What does it mean?
The term ‘chypre’ comes from the French word for the island of Cyprus. These fragrances have a Mediterranean scent that contrasts citrus top notes with a warm, woody, mossy foundation. They deliver a polished, sophisticated, and powdery olfactory experience. Chypres are the fragrance version of a perfectly-tailored, three-piece suit – they’re bold, elegant, and impossible to miss.
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They are one of the tougher fragrance classes to define, which lends them a certain mysterious allure. They can be leathery, smoky, green, or floral. On the fragrance wheel, these fragrances can fall under a variety of families, from the woody to the oriental.
What’s the history of chypre fragrances?
Credit for the creation of these fragrances commonly goes to none other than Francois Coty, a French parfumier of Mediterranean descent. In 1917, Coty released Coty Chypre for women. With this single release, Coty made “heavy” fragrances fashionable and introduced the world to a new class of perfume.
While Coty certainly deserves credit for its popularity, he was not the first to use the term. In 1909, eight years before Coty Chypre, Guerlain released Chypre de Paris; and, in 1912, D’Orsay released Chypre d’Orsay. Both of these fragrances were unisex chypres that predated Coty’s.
But the true history of chypres traces back much further than Coty, Guerlain, or d’Orsay. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment, Cypriots manufactured “Cipria” powder, a cosmetic face powder that was scented with a blend of aromatics native to the island. In the 17th century, powdered wigs came into fashion in western Europe, turning Cirpira into one of the most popular cosmetics products of its time.
What does it smell like?
Though the exact notes in the scent can vary, you can always expect a standard trifecta of bergamot, oakmoss, and labdanum. The bergamot note provides the citrusy top notes that are necessary for a classic scent, while the oakmoss and labdanum add the earthy, woody heart and finish of the fragrance. The contrast between the citrus and earthy notes creates a true chypre fragrance. From there, the parfumier has the freedom to add flair and character with any notes they please.
If you’re looking for tips on this elusive fragrance class, you’ll find endless articles about chypres for women. However, there isn’t a wealth of information on chypres for men. In fact, many sources label these as “female” fragrances. But, don’t let that steer you away. There are plenty of incredible chypre colognes, and if you’re looking for a classy, formal, luxurious cologne, you need to check them out. Below, we put together a list of the best of these colognes for men. Enjoy!
David Beckham Classic Blue Men’s Eau de Toilette Spray
It seems like the Beckham empire is everywhere these days — even cologne. David Beckham Classic Blue Men’s Eau de Toilette Spray is a woody chypre with notes of pineapple, grapefruit, violet, leaf geranium, and clary sage. Definitely worth checking out if you’re on a budget or just want to try out the fragrance. The longevity is only a couple hours but at this price, you could apply all day long without breaking a sweat. Comes in a 3.0oz bottle.
Best Sweet Scent
Kiton By Kiton For Men Eau De Toilette Spray
First launched in 1996, I remembered Kiton for Men EDT from back in the day. It’s a sweet one with top notes of sage, bergamot, Amalfi lemon and pineapple. Middle notes are lily-of-the-valley and violet and base notes are musk, oakmoss, Virginia cedar, and Tonka bean. While I usually feel like sweet fragrances are geared towards a young audience, this one feels more mature to me — I’d say 30+ would like it. Def a popular one with the ladies. It comes in a 4.2oz bottle.
Hermes Terre D’ Parfum Spray for Men
Hermes launched Terre D ‘Hermes for Men in 2008. It’s a woody scent with a mix of grapefruit, orange, oakmoss and benzoin notes. It’s one of those people either love or hate. Haters think the orange is too prominent. Personally I find it refreshing and perfect for the summertime. At this price point, it might be worth trying before a blind buy to see which side you fall on. It comes in 1.7oz, 3.3oz, and 6.7oz sizes.
Aramis Eau De Toilette Spray for Men
Aramis EDT is arguably the most well-known of the current chypre colognes for men. First launched in 1992 — it’s a casual cologne that feels perfect for a weekend outside. It’s got all the classic notes: artemisia, bergamot, cinnamon, and gardenia top notes which blend into a heart of pelargonium, patchouli, vetiver, and sandalwood followed by a dry down of leather, oakmoss, and amber.
Christian Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum Spray for Men
Eau Sauvage for Men is a solid masterpiece on all fronts. If you can only get one cologne, this would be a good bet. It’s good for all seasons could work for day or night. And in fact with 9 hours of longevity when I tried it, it could easily last through both.
When it was reformulated in 2011, they decided to go the less is more route so it’s got a very simple composition with a top note of bergamot, heart note of vetiver and base note of myrrh. It’s also a great cologne for traveling since it is suitable for almost any situation. It comes in a 1.7oz bottle.