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Sniff Fest - Learning Chypre

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Sniff Fest - Learning Chypre 9 years ago

(pics is from The Perfumed Court)


Yasmin is anxious to begin this long-delayed sniff fest of 60 chypre perfumes, new and old. However, I inform her I must stop writing about perfumes for a time and return to writing novels.

She frowns. "Well, at least list the fragrances in case you are missing any important ones that others could tell you about.

I see her point. First, definitions. In the A-Z, Luca Turin defines the chypre accord as, "bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss." He says, "Good chypres are as complex as a fragrance can be without losing the plot." Yasmin points out we've seen the same for the orientals, several of which are on this list. Great ones are complex without losing the basic accord. Turin points out that the genre is called "Mossy Woods" in Michael Edwards' fragrance wheel. Popping over I see he defines the accord as oakmoss, amber and citrus -- not quite the same, but close. For me, a true chypre also has musk. In an effort to compensate for the restrictions, newer chypres often substitute patchouli and vetiver for the oakmoss.

Below is the list of chypres I've discovered, or that were suggested to me for this sniff-fest.
Fate Woman | Jubilation 25 Woman | Memoir Woman |

Miss Balmain |

Colors de Benetton |

Bijan Women |

Calvin Klein
Obsession |

Lady Caron | Tabac Blond |

Panthère de Cartier |

Ma Griffe |

31 rue Cambon | Coco Mademoiselle | Cristalle (Eau de Toilette) | Cuir de Russie |

Aromatics Elixir |

Clive Christian
V for Women |

Chypre de Coty |

Tabu |

Miss Dior Original |

DSH Perfumes
Mirabella | Parfum de Grasse |

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Le Parfum de Thérèse | Noir Epices |

Emanuel Ungaro
Diva |

Estée Lauder
Azurée | Knowing | Private Collection | Private Collection Jasmine White Moss |

Fendi |

Giorgio Armani
Armani Privé - Éclat de Jasmin |

Hasu-no-Hana |

L'Arte di Gucci |

Mitsouko |

Halston |

Keiko Mecheri
Umè |

Le Labo
Belle du Soir | Ylang 49 |

Liz Claiborne
Liz Claiborne |

Ormonde Jayne
Tiare |

Paco Rabanne
Métal |

Paloma Picasso
Paloma Picasso / Mon Parfum |

Parfums MDCI Paris
Chypre Palatin | Enlèvement au Sérail | Promesse de l'Aube |

Profumum Roma
Rosae Mundi |

Robert Piguet
Bandit |

Roja Parfums
Diaghilev | Enslaved | Mischief | Nüwa | Unspoken |

Serge Lutens
Chypre rouge | Daim blond | Rose de Nuit |

Eau du Soir |

Solange Azagury-Partridge
Cosmic |

Tauer Perfumes
No. 08 - Une Rose Chyprée |

Tommi Sooni
Tarantella |

Van Cleef & Arpels
First |

Yasmin is relieved to know she'll get to return to this one day. "How long does it take to finish a novel?" she asks. "No telling," I reply. Yasmin looks upset. "Do you realize, author, that you have left my story hanging?"

I do and I'll rectify that now.

Having insulted Walad with a blatant display of his intimacy with Yasmin, Prince Ahmed invites him into the palace for dinner. Walad arrives stone-faced, interested only in taking possession of his son, he says, though his gaze returns to Yasmin again and again. The two men observe civilities, but after dinner, Walad demands to see his child. Prince Ahmed responds by informing Walad of the Sassanian belief which says the baby is his, not Walad's.

Walad erupts in anger as Yasmin knew he would. His own men must prevent him from grabbing a weapon. Soon Walad regains controls and says, "I have not brought an army, as you see, Prince Ahmed, only my personal contingent. I did not think that you, the heir to your throne, would break your word."

Prince Ahmed stands and takes Yasmin's hand. "I made no promise to you. My wife did. Her word does not bind me."

"You realize this means war?" Walad says in anger.

"So be it," Ahmed replies and leads Yasmin from the room.

That evening, Yasmin sends a desperate message to Fizur by way of Diba. "Would you see your beloved master, Walad, die? Would you see him kill my husband? If not, help me."

Fizur returns an answer. "I am at your command, my Sultana, for so you will ever be to me." Diba says that goes for her as well.

This is how the future heir, Adur, and his mother, Yasmin, came to leave their palace in the middle of the night, in a caravan that showed no royal markings or signs of wealth--accompanied by her faithful servant, Diba, by Diba's husband Fizur, and their child. Knowing the desert winds would in moments cover their tracks, Fizur turns their camels and horses (among them Yasmin's Arabian), toward north Africa where neither Walad nor Ahmed hold sway.

To be continued.
Last edited by ScentFan on 29.06.2015, 22:41; edited 1 time in total
9 years ago
"Chypre Mousse" by Oriza L. Legrand

See Kafka's elaborate blog article - and-chypre-mousse-horizon-reve-dossian/

(Thanks, ScentFan, for our continuing education!)
9 years ago
You should also try "Jean-Louis Scherrer" , one of the best green chypres ever. Not sure I'd classify "First" as a chypre - I've always considered it a classic floral aldehyde.
9 years ago
Thanks, Pipette and Triffid. I've ordered samples of both. As for First, it's a hybrid, a chyprish-oriental. It has the oriental accord, plus a chypre's (except for labdanum). Hmmm...and since it doesn't have a substitute resin, yes it probably shouldn't be on the chypre list. Thanks.

Aldehydes I've yet to wrap my brain around. My first awareness of one was before my perfumista days. I ordered inexpensive scents from an Arab perfumer and to me they all reeked so strongly of formaldehyde I threw them out. Then somewhere I read that perfumes use aldehydes. Looking up a definition led me to Basenotes and on. I plan to make a study of aldehydes one day so I can detect them. Right now my only olfactory references are formaldehyde and Chanel No. 5 which I react to so strongly I have to wash it off each time I try it.
9 years ago
You should also try "Jean-Louis Scherrer" , one of the best green chypres ever. Not sure I'd classify "First" as a chypre - I've always considered it a classic floral aldehyde.

Agreed, Triffid. "Jean-Louis Scherrer" is a fantastic example. I love wearing this perfume.
9 years ago
"New York"
"Chamade Homme"
"Arsene Lupin"

Might be considered as well.
9 years ago
And "Derby"
9 years ago
Very interesting, thank you for sharing. I was observing the list of fragrances and I am quite new in this forum, I just would like to ask why Dana-Tabu is considered chypre?

I would appreciate any help in order to understand it! Smile
9 years ago
I've never smelled Tabu, but looking at the notes I don't think it's a chypre (=no dominant citrus, florals, moss, labdanum/leather).
9 years ago
I've never smelled Tabu, but looking at the notes I don't think it's a chypre (=no dominant citrus, florals, moss, labdanum/leather).
It makes total sense. Thank you for your help!!
9 years ago
Tabu contains the Fragrance Wheel's definition of a chypre: citrus-amber-oakmoss, but not Turin's definition: bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss.
9 years ago
Thanks, DieNase! Also for the Derby recommendation.

"New York"
"Chamade Homme"
"Arsene Lupin"

Might be considered as well.
Sniff Fest - Learning Cypre, 2 9 years ago
“Thank goodness she has writer’s block,” Yasmin says, tactless. “Now she can continue with us!” I inform her I’m just taking a break.


Though Yasmin travels with no signs of great wealth, not being crazy she actually carries a great deal. On the camels, hidden in sacks of spices, are all the jewels her first husband, Sultan Walad, gave her, and all those her second husband, Prince Ahmed gave, as well as the many gifts from her father, also a good deal of the dowry Prince Ahmed settled on her when they wed. For many days and nights they travel, unmolested—a simple desert caravan. Knowing help will be needed when they reach their destination, Fizur hires Berbers along the way and persuades them to bring their families. North of the Red Sea, they cross into Egypt and stop at Cairo, Yasmin in search of an area in which to establish herself. When she learns the kingdom of Nubia with its great archers is successfully resisting the Arab conquests, she orders Fizur to travel down the Nile to the kingdom of the Black Pharaohs centered at Meroe, said to be rich in gold and have the world’s best metalworkers. She hears it is a land in which queens often reign. When Fizur returns with confirmation of this, and news of an abandoned castle, Yasmin dons her richest regalia and in grand style visits the King of Meroe on an elephant.



While the characters are in transit, I’ll get the sniffing underway. When I first logged onto another perfumery site as an infant perfumista, a very kind member sent me what I didn’t realize at the time was a great gift: generous samples of vintage classics including Chanel No. 5, First by Van Clef and Arpel, Diagheliv by Roja Dove, Desprez’s Bal à Versailles, Chypre de Coty, Guerlain’s Mitsuouko, Estee Luder’s Azuree and Dior’s Diorella. What a grand introduction to scent, especially the chypre genre! I reciprocated by giving away vintage mens miniatures I’d had tucked away on a shelf for more than 20 years. Wish I'd written down their names.

