Why you need a ‘chypre’ scent in your perfume wardrobe

This under-the-radar fragrance family is worth sniffing out

Hair & Beauty

You might have heard the word ‘chypre’ banded about in relation to perfume. Well it’s not an ingredient, but a type of fragrance, which is slightly more sophisticated and seductive compared to conventional, ‘girly’ floral bouquets… 

A chypre traditionally consists of bergamot, lavender and oakmoss. Bergamot is a citrus fruit that isn’t eaten but normally used in fragrances to give them a fresh, zesty top note. Lavender is common in men’s fragrances, which is why chypre scents tend to have a more masculine or unisex in character (in the more recent versions, it’s swapped out for more feminine floral notes like jasmine and patchouli). While oakmoss – another masculine ingredient, gives this type of scent a woody, warm quality. 



There are many different types and interpretations of what a chypre is.
 Which makes it notoriously tricky to define, but they broadly tend to be more ‘dry’ and richer in character rather than sweet and ‘pretty’. You have Diorella by Dior, created in 1972 – which has more of a fresh, floral bouquet, while Chanel No.19 is a green and musky affair. And Guerlain’s famous Mitsouko from 1919 is what’s known as a ‘fruity chypre’ with peachy accords, together with enveloping notes of jasmine, patchouli, cinnamon and clove, making this a popular winter perfume. And Clinique’s classic Aromatics Elixir that your mum probably wore back in the day? That’s a chypre too –with a rich floral and resinous – almost medicinal quality to it.



A modern take on chypre would probably be Charlotte Tilbury’s Scent of a Dream which launched in 2016. The typical chypre construction is there, with bergamot, jasmine and patchouli with a woody base – but also added are synthetic notes of iso e super, hedione and ambroxan which are designed to enhance your body’s natural pheromones i.e. ‘pulling hormones’, putting a seductive spin on the traditional chypre. £49 charlottetilbury.com

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