First off, thanks to everyone who recommended Marc Jacobs’ Daisy as a possible fragrance for my young niece. I smelled it yesterday and found it entirely (indeed, almost humorously) devoid of sex appeal — if there is an iota of musk in there, I can’t smell it. And while it is a generic sparkling fruity-floral, it’s neither syrupy nor crass. I wouldn’t wear it, but it is a light fragrance perfect for a girl, with the bonus points of the adorable bottle and being mercifully free of any unpleasant celebrity-laden associations. Right now various retailers like Sephora and Macy’s are selling elaborate Daisy gift sets with solid-perfume compacts, teeny cute mini-Daisy purse sprays, fun makeup bags, etc.
Second — UPDATE — I apparently managed AGAIN to paste some code in here rendering half the post invisible in Internet Explorer. I am sorry. I’ll make an effort to recheck the darn thing in IE before I take it live.
Okay, today’s topic. I’ve been putting this off, but here goes: am I nuts, or does the re-released Donna Karan Chaos smell … different?
There. I said it. Flog me with some Yatagan or a plastic decanting pipette, but I can’t help it, it doesn’t smell quite right to me. Something’s missing.
Granted, we’re talking about my comparisons to samples from old-formula Chaos bottles of various vintages, many of which are different enough they already smell like dupes of each other. Some are spicier; some are darker; the top notes might have gone off a bit. I think Chaos’ stunning bottle probably got left out on display more often than other, plainer bottles.
Prior to the re-release of Chaos, when things were looking desperate, I wrote a review of Anarchy, the Irma Shorell dupe, which is — seriously — to my nose a credible effort. It does not smell materially different than a couple of my samples of vintage Chaos from different sources. It’s missing something at the top, and it’s not quite as darkly mysterious as my full bottle, but it’s less prickly as well.
So here’s the new one, and nobody could be happier than I was when they appeared. And … well, I don’t know. I wish I had Octavian from 1000 Fragrances here to help; he could sniff it and tell me they’d tinkered with the dextromethampetamine or whatever. He’s got a perfume chemist’s nose and knowledge, and I don’t.
The notes from Basenotes list (for the original Chaos): sandalwood, cardamom, cinnamon, padukwood, agarwood, saffron, clove, amber, musk, sage, lavender, chamomile, coriander.
The new Chaos is brighter. It seems more focused on the top (the saffron is quite prominent) and less on the gigantic, raspy bottom — the gap to me between vintage and new Chaos is like the gap between Chaos and Black Cashmere, if that makes any sense. Black Cashmere is a gorgeous scent and I adore it, and it will take the top of your head off if you look at it wrong — I’ve had to scrub that fierce, growling beast off more than once. Also, the new Chaos seems sweeter — more amber and clean musk, less spices. Since my time machine’s broken, and acknowledging that I have no way of knowing precisely what the original Chaos smelled like in 1996, the new one, while quite nice, seems more muted and softer. It’s a narrower bandwidth focused on the soft, creamy comfortable middle of the scent without quite reaching either the heights or the depths of the original. In my opinion. While I’m going out on a limb and sawing it off, does anyone else get this… this cola-syrup-deal that pops up in the new Chaos faintly every now and again? It’s not unpleasant, just kind of odd. (On the other hand, if I recall correctly, “cola” was a word that turned up occasionally in reader reviews of the original, so maybe the scents are closer than I thought.)
If I’d never smelled the original Chaos — or Anarchy, to be honest — I’d be raving over this new Chaos as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I only have one sample of the new, which I dumped in an atomizer, and I will try to get some more samples and re-test it. But somehow the reissued Chaos does not fly out of the bottle, reach down my nose and rip my heart out of my chest the way the original did — that jaw-dropping smell that made me shrug and roll over to eBay going, I don’t care what it takes, I’ll pay it. At the time it was the most expensive bottle I’d ever bought, and (unlike some others) I never regretted it. I wondered at first whether I’ve just gotten jaded about Chaos, but a revisit of my older samples and my bottle — nail-varnish top notes and all — still grabs me in a way my new sample just doesn’t. Your thoughts?
Coming soon: reviews of Chaos Pour Homme — okay, not really, but that’s the first thing I thought of when sniffing a new-to-me fragrance last week, and my feelings about DK Fuel, now that I’ve managed to retrieve it from behind my work station where it had slunk off to… occupational hazard.
image, Marc Jacobs in a tutu and Naomi Campbell from a funny photo spread in Bazaar last year