That initial overflow of giving and receiving shaped my experience of perfume. In token, I begin with my original take on the grand dame of those gifts.

Chypre de Coty

So cool, so grownup. Did my mother wear this? Don’t think old lady when I say that. My mom was a grand gal, so gorgeous that when I brought my high school prom date over to meet the family and my mom came downstairs, his mouth gaped open, his brain froze, and before he could catch himself he croaked out, “Who is that?” I elbowed him and whispered, “Sshh! That’s my mom.” I was so proud of her, so glad to have femininity in perfection as my own mother. She always smelled great. I know she wore lavender. I think she also wore this. I citrus, which must be Bergamot. Mandarin? Musk is there. Maybe even civet. And there’s a tangy, resinous element. Maybe cistus labdanum. And flowers, Jasmine included. I remember this perfume. I’ve smelled it on ladies furs piled on my bed as their owners sipped tea (or something) in the living room--long ago, before furs were a bad thing. To me, Coty’s Chypre feels like a warm embrace. Let me look up its notes: Civet! I was right. Bergamot. Oakmoss, Incense, too. Lots of flowers; Jasmine, rose, lilac, carnation, yang ylang, Iris? And Styrax? What is that??? Oh, it’s where benzoin resin comes from. Smells like vanilla. In youth, I never tried to emulate my mom, principally because my head was always in a book. Only now, late in life, do I treasure her passion for gossamer scarves and unforgettable perfumes. To be in the presence of the grand gal who raised me, I must only wear this.

Update: I still feel this way about Chypre de Coty. Just sprayed it on left hand and my nose wouldn’t let me type for a good while. For me it’s a deeply resinous, deeply evocative, familiar scent. I still consider it one of the great perfumes. A year later, I am more aware of the civet, made alluring by the rest. Oakmoss is haunting, labdanum narcotic. Notes as listed at parfumo are: Bergamot, Sage, Civet, Orris root, Jasmine, Rose, Oakmoss, Labdanum. Only last week did I realize I’d hunted down vintage Mitsouko, but not a vintage of this! Hubby, learning, came to the rescue and it’s on the way. Can’t wait.

Estée Lauder

Spraying Azuree on my wrist, it is a drier, starker, less opulent beauty with notes of: Aldehydes, Artemisia, Basil, Gardenia, Jasmine, Citric notes, Mugwort, Geranium, Orris root, Rose, Vetiver, Ylang-ylang, Amber, Leather, Moss, Musk, Patchouli . The moss shines through but so does Patchouli, Vetiver, Leather. These perfumes are for different women — Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn for this, if you remember them, vs Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren.


Dabbing it on the right wrist The original EdC is yet another variety. Warmer than Azurée, less opulent than Coty, it mesmerizes with Bergamot, Jasmine, Rose, Citruses, Lilac, Peach, Ylang-ylang, Ambergris, Oakmoss, Spices, Vetiver, Cinnamon. Now it’s clear how the different animalics shape the aura of each. Civet, the strongest stank, is in Coty. Musk the next us in Azuée and the lightest, Ambergris, is here. Each are laid on with a heavy hand not found as much in today’s perfumes, I think, but it makes these three heady. Lighter Ambergris allows the other notes to contribute more, especially peach. If I had to, I could easily live with any of these there as a signature scent.

Roja Parfums

Here’s my original take on this masterpiece: Well, this certainly isn't going to be ignored. It has a very pleasant citrus top note then the oak-mossy musk floods in. There's wood. There's spice. Something green. Vetiver? All nearly overwhelming the florals there. I barely detect a rose. Was this named after the guy who founded the Ballets Russes? If so, it succeeds because this is a powerful, theatric scent -- a symphony, not a collision. Smelling it on a man passing by would make me wonder who he was. For myself, I want something as dramatic, but feminine. This is for guys, or Marlene Dietrich. [Lucky for me because it costs over $1,000] Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tarragon, Black currant bud, Heliotrope, Jasmine, Peach, Rose, Tuberose, Violet, Ylang-ylang, Ambrette, Benzoin, Cedarwood, Civet, Clove, Cumin, Gaiac wood, Labdanum, Leather, Musk, Nutmeg, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Peru balsam, Sandalwood, Storax, Vanilla, Vetiver. Putting it on my right wrist. It makes me think of a man wearing an expensive leather coat and smoking a Cuban cigar.

Van Cleef & Arpels

I know this darling from my oriental sniff fest. It has the required elements, except cistus labdanum, so I’ve removed it from the this list. The oak moss is strong, though, making this a superb chypre/oriental hubrid.

Wary of attracting unwelcome amorous advances when she arrives at Meroe dressed to kill, Yasmin is relieved to discover sought-after Nubian beauties are stylishly overweight. In spite of her ugly thinness, she is welcomed by the King, and given permission to establish her own kingdom, loyal to him. He informs her what tribute she must pay, and that she must, above all else, practice the trait most sacred to Nubians: honesty. If so, in case of attack, he will defend her. Yasmin agrees and in secret sends a trusted messenger to fetch her parents.

By now she realizes she is pregnant again, this time by Ahmed, and it pains her to have stolen the rightful heirs to two kingdoms from their fathers. But what good are heirs or kingdoms to fathers who aren’t alive? Ahmed and Walad would have fought to the death, but not with Adur gone. Walad is Adur’s biological father and Ahmed is his father by Sassanian paternity belief: “Woman is a field. All that grows there belongs to its owner even if he did not plant it.” Will men argue over women’s wombs forever? Having one, she makes her own decisions.

Yasmin directs Fizur to recruit a small army for daily protection of her new kingdom. Soon her parents arrive to a joyful reunion and bring news that Ahmed and Walad search everywhere for her — except Africa. Satisfied she’s done the right thing, but missing both Ahmed and Walad, she sends for perfumes from Cyprus, the island where she and Walad honeymooned. They contain a famous accord: bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss. Cistus labdanum is a resin that sticks to the hair of goats and sheep who graze on the cistus shrub, also called rock rose. Shepherds comb the hair and sell it to perfumers. Yasmin witnessed this during her first honeymoon. While her castle is being refurbished, she and Diba, promoted from slave to companion, withstand the noise by smelling perfumes, joined by Yasmin’s mother, Freni. Initial expenses have been high, but Yasmin can afford precious scents because her father, Ara, has entered the gold trade on the new kingdom’s behalf.
Last edited by ScentFan on 29.06.2015, 22:40; edited 1 time in total
9 years ago
Yasmin’s caravan took four months to reach their new home. Now her pregnancy is beginning to show, as is her impatience. Her castle’s treasure rooms have also swelled because of her father’s efforts in the gold trade. Today, she, her companion Diba and Freni her mother, can hardly believe their eyes when I appear. "About time!" fumes Yasmin. "Author, are you aware a new year has arrived? Tell me you've finished your novel. "Almost, I say, it's being read. Final edits remain, but we can sniff tomorrow." Yasmin's eyebrows mockingly rise, "Joyous day!" I make a note to improve her characterization. Heroines should be polite.

I ask if they agree with my first chypre reviews and they say they do, more or less. However, Yasmin finds Van Cleef & Arpel’s First the most appealing of those sniffs. Sultan Walad, her first husband, gave it to her the night his mother, the Valide Sultan, drugged them. Believing her son, Walad, sterile, the Valide Sultan had Prince Ahmed try to impregnate her. Yasmin finds it criminal that any man would willingly seduce an unconscious woman (Mr. Cosby!), but she forgave Ahmed only because her stepmother was the cause and Ahmed was hopelessly in love. Still, Yasmin is sad as she sniffs First, remembering. How drastically her life changed because of that night. When I ask if she would like me to revise her history, Yasmin bristles. "My goodness, author. Do remember this is a proper sniff fest, not a novel." I nod and promise to return in the morning, more or less.
9 years ago

“Here, mistress,” Diba says, detecting Yasmin’s sadness. Try these.

Fate Woman

“A lovely scent, if less strong in oakmoss than the first group. The slightly spicy top is joined by the floral center, but Frankincense in both the heart and base dominate, while leather mutes all, including both labdanum and oakmoss. It has a smoky quality in the drydown. I like, but don’t love it.”

Jubilation 25 Woman

“Patchouli and vetiver stand in for oakmoss with lemon rather than bergamot in the top. This is among the “new” chypres, I assume. Labdanum is prominent throughout as is rose in both top and heart. The animalic base is accomplished. Again, I like but don’t adore.”

Memoir Woman

“Mistress,” Diba says. “I can’t find this one.”

Yasmin replies, “You will. It’s here somewhere. Move on.” She gives instructions to her new maid, Tiye, to better organize her samples and FBs. Yasmin has noticed that Tiye, named after a Nubian queen, takes pride in all she does, whereas Diba, no longer a slave, sometimes wool-gathers. Tiye was a gift from a prince named Nimlot and has been here ten days. Word has spread about the wealthy Persian queen, Yasmin, who lives in a grand castle along the Nile, protected by Meroe’s King. Suitors from Egypt seek audience to make Yasmin’s acquaintance, sending messengers with precious gifts. Not wanting to offend them, she has kept one small gift from each and returned the rest.

