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Chypre-Siam – Unhindered fragrant art, perfume as it should be


I’ve discovered another gem – a small California company by the name of Rogue Perfumery. The owner and in-house nose is Manuel Cross, a former professional chef whose love of scents inspired him to seriously study perfumery for the past ten years so he could understand the science and art behind his intense fascination with vintage florals. One thing led to another, and he became a perfumer…

“I began composing fragrances as a push-back to the systematic destruction of the classics. Between IFRA recommendations and EU regulations entire genres of classic fragrances are being either discontinued or completely reformulated.”

Manuel creates what he calls “unhindered fragrance art…non-commercial, non contemporary fragrances.” In other words, honest-to-god authentic perfumes made from high quality traditional materials in small batches, bottled by hand – complex, deep, full-bodied perfumes that blow my socks off.   

I bought two of his fragrances, Chypre Siam, a chypre, and Jasmin Antique, a solifore. I’ll leave Jasmin Antique for another day since I have zero resistance to the siren call of a chypre, and have fallen in love with Chypre Siam. My Holy Grail is, after all, Mitsouko by Guerlain, one of the original chypre perfumes that followed the Big Mother of modern chypres, Coty Chypre. 

Manuel describes his creative process… 

“The idea for this fragrance came to me after sampling Coty’s original Chypre back in 2012. I was already a fan of the genre, but Coty’s original was THE epitome; I could smell the framework of so many of my favorite fragrances that were slowly disappearing from production. 

I was in my garden picking kaffir lime leaves for a curry my wife and I were preparing for dinner, and their bright fragrance instantly reminded me of the Chypre de Coty sample from days prior. I smelled the leaves again and realized that I was also catching whiffs of the jasmine blossoms on the other side of the yard! That was the moment; I thought how novel it would be to recreate, not the original Chypre, but rather the experience of the original using Southeast Asian materials (namely kaffir lime, holy basil and lemongrass -jasmine, ylang etc, of course, have already been mainstays of the perfumers palette).

Chypre-Siam took five years to complete. I’ve created a beautiful jasmine base that utilizes an even lovelier jasmine absolute, which helps meld the civet notes seamlessly into the benzoin base. What you get in the end is a “chypre experience” moreso than just of a list of notes. I wanted this fragrance to be able to briefly transport one back 90+ years.”

On my wrists, the tartness of green lime and the anisic green basil are delicious, an unexpected attack of green, hinting of soap in the first moments, devoid of any sweet, just shimmering greenness. And then the distinct musty earth-green notes of oakmoss, real oakmoss, thickens as the opening accord changes into a damp woodsy greenness that flickers with licks of leather and animalic civet, inspiring images of other worlds.

When jasmine and ylang drop onto the moss, their natural white floral waft is at first fresh, then gentle and sultry-sweet as Chypre-Siam dries down and the heart deepens into the base. The resins, sandalwood and benzoin rise in the background, creamy, powdery, enveloping the florals and green moss accord, and Chypre-Siam becomes warm deep and very rich, saturated with deliciously earthy and animalic scents. The scent settles on my skin, silky and ultra smooth, purring like a sleek contented cat for hours and hours.

The classic chypre formula is citrus, oak moss and labdanum resin, usually with florals in the heart, and an animalic in the base. Simple. The best chypres have a deeply complex formula which is what elevates them to works of art and which give them a timeless quality, an abstract power far beyond their individual notes, inspiring deep wordless emotion. Wearing a chypre fragrance is like wearing art - the chypre experience.

Chypre-Siam is a beautiful chypre, and an absolutely beautiful perfume. Manuel Cross, without a shadow of a doubt, has created an authentic “chypre experience”, allowing perfume lovers in 2020 to travel back in time to 1920 (in countries not governed by IFRA regulations) to enjoy pure unfettered olfactory art.  Joy! 

As I said, I’ve discovered a gem. Manuel Cross. Rogue Perfumery. 

Chypre-Siam is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Chypre-Siam 30 ml.