Ghost of Chloé

I’ve gotten several packages over the last week or two.   Some of them … honestly, you people.  Some of them put me to shame.   I’ll mention in particular the two Patricia de Nicolai decants from Anonymous, who has never looked anything other than wildly chic in her entire life, as far as I know.  So the atomizers are beautifully wrapped, and they themselves are lovely, and everything is professionally packed.

My outgoing sample packages?   Look like they were styled by the Unabomber, or a five-year-old with some lingering small-motor-skills issues.   First off, I recycle all the packaging.  Second, I … well, there’s no excuse, is there?  Hug a tree, right?  Hey, it’s FREE!   Patty has mocked me to my face about this, wondering whether it’s just my general cheap-ass tendencies, or some other flaw.

Among the incoming gifties was a sample of vintage, circa-1980 Chloé, mentioned and batted around in a recent post.  Generous Sender was worried about being busted by the USPS for Contraband Substances, so she’d wrapped it up super-carefully, nesting-doll-style.  And when I finally got to the middle and popped the lid off the little earring box … well, there it was.  Ghost of Chloé.

I meant to get to the mall this week to do a comparison with a new bottle of this still-available scent, and I’m afraid I forgot to do so.  But several commenters on the last post said that the version you can buy now just doesn’t smell right.  (And we’re talking about new bottles of “old” Chloé, not the “new Chloé ” with Chloé Sevigny as, I guess, muse – which in my opinion is perfect, as it tells me everything I needed to know about how awful it would be.  And if you’re in the mood for an argument, go ahead and stick up for her as a Style Icon.   I think in terms of style and taste levels, I’d place her on the spectrum somewhere between RuPaul and Lindsey Lohan, with maybe a sprinkling of Lady Gaga.)

Back to Original Chloé … notes are honeysuckle, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, lilac, coconut, bergamot, aldehydes, peach, jasmine, rose, narcissus, tuberose, carnation, orris, oakmoss, sandalwood, amber, musk, cedar and benzoin.  It had Karl Lagerfeld’s name behind it – he worked as the head designer for Chloé, the French fashion house, at the time.  To what degree, if any, Lagerfeld was actually involved in the scent’s development, I have no idea.  At least in the U.S., it was a runaway hit that had nothing whatsoever to do with the fashion brand of Chloé – that is, women didn’t wear it the way they might choose No. 5 or Cristalle in order to project the image of Chanel.   They wore it, in droves, or so it seemed to me, simply because they loved the smell.

Chloé smells very much of its time (1975) – it is a huge, easily-overpowering floral.  There is nothing “fruity” in the modern sense – it is not a Sour-Patch-Kids-candy-fruity-floral, or fruitchouli, nor is it remotely gourmand.  While I suppose it is “tuberose” more than anything else, it’s not tuberose in the manner of, say, Fracas, or something newer and nichier — it’s a much busier combination of florals.  My 30-year-old sample gives a sense of elements having been compressed – the top notes are off a hair (a bit of that “old-perfume” varnish vibe) and the aldehydes I recall are mostly missing.   From the vantage point of 2010, Chloé is intensely sweet and old-school, the sort of scent I immediately associate with Farrah-styled hair, Famolares and a Gunne Sax lace dress, perhaps on Prom night.  And wow, I wish I still had my prom dress, because it looks like I could make some dough on it now!

Chloé is not a gentle melody of individual notes.  The floral, vaguely tropical notes move at you like a Phil Spector-esque Wall of Smell – ylang, honeysuckle, coconut, jasmine and tuberose; the peach only adds to the sweetness.   This is not a fragrance that one should overapply.  As we move into the drydown, the intense sweetness fades, and the scent takes on a quietly smoky bitterness on the skin, reminiscent of papiers d’Armenies.  Unsurprisingly, it is quite tenacious.  I wonder what Karl would think of it now.