“Here is the next one, mistress,” Tiye says.

Miss Balmain

This one is initially stronger than the first two but weakens on the drydown. Of the classic chypre accord, it has only oakmoss. Orris root and amber stand in for labdanum—sweet spice and citric notes for bergamot. Patchouli and vetiver are strong. It reminds me a bit of Azuree, if less green. It’s a strong like, but again not a love.

Balenciaga Paris

A chypre made lovely by its violet/carnation notes and soft spices. Bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum and Patchouli/Vetiver give it the profile of both the old and new chypre. I like the cedar wood here. Someone went to a lot of trouble to give us Paris in the spring.
Colors de Benetton

I wouldn’t really call this a chype, but an accomplished fruity/floral with a truly great base. It’s a fresh and appealing scent, sophisticated particularly by civet, oppopanax, and oakmoss in the base. However, its lighter than both Amouage fragrances and perhaps the rest too.

Bijan Women

With Orris root standing in for labdanum, I suppose this could be considered a chypre since it has bergamot and oakmoss. It could also be considered an oriental (bergamot, jasmine, amber, musk, vanilla). It’s a hybrid and a lovely one, if light on the resins that cause all-out fainting, rather than a mere swoon. It really ought not to be in this learning chypre sniff-fest, though oakmoss is splendid as this dries. Love, love.
Tiye enters, bearing a papyrus scroll and a chest that she places before Yasmin. Tiye lowers herself to the floor and face-down says, “Please forgive me, mistress, but I am asked to inquire who is the father of your children—the one born and the one on the way. My prince does not wish to transgress.”

Startled, Yasmin remembers the trait most sacred to Nubians—honesty. On it rests the Meroe King’s hospitality and his promise to defend her. Yet she feels she owes no one the secrets of her womb. “I, a queen, do not answer to servants she says,” then sighs, tells Tiye to rise, and asks her to read the scroll. “My master prince Nimlot begs that you reconsider, mistress. He bids you accept his…” Abruptly Yasmin snatches the scroll. “Yes, yes. Accept his gift in token of his earnest desire to make my acquaintance. When will they leave me alone?” She reads the scroll and throws it on the floor. “Well, open it,” she says to Tiye, pointing to the box. Tiye gasps when she does. Inside is a gem encrusted collar necklace with a peacock design. Yasmin humphs and says to the necklace. “You are too small a bribe.” She tells Tiye to return it, like the others.

“Mistress, it is very impolite to reject this gift,” Tiye says. Yasmin asks her, “How did you come to be in the service of an Egyptian prince when you are Nubian?

Tiye flushes. “When Nubia conquered Egypt long ago, my family settled there and we kept our customs, coming back to Nubia to find husbands and wives. After later battles, we were enslaved.”

Herself having been taken prisoner by Walad after a war, Yasmin has sympathy for Tiye. “In my castle, your bondage is light. However, do tell your former master that I have no interest in a husband.” Yasmin whispers to Diba, “Especially a third royal husband who will impregnate me with a third royal child. Two is quite enough.” As Walad’s son, Adur, comes and hugs her, Yasmin rubs her belly where grows Prince Ahmed’s child.

Yasmin’s mother Freni says, “These princes approach you honorably. Why do they anger you, daughter?” Sitting, Yasmin pouts then picks up the next scent. “All they want is treasure, not me.”

Tiye closes the chest and leaves the room, knowing what Yasmin does not. Prince Nimlot is not acting on his own behalf, but on that of a great Valide Sultan far away, who has discovered Queen Yasmin’s location.
9 years ago
Now that Yasmin has rejected his gift of the precious necklace, Prince Nimlot asks his spy, Tiye the Nubian maid, to discover how best to woo Queen Yasmin. Tiye doesn’t know he has no intention of marrying Yasmin. He is actually in love with Keket, a dark-eyed Egyptian noblewoman. However, Nimlot must hide this in order to woo Yasmin and lure her to his palace. Then he can abduct her two royal sons and return them to their fathers, avoiding a deadly fight between them. As his reward, a powerful Valide Sultan has promised to keep the growing Arab incursions away from his lands.

Tiye studies Yasmin’s household and reports to Nimlot. Soon camels laden with perfume arrive at Yasmin’s castle and though she pretends indifference, she accepts more and more of them as her pregnancy advances.

Lady Caron

“Tell your prince,” Yasmin says to Tiye, “That this is not a chypre. Yes, it contains oakmoss, but nothing else of the chypre accord—not bergamot or cistus labdanum. The top notes are indolic florals, the heart fruit and roses, with only sandalwood and oakmoss in the base. It is creamy and lovely, but not terribly strong and not a chypre.”

Tabac Blond

“This has not a single note of the chypre accord! At best it is a new chypre, relying on patchouli and vetiver instead of oakmoss. However, it’s quite tremendous, a leathery smoky affair. A bit masculine is the woman who would wear it. It does have the character of a chypre, but not the notes.”

Panthère de Cartier

“I already encountered this sophisticated hybrid among the orientals. It’s a beautiful darling, opulent and luxurious but still on the lighter side. Not my favorite oriental. Nor is it dry and redolent enough to be my favorite chypre with the likes of Coty del Chypre and Mitsouku around.”

Ma Griffe

“A fragrance with an intriguingly fleeting though complex presence. Also hard to describe. There are green notes, florals, woods, spice, resins, musk--blended so well it’s hard to pick them out. Oakmoss and labdanum are subtly there. I’d certainly wear this. It feels like a haunting dream, drifting away.”

Over time, the sniffs continue, Nimlot periodically inviting Yasmin to his palace so she can deliver in the safety of the royal birth house, assisted by expert servants of Hathor, Egyptian goddess of fertility and childbirth. Yasmin declines, wanting only Diba to help her and local Nubians. One morning she ignores the ache in her back and distracts herself with perfume.

“Now the Chanels,” says Diba, who is concerned by Yasmin’s back ache.

31 Rue Cambon

“A famous address, I imagine, no doubt of the house itself. This beauty speaks well for them, though it has no oakmoss. Patchouli lends its earthiness instead. The top is citrus and green. It has a floral heart of iris, rose, ylang-ylang. Cistus is in the base with patchouli. There’s a faint hint of spice. It smells like a less dry chypre.”

Coco Mademoiselle

“This is also not a chypre, but a citrus/floral with patchouli/vetiver in the base as an oakmoss simulation, and opoponax—wearable but not memorable, for me. Of nymphette, coquette, lady, femme fatale, grand dame, this makes me think of a coquette.”


“Ah, the oak moss returns, brightened by lemon, made green by vetiver, hyacinth quirky in its floral presence. Thank goodness for the rosewood because without a resin this fragrance lacks depth, but it is a worthy scent, best meant for a warm day.”

Cuir de Russie

“Not remotely a chypre, but a strong birch wood in the base distinguishes the citrus and the indolic florals. Russian leather, indeed, and mesmerizing.”

Just then, Yasmin doubles over. It is time. The entire household of her castle gathers in the halls as she labors, their hearts rending at her childbirth cries because they dearly love her. In anguish, Yasmin calls out the name Ahmed, and most wonder who that is. Only her parents Freni and Ara know, only Fizur, head of her castle guard, and his wife, Diba—having traveled with her here. Diba is helping behind the curtains that shield the birthing bed. The others wait outside the curtains, all four noting that Yasmin never calls the name of her first husband, Sultan Walad, who conquered Yasmin’s homeland, imprisoned her in his harem and then, falling in love, wooed and married her. They’d always suspected Yasmin’s submission to him was due less to love of Sultan Walad than of the splendid perfumes he lavished upon her. Such a thing can happen.

Night falls and her cries come faster. In her last moment of torture, Yasmin screams, “Ahmed, you son of a camel! I need youI” Everyone in the castle looks down at their feet, or out a window, or at a wall, pretending they didn’t heard that. However, Fizur and Diba, Freni and Ara’s suspicions are now confirmed. It is Prince Ahmed, Yasmin’s seducer and second husband, that she really loves.

