Tag Archives: best chypres

DSH perfumes: My New Crush

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Thousands of miles away in Boulder Colorado, perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz works her magic producing stunning and dsh-faceinnovative scent. Dawn kindly couriered some scent samples to me and I was blown away by the quality. The first one I tried was Albino: A Study in White. I then went on try the rest of them, and found them to be seamlessly blended and bursting with innovation and flair.

Dawn has been making perfume since 1991 and her vast experience shows in the quality. The versatility of DSH perfumes amazes me: there’s botanical flowers and greenery, deep dark chypres, vintage style scents, animalic sexbombs, and innocent ladylike fragrances.

I’m going to give you a little tour of what Dawn very kindly sent me. Opinions are my own.

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Chinchilla

I reviewed this earlier  and you can find my opinion here. An exciting and authentic animalic chypre that smacks of 1920s decadence and feminity. There’s a hint of sex too, and by hint, I mean sledgehammer- if you want subtle, look away. Chinchilla is up there with the greats.

La Belle Saison

By complete contrast, La Belle Saison is the purest most realistic lilac scent I have ever smelled, and I’m a big fan of lilac. Astonishingly, this is an all natural perfume and it really does smell as if a spring garden has been captured in a bottle. It’s like burying your head in the pale purple blossoms.

 

Mata Hari (Extrait)Mata Hari

Another daring chypre  with a hint of animal. This is right up my street. Mata Hari is rich and deep with all the classical ingredients of a chypre: oakmoss, patchouli, amber, coupled with a fruity opening and deep, rich rose de mai. This deserves to be a classic. It reminds me of turn-of-the-century Guerlain. I would go as far as saying that this is one of best chypres I have ever tried.

Hansa Yellow

Described as the epitome of sunshine, Hansa Yellow is a feel good scent full of spring time optimism and yellow flowers.  It reminded me of the scent of daffodils and that uplifting feeling I get when I see the first ones peeking out after a long winter ( Daffodils are the national flower here in Wales and we take them very seriously). There’s banana like Ylang alongside neroli and lemon, giving this a playful radiance. What could be more spring like?

Albino (A Study In White)

This is supposed to be for men, but I would buy a full bottle simply because I am a junkie for grapefruit in fragrance. Albino is unique: many of the ingredients are white and the result is a bright refreshing fougere that opens like a gentlemne’s cologne. You’ve got albino raspberry and grapefruit in there alongside  pale, light woods and light musky finish. It’s addictively good. I LOVE the grapefruit. chandelier

Deco Diamonds

A cleverly constructed bright floral aldehyde that turns into a chypre. Deco Diamonds opens with a crystalline, metallic accord that made me think of chandeliers. The middle phase has all the big florals of a classic, with soapy notes at the heart and a mossy, civet finish that tells the story of a night out from start to finish.

 Souvenir de Malmaison

A beautiful carnation soliflore, Souvenir de Malmaison is enhanced with clove and pepper giving this a spicy spikiness that is complemented by the softer roses in the heart of it.  If you ask me, Carnation doesn’t get enough love these days, so I am pleased to see it showcased here.  It’s the spiky, sober cousin to rose and I love the piquant nature of it alongside those dark aromatic cloves. Lasting power on this was filed under category WOW.

Pandora

FiFi nominated, Pandora is a rich green chypre with a “dusty nuance”, which appeals to me enormously. Unfortunately, Pandora eluded me. I was anosmic to this. My skin seems to just suck it up and make it disappear!  This doesn’t mean the same will happen to you. For example,  when I reviewed Cartier Delices de Cartier a few years back, it never showed up on my skin at all- it was as if I was spraying tap water. However, other users reported 12 hour longevity.  Go figure! My experience with DSH perfumes is that they are constructed from high quality ingredients and very long lasting, so this is probably just me. Perfume’s funny like that.  My loss.

 Stockists

All of the above fragrances are available from the DSH website.  You can buy all sizes, from sample size to large spray bottles, and many other scents too. I can’t wait to explore more of Dawn’s beautiful work. Samples provided by Dawn with warm thanks. Opinions are my own.

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Photo credit: Top photo from cafleurebon, Lady in fur from Pinterest, Mata Hari from Klimbin, chandelier from fixmasters.net, Pandora’s Box painting from talesbeyondbelief.com, photo of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz from Cafleurebon.

La Perla Original Eau de Parfum: A Classic Beauty

 

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It’s Autumn now, although it’s hard to tell. How do you define it? A run of ten days without sunshine? That’s summer, isn’t it? All I know is that I haven’t worn sandals for over two months now so I reckon it’s safe to say it’s Autumn.

