What is Chypre?

what is chypre fragrance

Chypre is a fragrance accord with a warm and dry scent profile that is centered around 3 key notes: bergamot, oakmoss and labdanum. This amazing contrast of fruity, green, leathery and woody notes creates a smooth unison scent with endless possibilities. And although many say that chypre belongs to the warmer side of the scent spectrum, in the hands of a skillful perfumer this magical base can produce a host of unique scent combinations, which can range from the freshest to the most sensual of fragrances.

The history of chypre

Chypre as an olfactory category traces back to 18th century France and is named after the island of Cyprus. This does not mean that it was first conceptualized in Cyprus, rather than all chypre’s main ingredients could be found in this beautiful island. Of course, bergamot can be found anywhere in southern Europe, oakmoss lichen is now cultivated in the entire Balkan peninsula, while labdanum is native to southern-east Mediterranean. But back then, all these key fragrance oils were met and sourced primarily from Cyprus.

The key notes of chypre

Out of the three key notes of chypre, labdanum is by far the most mysterious one. It is a tar-like resinoid from a small flower called Cistus (AKA Rock Rose). This precious oil is prized for millennia for its medicinal properties as well as its hypnotic dark aroma. Try to imagine flower honey mixed with leather and a hint of incense. This complex blend is what gives chypre’s sophisticated depth and irresistible allure.

Oakmoss comes from the fungal lichen that grows on the branches of oak trees. Its powerful aroma ranges from warm woody, to mossy wet and sensual ambery. Oakmoss evokes feelings of wet soil and rain drenched trees on a lush green forest. And this characteristic is what gives chypre its distinct woody profile.

Last, but not least, we have the invigorating and bright crisp scent of bergamot. This refreshing citrus fragrance is what gives chypre the desired “kick” but also acts like a binding agent for oakmoss and labdanum.

So, what does it smell like?

You will often hear that chypre smells like a walk in the woods – it is a woody base accord after all. But we will say that chypre is the quintessence of the Mediterranean. It is lively yet classical (bergamot), smooth yet distinct (oakmoss), simple yet sophisticated (labdanum). These 3 contrasting, yet harmonious characteristics make one of the most versatile bases for many classic and modern commercial perfumes out there.

The splendor and versatility of this beautiful accord is found in our refreshing Ocean Waves Fragrance Oil, in our sunny floriental Orange Flower Fragrance Oil, as well as in our elegant Pink Suede Fragrance Oil.

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