I’ve made no secret in the past of my personal feelings about scents, particularly vintage ones that I remember from back in the day.   Chloé, as many of you already know, is inextricably bound up in my mind with my late mother-in-law, the Big Cheese’s mother, who died in 2006, having drenched herself for at least two decades in Chloé each time she left the house.  (She had a very late, and mercifully brief, flirtation with Cartier Dragon’s Breath.)

The clothes I have of hers, some of which I wear regularly, some occasionally and some not at all, still carry the Ghost of Chloé, a smell that surely impregnated every surface of her bedroom and enormous dressing room — a spare bedroom in their apartment which she had converted into mostly mirrored closets housing her quite extensive clothing collection.   I still smell the Ghost of Chloé on her coats, on her furs, on her scarves.

And so I find myself in a situation I think many of you have experienced.  I happen to love that smell – I think Chloé ‘s beautiful – but I could no more wear it than I could jam my foot into her size 5.5 shoes.   It makes me feel both happy and sad, and I am tempted to dab a bit of my sample on the items I wear most that are now losing their Chloé smell.  But Chloé was hers, and apparently it always will be.

  • “I think Chloé ’s beautiful – but I could no more wear it than I could jam my foot into her size 5.5 shoes” >>Perfect phrasing! 😡
    There are some scents that do that to you. I think Chloe was a nice idea, but it was somehow too much, over the top. And pity that so many didn’t realise at the time and over-applied.
    Oh well.

  • nozknoz says:

    I loved Chloe back in the day, bought a vintage bottle on ebay, and found it doesn’t smell as good as it used to. I don’t know if the juice has aged or my nose has changed, or perhaps I’m spoiled by niche perfumes and vintage Guerlains….

    Coincidentally, I was testing Killian’s Beyond Love yesterday, a lighter and greener tuberose scent, and decided it was Chloe for the 00s. In the best possible way. I hope Killian doesn’t read this! :)>-

  • Louise says:

    Lovely, lovely post, March 😡

    My mom’s date-night perfume was White Shoulders, and I eventually bought a couple minis of the vintage parfum on ebay (a twin-set buy). It was very lovely, so much better than the reform, but nothing I’d wear-I just don’t do white florals well.

    I left one mini on the bathroom counter one day, and yup-I knocked it down on the tiles and it shattered. The mess was a pain to clean up, but mom was back with me for many weeks…@};-

    • March says:

      Ya know … I definitely need to try some White Shoulders vintage, because I’m sure you’re right — (like Emeraude) the vintage was likely great stuff. And yes, imagining that smell in the bathroom for weeks, making you think of your mom … >:d<

  • janh says:

    Time traveling-white linen sundress, platform shoes and Chloe, that was me.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I couldn’t get into the blog properly this morning – it just disappeared half-way through. Anyway, now that I’ve read it, it is, as always, a delight. Being British I don’t have the same memories of white clothes and funny sandals, but the boyfriend before Mr F arrived on the scene bought me a teeny bottle of Chloe parfum, as I think I have mentioned before, in 1976-ish. It was my first “real” parfum as I’d only had eau de toilette before and the Lalique-like calla lilies were just the epitome of chic. I adored the scent, too. Haven’t sniffed it in 30 years but it encapsulates that time with that particular person, who was not the right one for me in the end.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Dragon’s Breath–what could be more perfect for a mother-ih-law! I remember shopping for perfume for mother-in-law many years ago before I paid any attention to women’s scents at all. I told the SA I wanted something reflecting “Southern” and “oppressive.” She put her index finger thoughtfully to her temple for a moment, then snapped her fingers triumphantly. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was she picked out) but I was thrilled with the idea that there was just the right scent to be determined through cool appraisal of the qualities presented. M-I-L loved it because she–and her friends–knew it was expensive.

    • March says:

      Are you SERIOUS?!?! You tell me this story and then you can’t remember the scent?


      C’mon, I am DYING to know what was southern and oppressive.

      Dragons’ Breath I hate like poison. Not like Poison, which I love. 🙂

    • grizzlesnort says:

      Okay, maybe something along the lines of Organza. Honeysuckle and ‘mature’ smelling. I don’t remember if it fit ‘southern’ and ‘oppressive’ in any quintessential manner but then, scents get associated with the qualities(?) of the wearer.

