∴ perfume basics and reviews ∴
For a simple hybrid of sweet lemon and bitter orange, the humble citrus called bergamot reaches far. About a third of all masculine perfumes and about half of all feminine perfumes contain bergamot as a note.
The vast majority of bergamot is grown in Calabria, in the south of Italy, where it’s grown not for its juice but for its oil, the flavor and scent of which turns black tea into Earl Grey. Bergamot oil is also a major component in Johann Maria Farina’s Eau de Cologne, the first blockbuster perfume.
The word Chypre is French for Cyprus, the Mediterranean island. It’s named after the first fragrance that made it commercially successful in the modern era: the great François Coty’s Chypre, 1917. Yes, two of the classic accords in perfume are named after abstract concepts (the other being fougère).
You’ll probably never smell Chypre — it has been out of production for decades — but you might smell the monumental perfume that some say owes most of its success to it: Guerlain’s Mitsouko, 1919, the Citizen Kane of perfumery.
Eau de Cologne, or Kölnisch Wasser, isn’t a generic term for men’s perfume. It’s a specific, dilute, unisex fragrance composed of citrus, herbal, and floral oils, including lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot, tangerine, orange, orange blossom (neroli), orange leaf (petitgrain), lavender, rosemary, thyme, and jasmine. It was formulated by Giovanni Maria Farina and launched in Cologne, Germany, in 1709. Almost all fragrances called “eau de cologne” are variations on this original.
The oldest fragrance manufacturing facility in the world still produces a unisex Eau de Cologne based on (but not the same as) the 1709 formulation: 4711, formulated by perfumer Wilhelm Mülhens and named after the house number of Mülhens’s grandson Ferdinand.
Farina’s blockbuster scent set the stage for the era of modern perfumery.