‘Dryad’ ( Green Floral Chypre )
Perfumer Liz Moores captures retro gold with the risky and daring move of creating an unabashed and unapologetic Classical Green Chypre that swims confidently against the tide of a market oversaturated with saccharine Gourmandes that threaten to give the world Olfactory Diabetes. And boy does it deliver …
1) The term Dryad comes from the Greek word ‘Dryos’ for Oak Tree, therefore the Dryads were considered to be nymphs of the forests, trees and groves, specifically the Oak Tree – the term dating back to the 14th Century. These tree nymphs or spirits, would lure Men into the dark heart of the forest; but also had less playful associations and were often seen as spiritual Guardians of the trees.
2) A dark brown Eurasian butterfly with two prominent bluish eyespots on each forewing. Minois dryas, the dryad, is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family discovered by Giovanni Scopoli in 1763. The notion that this perfume contains Oakmoss, and its founding house is named Papillon ( French for Butterfly ) is clever and pretty on both accounts.
What is it ? A lost artifact in the mists of time ? An olfactory myth ?
Or a type of scent that hasn’t really been made properly for a very long time indeed ?
Let us rewind. For those not so accustomed to the technicalities of perfumery, a Chypre is the definition of an olfactory family. A particular type of Perfume that is structured around the defined contrast between the sharpness of Bergamot ( a bitter green Citrus fruit ) and the deep dry opulence of Oakmoss and Labdanum (a resin), often with the addition of Patchouli. Yet what happens between these two scented points can vary immensely – sometimes florals pad out the distance, whilst occasionally herbaceous accords cement the long drop from the bitter citrus high altitude right down to the deep green abyss beneath .
The word Chypre itself is derived from the French for Cyprus. The starring raw materials within a Chypre accord are to be found on this island .. Rock Rose (Labdanum), Oakmoss, and Bergamot. It also has connotations with spices, as Cyprus was a key part of the trading route during the Crusades in the dark ages. Everything about a good Chypre, is steeped in ancientness and to a greater degree – elements of darkness; a type of perfume not for the faint hearted or those looking for a mist of fleeting freshness.
Guerlain had been playing with Chypre type accords in the early 1900’s before Francois Coty struck olfactory gold in 1917 with his stellar creation ‘Chypre’, though Jacques Guerlains masterpiece ‘Mitsouko’ exploded onto the scene in 1919 with the probably very avante garde addition of peach voluptuously padding out the spices and florals. The Olfactory Family of rich deep mossy scents continued throughout the thirties, before the 1940’s arrived with the fashionable addition of Green notes. Adding an outdoorsy, optimistic, fresh, androgynous element to perfumes, the grassy notes, crisp herbal facets and sharp bitter green-yellow top notes became very fashionable – echoing the forward looking sentiments of post war Europe.
Some of the most infamous Chypres have defined generations : Rochas Femme (1944), Miss Dior (1947), Azuree (1969), Aromatics Elixir (1972), and Fendi (1985). These were expensive but popular mainstream perfumes, which fell out of fashion as the 1990’s arrived with its minimalist ozonic – aquatic ‘gas and air’ concoctions.
So after nearly fifeen years of the youthcentric trend of Gourmandes – an overload of uninspired sugary pink confections – I feel like many, that it is time for Perfumery to return to and reconnect with its illustrious artisan and intelligent past where Perfumes could be high brow, opulent, and sophisticated.
Enter ‘Dryad’, a brilliantly concieved and beautifully executed Green Classical Floral Chypre which captures everything that is elegant, sensuous and sumptuous about this genre. It perfectly balances the almost sour citrus against the dry, arrid, resinous greens and dark ambers : quite literally like a forest floor.
A bitter bite of Petitgrain and Bergamot with green pithy nuances delivers the bright tart opening that one would expect from a proper Chypre. Green floral undertones appear immediately but not recogniseable as specific single flowers. Touches of Orange Blossom absolute which can be suprisingly unsweet and Jonquil/Narcissus with their more botanic/hedgerow scent make their first appearance.
It is only around five minutes into its development on the skin that the plush velvety base of Oakmoss, Labdanum and possibly Vetiver begin to vibrate, along with a soft fruity element. This is that fabulous certain something that somehow encapsulates what is a Chypre – particularly well, a cleverly constructed one with excellent raw materials. I for one, like many connoisseurs despise the notion of what the commercial perfume industry define these days as a Chypre. Many people will not have smelt a full bodied structure including Oakmoss and opulent dry facets at this level of quality before.
This is so perfectly poised, so exquisitely balanced, and expertly created, one might be mistaken that Elizabeth Moores had stolen a time machine and been taking notes from the old Masters of the Halcyon days of French perfumery.
It takes a little more time than most Olfactory families to develop, but a Chypre delivers the goods ten fold once it has arrived at its Olfactory destination. ‘Dryad’ certainly joins this most illustrious club of superlative compositions which are both soft and intense, rich and dry all at once. This was sprayed before dinner, and forward twelve hours, the most divine soft aura – yet plush, opulent, lingering and haunting was still quite apparent on the skin as I awoke to the sound of birdsong, and the soft movement of the wind in the trees outside my window.
Like the tender flapping wings of a long lost butterfly with such unorthodox markings, or the primal spiritual whisperings that emanate from the dark verdant Forests; ‘Dryad’ is both strong and tender, lost and found, wilfully ancient and confusingly modern : a complex dichotomy of light and dark. But above all, it is deeply affecting.
An emotive, palpable perfume which vibrates with love, passion, intelligence and authenticity. These do not come along very often.
‘Dryad’ is a quiet masterpiece that will have Perfume lovers both of the old school and the new world cooing and eulogising its three dimensional throbbing beauty.
Papillon Artisan Perfumes – your time is now.
‘Dryad’ will be available as an Eau de Parfum to purchase as of June 2017.