The light colognes and airy florals are going to to sit at the back for a bit whilst I bring out the ambers, patchoulis and chypres. or in the case of La Perla, all three in one bottle.la-perla-ad1

Luckily enough, my friend Lisa, beloved friend of the blog and of me, popped in recently with a bottle of this beauty. Now this wasn’t on my radar at all. I probably would never have tried it if it hadn’t been put in my hands for a little borrow and a sniff. I’m ever so glad we met though, because this stuff not only smells terrific, but is very good value indeed.

la-perla-perfume_02My first impression of La Perla was that it is a ladylike powdery chypre scent. It’s the kind of classic scent that was everywhere in the seventies, although it wasn’t launched until 1987. There’s no subtlety here, so it fits nicely into the category of 1980s Powerhouse too, with its “Gangway! Here I come!” sort of sillage- (Think Alexis Carrington).  Even the bottle has helmet hair and big shoulders. Having said that, this has an elegance that doesn’t normally go hand in hand with such a Look At Me scent, but elegant is certainly a word I would use.

My first impression was white soap. Very soapy, very aldehyde-y and with big piles of white talc. Sometimes that powderiness is the sign of a damn good chypre, and it counts for as much here. The oakmoss beds in straight away. Yes there’s a citrussy opening and some peppery carnation and ladylike rose, but the oakmoss shoves its way to the front and makes its presence felt. There is musty patchouli, aromatic sandalwood, feminine soapy musk and warm amber too. Interestingly, none of this happens in order. I didn’t get distinct top notes, a middle and a base. It went more like this: soapy chypre to musky to spicy- all within ten minutes. What I have on my skin now though, is a wonderfully powdery,  massive , gorgeous chypre. And it’s under twenty quid.

Douse yourself in La Perla,  then wear fake fur, red lipstick, and arch one eyebrow imperiously at everyone you meet. That’s what I want to do, anyway.

Stockists

La Perla is very good value indeedy- try allbeauty.com for prices that start at just £15.95 for 30ml of EDT (NB I haven’t tried the EDT but it would be a good starting point if you’re unsure about the LOUD SILLAGE). I was testing a 50ml bottle of EDP and the current price for an 80ml bottle of EDP is just £26. 

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Bewitched by Lancome Magie Noire

magie noireOh Magie Noire, how do I even begin to describe you? You have bewitched me.

Lancome Magie Noire was created in 1978 by genius Nose Gerard Goupy, who also created the equally superb Lancome Climat  (which is a devil to get hold of these days. I only have a dim Duty Free memory of it, but I loved it).

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Magie Noire opens as a mossy chypre. It’s loud, floral and powdery at first.  I got tuberose, hyacinth and lily of the valley, with the volume turned up. That’s OK, I like them loud. Unusually, the oakmoss base comes through straight away. No waiting.

This is wonderfully earthy and green, and those flowers ( an entire garden full) just jostle for attention. There’s spice too, but nothing savoury- think incense and mysterious spice markets. You’ll find myrrh, vetiver, patchouli in spades, warm amber… There’s no fixed start, middle and finish for this. Apparently it was designed to unfurl like a figure of eight, but that feels to complicated even for my eager nose. I just love how it develops as my skin warms it.

Two hours after slathering it on at the beauty counter, it has settled into one of the best florals I have ever tried. The spices are around the edges warming it up and anchoring it down. The oakmoss is giving me that chypre fix that I always seek and the galbanum and bergamot are giving me my hit of “green”. It’s everything I want in a fragrance, all in one.

Lancome have brought this back in a modern formulation, which is the one I tried today. I can’t comment on the previous incarnation as I haven’t tried it, but I would happily buy a lorry load of this.

Stockists

You can buy Lancome Magie Noire from House of Fraser, Escentual and Amazon UK.

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Carven Ma Griffe: At Last!

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It’s been a long time coming, but we meet at last. Mossy green chypres are my favourite scent, so I had been longing to try Carven Ma Griffe for a good while.

Originally created in 1946, there is a lovely story around its launch. Samples of Ma Griffe were actually parachuted over Paris. Can you imagine a lovelier image? It would never happen today, but the idea of being in Paris and having samples of Ma Griffe raining down makes me so happy I could pop.

ma griffe adI can’t comment on previous formulations because I haven’t smelled them, but I can say that although my sample is a modern formula, it has that wonderfully vintage tang that makes think the juice should be dark amber, rather than the pale shade of hay it is in the phial I am using.

It opens with aldehydes and big white florals. There’s gardenia, lily of the valley. orange blossom and big bunches of jasmine. There is a powderiness about it straight away, which usually happens as fragrances of this type fade down into the base notes. It always brings to mind a fine layer of talc on a dressing table.

