I have a soft spot for chypre fragrances, leather chypres in particular: Aramis, L'Interdit (Givenchy), Jolie Madame (Balmain), Chanel's Cuir de Russie, Bandit (Piguet) are among the best of this family.As for Derby, it was created in 1985 by Jean Paul Guerlain and removed from production a few years later because it wasn't as successful as expected; in 2012 it was re-launched as part of the exclusive collection available only in Paris.
Thanks to Cristian I could wear both the original version and the modern, and I could compare them properly.
The head is aromatic and slightly green (bergamot, lemon, artemisia, mint, pepper, mace -the soft covering of nutmeg) and connects a floral and woody heart/base (rose, jasmine, vetiver, patchouli) where stands an accord that I particularly love: creamy sandalwood, salty, green, dry oak moss and a lightly smoked leather note; here they melt one into the others with that tender, slow laziness typical of old lovers who've been knowing each other for a long time.
The result is sensual, husky, vibrant, very "old school" (the oak moss), and as "charmant" as only a leather chypre can be. Derby lives to three hours on skin with a modest projection: the wearer smells it, while the others... only if they're allowed to come further they'll get an enveloping whiff.
The new version has lost the evening shadows and has gained a strong morning light thanks to bright citrus notes, which also add a more modern feel.
Unfortunately, the threesome that characterized the old version is gone: oak moss is deceased under IFRA restrictions on raw materials, natural sandalwood -almost disappeared from the market- has been replaced by a steel cyborg. Only the leather note remains, all alone, to which a nice vetiver and something like ambroxan or similar has been added, without being able to lift her mood. Pleasant, at times, but "charmant" is different.
The new version projects a little more, and lives around two-three hours.