All is forgotten in the hubbub that ensues as attendants announce Queen Yasmin has given birth to a girl, a princess she has named Dori. Soon the curtains are drawn, mother and baby bathed and dressed. All gathered know Dori has been aptly named. Here is not a child, but a sparkling star, glittering like a gem. Her infant grace draws sighs, her sweetness murmurs. Yasmin has to order that her baby, Dori, be returned, so greatly affected are all—wanting to see and hold the radiant child who, in spite of being female, could one day reign whether here in Nubia or back in Persia with her father.
8 years ago

I tell Yasmin we’ve finished the Chanels and can resume with the next chypres, but first let’s remind our noses of the classic chypre accord: bergamot, cistus labdanum, oakmoss—a citrus, a resin and a moss. (Musk is often added, but first the essentials). I share my perfumery kit samples with her so she too can grasp the basic idea. We smell each swiftly, one after the other: bergamot’s sultry citrus; cistus labdanum’s musky, camphorous freshness; then oakmoss and its green earthiness. We pass the vials under our noses again and again and exclaim. Excitedly ignoring Yasmin’s warning that I might get a rash, I dab a little of each in the same spot on my skin. We shriek. I have to stop Yasmin from repeatedly grabbing my hand to smell it. Here, laid bare, is the heart of the greats we all know: Mitsuoku, Chypre de Coty, Cabochard. Alone each smells wonderful because they are such distinctive notes, but only in combination do they make this stunning magic. Chypre ought to be a note of its own. It’s a resinous heath after a spring rain. It’s a dusky meadow strewn with musk and amber. It’s the scent of paradisiacal wilderness. No wonder it became a genre. Having smelled it, most noses would yearn to experience it again. Most designers couldn’t help but blend it with other lovely notes to see what happens. That’s just what I’m going to do, too, when I finish this sniff fest. What will the haunting chypre accord smell like with violet, with lotus, with a green and blushing Turkish rose?


I suggest to Yasmin that we get on with the sniffs, but she doesn’t reach for a perfume (very unusual on her part). She says, “May I first speak my heart to you, author?” I put my samples down. “Of course, Yasmin. We are friends, you and I.” She looks hesitant, (very unusual for sultanas) then begins. “We’ve had wonderful adventures together in your sniff fests. All have been fun, but I must admit, even I, a fictional woman, yearn for love. Will it ever come to me, do you think, in these pages?” I am taken aback. “Yasmin, if they’ve made you sad, I can easily rewrite them.” She shakes her head. “No, they have made me what I am and I would not avert coming excitements, either, but if perchance, in between crises, my true love I may find.” She stops. There are tears in her eyes. Touched, I ask, “Who is your true love, Yasmin?” She shrugs. “I don’t know, existing only here as I do.” Poor Yasmin. I resolve to rescue her if I can, which isn’t certain—stories often having minds of their own, but I will do my very best.

Nose glued to hand, I leave for now, gasping in delight.

To be continued ...
Last edited by ScentFan on 11.07.2015, 19:24; edited 1 time in total
8 years ago

Before resuming, Yasmin suggests we consult my perfumery notes kit to experience the substitute perfumers have adopted for oakmoss—under assault in EU legislative initiatives. “How dangerous can it really be,” she says, “when you, author, who break out in rashes, applied it directly to your skin without negative results.” I agree wholeheartedly. In spite of allergies and rashes, traditional perfume notes shouldn’t be banned. But, since it seems to be happening, I put a splash of Sri Lanka Patchouli and atop it a dash of Vetiver notes from the kit on my hand. “The resemblance is startling,” Yasmin says. “On first sniff, I would indeed mistake a quality patchouli/vetiver combo for oakmoss.” We engage in focused sniffing of each hand. I tell Yasmin that, to me, the vetiver gives a slightly keener green that in oakmoss is musty. We sniff again. The scents are close, no question about it. Patchouli/vetiver is more camphorous, Oakmoss more luxuriously forest like and mossy. Yet a good perfumer could make the substitute notes work.

With that new information, our sniffs should be more on target.


Originally, Yasmin was a princess in her Persian father’s kingdom, then she was kidnapped into the Arab Sultan Walad’s harem. Next she became a Sultana when Walad married her. Then Walad’s mother, fearing him sterile, enlisted Prince Ahmed to secretly seduce Yasmin (whom he loved) to provide the kingdom an heir. Walad, finding out, divorced Yasmin though he was drugged at the time along with her and neither of them could have done a single thing about it. Afterward, Yasmin married Prince Ahmed and became his patikhsahi or privileged wife. They went back to Persia, her original home. However, when Yasmin’s son Adur was born, he didn’t look at all like Ahmed. Everyone could see Adur was really Sultan Walad’s son. When Walad came to claim Adur, Prince Ahmed refused—on the grounds that any child born to a Persian wife belonged to the husband, regardless of who had planted the seed. An insurmountable dilemma. As Walad and Ahmed prepared to do the only thing they could—fight to the death—Yasmin ran away to Nubia with her son, Adur, not knowing she was pregnant again by Prince Ahmed. She had no choice but to deprive two royal fathers of the heirs to their kingdoms—Adur and Ahmed's newborn daughter Dori—to prevent Walad and Ahmed from killing each other. Now Yasmin reigns in her own realm in Nubia. Here she is a queen.


I give the next perfumes to Tiye, the Nubian maid sent as a spy by the Egyptian Prince Nimlot. She brings them forth on a tray. Diba, Yasmin's longtime maid and companion, looks wounded since that’s always been her job. She asks, “Are authors always in the story with their characters?” I admit this went out of style with Robinson Crusoe, considered the first “realistic” modern novel — i.e., the author no longer spoke in the story. However, it’s boring at my house today and more fun to be there with them. Diba looks dejected. Giving in, I take the perfumes from Tiye and hand them to Diba.

Since it’s dinnertime, I bid them farewell until tomorrow.

To be continued …
8 years ago

It is morning and Yasmin lies with her infant daughter, Dori, a radiant child already loved by everyone who has seen her. Her father is the Persian prince Ahmed, one of the last of the Sassanian rulers holding out against the Arab conquest. Everyone heard Yasmin call Ahmed’s name as she labored. What that means, no one knows. In any case, if things were as they ought to be, Dori would one day reign in her parents’ Persian homeland, and Adur would reign in Walad’s Arab sultanate. As it is, they are in Nubia and their mother is a queen. Now Adur crawls into bed and tries to hold Dori. Plainly, Adur will protect her as they grow.

Diba comes and takes the children to bathe and dress them for the day. Tiye, the Nubian maid sent by Prince Nimlot helps Yasmin bathe. Yasmin’s confinement will be short, because she is less weak from childbirth than Tiye expected. When Yasmin is dressed, Tiye brings a tray of perfumes sent by Prince Nimlot for whom Tiye is spying while he woos Yasmin.

Aromatics Elixir |

Yasmin says to Tiye, “Recently I’ve become acquainted with the pure chyre accord and this is a close expression of it. It has the air of an oriental with its many notes, but it also has both oakmoss and faux oakmoss (patchouli/vetiver) in the base. Though orris root stands in for labdanum, this is more a chypre than not. Still I miss the sweet herbal intoxication of labdanum. Yet this is a perfume I could wear. It’s fulsome and luxurious though not a seducer of the heart with its crisp beauty.”
Clive Christian
V for Women |

“Oh, this one is more emotionally involving, perhaps because labdanum is here as well as Jasmine, Neroli, Orange Blossom, Rose. Yet it’s formulated with a certain restraint. It’s beautiful, a true chypre-oriental, replete with wood, peach and honey, leather and musk, a regal fragrance.”
Chypre de Coty |

“An unsurpassed beauty,” Yasmin says. See the author’s first comments in this sniff fest, with which I agree. In comparison, Aromatics Elixir is a mere shadow of a chypre as is V for Women. They do not gloriously reek of oakmoss and labdanum, as Chypre de Coty does.”
Curve / Liz Claiborne
Liz Claiborne |

“I can’t find this one,” Tiye says. “Thank goodness!” Yasmin replies. “This is a scent I found so putrid in an earlier test, I am grateful not to subject my nose to it again. The perfumer manages to bring out the worst in Lily-of-the-Valley and the drydown offers no redemption.”

Tabu |

“Oh, lovely!” Yasmin exclaims, “—if also a bit suggestive with its civet and musk, its indolic florals. It also has both oakmoss and patchouli/vetiver in the base, which is why some would consider it a chypre. Without labdanum or any resin, I can’t agree. Ahmed would like this, though.” She catches herself. “Who is Ahmed?” Tiye asks, knowing full well. “Someone I once knew,” Yasmin replies and continues. “This manages to be both fresh, bawdy, and spicy and I see it is vintage.”

But the only true chypres in this group are Coty and the Clive Christian. Aromatic Elixirs is close. Tabu is really an oriental with oakmoss.” Tiye asks, “Which do you prefer?” Yasmin ponders. “Well, considering that the Coty is miles above the rest, I like them all for different reasons (not the Liz Claiborne of course). If I had to rank them it would be: Coty, V for Women, and a tie between Aromatics Elixir and Tabu.” [Note that my author’s husband just sniffed her hands and arms and found only Aromatics Elixir interesting. To the others he said, “phew.”]
Suddenly trumpets sound and a great commotion arises outside the castle walls. Ara, Yasmin’s father, enters her room, along with Fizur, head of her guard and Diba, his wife and Yasmin’s companion. They all run to her balcony to see what’s going on.

“It is a lavish royal barge, daughter, docking on the Nile.”