  • violetnoir says:

    I totally feel that way about Diorissimo. My grandmother wore it, and beautifully, too, so it was very difficult for me to even smell it, much less wear it.

    I finally took the plunge and purchased a bottle. I don’t wear it too much, but when I do, I think of her.


  • Musette says:

    I think I told y’all about the woman who pronounced it ‘Shloe’, right?

    Well, that is about all I remember about it (and I remember having/wearing it, along with Anais Anais, which I can’t scent-remember either) – the scent itself is hovering, just out of reach, at the edges of my overtaxed brain. I remember a powdery-peach thing. What I DO remember is everything associated with it – my pale violet Claude Montana suit (I couldn’t get my KNEES into that thing now! :-w , the time I met Big Karl (remember when he was His Heftyness?) and him getting mad at me because I snapped my fan open at the same time He Snapped His!8-|

    Clubbing….how much hairspray! I suspect we 80s folks are largely responsible for global warming as we know it.

    And Lord Yes Indeedy – WHITE! So much bleach. So much starch. So much ironing. My Signature Sundress – floorlength. White cotton knit top (to hips) 3 flounces of stiff cotton organza below. Worn with a white and silver shawl/scarf and a giant white wrap-bow in my hair, ala Lucille Ball. I feel silly just typing that!

    xo :”> >-)

    • March says:

      Shame on you — the fan-snapping SMACKDOWN!!!! And yes, I do remember when Herr Lagerfeld was, uh, twice his current self?

      If you smelled Shlowey again you’d remember! :d And for all I know that is how it’s pronounced. (shrug) Or clo-AY.

  • Robin R. says:

    Ah, man, this memory lane stroll has been so nice to take with y’all on a Monday morning. Love all the comments.

    And this is just so excrutiatingly ironic, because just a couple of weeks ago i was at the local SPCA thrift shop and came across a nearly full bottle of vintage Chloe edt. I should have bought the blinkin’ thing anyway (for five bucks, what could I lose?) but I sprayed it on and NOPE, I just couldn’t have that tropical tuberose syrup in my purse/car/life. Back in its day (I am no spring chicken, you see, and I was in my twenties then) my friend Brenda wore it by the cupful and she sat next to me in college for two whole years, and that was enough Chloe to last a lifetime.

    But what a self-centered perfumista! I guess I just didn’t figure that anyone would resurrect Chloe and spark some interest in it, so I left it there for someone else to buy. (I pictured a Brenda-alike squeeing with delight at coming across her ol’ signature scent for five buck in pristine condition.) But that’s just what you’ve done, Marchella, gotten people all a-hankerin’, and I hang my head in shame. I would have loved to have passed that bottle along to a loving home.

    Sorry, guys.


    • March says:

      Oh, no worries! Chloe was so popular, there must be a huge surplus of vintage, yes? And I will argue back — hey, you tried it. You sprayed it on. And you said NOPE. If you buy everything you see because it’s a “deal” then eventually your shelves are overrun with things you don’t even like, because they start reproducing!

      Mmmmmm, you know what an 80s-frag queen I am (okay, this is 1970s.) But it’s fun to look back, and in its way, Chloe was a classic and redolent of its era.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Great post – this was vintage March! You had me ROTFL at your packing abilities (I re-cycle all of it too and I was actually feeling guilty as I read the first paragraph until I got to the rest of it). You also gave us a wonderful perfume review, along with very touching, bittersweet memories.

    The Scent-I-Can-Never-Wear is Bellodgia, or actually any carnation scent as carnations = my Mom. I remember smelling Roger & Gallet’s Blue Carnation on her whenever she and Dad would go out for an evening, and the linen closet always smelled of it because of the soaps stored in there. Later, a NYC S.A. at Saks introduced her to Bellodgia, which became her signature scent.

    • March says:

      Aw!!! I was just sniffing Bellodgia wafting off of someone yesterday! I can see all carnations being too Mom if that’s the association (and I love me some carnation.)

