Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lancome Kypre (Vintage Perfume)

I knew absolutely nothing about Kypre, a 1935 Lancome perfume, when I scored a sealed(!) old bottle of the extrait de parfum in an online auction. The name, of course, was hinting big time that this is a chypre, but that was about that, other than the very little info I gathered here and there. The authoring nose of Kypre was Lancome founder Armand Petitjean (1884-1969) who released it the year he started the company along with four other fragrances. So it was a thrilling moment when the package arrived and I could crack it open and start playing.

My bottle is probably from the 1950s or so (based on its style and the little insert in the box listing Lancome's address as 29 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré). I was thrilled to discover the juice was very much alive, rich and sweet smelling. There's no question this is, indeed, a chypre, as I could smell enough of the structure right away. I don't know what else was in its top notes, but I was surprised to find out enough bergamot has survived and smelled like the remains of yesterday's Earl Grey tea- strong and a little bitter. The rest of the scent is a lot softer. There's a floral element that is probably a jasmine, non-indolic but a little heady even after all these years. Then comes the beautiful dry-down, a buttery leather, opulent and warm, and the oakmoss which is all velvet.

I never smelled the original Lancome Cuir, the more famous leather perfume Petitjean had created (originally named Revolte and released in 1936), only the reissue (which I love love love). The latter is a floral-leather, a bit crisp and somewhat related to Chanel Cuir de Russie (at least in its extrait version from the early 2000s. Who can keep track with all the changes and reformulations happening around us?), so I'll have to assume the style was somewhat similar. Kypre, while definitely leathery, smells like it belongs to the school of Mitsouko, though the dry-down is very pulled-together and a lot less dramatic. The part that makes me think of Mitsouko every time I wear Kypre is a certain boozy fruitiness when the heart morphs into the base of the perfume. Maybe fruitiness is the wrong word. It feels like the softest pair of exquisite boots in a dark cognac color.

The late dry-down is a muted soapy oakmoss that would easily appeal to a modern man just as much as to a woman. That is, if said man is the kind who trolls the net searching for long forgotten perfumes.

Vintage 1941 Kypre by Lancome perfume ads from
Photo of Armand Petitjean from somewhere on the web (unfortunately I lost the link)
Photos of my bottle by me with the help of Lizzy.


  1. Wow, how exciting to sample such a venerable bottle, and to find it is in good nick! And what a gorgeous bottle it is too, especially the squiggly lid. I am a major fan of Cuir de Lancome (and like you, only know its current incarnation), but your image of suede cognac boots makes me think this must be a beautiful stable mate - or shoe rack mate, even. Petitjean, you say? He sounds half way to being a perfumery note himself!

  2. That's a great score! Thanks for letting us live a little vicariously with it. I can almost smell it! Also, I love the so so classy.

  3. OMG, I am SO envious! Is Kypre anything like Houbigant Essence rare? I ask because ER also has a "boozy fruitiness" enlivening its classic chypre character, and I love its warmth and outright sexiness. Pretty sure Kypre would be instant love for me, and oh that bottle!

  4. This sounds lovely. I adore and wear vintage Magie Noire, and Sikkim. Does anyone know if this scent is along the same type of scent? I have never smelled Kypre and have now added it to my "must find" list!

  5. Very cool I would be scared to open it! because its so rare. Do vintage fragrances go bad? I want to start collecting them.


I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

Related Posts Widget