My Coty Chypre bottle is of the 1970-80s reissue, not the 1917 original. It's an EDT, fresh and sharp, and I feel extremely lucky to have and wear even a late edition of this iconic fragrance.
Coty's Chypre gave its name to the entire chypre genre. A bergamot top note, floral heart and a dry-down of oakmoss, patchouli and an animalic something or other- that's a basic chypre. It can and have been embellished, thickened and darkened, but the original one by Coty, at least the version in my cabinet is clean and streamlined with that very geometric art deco feel. It's brighter than I expected from a scent rumored to be worn by Dorothy Parker, but decidedly crisp and angular. Coty's Chypre is green and floral- it illuminates the road leading to Chanel No. 19 and Miss Dior among many others. Roja Dove writes about a gorgeous jasmine heart, but at least in this later version the heart is too abstract to single out any one flower. There's some rose there, but it's dry and pale, not a garden party in June.
The entire composition feels more subdued than I imagined it to be, but it makes sense. Chypre was a popular, wearable perfume, not an historic relic. It was composed to appeal and entice the elegant women of its time and as such it's perfect and beautiful. I wish the dry-down I'm smelling was more animalic and dirty- I get a really nice musk, but it's on the polite side of things and wouldn't offend in a crowded space. Still, Chypre is gorgeous, iconic and makes me wish I had spent the previous decades hunting down old bottles before everyone else was doing it.
Chypre and the rest of the classic Coty perfumes as they once were are no longer with us. I doubt sending angry letters to the corporate headquarters would make any difference. They're too busy churning out another J. Lo perfume.
Image: Dorothy Parker by Australian artist Deborah Klein, 1991