I had the privilege this summer, thanks to a reader of my blog, to experience 2 lost creations from Chiris.
Fleurs de Tabac is a lost member of an extinct family - the tobacco. The current classification of perfumes from SFP puts tobacco and leather in the same group. But there was a time, long before the first official taxonomy had appeared, when tobacco note was a distinct group with its own characteristics.
The story starts in 1492 when the conquistadores learn of tobacco. Very soon, the seeds are introduced in Europe, the plantations are established in Santo Domingo, Cuba, Mexico but also all around the world, from China to Russia, Africa and Constantinople. The Aztecs mixed the tobacco leaf with vanilla, resins, flowers, and a spice, among the most important elements of the original preparations. The perfumes used to scent the tobacco will appear very soon in Europe, before this will become the job of the flavorist in the new tobacco industry. The most known perfume with a distinctive sweet tobacco note is Tabac Blond launched in 1919. In the early 20's some perfumes had even their tobacco version (perfume vials to scent the fashionable cigarettes).
The tobacco family was the missing link between orientals, chypre and hay (a type of fougère) while the burnt note of some types of tobacco provided the link to the leather family. The tobacco notes have an unusual and special place on the Scent Map, they are key note between many other "things" and are extremely addictive. The main subfamilies were:
- the tobacco flower, with its sweet spicy jasmine facet related to the intoxicating Queen of the Night flower;
- the Havana note with its very dry woody aromatic note;
- the pipe tobacco with its sweet vanilla, dried fruits, honey and spicy facets (there are many types of blends);
- the smoked tobacco with its distinctive burnt, tar and almost an incense note;
Tobacco is both sweet and dry, fresh aromatic and very deep, almost animalic. Because tobacco shares many elements with those families, the creation of the first tobacco note was not easy, until the perfumers found several very distinctive molecules / rare essential oils that would make the clear difference. Like Leather, Tobacco is a complex note that results from the interaction of several types of odor.
Tobacco leaf was extracted very early but it was not often used. Its smell is very beautiful, but it is more useful in the reproduction of other "hard-to-obtain" notes. The tobacco note needed the art of the perfumer to bloom in its true complexity.
Fleurs de Tabac was the interpretation given by Chiris to this particular scent. It is not very much related to Tabac Blond. The burnt smoky note is not the theme in this prototype.
The scent is very complex combining the following facets:
- very fresh (bergamot, rosewood, linalool)
- very aromatic and herbal (clary sage, lavender maybe thyme and basil)
- deep woody (vetiver, cedar, orris and a soft patchouli)
- very spicy (clove, bay)
- very sweet (coumarine, vanilla, benzoin)
- soft powdery musky and delicate honey
- light floral (geranium, jasmine, violet) with a pungent green note
After these main elements, there are the small ingredients providing the links with the chypre, fougère, orchid and woody dry notes and those that underline the strong tobacco note (with a celery touch?).
This "Fleur de Tabac" is closer to l'Origan and l'Heure Bleue, like a woody dry aromatic version but it also close to a very famous deLaire base, also based on tobacco, but less liatrix and more floral.
Fleur de Tabac (Chiris) has a very nice and extremely long evolution, with an amazing tenacity on the blotter from the bitter herbal, aromatic and fresh clary sage note to the powdery spicy heart that precedes a dry and deep drydown with a very beautiful nitro musk note. Something suggests even an aldehydic touch exquisitely wrapped by the light floral bouquet. The drydown suggests the powdery balsamic "end" of Soir de Paris.
This product from Antoine Chiris, already a perfume, was certainly amazing in luxury fragrances, combined with woody and chypre notes, providing that amazing texture and depth found in classic perfumes.
The product is deteriorated on top but I can seize its former glory when the dry note over a sweet powdery drydown had a special cachet. It combines the richness of Jacques Guerlain with the softness of Ernest Beaux (who was actually trained at Chiris). Once, several perfumers enchanted the world with their inspiring creations but today even their name is lost.
PS: I decided to illustrate this article with the 1001 Nights of Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1931) because the life of this amazing illustrator was fragile like the most delicate perfume.
Did you enjoy my article? Sign up for updates about new fragrances, reviews of artistic perfumes and exceptional vintage masterpieces. I would be very happy if you would consider joining 1000 Fragrances, throughRSS feed,GoogleFriend connect, Facebook (more personal), or any other way that appeals to you.
Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art