“Is that right?” Yasmin says, suspicious, having extended no invitations. “Fizur, go with my parents to greet this barge and take your bravest men. Prepare your fastest messenger in case it proves necessary to alert my protector, the Meroe King.”
“Mistress, it is done,” Fizur says. “The castle guard takes their positions at any unusual approach.”

Always armed, Fizur accompanies Yasmin’s parents out of her rooms and down to the courtyard as eight slaves lift a sedan chair and, surrounded by a regal entourage, carry it from the dock toward their castle.

An Egyptian riverboat depicted in the Tomb of Menna.
8 years ago

The Tatooed Priestesses of Hathor

As the group from the barge comes closer, they see an aristocratic man is in the chair, his eyes heavily lined in black kohl. He wears gold arm and wrists bands, a collar of gems and an intricate headdress. His garment is of fine, nearly transparent linen. Beside him walk two females dressed like priestesses.

Yasmin has risen and watches from her balcony with Tiye the Nubian maid. “Do you know him?” Yasmin asks. “It is my master, Egypt’s Prince Nimlot,” Tiye says. “And who are those half-naked women with tattoos on their stomachs?” Tiye bristles. “They are the priestesses of Hathor, Queen Yasmin, come too late to help you with your childbirth.” Yasmin silently thanked her own god, Rostam, for saving her from them. “Why do they wear a cow’s horns?” Yasmin asks. Tiye bows in their direction as they reach the castle. “Hathor is the Egyptian’s Celestial Cow, a female deity. She watches over women as they labor in case they approach the portal of death.” Yasmin lets Tiye help her back to bed. “My soul is my own to watch. I trust my body to the great earth’s herbs.” Tiye thinks this is wise of Yasmin.

“Now, tell me,” Yasmin demands of Tiye as she settles. “Why has your master really come?” Tiye lowers her eyes so her expression cannot give her guilt away. Prince Nimlot has come because he seeks Yasmin’s hand, though not from love. He wants her to come to his castle where he can kidnap her children and return them to their fathers. All at the behest of a powerful Valide Sultan who promises to spare Nimlot’s land from Arab attacks if he complies. Apparently, the Valide Sultan is grandmother to Yasmin’s first child.

All Tiye says to Yasmin is, “Tales of you have reached his ear and stirred his heart.” Yasmin humphs. “Well he should have gotten my permission before he stirred himself in my direction. Tell my father that I will not see Prince Nimlot, but I will continue to sniff the perfumes he sends. Hand them to me.”

Tiyes gives Yasmin the tray and leaves to convey the message.

Miss Dior Original

(Not sure I have this. Can only locate Miss Dior EDP at the moment, which isn’t a chypre.)

DSH Perfumes

“A delicious chypre, redolent with flowers and woods, civet adding just the right animalic note, yet it manages to have a pleasantly light, rather than heavy scent. I think I must keep this one, Tiye,” Yasmin says. Tiye is pleased that Yasmin is keeping something her master has sent.

Parfum de Grasse

“Without oakmoss or patchouli, this one isn’t a chypre, but it intoxicates as if it were. Late in the drydown it is less lovely, but I will have to explore this line further, Tiye, if DSH produces such perfumes.” Tiye who has just returned replies, “And they’re affordable, too!” Yasmin bristles. “That is not a concern of mine.” Tiye looks sad. “I wish I could say the same.” Yasmin sighs. “Is it so difficult to understand? Think it, Tiye, and it is so.” Tiye, seeing an opportunity, slyly asks, “Did you think being alone here with no husband, mistress?” Startled, Yasmin reflects. “Yes, Tiye, I realize I did. Even loving husbands wish to dominate their wives. My soul yearns for freedom. I thought it and it was so.” Tiye says, “You do not yearn for love?” Yasmin closes her eyes, “I do. A blissful love, a love that soars, but if I must choose between them, I choose freedom. Yet I ignore my own advice. I will imagine love and freedom existing together. Then, for me, it must be so.”

Tiye, having learned Yasmin’s heart, asks to be excused once more. Now she can tell Prince Nimlot how to gain Yasmin's attention.
Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Le Parfum de Thérèse

“Ah, so nobly beautiful. It is also not a chypre. Author,” she says to me. “Please be more vigilant in your collections.” I am surprised at these last two who don’t belong though glad to have experienced them. The melon, mandarin and plum here work beautifully with the florals (Jasmine, rose and violet) and the base is a joy of leather, vetiver and cedar. This goes straight on my wish list…actually, my maybe list which is for perfumes I love but haven’t made up my mind to actually buy yet.

Emanuel Ungaro

“At last a chypre,” Yasmin says. Not exactly, I say. There’s no labdanum. This is a chypreish oriental. Orris root could be considered standing in for labdanum, but even with both oakmoss and patchouli/vetiver, the overall result departs from the classic chypre accord. “It’s quite gorgeous, though, narcissus adding sophistication to the several florals in the heart, the base divinely alluring with the best notes for a base and the top is a sheer joy of citrus, sweet spice and tuberose.” I agree, but it’s not a chypre.

Estēe Lauder

“This isn’t a proper chypre, either!” we both say together. It has no bergamot or labdanum and is the moss in the notes an oakmoss or some other kind? “It smells terrific, though,” Yasmin says. Has that dry chypre edge and the geranium in the heart is amazing. I wouldn’t say it rivals Chypre de Coty, but this is a fragrance I could wear.” Me, too, I say.


“Another non-chypre!” we exclaim. Yasmin frowns at me. “Author, where do you get this sniff list?” I point out some I found myself and some were recommended to me. I think what has happened is Chypre de Coty inspired a new category of perfumes starring oakmoss. Many strayed from the classic accord, while keeping the essential note. “Shall we toss them from the sniff fest?” Yasmin asks. I can’t decide. While not being a chypre this is a lovely and sophisticated perfume, if less beautiful than Azuree, in my opinion.

Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

“Again, not a chypre.” I observe it has greenish labdanum instead of smoky sweet labdanum and the moss listed may or may not be oakmoss. The patchouli/vetiver combo is there. This is another nice, dry floral — mandarin and black currant, lend a darker fruitiness. It’s good, but nothing to write home about, though.


Another divine one missing labdanum, I say. It’s a fulsome oriental, a splendor of citrus, spice, florals, woods and oakmoss with amber and leather notes—an 80’s sillage monster that my nose keeps sniffing.
Downstairs in the great room, Yasmin’s parents are entertaining Prince Nimlot. Her father, Ara, has informed him of the recent birth of her child, Dori, and that Yasmin cannot be disturbed. Her mother, Freni, thanks him for bringing the two priestesses of Hathor, though it is too late for them to be of use. When Tiye enters and whispers something in Nimlot’s ear, Ara and Freni look at each other. They have never trusted this maid, knowing she will advance Nimlot’s interests rather than Yasmin’s interests, should they not coincide. Prince Nimlot rises. “I intrude here. Please pardon me. Tell Queen Yasmin I return to my barge and await her pleasure.” Ara rises. “Prince Nimlot, I can confirm my daughter’s heart is not available. She is—“ His wife, Freni kicks him under the table. They cannot reveal Yasmin’s true identity and risk drawing her ex-husband, Sultan Walad, and current husband, Prince Ahmed, here to claim their children, their mother, or both. The only reason Walad and Ahmed haven’t killed each other yet is they know their chances of finding Yasmin are better if they’re both alive to search.

Prince Nimlot replies, “Hearts sometimes change. I will make your daughter’s acquaintance if she will allow it. If she is half the noble heart I hear she is, half the beauty, I will lay myself and my kingdom at her feet. I will allow her dominion over herself and her children to live and worship as she likes, to come and go as she likes, even to leave me if I displease her and retain all my gifts of land and treasure. If she is who I think she is, her happiness alone is my desire.” Ara takes note of this unprecedented offer. He has never heard a royal prince say such a thing. That men should have dominion over their wives in some respect, greater or lesser, was understood. Nimlot is offering Yasmin complete freedom.

In the corner, Tiye whispers to one of the Hathor priestesses, who will report all this to the woman Nimlot really loves—Keket, a dark-eyed Egyptian of noble birth, who fully agrees with the farce Nimlot is perpetrating. If he can kidnap Yasmin’s children and return them to their fathers, their kindgom will be safe from the Arab conquest. To do that, he must lure Yasmin to his palace.

In her bedchamber, Yasmin asks me. “Which of this group do you prefer, author?” I sniff my arms and hands. The answer is easy: Le Parfum de Thérèse.
Last edited by ScentFan on 11.07.2015, 19:23; edited 1 time in total
8 years ago

From her balcony, Yasmin watches Prince Nimlot on his barge. For three months he has stayed there, patiently waiting for an audience. His servants come and go to replenish the barge’s provisions, but Nimlot himself has not stepped foot ashore to avoid offense with his presence on her land. Her protector, the Meroe king, hearing of Nimlot’s barge, has sent reinforcements just in case.

