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Chypre Fatal – Purrrrrr – December 12, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - Purring cat - abc.net.au

Sometimes a cat loves being stroked until your hand goes numb. It just purrs and purrs and purrs in a state of tranquil calm. Other times, not so much. You can run your fingers over its smooth silky shiny fur only until IT SAYS SO. Then, the purring stops, the claws come out, and the game changes. Same cat, different day.

Sometimes a fragrance is like that. Wear it one day and it magically connects with your soul for hours. Wear it another, and the magic goes poof! and turns into disappointment.

Guerlain’s Chypre Fatal isn’t like that - it never disappoints. Its name and the Guerlain website blurb states that this modern chypre is an aphrodisiac with the power to bring forth the femme fatale, the cat on a hot tin roof, with a single spritz…”Both chic and sexy, Chypre Fatal brings to mind a rebellious woman with extreme elegance, an icon with devastating seduction….”

But I don't think it's quite like that purple prose, either. One of three fragrances in the 2008 luxury collection Elixir Charnel (Carnal Elixirs) created by nose Christine Nagel and Guerlain art director Sylvaine Delacourte, Chypre Fatal is a modern fruity chypre with notes of white pear (peach), rose, patchouli and vanilla, a delicate mauve-coloured juice in an elegant transparent bottle trimmed with a silver name-plate.

I start with a couple of spritzes, and the opening is intense. Luscious syrupy peach layered with fresh-picked roses, stems, leaves, thorns, roots and all, slightly spicy, green and earthy. The rose controls the fruity sweetness and the delicate peach rounds and softens the pungent rose, turning this opening accord into a delicious nectar.

After twenty minutes or so, patchouli and musk notes in the heart lift the fruity floral accord, making it less sweet and more delicate. The peach becomes paler, the rose opens with hints of soft vanilla and Chypre Fatal becomes not sexy, but definitely sensuous, almost teasing and languid.

Modern chypres contain no real oak moss, but as the base notes develop, there are hints of earth and dark green that waft up – the rose leaves and patchouli perhaps - followed by wafts of gauzy peach, or creamy vanilla. Chypre Fatal ends as a superb skin scent, with just the right balance of peachy sweet and vanillic darkness that Guerlain does so well, a French bon bon.

With the exception of the first few minutes, Chypre Fatal feels soft, sheer, subdued, weightless, which is intriguing because my expectation is so different. I’m waiting for the complexity, the throat-grabbing intensity of a chypre, and it never happens. The claws never come out, I get only the gorgeous purr, which lasts for hours.

So I’m thinking that the name Chypre Fatal doesn’t translate very well, or the French have a different understanding of a “femme fatale”, or a modern femme fatale. Theirs is not so much “fire and ice” but more “quiet waters run deep”, which could explain why Chypre Fatal is not the usual Guerlain show-stopper.

Purring has its own charms.

Chypre Fatal is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00.