Queen of Chypre

Don’t forget to visit  Olfactarama today for more interesting conversation with Brian Pera and Andy Tauer on their film/perfume collaboration!



It’s that weirdly wonderful downswing – again.  Fog in the mornings, bright sunny days…..rainy evenings.  In my City Life I noted the shift in seasons by fashion – the newest boot, the fabbo little jacket…  out here in the country you can gauge the shift to autumn by a slightly different set of parameters:  harvest is  real and present  here, bringing dust, flying beetles and massive allergies.  Then there’s the beauty –  watching the Big Dipper as it begins its winter slide away from us….hummingbirds by the dozens, fighting at the feeders as they bulk up for their long flight south….   and the melancholy: clearing the vegetable gardens for fall plantings and prepping for winter <sigh>, hearing the last of the crickets.. …canning and freezing the last of the tomatoes and peaches.  Thinking about apples and cinnamon……and a cute new boot.

Perfume is changing, too.   You know my love of the big, smoky flowers in high summer but as the temps drop and the light changes, all I can think of is Chypre.  This is the perfect weather for the perfection of  vintage Coty Chypre,  the bombaliciousness of current Femme (that sweaty, plummy goodness) and the vaunted Mitsouko, both vintage and contemporary (we’re talking pre-reformulation, here, though the current isn’t the worst thing in the world,)…..and there’s a Newish Gal in Town.


Centennial.   Liz Zorn.  I  think of Liz as the modern-day Queen of Chypre –  her nuanced approach to the chypre base runs the gamut from the heavy-plummy/peachy-jammy fabulousosity of Love Speaks Primeval to the quiet-cool Green Oakmoss, she weaves  her chypre base into her scents, beautifully.  And never more so than in Centennial.  This was the Historical Chypre that I confused with Historical Jasmine at the Scentsation (back in the Jurassic Era). Yah.  Because I was a newbie, didn’t know jasmine from peanut butter and figured this glorious thing had to be a ‘flower’.  I thought the Chypre was the one that smelled like buttery poop.

Hey, what did I know?

Historical Chypre is now called Centennial and is part of Liz Zorn’s Retro Collection.    Liz calls it a throwback to the classic early 20th Century floral chypre.  M. Coty would approve.  It’s a beautiful next generation of what  Coty started with his classic Chypre, updated to an almost-skin scent (especially perfect for those of us who don’t like modern, musky skin-scents.  This hints of sex without the skeevocity of  a perfume trying too hard.    I really like this in  its new edp form  – the lighter concentration makes it perfect daywear.  Centennial is not  ‘wow!  what are you wearing?’ .  Rather, it’s a ‘hmmm’ scent that entices the sniffer to get just a tad closer, without all the ‘hey!  over here!!!’ yelly stuff  – I found El O edging nearer, nose in the air like a pointer, with no clear idea how or why he’d draped himself around me  (I’m not that cute anymore, I’m in menopause and I’m a shrike.  He tends to keep his distance these days).  I’ve been wearing it a lot these past couple of days and wearing a lot of it!  Well, not marinating in it – but wearing enough to provide a nice little veil.  It doesn’t shift about a lot – it stays pretty true to itself from first warm, floral/peach spritz to the drydown, which is reminiscent of a ripe, fuzzy peach skin (that sounds vaguely crazy – and fruity-floral scary but it couldn’t be farther from that –  it’s gorgeous).

It’s like wrapping yourself in a lightweight cashmere stole.  Perfect for this time of year.


Notes (from lizzornperfumes.com ) are rose, jasmine and orange blossom, wrapped in a classic chypre veil.   I’m smelling those but also the fuzzy peach skin and oakmoss of a vintage Mitsouko, though a little bit warmer .

What notes call to you, as the days slide into the next season?  What are you shifting out of?

Source:  my bottle.    She’s having a sale, which makes it almost the New Free.  ( shut up 🙂




  1. L’eau de Tarocco by Diptyque was my go to scent this summer and I will think of it fondly during the cold Minnesota winter. I love fall though and was wistful for cool weather scents weeks before summer even began to give up her fight. I seem to be reaching for The Party in Manhattan pretty often this past week or two. I got a small decant of Ruth Mastenbroek EDP that I still haven’t made up my mind about but which I keep spritzing so apparently it’s piqued my interest. Also I ordered another decant of OPUS II by Amouage. I wish I could afford a FB.