Her father, Ara, enters. “Dear daughter, once again I urge you to relent. It cannot hurt to simply meet this prince. Since you vow never to return home, you are effectively unmarried. Surely Ahmed will have divorced you by now for your abandonment.”

“Repeat, again, what Prince Nimlot promises?” she says. Ara replies, “Great gifts to keep even if you divorce, complete freedom for yourself and your children.”

Yasmin turns to Ara. “Why would he offer such terms when he could have a hundred royal brides for less?” Ara touches her cheek. “Perhaps he believes what he has heard of you.”

They see one of the Hathor princesses leave the barge and approach the castle. She carries a tray with a glittering vial. Soon Tiye enters with the tray and the vial.

“What is it?” Yasmin asks. Diba, Yasmin’s longtime companion, rushes in behind Tiye. Knowing her mistress as she does, she is alarmed at the arrival of a special perfume. “Before you sniff it,” Diba says, “remember how vulnerable you are to fragrance. Because of it you married Sultan Walad.” Yasmin is insulted. “How can you know me so little, Diba? It was not the perfume, but his offer of my horse to flee from him should I choose.”

Yasmin smells the perfume and for long moments is lost in it, her eyes closed. “What is it called?” she asks Tiye, who replies, “Roja, also referred to as Haute Lux by Roja Dove.” It is a chypre and an oriental.

Yasmin leaves her balcony and walks about her room, spilling the vial’s contents on her neck and hands and arms then sniffing, sniffing in an ecstasy so apparent, Tiye becomes hopeful and Diba deeply afraid. Diba races out and brings in the children—Dori three months old and Adur, toddling. Yasmin flies to them. “Oh, my darlings,” she says. “I must leave you for awhile. Forgive me. I am lost.”

Yasmin tells Tiye to order her horse saddled. She tells Diba to return the children to their nurse then help her don her finest cloak. In no time, Yasmin is astride her white Arabian, Diba clinging to her stirrups. “Mistress, do not so easily lose your heart,” Diba begs. The horse rises from Diba’s grip at Yasmin’s command. “My heart is intact, but I will meet the man who sends me this magical scent.” To Fizur she says, “Guard my children with your life.” When he nods, she spurs her horse between her castle’s rows of palm trees toward the Nile and Nimlot’s barge.

On the barge, Prince Nimlot rises at the sound of an approaching horse. He sees an unexpected vision—woman and animal riding toward him in an extremity of charm and grace.

To be continued for sure ...
8 years ago
Yasmin stops short of Prince Nimlot’s barge and dismounts her Arabian then stands, holding the reigns. She will go no farther, magical perfume or not. Nimlot regards her as a Nile breeze stirs her cloak and wafts her hair. Now he understands why a Persian prince and an Arab sultan vied for her. Yasmin is woman in a more arresting form than he has ever seen. Her intense presence radiates from hynotic eyes and a captivating body. He reminds himself that he is in love with Keket, a dark-eyed Egyptian of high birth, who so resembles the ancient Queen Tiye that many think the queen’s soul has returned in her.

Queen Tiye, wife of the Pharoah Amenhotep III, mother of King Akhenaten.

It is not possible to fall in love with a foreign queen who has stolen two royal children. Nimlot is here for one purpose. To return her children to their fathers and in exchange protect his land from Arab incursions.

For three months Queen Yasmin has resisted him and now imperiously refuses to come to him. Yet, without yielding, she places herself within his grasp. As he steps off the barge a servant scurries behind him with a sun shade. Nimlot waves him off. He will not convey pampered weakness in response to her boldness.

Yasmin shows no emotion as Prince Nimlot approaches—bare chested, gold bracelets around his ankles and muscled arms, a jeweled collar at his strong neck, a nearly transparent pleated linen skirt not hiding muscled thighs, a glint of curiosity softening the command in his black-lined eyes.

There are no bows from either of them when he reaches her. He simply offers the Egyptian greeting, spoken to a woman, “Aw ibetj” and extends his hand. She replies with the greeting spoken to a man, “Aw ibek,” places her palm in his and lets Nimlot lead her to his barge. They recline on devans. No words are exchanged. His three-month siege of her Nile port speaks for itself. Nimlot claps his hands and a tray of perfumes appears. One by one, they are offered to Yasmin.


“I see you have culled the non-chypres, author,” she whispers to me. I point out this one has everything but labdanum. “Without resin, this intoxicates less than the others though I do enjoy the oakmoss, enhanced by patchouli/vetiver, the faux oakmoss. The heart florals are well done, as are the woods, and bitter orange lends distinction, but I could live without this pleasant fragrance.”
L'Arte di Gucci

Yasmin whispers, “No one can live without this animalic star. Once again, labdanum is missing but orris root takes its place. Again, I detect bergamot, oakmoss and patchouli/vetiver but this is also a near oriental, a bevy of florals, including jasmine, in the heart. Amber, musk and leather empower the base. This is Chypre de Coty’s first cousin and she’s a mesmerizing celebrity, galavanting in all the best clubs.” Yasmin looks insulted when I point out there are no clubs in ancient Nubia. “Details, details,” she says. Though this is a love, I point out its longevity can’t compare to Chypre de Coty’s.


“Is there even a need to sniff this? Many times Mitsouko has already entranced me,” she says to Nimlot. The original is one of handful that could define perfume itself.” Nimlot looks chagrined to have offered something so well known. “It speaks to your taste,” she says and to me she whispers, “One day, author, we should do a sniff fest of the greats in perfume, regardless of genre.” Great by what definition, I ask. She replies, “Ours, of course.” In that case, I agree but I warn that to do such a project justice, we must engage in a great deal more sniffing. “You speak as if this is a problem,” she says and winks. Back to Mitsuoko. Take Chypre de Coty, add peach, lilac and ylang ylang, replace the civet with ambergris and remove the labdanum. We are no longer in the land of Chypre de Coty’s hypnotic, languid, animalic, mossy bliss. We are beneath an oak tree in a a fragrant meadow, possibly the best meadow ever. It’s pointless to compare them, like trying to choose between stars and moons. Which do I prefer? Both, of course.


Why continue, I ask myself, when I can just sniff these two grand dames all day. Oh, yes, I can’t leave Yasmin alone on Nimlot’s barge. About this one she says, “Again, no labdanum. Perhaps later perfumers left it out because it made their perfumes smell too much like Chypre de Coty.” I think smelling like that isn’t a bad thing. “Replace animalics with melon, use orris root and add carnation, cedar and frankincense and Mitsouko becomes Halston. It is agreeable enough and feels a bit more modern.” I note Yasmin returns to sniffing Mitouko and Cypre de Coty on the backs of her hands.

Jean-Louis Scherrer
Jean-Louis Scherrer

“Now this was worth the effort because of the addition of Sicilian tangerine and galbanum. Again there’s no labdanum but the oakmoss and patchouli/vetiver are moved in a new and fresher direction. With its classic floral heart, this is a beauty.” I agree.

La Prairie
Life Threads Platinum

“It may be the last for now, but this perfume potently returns us to the classic chypre accord, save for bergamot which is no big loss since galbanum, plum and violet stand in for it so well.” Sweetly fragrant cardamon is added to the classical jasmine-rose-iris floral heart. Amber is in the base which is otherwise pure chypre: oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli/vetiver. When I sampled this I fell so in love I had to hunt a bottle down. Apparently, beautiful Life Threads Platinum is discontinued.

When they are done, Nimlot says, “I will have you and your household make an extended visit to my palaces.” Yasmin replies, “I cannot leave my children long.” She stands and he rises, saying, “Bring them, of course. I will send a larger barge for all of you.”

Yasmin has already thought things through. Visit him by barge and she is without horse or camel. Go by land and she has her own guard. Go at all and the Meroe King cannot protect her, if need be, because she will be in Egypt. Her only safety is here in Nubia, not with an unknown Egyptian prince, however charming.

Prince Nimlot, who has never been rebuffed or disobeyed, watches as she rises, gets off the barge and mounts her horse. Regarding him with mocking eyes she says, “I will have you make an extended visit at my castle, if it pleases you.” Furious, Nimlot does not speak. “By the way,” she adds,”these were all beauties but my favorite is Mitsuoko then Life Threads Platinum.”

To be continued ...
8 years ago
Far away in Walad’s sultanate, his mother the Valide Sultan reads a message sent by Prince Nimlot. It says Yasmin has given birth to Prince Ahmed’s child. Nimlot’s barge is docked at Yasmin’s Nile castle. Yasmin will not allow him a visit. He cannot take her children by force without inciting war with her protector, the Meroe King.

