As I’ve written about numerous times, the perfume style of chypre is tough to achieve currently. The ingredients which made up the classic chypres which defined it are proscribed. It means a modern chypre must make decisions at what they want to retain over what is difficult to achieve. What seems to be the hardest thing to do is to find the bite lost using the neutered low-atranol oakmoss. There are many good examples but there are many more which fail because they become unbalanced, too much or too little bite, drawing attention to the overall deficiency at the attempt. In more recent times there has been a more pronounced effort to find that velvety texture of the oakmoss, without the bite, in different combinations of materials. I think of these as “polite chypres”; Diptyque Eau Capitale is one of these.
Creative director at Diptyque Myriam Badault has been overseeing the brand since 2008. I can make the case that she has been the best creative director Diptyque has ever had. She has had a sharp eye towards the future since her tenure began. It has allowed the brand to stay relevant as it enters its sixth decade of producing fragrance. Over the most recent few years Mme Badault has been working exclusively with two perfumers. For Eau Capitale it is Olivier Pescheux who is collaborating with her.
Eau Capitale opens on a top accord dominated by the multi-faceted baie rose. It is slightly enhanced by bergamot and pepper, but it is all baie rose in its herbal fruity glory. A full Bulgarian rose meshes with the baie rose to form what is becoming a contemporary classic pairing. It is given a bit of a different spin as ylang-ylang slips through the side door in the heart. Now comes the part where they have to decide what to do to be a chypre. In this case M. Pescheux uses a trio of synthetics in akigalawood, georgywood, and amboxan. This forms a neo-chypre which does retain a bit of the mossy texture without any of the edginess of the vintage type. The spiciness of the akigalawood does its best to provide that but just provides a pleasant spiciness in the end.
Eau Capitale has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
The press materials call Eau Capitale “a lively chypre”. Perhaps so. I prefer thinking of it as polite.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Diptyque.