Rogue Perfumery Part I: Champs Lunaires and Chypre-Siam

I can’t remember when I first heard of Rogue Perfumery. It may have been on a perfume blog (which one?) within the last few years, or it may have been mentioned by another perfumista in a Facebook group discussion. I’m still not sure. One of my favorite sites for perfume research, Fragrantica, lists Rogue under Perfume Houses; my other favorite, Now Smell This, doesn’t reference it at all.

Briefly, Rogue Perfumery is the brainchild of Manuel Cross, a chef who became intrigued with creating fragrances a little over ten years ago. (Read more at the link above.) Rogue Perfumery, befitting its name, is defiantly and unrepentantly noncompliant with IFRA regulations.

In any case, a member of a perfumista Facebook group wore a Rogue Perfumery scent a few weeks ago and mentioned it as his scent of the day. I was intrigued, did some research, and immediately ordered samples.

Rogue’s website has a small menu in the top right corner: Shop, Collection, About, and Contact. “Shop” takes you to Rogue’s Etsy shop, where you can buy perfumes chock-full of intoxicating and IFRA-restricted ingredients such as oakmoss, nitromusks, and eugenol at $75 for 30ml, $110 for 60ml, and $150 for 100ml. You can get a boxed set of 8 samples (including a preview due to release in late summer of 2019) for $33, or a set of 3 samples of your choice for $15.50, which is what I bought.

I chose three samples (Chypre-Siam, Champs Lunaires, and after deliberation, Mousse Illuminee in spite of its “masculine” designation) and received a bonus fourth sample of Derviche. The samples are sturdy 2ml vials, each individually bagged with a gorgeous Art Deco-style illustration to identify the scent.

Tuberose by Moonlight, from Anya’s Garden Natural Perfumes’ blog

CHAMPS LUNAIRES
I started with Champs Lunaires, because tuberose, is why. I’ve long been a lover of BWFs, and in my opinion it is difficult to go wrong with white florals. This one is described as “moonlit fields of white flowers,” and how could I pass that up? Notes include tuberose, white rose, pomelo, sandalwood, coconut milk, and musk. Mr. Cross’s Etsy listing description says this:

The tuberose base I created for Champs Lunaires was based on three models: the realism of PK Perfume’s TNT, the amped methyl salicylate notes of Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Crimenelle, and the lusty creamy fruit notes of Piguet’s Fracas.

Ironic that Tube Criminy was part of the inspiration for Champs Lunaires, because this deep into my BWF exploration, TC is still the only scent in the genre that I really cannot bear. I had the misfortune to have cleaned out the refrigerator the week I tried it, and that forgotten package of uncooked chicken at the back had an odor that (oh Lord help me!) I will smell in my nightmares forever. When TC echoed it, I nearly tossed my cookies, and did not even care about the lovely clear tuberose that followed the opening. I liked the wintergreen part; could not manage the decay.

You may be relieved to note that Champs Lunaires reminds me not in the least of the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle, which is both a relief and a disappointment. I liked that wintergreen thing, and I get very little of it in Champs Lunaires. It doesn’t remind me strongly of Fracas, either, which is probably good. Champs Lunaires is creamy and soft, but lacks the fatty-soapy orange blossom overdose that Fracas beats me over the head with every. single. time. I wear it. I never smelled PK Perfumes’ TNT (Tama ‘n Tuberose), though I counted Tama a friend and still miss her.

Champs Lunaires is simply lovely. It has a fresh, cut-stem greenness in the opening, and then it blossoms out to a full, rounded, creamy, gentle tuberose scent that is not so much a Big White Floral as it is a friendly one. It stays pretty a long time, about six hours, before fading away.

Side note: I’ve noticed recently that BWFs — maybe because they tend to “sink in” to my skin and get cozy — are the easiest no-brainer scents I wear. As in, I can put on something like Black Orchid Voile de Fleur and just roll all day and stop really thinking about the way I smell, or anything else for that matter. I mean, I literally go brain-fuzzy with comfort, like I’ve worn fuzzy slippers to work. I feel like there’s a lesson here, or a maybe a warning.

In any case, Champs Lunaires is gorgeous. If I wasn’t already stocked up with BWFs, I might buy it.

Jungle in the Philippines

CHYPRE-SIAM
The impetus for my sample order was Chypre-Siam, the fragrance my friend was excited about. The Etsy listing details its origin as a variation on Coty Chypre using slightly different accents, as if it had been born in Thailand instead of in France. Manuel Cross says that he was picking kaffir lime leaves for a curry dish not long after testing the seminal Coty fragrance, and caught a whiff of jasmine nearby:

I thought how novel it would be to recreate, not the original Chypre, but rather the experience of the original using Southeast Asian materials (namely kaffir lime, holy basil and lemongrass…)

My first sniff of vintage Coty Chypre (a well-preserved parfum from the late 1960s), following my surprise love of DSH Perfumes’ take on it in oil format (don’t bother looking for it on the website now, it’s been out of production for years), bowled me absolutely head over heels. I would never have thought it was my kind of thing, and maybe it’s still not, but it is stunning. Elemental, a perfumery Titan. It doesn’t give a fig what anybody thinks. So, a new take on Chypre? I had to smell it.