The Valide Sultan returns the scroll to the messenger in disgust. Can’t anyone do anything anymore? When Yasmin left, Walad and Ahmed rushed about searching for her, but the Valide Sultan sent couriers along the caravan routes. Had anyone seen a caravan with a white Arabian horse? Eventually, someone had, then another, which is how she found Yasmin in Nubia. Walad and Ahmed can’t be told yet. They might resume their fight over Adur, Walad’s son, until one of them is dead. Though Walad has long since taken a second wife—the hellish Havva, Ahmed’s sister (how the Valide Sultan would love to feed her and her nasty temper to the crocodiles). Though Ahmed might soften at the knowledge he has his own child now, she can’t let them go after Yasmin and start a war with the Meroe King. With Nubia’s great archers, victory isn’t assured. The children must be brought here, but Prince Nimlot is taking too long. The Valide Sultan yearns for her grandson, his infant laughter, his toddling tumbles into her arms. Such priceless rewards of old age will soon be lost to her forever. She summons the nurse and the warrior she has bribed, commands them to form a caravan and travel to Yasmin’s castle where, seeking shelter, they are to kidnap the royal children by stealth. However, to avoid inevitable pursuit, they should swiftly take the children to Nimlot’s palace and deliver them to Keket, Nimlot’s beloved, who knows about Nimlot’s plan. A Nubian army will not pursue them into Egypt. From there, Walad and Ahmed can safely reclaim their heirs. As for Yasmin, in the Valide Sultan's opinion, crocodiles are too good for her. She ought to be buried in sand up to her neck for kidnapping a person's grandson.

Four months later, at Yasmin’s castle, Prince Nimlot stands at a balcony waiting to attend yet another sniff fest. He notes a caravan entering the stables, offered food and shelter for a time as is the custom. He takes a devan beside Yasmin who, though enchanting, has not allowed him to so much as shake her hand. Obviously she desires him, but she will not succumb. In other circumstances, he would have seduced her long ago. Yet he can’t abandon this courtship and leave his lands open to the growing Arab attacks.

Naomi Goodsir
Bois d'Ascèse

Yadayadayada, Nimlot thinks in ancient Egyptian. Most perfumes are good. What’s to be said of this one? Nothing, apparently, because Yasmin sniffs it and practically goes unconscious, incapable of speech. I, the author, must again step in. This is an irresistible boozy chypre-incense creation. Top notes of tobacco and whiskey, a heart of amber, labdanum and cinnamon and a to-die-for base of oakmoss, cedar and frankincense. Its smells like the parlor of the best mens club ever. Hubby wore this at our wedding redo and I’m still in love with the scent (also him). Yasmin comes to her senses and gasps.

Nimlot decides to press his pursuit. “Leave us,” he orders Diba, Tiye and Freni, Yasmin’s mother. The room goes silent in shock. He cannot give them orders. The women do not move. Yasmin rises. “I am mistress here. You are my guest. Yet I am glad your true nature is revealed. You have no intention of allowing me freedom.” Nimlot goes to her. “I will try. What I promise is to allow you bliss.” They stare at each other. In the silence, Diba, Tiye and Freni get up and leave. Yasmin says, “I seek freedom.” Nimlot asks, “Only that?” Yasmin replies, “I seek a blissful love that soars.” He caresses her cheek then possessively grasps her face and kisses her. Yasmin, who at first seems to drink in his kiss, steps away. “I do not seek a third royal husband.” She blinks. She has given her secret away. Prince Nimlot grins. “Then I will not marry you.” Yasmin laughs. Together they return to the devans.

I point out there is still sniffing to do, but apparently I’ll have to continue alone because a sheer linen garment just fell to the floor. Now Yasmin is wearing Roja Dove’s splendid chypre, Roja (Haute Lux)—which could seduce anyone—and, scandalously, nothing else. I avert my eyes and take the perfumes elsewhere, hoping Nimlot is the true love for which Yasmin yearns.

Oriza L. Legrand
Chypre Mousse (2013)

This chypre’s strong minty/herbal notes detract from the beauty for me. Mint, sage and fennel in the top; galbanum and fern in the heart; pine needle, vetiver and balsam in the base make it smell a bit like a household cleanser. The chypre accord is lost in the background.

Ormonde Jayne

Not a chypre, but a well-done citrus top with an exotic and bright floral heart and a woody, musky, mossy base with vetiver. It’s an appealing spring/summer fragrance, a beauty good for business wear.

Paco Rabanne

With only oakmoss it’s not a chypre, but it’s stunning, nevertheless. It’s a greenish floral with a wonderful base of two animalics, sandalwood and vetiver in addition to oakmoss. Aldehydes amp the volume. I wore it a lot in the business world because it’s gorgeous without being overly sweet, lasts and has volume, but not so much it would clear a meeting room.

Parfums MDCI
Chypre Palatin

Wow, haven’t smelled this in a while. A complex and tremendously inviting top note, including labdanum, opens this quality male fragrance, add a heart of florals plus plum and a complicated base and the overall effect is striking at first. For me, not as much as Bois d’Ascèse after a while, which is alluring in its clarity. Here, the many unusual notes blend in the drydown to create a less distinct though not unpleasant medley.

Robert Piguet

Instantly it’s a heck of a scent which briefly wafts up an unpleasant animalic, but the civet swiftly settles in and helps make Bandit a wonder in its stank. Again, with no labdanum it’s not strictly a chypre though oakmoss and patchouli/vetiver make their presence known. Tarragon and Galbanum go a long way toward balancing the sweetness of the several florals and the quite masculine base does the rest. It’s less a jumble than Chypre Palatin, but still not as striking to me as Bois d’Ascèse.

Except for the Oriza Legrand, IMO, these are beauties, all. It’s just a matter of personal preference. Metal and Bois d’Ascèse are my faves here.

That night, as Yasmin lies in Prince Nimlot’s arms, he wonders how he will ever do without this strange queen in his life. How can he break her heart by abducting her children? How can he hurt her in any way, now that he loves her? “Why do you lie still with your eyes closed when I make love to you,” he asks? Yasmin shrugs because she doesn’t really know how to reply, but she wonders if in her heart she is reenacting Prince Ahmed’s seduction of her in the Valide Sultan’s quest for an heir to Walad’s kingdom—that terrible/wonderful night long ago (told in Sniff Fest: Orientals). She kisses Nimlot, whom she finally couldn't resist—content to be his lover, not his wife. All she has to do is eat wild carrot seeds daily to avoid conceiving his child.
8 years ago
Screams awaken the castle household. It is Diba, Yasmin’s companion, Tiye the maid, and the nurse. Though she is still in bed, they fly into Yasmin’s room. Yasmin gathers sheets around her, as does Nimlot. “How dare you!” Nimlot thunders. “What is it?” Yasmin demands. “The children! The children!” Yasmin flies from bed and dons a robe. “What about them?” Diba sobs. “They are gone!” Nimlot slides into his clothes beneath the sheet. If he didn’t take them, who did? Shrieking, Yasmin runs into the hall to the children’s nursery. Their beds are empty. She turns to the nurse and slaps her. “Where were you last night? Why weren’t you watching them?” In tears the nurse confesses she was having a rendezvous with a handsome man who arrived with the caravan yesterday. Nimlot rushes down to the stables, Yasmin behind him. The caravan is gone. Fizur, head of her guard, and Ara, her father, have already heard the commotion and roused Yasmin’s army as well as the warriors sent by the Meroe King. “I will find them,” Fizur says. He breaks the men into three groups to follow three sets of tracks from the castle.

Yasmin sobs in Prince Nimlot’s arms. “The gods punish me for lying with you!” Nimlot, who has never feared gods, only humans, goes to Ara and Fizur and says, “I will take her to my palace then help you find her children. If you locate them first, bring them there.”

That’s how Yasmin, her mother Freni, Diba and Tiye came to be on a barge floating up the Nile and sniffing perfumes.

Roja Parfums

Given the beauty of Haute Lux, Yasmin expects a lot of the Roja Dove chypres. This one is a true chypre per the notes, enhanced by the patchouli/vetiver combo in the base in addition to labdanum and oakmoss. It is a lesser glory than Haute Lux, though (the name on that one’s bottle is Roja). While being thoroughly competent and quite pleasant, Enslaved doesn’t close Yasmin’s eyes or mine. The base notes ought to rock, but they merely competently support the not-quite-stunning heart florals and the citrus top. In sum, Enslaved is merely reasonably well done; it doesn’t have a chance to passionately enslave anyone until much later in the drydown when it’s a skin scent.


Mischief is more interesting. It also has a citrus top and a mostly floral heart with the addition of peach. With galbanum standing in for labdanum, clove and violet leaf added, the animalic/woody/vanilla base is more effective. Unlike Enslaved, this fragrance projects and is a fresh and beautiful joy to smell.

