August 15, 2017
Moncler advertising campaign 2015-2016, photo by Annie Liebovitz©
A quick burst of sharp citron, like a spark of electricity, then everything goes dark. The smell is of newly dried wood, barbershop herbals, suspended smoke. A pop of pepper. Then, a cuminous waft of sweat and dried leaves, damp earth, of autumn. That artfully moody guy in the olive jacket hanging by the canal, or the sly garconne who just rattled by on a vintage bike — Mousse de Chene 30 from Le Labo is their fragrance.
Amsterdam, photo by Mike Heller©
Described by Le Labo as a “neo-chypre,” Mousse de Chene is the latest in the brand’s City Exclusives, dedicated to Amsterdam. Mousse de chene – or oakmoss – is a key ingredient in both fougères and chypres.
The classic chypre base, found in perfumes such as the great Mitsouko by Guerlain and its modern cousin Aromatics Elixir, combines oakmoss with labdanum and bergamot, which provides a template of woody-resinous-citric that many other perfumes have riffed on. Mousse de Chene 30 dispenses with the resinous note in favor of sharp and spicy accents that accentuate the rootiness of wood rather than its vanillic and tannic qualities.
Daphne Bugey of Firmenich
But oakmoss was restricted for use in perfumery by the EU, so perfumer Daphne Bugey, who also created Le Labo’s Bergamote 22, Lys 41, Rose 31 and Neroli 36, turned to neo-synthetics to create the woody-green notes in Mousse de Chene. Clearwood©, (an award-winning synthetic created by Firmenich), gives Mousse de Chene 30 its pungent timber-and-soil aromas, while crystal moss© – another Firminich synthetic – stands in for the real thing, delivering that smoky but sharp deep woods smell at the heart of Mousse de Chene.
Photo, Lee Jeffries©
The middle stage brings a slow creep of earth and fougere-like herbs over which sharp hits of urban aromas – leather jacket, camphor/turpentine, and street smoke – combine, making Mousse de Chene seem both abruptly modern and nostalgic.
Photo by Jean-Philippe Jouve©
In the dry-down, which lasts all the way into the next morning, Mousse de Chene’s ground and smoke notes become more pronounced, the sharp spice accents of the perfume’s early arc fading out like dimmer lights. It remains a dense, modern fragrance whose retro references subtly persist, like a vintage pocket square tucked into an All Saints leather jacket. Make no mistake: Mousse de Chene 30 is one of the darkest, most masculine chypres this side of the canals.
Notes: Moss, patchouli, crystal moss© and clearwood© (synthetic boosters), cinnamon, pimento bay, pink pepper. Mousse de Chene 30 is an exceptionally long-lived sillage monster, so apply judiciously; you’ve been warned!
Disclaimer: sample provided by Le Labo – many thanks. My opinions are my own.
— Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Mousse de Chene 30 via Le Labo
Thanks to the generosity of Le Labo, we have a 10ml bottle of Mousse de Chene 30, for 1 registered reader in the U.S., Canada or Europe. You must register to be eligible. Please leave a comment saying what appeals to about Mousse de Chene 30 based on Lauryn’s review, where you live and if you have a favorite Le Labo perfume. Draw closes 8/18/17.
Note: The City Exclusive Event 2017 officially begins September 1-30, 2017, but samples and the Discovery Set of all 11 can be purchased online now here.