of lemon and violet strewn droplets.
This is a new take on a chypre, for sure. One that’s sure to grab the naysayers and or ‘its-not-for-me’ modernists by the wrists and wrench them into a contemporary love affair with a very old form. Chypre 21 delivers on beauty and grace without too much nostalgia or retro naval gazing. It could be perfectly worn with the ultra modernity of Vetements or Margiela by any 21st Century diva – man or woman.
Chypre 21 is available from Harvey Nichols and Selfridges from 1st February 2016 priced £125 for 100ml EDP spray.