I live in Nebraska, which is the armpit of the world for perfume availability--not to insult armpits; sometimes nothing smells sexier... However, my city has to offer only Von Maur, Dillard's and Younkers for fragrance shopping. Alas, I am a chypre lover. Furthermore, I need a strong fragrance that won't disappear on my skin. I like almost everything that makes the perfume counter attendants say, "yuck," which makes me sad and full of self-doubt.
The only chypres I can find here are:
Estee Lauder Knowing - love it, already have it
Calvin Klein CK One - lovely, but too light and fruity, floral for me
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle - ditto
Chanel Chance - ditto
Givenchy Ysatis - unpleasant coconut note on me
Paloma Picasso - hated it, put it on, loved it
What is your opinion of these?
Christine from Nebraska
What a frustrating, sticky situation (or should I say I have my armpity for you?).
Don't let sales people that hate chypres change your mind. They are obviously not doing a good job if they are trying to convince you to not like something you enjoy and push you into buying a fragrance you don't care for... You may want to refer to my article with tips about perfume shopping to get some ideas... They are just unlucky to not like chypres. Remember, Chypre people are really special people. It takes a unique personality to enjoy and appreciate the complexity of Chypre perfumes.
Although I do not wear these, Knowing, Ysatis and Paloma Picasso are great chypres. Personally, I wouldn't wear the other you mentioned as they are too watery and chemical for my taste, and since I sensed you are not crazy about them I wouldn't be hesitant to cross them off your list... Coco Mademoiselle is more of a modern fruity twist on classical oriental themes. I smell patchouli in the base as well as some spicy and watery notes. I don’t find it to be particularly Chypre… And as for Chance… I daresay it’s an experiment on how to make Coco Mml smell worse.
If you like both Knowing and Paloma Picasso, I think you should definitely try these perfumes:
1) If you love Knowing, you might want to try other Estee Lauder classics, such as Private Collection, Aliage and Azuree (the last two are not available where I live and so I haven't tried the last two, but I am pretty sure they fit the bill for Chypre from what I have heard about them).
2) Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) - shouldn't be too hard to find either. It's very strong, so use a tiny bit to try it so it doesn't shout in your face and make you run away. It's a great perfume though when its potency is respected and considered. On another note, I can highly recommend the limited edition Velvet Sheer for both the gorgeous bottle and the silky oil formulation. It really makes the scent shine through without the horribly strong sillage reputation it carries for years.
3) O de Lancome. I see this in every drug store, so I am sure it makes it Nebraska quite frequently as well. Although often it is classified as a citrus, it has a deep chypre base, with refreshing notes of lemon leaf.
3) Ma Griffe (Carven) - this is very cheap (budget wise, not scent wise!) and even if you don't find it in your local store it's easy to find it online. On eBay it's probably going to be dirt cheap. It's a very high quality perfume though, a great investment!
4) Miss Dior (Dior) - NOT the Cherie one!!! - if you have a Dior counter they should at least have an EDT, which is gorgeous, just enough civet and patchouli in the base to make it really sexy in the chicest way possible.
5) Agent Provocateur - this is not going to be easy to find. It's in some high end stores in North America, and sold for a relatively higher price range. I recommend you try to get it from eBay. The price will be much better too, and you might be able to get a hold of the smaller (and in my opinion also cuter and more functional) purse spray (it comes in 30ml). It is dry, with notes of vetiver, roses, musk and spice - saffron and coriander to be precise - which is also present in Paloma. It shares quite a few other notes with Paloma, so I think you will like it.
6) Don't forget other classics - they may not be in Nebraska, but are worth seeking out. Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Femme are must try for the Chypre admirer. They are a dream come true for a Chypre Lover... I can't stress enough how marvelous these three are. YOU MUST TRY THEM. I've seen Mitsouko EDT on the Dillards website, so hopefully the one in your town carries it too...
7) If you hit a really desparate stage, you may opt for the new breed categorized as chypre (I disagree with the classification, but some of these scents are not half as bad as the myriads of fruity florals and artificial gourmands that are threatening to choke the Chypre Lover to olfactory death). My favourite from this suspicious modern category (which I will discuss here shortly as part of the "Chypre Month") are Pure Turquoise by Ralph Lauren, a very appealing combination of full bodied grapefruit over a base of uber-clean patchouli; and also Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. I prefer the Liquid Satin formulation, both because of the gorgeous packaging and because the scent is a little less sharp than the alcohol based EDP.
From my own line (which ships to anywhere in the world as long as you have a mailing address!) I recommend you try the following Chypres in my collection;Autumn, a fruity chypre with warm spices.
Ayalitta , a green chypre with a pronounced animalic ambery-patchouli chypre base
Democracy, a warm, ambery-sweet chypre with fresh citrusy notes of lemon verbena and a foresty touch of juniper berries. It was originally designed for men, but as we know it Chypre ladies have no boundaries when it comes to chypres....
Megumi, a woody floral chypre with graceful notes of rose and jasmine and precious agarwood in the base.
Schizm, one of my wildest creations – animalic, peppery floral chypre with an explosion of dark tuberose, black pepper and wild mushroom added to the base.
ArbitRary, a refreshing citrus chypre, with notes of basil, lime, pine and lemonrass it is suitable for men and women alike.
I hope that you found my answers helpful, and that you will be able to find enough chypres wherever you are!
Image credit: doordetail04, Originally uploaded by Marieea