This is a blend inspired by the chypre genre of French perfumery. Leather chypre, to be more specific. If you were impressed by our earlier Oud Chypre, then Cuir Chypre is sure to knock your socks off.
Many people who have tried (and loved) the original Chypre de Cote by François Coty are disappointed by most of the later chypres. They lack depth, reek of synthetics, and simply don’t have the sparkle of a good chypre formulation.
The use of Indian oud in Cuir Chypre serves many purposes, and if you ask me I’d say Coty himself would have used it in his formulation had he known about it. It gives the blend an unmatched depth. It gives it a fantastic sweet leather note. It gives it an animalic note without the use of civet musk (an added bonus for those of us who cringe just thinking about the torture the civet cat has to undergo for the collection of its musk). Its bold, potent, and has impressive longevity. And best of all, every single ingredient was extracted from natural sources.
I’ve kept the essential composition more or less the same as Oud Chypre’s. There’s the same paradoxical balance of warmth and coolness. There’s TONS more oakmoss though, and of course its Indian oud in this blend, as opposed to Indonesian. These are the two key changes, but what a difference they make! Today’s a day for celebration for lovers of leather chypre scents.
Ahh, where to begin? How about the start.
There are many incense traditions around the world, including Arabian, Indian, Native American, Tibetan, and Japanese among others. To me, the Arabian and Japanese traditions are the most beautiful. And the Japanese one easily stands tallest and shines the brightest, when you consider the quality and refinement of the raw materials and the finished products.
Neriko, (練り香), literally ‘kneaded incense’, is one of the most ancient forms of Japanese incense. It was used by Japanese court nobles to perfume their kimono sleeves, and has been documented to have been among the most expensive forms of incense. The ingredients, made up of aromatic woods, spices and herbs were rolled into small pellets or pressed into wafers, in a base of honey or plum flesh. This was then buried underground for several years for aging.
AgarAura’s Neriko is a sandalwood lover’s dream come true. If the sandalwood in our earlier Jinkoh To Byakudan made you weak in the knees, you’ll be thrilled to know I used none other than the very same sandalwood in this blend as well. There are lots of spices, and of course oud (Cambodian and Thai). A cool breeze ruffles a plum blossom tree, carrying with it the sweet scent of its flowers and fruit. Exotic spices both ground it and give it an uplifting quality.
I had made a boat load of Jinkoh To Byakudan, and was as shocked as many of you (judging from the emails I got) when it got sold out in just over a month. I had expected it to last about a year. So to those of you who missed out on JtB, I’m here to tell you that Neriko has much of its allure. Its different, of course, but if you loved your JtB sample and missed the chance to get a full bottle, Neriko will definitely more than make up for it!
For an authentic neriko experience, I suggest applying the oil to your sleeves after spreading it lightly between your palms.
Bushi No Kaori
As the Samurai gained power during the later Heian period, the popularity of agarwood grew. To the Samurai, agarwood was the ultimate incense material. They used it to relax before heading out to battle, and it is also said that they believed it would bring them good luck.
Apply some Neriko on one wrist, and Bushi No Kaori on the other. Now sniff one and then the other. You can almost see (or should I say, smell) the centuries pass by, as you sense the evolution from sweet and elegant to bold and glamorous. The agarwood is very much ‘in your face’ and the star of the show. It was during this very era that the famous Rikkoku-Gomi categorization of agarwood scent genres emerged.
In a nutshell, Bushi No Kaori is the scent of the Samurai. Deep, dark, smoky, and ridiculously intensely agarwoody, you’ll be amazed at how similar it smells to agarwood smoke. Think of the agarwood note in Jinkoh To Byakudan. Intensify it and make the Kyara note even bolder, and you have Bushi No Kaori. There’s a touch of clove as well, but its very subtle. I decided to use clove for two reasons. Primarily because it was used by the Samurai themselves, but also because it actually brings out and intensifies the Kyara note.
Together, Neriko and Bushi No Kaori give you a crash course on the early developments in the Japanese incense tradition. They might smell utterly different, but you can tell they both emanate from the same wellspring.