    • I would happily chop up an entire village of vicious, bloodthirsty vampires for a FB of Amouage Tribute Attar, so I feel your pain…[-x

      I don’t know this Ruth Mastenbroek – can you give a quick review here?

      xo >-)

      • Sure. A friend in the UK sent me this decant. The notes are, (According to the Ruth Mastenbroek website,)
        Mandarin, bergamot, blackcurrant, pineapple and pink peppercorn sparkle over rose, lily and jasmine, evolving into the richness of patchouli, oakmoss, sandalwood and musk. Apparently Ruth Mastenbroek was nominated as Niche Fragrance 2010 by Fragrance Foundation. She’s an English perfumer.
        I would have thought it would be the pineapple that would trip me up but actually it’s the lily, (Which I have a long history of butting heads with.) It smells, “English” to me, if that makes any sense? There was a point or two that seemed almost aloof but I like the evolution of this scent on my skin. It lasts quite a while and the dry down is warm and lovely and leaves me happily sniffing my wrists.
        Sorry, I don’t think I’m very good at reviews. I count on you all for that. My descriptions tend to be emotional instead of physical.

        • Hon.

          That was lovely. The best reviews ARE emotional! I got a very clear sense of this scent from your description, even though the notes sound jarring. I have similar issues re lily – I love it. LOVE IT! For about 90 seconds. But lily is often coupled with musk and I can’t handle those two elements in the same nostril.

          I like pineapple – it’s one of those ‘fun’ scents that I equate with summer and relaxation. I hate coconut, except when it’s mixed with pineapple in some cheap suntan lotion. 😡

          xo >-)

          • It’s been a nice sniffer but I don’t see myself purchasing it ever.
            BTW I’ve had, “Put the lime in the coconut” stuck in my head all day since reading your reply. @-)

  2. Beautifully written, Musette! Liz Zorn: Must. Check. Out.

    I’m embarrassed to admit I still can’t tell if something’s a chypre or not. “That thing that I like” is just too nebulous.

    In any event; about to retire for a while: Balenciaga Paris and PdN Le Temps d’une Fête. Coming out to play: Idole de Lubin (new, not vintage, but so what), Serge Noire, CdG Avignon, Annayake Tsukimi.

    • Oh, don’t be embarrassed! Personally I think chypre is a bit fugitive – hard to tell exactly what is chypre and what isn’t – and who cares, anyway? If you love it, you love it! I often wonder how current Mitsouko would be/is classified. Vintage? I ‘get’ the chypre. Current? 😕

      I LOVE that Annayake Tsukimi!!!

      xo >-)

  3. Ha, ha – from one shrike to another, Musette, it was too d*mn hot to wear ANYTHING most of the summer here, but I did discover Chanel 28 La Pausa (thanks to Bear, who pointed out that it’s fundamentally a vetiver scent) and Mary Greenwell Plum (thanks to Mals, who I realized had taken to wearing it almost every day, which meant it must be pretty perfect).

    But last week I wore BK Rose Oud three days in a row and Liaisons Dangereuses, which is my archetypal fall scent, after that. “The weirdly wonderful downswing” – you’ve described it so beautifully!

    And I wish the weather would stay just this way for about six months. It’s so pleasant: still green, still plenty of light but not so glaring or so d*mned hot. After that, I’d go for two weeks of pretty fall leaves, one month of pretty snow, and then spring!

    • 28LP is gorgeous! I rediscovered it, along with the Eau du Cologne, during the scorching July days – just beautiful.

      as far as the weather goes, if we had that kind of weather we’d be in Santa Barbara. 😉

      xo >-)

      • Not quite – there’s NO snow in Santa Barbara! Meanwhile, here in northern California I’m still wearing summer scents because the days are still too warm for anything else. But at least the sunlight looks like fall – something about the angle of the sun gives it a beautiful burnished look. Not yet the weather for chypres, but you’ve got me jonesing for a sample of that Liz Zorn.

        • You might as well buy the bottle. It’s so cheap right now ($18) that it’s almost free!

          And you can tell I totally blanked on the ‘snow’ part, can’t you! ;)) If I never saw snow again, I think it would be just fiiiiiine with this ol’ >-) If I really missed it, I could fly to Tahoe.

          xo >-)

  4. It’s still too warm in Baltimore for the vast majority of my (oriental-dominated) collection. I’m finding Si Lolita de Lolita Lempicka to be a good transition scent. I was hard on it before (don’t like sweet pea notes due to bad associations with the Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea scent), but I’ve come around to it.

