Macedonian Oakmoss, the key natural ingredient to Chypre fragrances
Oakmoss, from its Latin name Evernia prunastri, is one of the characteristic raw materials of Chypre perfumes, in which it plays an essential role.
In reality, oakmoss is not a moss but a lichen (a cross between a fungus and an algae) that grows on the trunk of oak trees, and which will be stored for several months in order to develop its smell.
Historically it was infused in alcohol to extract its smell. Today a volatile solvent extraction is used to obtain the concrete, which is then extracted with alcohol to give the Oakmoss Absolute. This absolute, used in perfumery, consists in a dark green paste diluted in a volatile solvent such as ethanol, to make it easier to handle during the formulation of perfumes.
Although these mosses are found on different varieties of trees in the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere, they mostly grow on the trunks and branches of oaks.
Oak moss producing regions are the Balkans, including Macedonia and Bulgaria, as well as Morocco. Harvesting takes place during the winter and spring, and it takes no less than 100 kilos of lichen to obtain one kilo of Oakmoss Absolute.
There are other kinds of lichens also used for their scent such as Tree moss (Evernia furfuracea) which is another natural raw material in perfumery, and originates from various trees such as pines from France or cedars from Morocco.
Oakmoss is a key ingredient in Chypre perfumes named after their characteristic accord: the chypre accord. This accord is based on the combination of Oakmoss Absolute and Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin). Thus, without the oakmoss, it is difficult to consider a perfume as a chypre. This accord is also very often enriched by a contrast between the essence of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Rose (Rosa damascena), and Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) that are added to the woody-moss notes.
The combination of these raw materials forms the backbone of all Chypre perfumes: a citrusy head, a floral heart, and an indispensable woody-mossy base.
Today, all modern Chypres descend from the famous "Chypre de Coty" launched in 1917. In Coty's Chypre, fresh Bergamot is combined with amber notes of Cistus labdanum or Cistus ladanifer (from the island of Cyprus according to some anecdotes), and bitter notes of Oakmoss.
Therefore Oakmoss is one of the most important ingredients in perfumery, even though it is quite mysterious and little known to the public.
If we look at its chemical composition, its main components are phenols, esters, evernic acid, atranol and chloroatranol.
Oakmoss is not very appreciated by the European perfumery regulations (as well as in cosmetics) because several of its aromatic molecules are allergens, notably the last three mentioned above. This is why for the past 20 years, the use of Oakmoss has been very limited in quantity in perfumes, but new methods have been developed recently to get rid of the allergenic molecules in Oakmoss Absolute. New "lightened" versions of it have been created, which have been authorized in larger quantities in perfume formulation.
Oakmoss Absolute's dark color has also caused problems in use, which is why decolorized versions have been introduced to the market.
Oakmoss infuses warmth, intensity and depth to an amber or chypre fragrance. Its aroma is very faceted: earthy, bitter, wet, mushroomy, woody, marine (reminiscent of seaweed), leathery and slightly smoky.
It is a very powerful and tenacious note that is used as a base note in many chypre, "fougère", woody, amber, floral and oriental creations. It also acts as an excellent fixative for many perfumery notes.
Chypre fragrances have an inherent complexity and sophistication that match the women and men who embrace them!
Discover Chypre Shot and be swept away by the intoxicating power of this groundbreaking fragrance!
Woody fragrances are full of naturality and warmth, bringing us back to the earth and lulling us with their comforting scent… Also discover Autoportrait and surrender to a serene woodland landscape.
Oakmoss in Chypre Shot and Autoportrait
In Chypre Shot, Oakmoss is combined with Patchouli essence to form the signature chypre accord.
Chypre Shot has a very citrusy top note, simultaneously zesty and tangy, in which Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), with its earl grey tea side is clearly perceived.
The spices do not escape our nose, in this case we smell the Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) with its zesty and cinnamic facet, which stands out among many others, and the Saffron accord that reveals itself more in the heart of the fragrance, with its fruity facet. The woody aspect of the fragrance is present from the start.
In the heart, the overall becomes resinous, and peppery-woody due to the essence of Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), which offers us a very elegant facet. Chypre Shot also has a floral aspect, quite discreet but essential to the composition of a Chypre, it is a delicate Peony accord that we sense, with tender nuances of Rose Absolute (the peony is a so-called "mute" flower whose smell cannot be extracted, and is therefore reconstituted in a laboratory using synthetic molecules). The Coffee Absolute (Coffea arabica) with facets of both tobacco and chicory, is combined to a Black tea accord (where Bergamot accentuates the earl grey effect), and makes us plunge into an almost culinary accord, awakening our taste buds.
As for the base of the perfume, it is adorned with notes such as the essence of Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), a very particular wood with earthy and humus facets. The Oakmoss Absolute (Evernia prunastri) is also reminiscent of the undergrowth by its woody-mossy aspect. These two form the basis of the chypre accord described above. The base of the fragrance also offers a warm leathery side, in which the Coffee Absolute and the Oakmoss Absolute participate with their common leathery facet.
The little dark chocolate note that we distinguish is due to Patchouli (component of the chocolate accord). The so pronounced ambery note is none other than the Labdanum Absolute (Cistus ladanifer), an ambery raw material, with balsamic, dried fruits (highlighted by the fruity facet of saffron) and animal facets.
Chypre Shot is an original modern chypre, opulent, full of depth, and reminds us of oriental perfumes by its raw materials (bergamot, peony accord, labdanum, patchouli).
Its addictive scented trail is truly bewitching.
In Autoportrait, Oakmoss is more secretive and only reveals itself in the base notes where it enriches the woody DNA of the fragrance.
Autoportrait has a discreet and subtle opening in which we can distinguish the zesty facet of Bergamot essence (Citrus bergamia) and the peppery-fresh facet of the Elemi essence (Canarium luzonicum), a spicy raw material whose woody and resinous facets can be sensed already.
The structure of Autoportrait allows the woody-balsamic heart, and base, to reveal itself very quickly. The spicy facet persists in the heart of the perfume with the Benzoin Siam (Styrax tonkinensis), which also possesses a spicy-cinnamic aspect. As for the gourmand facet of Benzoin, with its vanilla and caramel accents, it wraps us in a warm and sweet haze. We also perceive the Incense (Boswellia carterii), with its powerful woody facet, it feels resinous and reassuring.
This rich woody aspect of Autoportrait is highlighted in the base of the fragrance by several raw materials. Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) in all its naturalness, with its woody-dry side reminds us of pencil lead, and the elegant Vetiver brings a refined smoky note. The Oakmoss Absolute (Evernia prunastri) with its woody-mossy facet and its earthy aspect accompanies the Cedar and Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanoide) while giving a chypre dimension to the fragrance. As for the musks, they bring a smooth creamy effect.
Autoportrait is an elegant, deep, truly carnal fragrance with a mesmerizing trail.
Anna Grézaud-Tostain for Olfactive Studio