Nüwa (2013)

This is an instant wow, muskily captivating notes blasting up through the citrus top and the atypical floral heart to invade the nose, inducing moans. Another true chypre, it’s a fragrance that reminds me of Serge Lutens’ hypnotic Rose de Nuit a bit. Though there’s no leather listed, I smell it and cumin, osthmanthus. Yasmin asks to sniff osthmanthus from my perfumery notes kit—ah, yes, it’s a bright and fragrant floral halfway between apricot and peach, if perhaps more powerful. Also immortelle, the everlasting flower (wait, wonder if that would work on a face?), lends its danker sweetness to the mix. Spices (black pepper, clove, cumin) dominate the strong base. This fragrance is named after a goddess in Chinese mythology who in a time of chaos melted five colored stones (representing wood, fire, earth, metal and water) to mend the broken sky. Nüwa smells like things might have on such a day. I find it earthy and hypnotic, if a bit on the curried side.


This fragrance is sweeter than the other chypre Roja Doves. It has a more standard floral heart and a just lovely base that keeps my nose on my arm, sniffing. Not just oakmoss and labdanum here and patchouli/vetiver, but unnamed spice, resins and green notes, ambergris, iris, woods and vanilla. It’s a feminine perfume, saved from being cloying by a brilliant base. Aldehydes in the top are probably what make me stop sniffing after a while, though.

Serge Lutens
Chypre rouge

I tell Yasmin I tested this in a recent Serge Lutens sniff fest and I'll just post what I said there as a review.

Yasmin asks which is my favorite of this group. I say Mischief, I think. It would be Nüwa were there less cumin in the base.

Since, by now, the children must have been taken, the Valide Sultan decides to alert her son, Walad, and Prince Ahmed of what is going on. She meets with them in the castle throne room, armed guards lining the room to avert any clashes between these two stubborn men. She tells Prince Ahmed that Yasmin has given birth. He has an heir, a daughter, Dori. Will he now give up his claim on Adur, Walad’s son? “Where is my daughter?” Ahmed demands. “She has just been taken from your wife, Yasmin, and placed where you can retrieve her.” Prince Ahmed scowls. “I do not have a wife!” The Valide Sultan sighs. “If you had not claimed Walad’s son—“ Ahmed shouts an interruption, “MY son by Sassanian law!” Walad rushes forward to possibly strangle Ahmed, but the Valide Sultan swiftly trips her son, who sprawls on the floor. “Stop it!” she cries. “Unless you two vow to stop this war of yours, I will not tell you where the children are.” Walad faces his mother. “Don’t dare threaten me. You and you alone are the cause of all of this trouble. Without your interference, Ahmed could have made no claim on my son! By drugging me and Yasmin, you not only undid my wife that night, but my child and my life! “ Perfectly true, but the Valid Sultan doesn’t cringe. Instead she says, "I thought you were sterile. The kingdom needed an heir. Nevertheless, it is done. If you to want to know where your children are, vow to your gods to cease this fight between you.” With no other choice, they vow. “You have divorced Yasmin?” Walad asks as they set out together side-by-side for Egypt and Nimlot’s kingdom, their armies following. “Of course,” Ahmed replies. “I had to divorce her when she ran away or appear weak to my people.” Walad asks Ahmed. “You loved her, though, when you seduced her that night at my mother's request?” Ahmed nods. Walad replies, “I forgive you. I loved her, too.” Reconciled at last, Prince Ahmed and Sultan Walad agree to press their men and reduce the four month trek to Egypt. They’ll try for three months, two and a half if they can.

To be continued …
8 years ago
There is a category in the Edwards Fragrance wheel called Mossy Woods defined as oakmoss, amber and woods. Edwards says perfumers call them chypres. He puts Coty de Chypre in this category though no amber is listed among its notes. However, Luca Turin in the A-Z defines chypre as bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss. He allows the chypres to be “as complex as a fragrance can be without losing the plot.” Based on the experiment previously described—dabbing bergamot, labdanum and oakmoss essential oils and absolute on the same spot on my hand—I agree.

However, just to be sure, Yasmin and I decide to create the base accord called Mossy Woods by Edwards. It replaces labdanum with amber. I dab a true amber (oil of fossilized resin) and oakmoss absolute on my hand then slather on bergamot. Yasmin and I takes turn sniffing the scent. It’s quite beautiful, but does not have the intoxication labdanum adds. Yasmin is not practically jerking my hand off smelling this like she did when we tested the chypre accord. I’m in no danger of sniffing myself unconscious. It’s very very nice, but not sheer magic like a true chyre.

During the sniffs, it was easy to detect the difference between a true chypre perfume and a Mossy Wood, as the fragrance wheel calls perfumes with amber instead of labdanum. I dab on a little patchouli and the scent improves. Dab on a little vetiver to create the faux oakmoss note (patchouli/vetiver) and the accord approaches the grand smell of a genuine chypre (bergamot-labdanum-oakmoss). Still it falls short of narcotic.


The barge carrying Yasmin and her retinue arrive at Nimlot’s palace complex which, 1500 years later may have looked like this.

Nice, but being first a Persian princess then a sultana, Yasmin’s not all that impressed. She thinks only of her children as Nimlot has a sedan chair carry her from the barge into a building’s great main hall. Nimlot asks her to join him there for dinner. Meanwhile he will seek news of her children.

Yasmin, her parents and companions are guided to a suite of rooms. Yasmin notes guards at every juncture, every door. No free coming and going here. She orders the perfumes be taken to her own room where the final sniffs will occur. Meanwhile, she scans the landscape from her balcony. Where is Fizur, head of her guard? Did he find her children in his trek along the Nile? He should have reached Nimlot’s palace before the slower barge and already be here.

“My queen,” a servant says to Yasmin. Turning, she sees a dark beauty enter. Yasmin assumes she’s of high rank since the guards didn’t stop her, or can everyone just walk in when they please here? Yasmin goes to greet her. “I am Keket,” the woman says then bows to Yasmin, making clear her lower status. She rises then Yasmin and Keket stare at each other with that sixth sense of women who intimately know the same man. “I see why he loves you,” Keket says. “And he loves you as well?” Yasmin asks to gauge Keket’s reaction, which consists of fleeting surprise and hurt. “No, Queen Yasmin, he does not love me,” Keket says. Suddenly, Nimlot is in the room and thunders,”Why are you here, Keket? Leave at once!” Startled, Keket retreats, but not fully. She lingers out of sight and witnesses an ardent kiss, a fervent embrace and Nimlot’s eyes gazing on Yasmin’s as if therein lay all the treasures of this world. Forgetting the plan to keep their kingdom safe, Eket thinks of murdering Yasmin’s children or at least never returning them to the arms and the breast for which Nimlot has betrayed her.

Unable to find Adur and Dori, the royal children, Fizur has stopped his small army at a dessert wayside. He is unwilling to give up or report his failure to Queen Yasmin. On the horizon he sees a great caravan approach, also full of armed men. Fizur and his men depart the wayside and hide just over a dune. In time he can’t believe his eyes. Sultan Walad and Prince Ahmed? Together? Reconciled? They must have joined forces to locate their children. It takes Fizur only a second to realize he must seek their aid or Adur and Dori could be lost forever. Sultan Walad greets Fizur happily. Fizur was once his personal guard. When Fizur reveals what has transpired, Prince Ahmed insists they first go to Prince Nimlot’s castle. Whatever clues exist must be there. Walad agrees. Fizur leads the way, worried now about what will befall his mistress, Yasmin, who has betrayed both men, kept things from the one she’s with, and who no longer has Nubia’s protection because she hid the truth of her past from the Meroe King. In this collision of powerful interests, Fizur must decide where his loyalty lies. Is it with Walad whom he has guarded all these years, but who turned his back on his innocent wife? Is it with Yasmin, who raised his wife Diba from slavery and whom he has never seen do an unkind thing?—unwise, perhaps, but not unkind. It is certainly not with Prince Ahmed who drugged then defiled Yasmin and by refusing to give Walad his son, caused all this misery. Nor is it with Nimlot whom he barely knows. When these three princes come together, Yasmin could easily lose all — her children, even her life given the passions that will stir. Fizur thinks of Diba, his own wife, and their child and the riches he has bestowed on them because of Yasmin’s generosity. The decision is easy. He will give his own life if need be for Yasmin, his Sultana. Barring cruel fate, that’s who she would have remained.

At the palace, Nimlot finally exits Yasmin’s rooms, having lingered, lying with her, bathing with her, because of a terrible foreboding. Is this the last time he will hold her, know the ecstasy that awaits with her?

The stars twinkling outside her balcony, Yasmin sniffs the perfumes. She marvels at the joy she feels in them and in herself. On the barge she kept forgetting to take her wild carrot seeds. Surely she is now pregnant with Nimlot’s child. It is a state her body enjoys—life conceived in passion growing within her. She thinks of Walad and Ahmed and the bliss she knew with them. Can it be wrong to have truly loved them all? Hoping I’m not reading her mind, silently she savors her sweet sins and yearns for her missing children.

"I know my favorites, author,” she tells me. “Feel free to comment if you don’t agree.” I say I will post them tomorrow. Since I don't want her to worry all night, I do not mention I have no idea how I’m ever going to get her out of this.

To be continued …
Last edited by ScentFan on 31.07.2015, 00:50; edited 2 times in total
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