Also, that bottle is amazing. LOOK AT IT. Look at the angular, uneven Art Deco lettering in gold on green, look at the shape of the label, look at the cap decorated with gold baubles and green ribbon! So reminiscent of the Coty packaging, so gorgeous on its own.

It’s a far cry from Mall Juice, and a new variation on the original is right up the alley of a perfume outfit that calls itself “Rogue.” The Etsy page uses this description: Opening notes are kaffir lime and basil. Jasmine and ylang sweep across the forest floor and rest upon a warm base of oakmoss, sandalwood, spices, benzoin and civet. I’m fairly certain those aren’t the only notes, but the list is a fair representation of the smell.

The opening of Chypre-Siam is a tad difficult for me. Kaffir lime I am really not familiar with in real life, as Thai restaurants are uncommon here in rural Appalachia, and I only remember running across the note in one fragrance, Anya’s Garden Kaffir Cologne, which I did not like at all. I can see that someone might find the opening exciting and exotic, but it seems really brash to me.

After the opening, Chypre-Siam settles down to a truly lovely moss-edged floral glowing with jasmine. It’s very green and expansive, and I do find myself thinking of tropical jungles which hide not only exotic blooms among their luxuriant greenery, but also dangerous fauna . . .

(The jungle might just be on my mind at the moment because that’s where Gaze right now, spending a month in the Philippines as part of an exchange program between US ROTC cadets and the Philippine Military Academy. He’s already got some harrowing stories, and I am super-grateful he didn’t tell me about them until after they were over. Whew. This “mother-of-young-men” gig ain’t a walk in the park, I tell ya.)

I don’t get much in the way of civet; there’s just a tad there to soften some edges. The moss is real and plush, the sandalwood aromatic and deep. The labdanum is warm and golden without having that mildewed-tarpaulin effect that it sometimes has. The whole thing? Beautiful. Lasts several hours, even on me. Sillage, dabbed from the vial, stays fairly close to the skin, but would probably bloom better if sprayed. Chypre-Siam only comes in EDT strength, but it feels more powerful and richer than that.

I will confess that I tried Chypre-Siam on one hand and put some of my cherished vintage Coty Chypre on the other, for comparison. This was probably unfair of me, but I tried very hard to be impartial when considering.

The citrus notes of the Coty are faint with age, so in the first twenty minutes, Chypre-Siam with its aggressive opening stage blasts the Coty out of the water. Then for the next several hours, the two are remarkably similar. I do get a bit more rose and less ylang-ylang from the Coty, and the lonnnnng maceration time (according to the Coty’s packaging, at least 50 years) has buffed its surface satin-smooth. Chypre-Siam is, however, fully as excellent in quality, and it is a joy to wear. The Coty, hand-sanded as it were by that long time in the bottle, slides almost imperceptibly into its long lovely drydown. Chypre-Siam’s gear changes are more noticeable, but since I particularly dig the turn from the middle, very-floral, phase to the basenotes, when my nose is catching the blend of jasmine and moss and sandalwood with hints of leather, those changes are wonderful. If the melody of the Coty was entrancing the first time around, Rogue’s cover version, while putting its own spin on the classic, is every bit as good.

Hence, I say to you all, if you feel like you missed the boat on Coty Chypre, worry no more about it. Haunt not the eBay auctions; wager not a week’s pay on the vintage. Instead, hie yourselves Rogue’s Etsy page, and buy this. No, it’s not Coty’s Chypre rebottled — and I’m not going to say it’s better, having already loved the Coty — but it is amazing and wonderful and a worthy successor. Six thumbs up.

For another blog review of Chypre-Siam, check out The Alembicated Genie’s swoon here.

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2 thoughts on “Rogue Perfumery Part I: Champs Lunaires and Chypre-Siam”

  1. I enjoyed reading your take on these perfumes. I participated in a Rogue sample pass on BN and promptly ordered a bottle of Champs Lunaires, which I think is just as good as any of my vintage BWF’s. I’m enjoying it very much. I felt that the finish of Chypre Siam became too modern/ambery woody, but I’m still thinking about it, and so I may need to try it again. Very few modern perfumes even come close to vintages for me, so I have great respect for Manny Cross’ work and hope he gets even more recognition and success.

    1. Champs Lunaires is lovely, isn’t it? As for the base of Chypre-Siam, it smells very much like that of my 60’s Coty Chypre parfum and doesn’t seem modern to me. (Shrug.) Indeed, Rogue needs wide appreciation.

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