  • Shelley says:

    Another “bingo,” March; you’ve covered nostalgia, relationships, perfume desciption/notes, perfume feel/context, and a peccadillo. 🙂 All woven with March-voice. Love it. Here, have one of these. ~o)

    (It’s early; I’m not pouring anything else. Yet.)

    Where to begin? How did Earth Shoes peek back into culture speak sometimes, but not Famolares??? Why WERE Gunne Sax the it thing (and yes, Olfacta, everything so white…)? I remember trying to find a wedding dress; I thought it was pretty clear– I wanted to look like Grace Kelly at a cocktail party but for less than $200, which at the time was not Big Wedding but I thought a reasonable budget. People didn’t get the ’50’s/New Look idea…and eventually, at one place, a trying to be helpful saleslady said “Honey, we don’t carry Gunne Sax any more.” I nearly wailed right there. Not What I Mean!!! (While a voice in the back of my head screamed, do I *look* Gunne Sax to you?????? I am *so past Gunne Sax*!!! …with a suitable internal foot stomp. And painful self-questioning.)

    As for scent attachments…potent stuff. I don’t know what you should do with Chloe, but I know that I like the idea you can keep it in a drawer and put off any further interaction until a time of your choosing. Perfume has that advantage over people. :>

    I had my own big revelation about Granny Scent the other day. My son had a minor freak out at a powerful evocation/reaction he had to a perfume insert that fell out of a magazine. “It smells like Grandma!” said he. “Is that weird?” Of course, I didn’t think it was weird at all. Until I learned what the scent was. D&G Light Blue. Which, I think, goes to show that it’s not the aldehydes or the civet or the Big Sillage that makes Grandma or MIL scent what it is.

    The ghost may apparate in various forms, but it lingers there at the intersection of the intended’s clothes and your memory, with your emotions squarely in the middle. You’ve got a pretty powerful apparition there, yourself; but I know that you’re the woman to handle it with grace, a sense of humor, and as firm a hand as the situation calls for.

    • Graham says:

      I’ve decided that younger kids have odd scent associations with regard to what smells like certain people. I was wearing some Obsession for Men one Sunday afternoon (I know, I know…. no hatin’ – with a light hand, might I add) And my 10-year-old niece came out with “You smell like Grandpa Tom Tom”. At first I was kind of appalled, but then I thought about it – he’s in his late 50’s (I’m almost 40 myself) and probably wore it in the 90’s just like I did. Rather than being a “Grandfather” scent – he’s just a hip grandad rockin’ Obsession… That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

      • Shelley says:

        A-ha ha ha! (And of course, no hating! No haters!!) Go ahead, Graham; stick to that story. Sure and he is, indeed, just a hip grandad rockin’ Obsession. Besides; which would we rather Granddad wear…Obsession, or Old Spice? 😕 Wait a minute…I might be going Old Spice… :”>

        I think *I* have odd scent associations, so I’m certainly willing to forgive youth, with more time to learn, their foibles. Usually. 😉

    • March says:

      Well, Gunne Sax was pretty much the 70s hippie-flowy look, and you can’t get too much further away from that than a tailored New Look attempt … so what did you end up wearing? :-ss

      I dabbed a little Chloe on myself today, revisiting, and bought a wee spray on eBay. Next thing you know, I’ll be gassing everyone around me.

    • mals86 says:

      I picked up a sample of Elizabeth W Sweet Tea last summer, wondering if it would really smell like tea since none of the other so-called “tea” scents did. What it smelled like was my grandmother. Who doesn’t wear perfume. 😕

  • Susan says:

    Glad the Chloe arrived safely & glad I won’t be shot at sunrise by the USPS! Those people scare me-

    I’m amused at you guys going on about Chloe being such a “big scent.” (I was bathing in Cinnabar & Opium in the 80’s) Chloe was just WRONG on my skin. It actually seemed too demure! Too frilly, too pretty, too feminine-

  • Nava says:

    Famolares? Geez, what about Cloudclimbers from Fayva? I won’t even try to Google those, because if I see the image, I’ll probably puke up my morning bagel. And I think I wore that Gunne Sax dress to a Bar Mitzvah when I was 14.

