You can’t have been a thrift store junkie as long as I have without honing your eye for beauty and solid craftsmanship. The problem with a lust for 1930s crystal cocktail glasses with their fine, imperfectly etched bowls, for example, or the ability to suss out vintage alpaca or 1940s rayon by touch alone, is that I end up toting home too many gorgeous things I’ll never use. That butter-soft tweed Brooks Brothers overcoat? It went to a friend’s husband whose girth supported it. The chocolate brown Manolos two sizes too small? Seven dollars later, an intern in my office was wearing them. Let’s not even get started on geometric mid-century lamps, Murano glass ashtrays, and mouton jackets. I crave these items for their quality and style, but they don’t always fit into my life.
That’s how I feel about Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin. I love everything about it and long for a bottle, but it was made for someone else. However, if Chypre Palatin suits you, you are in for a real treat.
Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour developed Chypre Palatin, and Parfums MDCI classifies it as a “green oriental chypre.” Chypre Palatin’s notes include hyacinth, clementine, aldehydes, cistus essence, galbanum, thyme, lavender, rose, jasmine, iris concrète, prune, gardenia, benzoin, styrax, leather, vanilla, tolu, castoreum, costus, oakmoss and immortelle.
The result is a fragrance with the structure and delicacy of an 18th century French table. I’ve been wearing Chypre Palatin all week, and every day the fragrance reveals something new.
At first I was fascinated with its floral-lavender aspects. It smells masculine but not macho. It references the lavender-accented fougère, but leaves off its tart and sometimes obnoxiously bracing side. If you see the “green” and “chypre” part of Chypre Palatin’s description and assume it will smell like Chanel Cristalle or Yves Saint Laurent Y, wipe that from your mind right away. Chypre Palatin is much more languid, sweet, and earthy than either of those.
Then, I saw Chypre Palatin as a sort of older brother to L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’Aube. The brother, a dandy, is more sophisticated and a tad more reserved, but these fragrances are linked by green, lavender, amber, and a carnal earthiness. Where Séville à l’Aube turns orange blossom sweet, Chypre Palatin breathes a spice that smells to me like cardamom, although it might be a trick of the fragrance. Where Séville à l’Aube paints a fantasy full of putti and groaning vases of flowers, Chypre Palatin reins its vision to the dressing room, valet firmly at hand. Still, Chypre Palatin and Séville à l’Aube complement each other.
Day three or so I pondered how Chypre Palatin could be so intricate, yet so robust. The fragrance smells like a complex tapestry weaving clementine and amber and lavender and the clean-dirty scent of costus in an engrossing pattern edged with dry, subtle flowers. It leaves me thinking, Hmm, little did I know how beautiful lavender-grey and pale orange are together, especially when woven into griffins and gerbera daisies. But like a tapestry, despite the intricate pattern, Chypre Palatin’s fabric is remarkably durable. The fragrance lasts all day on me and eventually smooths into a spicy-mossy amber, but it never really changes character.
Last, I recognized Chypre Palatin as Duchaufour’s work. A whisper of incense curls around Chypre Palatin’s dry down, imprinting a modern touch on a perfume constructed for another age.
Ultimately, Chypre Palatin seduced me with its beauty and craftsmanship, but like a Versailles-era oil painting, it isn’t quite “me.” If my budget didn’t limit me, I’d order a bottle in a second to sniff when I wanted reminding of the skill and imagination of a gifted perfumer. This is the sort of fragrance that rewards the nose you’ve developed through all the years you’ve sniffed through piles of samples. It also rewards a mind open to beauty that melds tradition and modern sensibility.
Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin Eau de Parfum can be found in 60 ml Eau de Parfum for $250. The bust edition is $375. For information on where to buy Chypre Palatin, see Parfums MDCI under Perfume Houses.