It takes a lot to excite me. Chalk that up to New York jadedness or whatnot. In a world of perfume junkies (bless their hearts) who constantly talk up the next new “masterpiece” and who throw the word “lemming” around with such abandon as to give the animal-rights folks a fright, it takes a real shiver-me-timbers scent to make an outstanding impression.
It was, then, with a great sense of fear and loathing that I ordered some samples of the super-exclusive line of “vintage-ey” extraits de parfums from Auguste, an unknown French perfumer who purports to have used les anciennes grimoires to concoct a chypre, an oriental, and a cuir de Russie. Grimoire, I love it. (Cut to a gallic Gargamel in front of some bubbling Turk’s head.)
What does it mean, this chic for vintage? Is it a cry for an authenticity (of the emotional sort) so lacking in the development of today’s perfumes? I dare say it isn’t some rummage-sale sort of mentality. Face it, people want designer clothing; they want labels, names if you may, not quaintness; but they want authenticity in the foods they prepare and the scents they wear.
Auguste, despite the sanctimoniousness of its venture (its almost audible straining at Preservation), has done something very, very right in the genre of the vintage chypre. Esprit de Chypre is like a miniature stumbled upon in some provincial museum. It communicates the chypre concept in an appealing and very wearable way. It isn’t an academic exercise, a caprice of the genius-mind gone amok. From the start, with its sucker-punch of lemon, bergamot, through the floral heart (lovely ylang ylang), down to the leathery labdanum and oakmoss (yes, oakmoss) base, Esprit de Chypre is a Twenties flapper who wants to get behind the wheel and drive straight through the night to Vienne. Lovers of vintage Tabac Blond, Sycomore and En Avion, not to mention the cut of an old Chanel original, will swoon over this. It’s like smelling back into time while perched (firmly) on the precipice of the future.
Ahem, lemmings, if you buy one thing this year, let it be this. Who knows how long it will be around for. Such a pity, then, they didn’t get the bottle quite right.