Some classic, early scents can be enjoyed only for their historical notoriety — as the first perfumes that open the door for later, superior incarnations. But for me, Coty Chypre stands alone as an incredibly beautiful and complex scent. At once fresh and bracing, warm and woodsy, and softly floral, Chypre dries down on my skin into what I can only describe as a powdery butter. I keep inhaling my wrist for the almost milky richness of what's left behind, combined with a disquieting hint of civet, which adds enough funk to keep Chypre from signifying "old lady perfume."
Top notes: Bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, rose, lilac, orris
Base notes: Vanillin, coumarin, oakmoss, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, labdanum, styrax, civet, musk
Roja Dove in The Essence of Perfume, says of Chypre: "Coty managed to put the gentlest whisper of orris, vanillin, and coumarin into this creation which gave it a note of intimate luxury redolent of the warmth of soft intimacy where the shoulder joins the neck."
If perfumes have messages, moods, and atmospheres, Chypre's is, as Dove suggests, "intimacy." The effect is indeed that you are nuzzling up to someone and smelling the trace of a fragrance wearing off mixed in with their inimitable scent.
I was lucky enough to have won a small bottle of the Eau de Toilette with a milky jade Bakelite cap, still with the frayed gold cord around its neck. It is one of my most prized vintage perfumes.