The iris sobers it up a bit, and there is definite citrus to pique that cloud of powder and florals. This reminds me of my late grandmother, although I don’t recall her wearing it.

The base is a classic chypre bases: heavy with oakmoss and labdanum, and greener than most. The sandalwood comes out nicely, as does the musk. Those white flowers never quit, making this a powdery white cloud of a scent with a good bit of oomph in the finish. It makes think it needs to be worn with Dior’s New Look and white gloves. But it will have to settle for the school run in comfy jeans on a brisk walk.

Stockists

Ma Griffe is widely available. Try Amazon UK or Escentual.  I got my sample from The Perfume Society Eaux La La Discovery Box, about which I will shortly be writing a round up.

Carthusia Fiori di Capri: A Grande Dame Indeed

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Carthusia is a relatively new brand to me- you may recall my earlier review of the rather lovely Carthusia Capri Forget Me Not. Today I am reviewing another jewel from the range: Fiori di Capri.

Rumoured to have been worn by none other than Jackie O herself, who invented chic, the perfectly cut trouser, and gigantic sunglasses, Fiori di Capri is a traditional 70s style chypre in the same vein as Chanel No 19.  It opens with spicy florals, green notes and  a good blast of vintage-y powder ( think Parfums Caron).

The flowers are abundant and heady, no fly-by-nights here: carnations, iris, roses, tuberose, jasmine, gardenia, hyacinth and cyclamen.  These are thickly woven floral notes that need to be strong so that they don’t get overpowered by the cloves, incense and Oakmoss that follow.  The harmony makes for a powdery, heady mélange that could stand proudly next to Guerlain Chamade or Caron Parfum Sacre.  Longevity is good at around seven hours.

www.northerncalstyle.com
www.northerncalstyle.com

 Stockists:  in the UK, you can buy Fiori di Capri from Liberty .  It’s a good price at £60 for 100ml.  It sounds a lot but you get a nice big bottle and the ingredients are high quality.  In the USA you can buy the Carthusia range from NeimanMarcus. Sorry, but I tried really hard to find where you can buy this Canada and failed you.  Sorry my dear Canadian cousins, I have let you down.

 

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Estee Lauder Knowing: A Glorious Chypre Hiding on the High Street

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Many moons ago, when I was at university, a fellow student wore Estee Lauder Knowing.  She was also eighteen like me, and I felt it was wayyy too old for her. My Mum also wore it at the time and she was ancient- forty years old! (Three years younger than I am now).  I remember thinking it was OK for Mum to wear as she was “old” but not for my eighteen year old friend to wear it.

Fast forward 25 years and I am wearing Knowing today.  It’s a whole different story. I have a bit of a thing for greeny  retro chypres and Knowing doesn’t disappoint.  It opens with a full on blast of aldehydes that I initially thought nobody should be subjected to before cocktail hour.  However, after an hour, this becomes a wearable daytime chypre and it’s still there ten hours later.

Knowing makes its presence felt immediately: there is bergamot, aldehydes and green notes in the opening.  However thankfully, I could find none of the melon described (phew!).  It’s the base notes that are a real treat: patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. In fact, all my favourites are in today, “Hello at the back!”

It’s almost as if Knowing was made with me in mind.  Not only greeny aldehydes, but then oakmoss and  a musty,  woody finish.  I adore it and despite its wide availability, it knocks hundreds of other High Street scents into a cocked hat.

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As for my fellow student back in 1988 (the year of its launch), she was way ahead of her time and really Imageonto something, whilst little old me was still wafting round in either LouLou or  Body Shop White Musk (which I still do sometimes, just for old times sake).

Stockists

Estee Lauder Knowing is widely available on the High Street and online.  Try  allbeauty.com for the best price ( at time of posting).

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Guerlain Chamade: When Retro Glamour Is Required

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Guerlain Chamade is like a trip back into the early seventies.  I don’t mean the flares and the joss sticks but a time when ladies wore suits and court shoes just to go to town. Created in 1969, this green spiky aldehyde is a beautiful tribute to all that is ladylike and harks back to a time when everyone said “Good Morning” and “How do you do?”

Opening with the green and musky notes of the dominant Galbanum, as if to say “Don’t mess with me”, it then beds down and shows its feminine side with Lilac and Hyacinth showing a flash of finely turned ankle.

The aldehydes provide a clean, soapy background against which the prickly notes of Vetiver, Balsam and medicinal Benzoin shine through boldly as the longlasting basenotes make their presence felt.

