As announced previously, the estimable perfume boutique Aedes de Venustas, which is based in New York city collaborated this year with the Molinard perfume house to release a limited-edition fragrance called Une Histoire de Chypre (A Chypre Story). The perfumer behind this creation or re-creation rather, reportedly based on an old formula exhumed from the archives of the house is Dominique Camilli.
Upon discovering the perfume, one is suddenly tempted to interpret the name of the fragrance as loosely meaning "a history of chypre" as this review starts with a puzzle regarding the historicity of the fragrance. Une Histoire de Chypre smells familiar at first for two reasons. The first reference is not very uplifting; the scent smells like an improved version of Chypre d'Orient by Molinard also released in 2007, which we still have trouble understanding what it is doing exactly in the market except offend (very interestingly since we reviewed it, Molinard has removed the descriptive pyramid of notes for the scent on their website, while the other perfumes still have them. We of course now regret not taking down some notes but felt it was unnecessary given the quality of the scent). The second reference is more interesting; Une Histoire de Chypre feels familiar because it is reminiscent of the crystalline chypre personality of Diorella by Dior. In other words, it immediately offers a classic signature that people familiar with classic French perfumes will recognize.
When using the expression "classic chypre" people often mistakenly point out that Chypre by Coty (1917) is the first chypre fragrance to have ever existed and therefore take it as a main reference point. It is more complicated than that. It is just the most famous chypre in modern times. Chypre perfumes have existed since Roman times. The Coty Chypre did not appear in a vacuum but was preceded by a continuing lineage of manufactured chypre perfumes in the 19th century that were usually simply called "chypre" in reference to Cyprus island from where this type of perfume is said to originate and in reference to the oakmoss used in the composition most famously harvested originally from that locale....
Une Histoire de Chypre makes a reference to basic ingredients used in chypres, most notably the oakmoss, but it resembles less the Chypre by Coty than a later incarnation of a chypre perfume, Diorella. The puzzle of course is that Une Histoire de Chypre is supposedly based on a formula from the 1920s while Diorella was composed in 1972 by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. Did Dominique Camilli opt for an updated anachronistic reformulation of the original chypre formula? It would not be surprising.
In Parfums de Légende/Perfume Legends by Michael Edwards, there is a very interesting chapter devoted to Diorella. In it we learn some critical details which explain better the historical background not only of Diorella, but now also as applicable to Une Histoire de Chypre ca. 1920. Edmond Roudnitska himself explained that while most people compare Diorella (1972) to Dior Eau Sauvage (1966), the real structural connection which exists in this case is with Dior Eau Fraîche (1952). The perfumer also added this extraordinary comment regarding Eau Fraîche: "C'est un vrai chypre, probablement le seul chypre authentique existant aujourd'hui [...] pour moi il est très spécial." (It is a real chypre, probably the only authentic chypre that exists today [...] it is very special to me.) Further, we learn that Eau Fraîche was in fact inspired by one of the first colognes created by François Coty, Eau de Cologne Cordon Vert, which he released after his trend-setting Chypre (1917) and which was a lighter formulation of Coty Chypre. Diorella incidentally is also recognized in this anthology as the first fruity-floral, the ancestor to an extremely prolific crop nowadays. There is a fruity-floral facet in Une Histoire as well.
Back to Une Histoire de Chypre by Molinard and Aedes; the perfume presents as we said a clear, crystalline chypre quality at first that is reminiscent of Diorella. It is however fruitier, rounder, and less animalic than Diorella (very nice neroli in the opening). It is a rosier chypre; the rose (Bulgarian Rose) is quite noticeable rounded off with fruity osmanthus. It smells floral in an abstract French way.The base has a slightly dirty herbal-y aspect to it, is almost hay-like and is a bit soapy and citrus-y at the same time. It does not offer much depth although the musk and amber in the longer dry-down are not unpleasant. There is a note in it that reminds us of the new version of Mitsouko (pre-Edouard Fléchier; we have not smelled the Fléchier version, so we cannot comment on it), which is to say that there is a flattened, thinner quality to the development of the perfume that is not very exciting. It is supposed to be an Eau de Parfum, but it qualifies as an Eau de Toilette as the concentration of oils is not very strong and the development is somewhat cut short. If abundantly sprayed it would probably offer more longevity. The scent is of medium complexity. Unfortunately, at this point it makes us think again about its kinswoman, the dreaded Chypre d'Orient, except that it is not headache-inducing, thank goodness! If we try to say something nice (we are trying very hard, so it must not be a good sign), we can say that in its better moments, it smells more like Diorella. In the end, it seems that Une Histoire de Chypre might have been influenced in its conception by the lineage of lighter chypres that passes through Diorella by Dior.
Now the question remains: why did they remove the pyramid of notes for Chypre d'Orient? Is it too close to Une Histoire de Chypre? Another mystery in the history of perfume.
The perfume is priced at $225 for 3.3 oz.