I am learning the coolest stuff at Osswald, y’all. Like, I always thought that chypre perfumes were defined by the presence of oakmoss, but it turns out that the word “chypre” comes from a legend involving the Cyprus island. Apparently the Greek goddess Aphrodite wanted to destroy everything that might possibly compete with her beauty, so she razed every flower on Cyprus. (It only sounds bad until you remember all the weird shit Zeus used to do.) So, in keeping with this myth, chypre fragrances were originally defined by the absence of floral notes!
Le Labo Ylang 49 is a floral chypre (which seems like it should be an oxymoron, but for some reason no one ever consults me on these matters). Semantics aside, the structure works very well- the ylang-ylang softens the sharp bite of the oakmoss, and the oakmoss keeps the ylang-ylang’s sweetness in check. What’s curious about Ylang 49 is that the oakmoss actually disappears approximately halfway through the perfume’s life, causing Ylang 49 to transition into a simpler heady white floral fragrance. But for those initial hours, Ylang 49 is every inch the proper chypre fragrance, guaranteed to send young whippersnappers off shrieking “old lady” faster than you can say “ageism”. My young whippersnapper tastes prefer Le Labo’s other new release, Lys 41, but I applaud Le Labo for releasing a true chypre fragrance, and I rejoice for the perfumistas who have been waiting for one.