Chamade was named after the drumbeat of retreat during Napoleonic times and is meant to represent the beating of a heart in love.  Even the bottle looks like a teardrop.  It is out of step with today’s brash modernity, but this to me, is all the more reason to wear it. I feel sure that the existence of Chamade went on to influence many 70s drugstore classics: all those greeny, raspy chypres that smell so classic now but were everywhere way back when.

It’s a grown up perfume that I would love to smell on more people today.  It reminds me of an elegant women with a green, tweed suit, a brooch, and a smart leather handbag, off to town to run errands on a pleasant day when the sun didn’t go down without asking permission first.

Stockists

You can buy Chamade from Amazon UK, although the EDP is harder to find than the EDT.

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Balmain de Balmain: My Conversion to Chypres

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Before starting this blog six months ago I  would often turn my nose up at any scent with powder in and call it “old lady”. Then one day, I smelled both Balmain Jolie Madame and Balmain de Balmain. Result? One total conversion to Chypres with all their aromatic powderiness and beauty.

The best definition of Chypres I have ever read is by ThePerfumeShrine. It blows the old lady powder nonsense out of the water. Chypres originated from Cyprus, hence the origins of the name, and were derived from aromatic powders and spices, hence the powdery note.

Since smelling the dreamy Balmain de Balmain, I have learned a new appreciation of the Chypre genre, and it is because of this that I now own a bottle of Gres Cabochard, a bottle of Avon Timeless and a bottle of Balmain Jolie Madame.  I have borrowed my review bottle of Balmain de Balmain, but will be buying a big one soon from Amazon, because, did I mention? Yes, this has been discontinued. Never fear though, it’s still around, but if you discover you like it, make like Tania Sanchez and buy at least two bottles.

Balmain de Balmain opens with an astringent and masculine burst of fresh Bergamot and Green Notes. The drydown turns more feminine, with a hint of Violets, Roses and Sandalwood. The Oakmoss emerges then: all manly, and Violet and her friend Rose both swoon and go demure in his rather butch presence. This has an overall aura of Mossy Greenery, with enough floral background to make it strong but pretty. It has presence, and strength: this is no wishy washy floral dew. I adore this.

This turned me into a fan of Chypres the way a David Bowie album could convert a Country fan to Glam Rock. It converted me the way a glass of Fitou once converted me from White Wine to Red. It was like the day I knew that fresh ground coffee from my coffee machine meant I could never enjoy Nescafe again.

Old ladies and powder? that’s a myth. Open the doors to Chypres and let Balmain de Balmain into your life.

And do it quickly before they run out! (although the Perfumed Dandy reliably informs me that plans may be afoot to reissue it, if enough of us clamour and buy).

Balmain Jolie Madame: A Scent for All Seasons

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Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain was created in 1953 by Germaine Cellier and has an immediate old fashioned glamour. Cellier knew what she was doing. Her other fragrances, Bandit  and Fracas (both for Robert Piguet) are still standing today as revered classics. When you think how many fragrances have been and gone over the years, that’s a pretty big achievement.

The more I have delved into Aldehydes and Woody Chypres on my colourful perfume journey, the more I have appreciated them. Jolie Madame seems to be the very pinnacle of a perfect Woody Chypre, almost prickling and crackling with its rough and beautiful Oakmoss and Galbanum.

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I am a huge fan of both Green Notes and Hesperides, and yet I have been venturing a lot into Leather recently (but enough about my marriage *ahem*). To find a fragrance that encapsulates all my favourites in one scent has thrilled me. Firstly, Jolie Madame opens with Green Notes, including the stems and leaves. Petitgrain and Oakmoss, give it a woody, leafy opening. Then the Bergamot makes it presence felt, giving the woodiness some airy freshness at the same time, like a walk in a forest after a downpour. It smells like mossy, wet earth under damp bracken. There is a slight powderiness, in the form of chalk, or maybe it’s the Gardenia making me think of the colour white. This fades into a Green and Smoky Leather finish that lingers, delighting with whiffs of Violet and a whisper of White Musk throughout the day.

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It is perfectly put together and utterly delightful. It’s my one stop shop when I can’t choose between a Green Note scent, a Woody Chypre, a Hesperide or a Leather. Jolie Madame gives me everything I want..

It is the antithesis of modern High Street scents and its price tag is surprisingly reasonable. This may have to be one of my rare full bottles. . It has great lasting power- on me, this lasts around six or seven hours.  I can’t get my nose off my wrist. It’s outrageously good.

If I was forced to narrow my treasured perfume collection into only two bottles, it would be Vol de Nuit and Jolie Madame. That kind of covers all bases for me. A joy!

Yesterday I discovered Balmain. And it was a good, good day.

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