    • March intro’d me to Lolita – it’s beautiful!!!

      I’m always surprised at how HOT it gets in Balmer! Here’s hoping for a cool-down for you!

      xo >-)

  5. I love the way you’re watching your autumn settle in, a leaf at a time, a cricket at a time… it’s so much more beautiful because you know the performance will come to an end, far too soon.

    We talked about this Historical Chypre/ Centennial before, haven’t we? Or S mentioned it on FB, or sumpin’. I checked at the time and there wasn’t a way to sample only the Centennial, so I said I’d wait. But you say they’re on sale?? Well, alRIGHTY then. I’m getting one. Wait a sec… okay, I’m done. Sale completed. I love Paypal.

    I have already put away my so-called summer scents. In fact, I never really used them after I pulled them out of the bedside cabinet. No, I’ve been craving the heavier stuff all summer. Lately I have been craving Le Temps d’une Fete and Tabac Aurea and the DSH Chypre like drugs. I’m wanting those things that grab me down at the base of the spine and yank, saying, “Feel that? Yeah, that’s your humanity. Deal with it.” Jour Ensoleille and Lumiere Noire pf are calling me, too.

    • I suppose it doesn’t help with that whole “humanity” thing that I’m watching Bookworm fall in love. Or maybe it does help, I’m not sure…

      • I think that’s the most bittersweet beauty of all, don’t you? Knowing your baby is doing what she is supposed to do, which is grow up….but losing her babyhood… it’s a slightly =(( process.

        I think you will love Centennial. It’s got that spine-grabbing thing down pat, without getting smutty (not that there’a anything wrong with that – it’s just this isn’t that type of scent)

        xo >-)

        • Okay, it’s 9/20 and my Centennial just showed up. It’s so… gracious. Very floral and gentle, but with that little whang o’ smut too. I think I like it.

          (Betcha The CEO will recoil, though. Not sure whether it’s the calibration on his skankometer or his fondness for very light florals, but I’m betting on his not being happy. We’ll see when he gets home.)

  6. It’s warm here today, so I’m wearing Y. Yes, it’s a chypre, but I think of it as a summer chypre. Looking forward to very cool weather coming up: Sonoma Scent Studio’s Cameo.

    • Y has been my transition scent, too. I started craving it when the days started noticeably shortening. It’s been beastly hot up until this week, but it’s still working for me with the highs in the 60s, just as it did with the highs in the 90s.

  7. Things to know about me:
    1) I love chypres.
    2) Sometimes I get confused.

    Why know that? Because there is a realm of chypre, the floral chypre, that often I cut off from my own notion of what is Chypre. Centennial would be one of those — there’s enough flowers and sweety animalic up front that I don’t put it there.

    That said, Centennial, whatever it is, is a beauty.

    And I’m trying to decide whether or not I’m pouting because now you’ve gone and shouted to the WHOLE WORLD about it. ;)

    The transitional scents are rumbling in their respective keeping spots. Notes calling? Hay, always hay when the sun is still shining but the days are getting shorter. Narcissus. A drier iris, a sweeter wood. And of course amber.

    And apples and cinnamon, too. :)

    • Hay, sweetie! (haw! I made a funny ;))

      I’m okay with the whole world knowing (and smelling) of Centennial. Beats Axe, don’tchathink? My cpa fell all over it this am! I hooked her up with La Liz’s website. The more Zorn-wearin’ the better, imo!!!

      Speaking of hay, I was going to wear Fougueuse today but I had to go sign tax returns and that always stresses me out – I knew Centennial could hold me through without too much drama, so went with that (only shed 3 tears this time – got ’em out of the way early, finished signing before I could really start tuning up..and got the hell out of there)

      :-< my CPA is a saint! xo >-)

  8. My summer loves were YSL Y and Goutal Neroli, and peaches.

    Now it’s going to be all Alahine, Mitsouko, Femme, l’Air de Rien and my decants of Parfum de Therese (thank you, Posse swap!)– and apples.

    Funny, I’ve been thinking about trying out some Soivohle, and you just sealed the deal, you siren!

    • >:) (that’s as close as I can get to ‘siren’ with these emoticons)

      Your list…….oh, baby! You come sit by me anytime!!!

      xo >-)

  9. I said my goodbyes to summer last week with a whirlwind of light and transparent scents. Space NK was having a decent sale, and I ended up with some of their own scents and a few Honore des Pres bottles. I find the Honore des Pres scents kooky and fun, but amazingly short-lived. Good thing the bottles are so big. I’m looking forward to SL Jeux de Peau (it’s been a bad month in terms of budget restraint), which should arrive at my doorstep in the next day or two.

    • How do you like the Carottes? and the Coco? They sound very pretty.

      • I like the Carottes very much, it’s amazingly carrot-y, a little green, and a little sweet. I didn’t get I Love Coco, unfortunately, but I snagged Nu Green and Sexy Angelic. These two are the ones that are so sadly short-lived. I like them a lot, Nu Green is a bright and refreshing herbal, and Sexy Angelic smells like a perfume made out of marzipan, but after ten minutes, they’re gone.

  10. I fell in love with Parfumerie Generale Papyrus de Ciane recently. So green and bitter and dark, and dark green Ormonde Jayne Woman. I’ve also started to love the incense again, now that it’s colder, By Kilian Incense Oud and 10 Corso Como. Also sweet woods like Lubin Idole and Marie Saint Pierre B. And Like This for pumpkin season! I love the fall.

  11. I also have just ordered a bottle of Centennial! Do you suppose she’s wondering why there is a run on it today? It sounds gorgeous & I can’t wait………..thank you for another marvelous review!

    • Oh, she knows 😉 I like to let niche perfumers know about a review, in case there is some questions I cannot answer. Good perfumers are World Treasures, imo, and the more of us who know about their fabulous wares, the better!!!

      xo >-)

  12. Hi M — Er, I think BdJ was supposed to be involved with the Tauer/Pera interviews but she couldn’t do it and so it’s, um me.

    I love Liz Zorn’s Green Oakmoss. I’m going to go put my decant in the “early fall Thank God” section of the cabinet.

  13. I am never quite sure if I’m going to like a chypre or not.

    I very much love oak-moss; I think it’s when scents veer off in to hyphenated chypre territory that I run in to trouble. L’ Arte de Gucci like to killed me.

    Does the Caron mousy sex base constitute a true chypre scent?

    • That’s a Patty Thing. Or Shelley. I have never really loved Caron. If you love oakmoss, check out Liz’s Green Oakmoss. When I first sniffed it I thought ‘huh. okay’ figured I could pass that one by, no problem. Problem was, it kept popping up in my senses….and I grew to love it (pdq, as it turned out).

      I think she’s a genius. Even the stuff of hers I don’t love, I love because they are so beautifully crafted!

      xo >-)

      • Oh, yes, I may not like all her scents on me, but they are amazing.

        A very interesting this I have found with her scents is that they are amped up to an amazing degree when I go outside, especially if it’s a coolish day. Never had this happen with any other line.

  14. ok, so now Centennial is sold out! My greedy self is annoyed, but my kind generous sharing self is really happy for everyone who got in there, for Liz Zorn and for you, Musette, who helped make it happen. I’m looking forward to trying some samples soon. Not sure what would best represent LZ’s work though. Suggestions welcome!

    • Hi!

      Nobody is more unhappy than me about the Centennial! I would’ve bought the whole batch, had I the fundage;))

      Re Liz’z stuff, much depends upon your preferences/tastes. The site is easier to navigate now and you can mix and match samples, which is great! She is also a great resource and makes herself available…my faves are the chypre/oakmoss-centric frags, which I think she does exquisitely well…but ymmv!

      xo >-)

      • Thanks, M. I got the fever just after posting and went ahead and ordered a bunch of samples of the absolutes. I’m having them sent to me here – just outside Atlanta, where I’m visiting my daughter. I’m hoping they’ll get here before I go home to London next week. Looking forward to sharing the sniffing with her. I don’t know if you’re much of a musician, but if you could join me in a chorus of “Over the Hill to the Poor House”…. all best, Kit

        • I hope they get there, too! That will be some fun sniffa! If not, you can compare notes with your daughter once she sniffs and sends them on!

          I break my bank with Liz every time. This was one time I came out in reasonable shape. Don’t know how that happened….:-? ;))

          enjoy your time in the ATL and safe travels back home!

          xo >-)

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