    I have a very difficult time with the “ghost” of any scent I used to love. If I smell it and it doesn’t smell exactly how I remember it, I become irrationally disappointed. What’s the deal with that? I guess that’s my last hurdle as a perfumista – vintage. I need to appreciate the good that remains instead of bitching about how it’s been ruined. I have to work on that. :d

    • March says:

      Hon, we all wore that dress. Probably with some feathered hair. And dated a boy who wore a blue ruffled tuxedo shirt.

      I feel like things change (to my nose) often enough that I can’t decide whether it’s the perfume or me!

      • Aparatchick says:

        Yeppers on the dress. I wore a high-necked version of it to Senior Prom. I’d have to dig out the pictures to be sure,but I remember the boyfriend wearing a blue ruffled tuxedo. Not shirt, tuxedo. It’s hilarious to think how sophisticated we thought we were. #-o

        Youth Dew was my grandmother’s perfume and Shalimar my mother’s. I’ve never gone near either one of them, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Both are far too much “theirs” to ever be “mine.”

  • mals86 says:

    I’ve mentioned before that Chloe was my first real perfume, after some little-girl Avon solid thing in a plastic apple compact, and Sweet Honesty in a rollerball pendant shaped like Rapunzel’s tower. (Hey. I was EIGHT. I wasn’t supposed to have good taste.) After revisiting a vintage bottle in January, I’m stunned that my ultra-conservative mother let her 12-YO wear Chloe. It’s soooo Big and Complex, and so… Flirty. I had a 1oz bottle of edt, and it took me probably ten years to use it up, so I suppose I developed my habit of light applying early. You *would* dab carefully, if you were accustomed to Chloe and didn’t want to asphyxiate people.

    I still think it smells good, but for me it is all bound up with high school. I could not wear it now. Love vintage stuff and wear it frequently: Arpege, Sortilege, old No. 5, old Emeraude. Chloe’s got too much personal baggage. (I longed for a white, ruffled taffeta-and-lace, off-the-shoulder Gunne Sax dress for my senior prom, but it cost the stunning amount of $104, and by the time I’d talked my parents into splitting the cost of it with me, the store had sold out of my size. Had to settle for a dress from the JCPenney catalog.)

    I feel such bittersweet emotion coming from you when you talk about your MIL and her scent – it moves me. Thanks for sharing your gift – both the gift of your relationship with her, and your gift for making it real to people who don’t know you personally.

    • March says:

      You know … good for your mom. And in its way … okay, it’s flirty and a lot of scent. But I think it’s also incredibly sweet in its way. Like pinning on a gardenia. If you weren’t choking her with it, it’s probably fine. (The drama. For instance, refusing to buy Addict for my 13YO.)

      That dress!! Oh, bless you. It was a huge treat for me as well, I remember some similar (outrageous for the time) price tag. I actually think I resorted to sobbing all over my dad, my mother already having told me to forget it. I am going to try to bear that in mind at the point a teen girl weeps in agony over some stupid article of clothing. 😡

      And thank you.

  • Dude, what do I have to do to randomly have people send me vintage scents? That is just fabulous. 😉

  • Olfacta says:

    I’d forgotten about white clothing in the late 70’s. It was big, huge, where I lived at the time (L.A.) And you were expected to keep it as spotless as an admiral’s uniform. I lived in a very charming 40’s apartment — with no washer/dryer hookups — at the time. Not a good combination.

    I have my mother’s Arpege perfume, and I’ve worn it a couple of times, but it really was her scent, and somehow wearing it is like trying to fit my (wide) feet into her (narrow) shoes.

    • March says:

      Spotless white clothing. Not a good look for me, for sure. And yes, I think in particular our mother’s perfume can be something we love, but not something we wear.

  • ScentRed says:

    Thank you March, for this reminder of a great old broad. Chloe was one of my first “woman-of-the-world” fragrances that I wore in my early twenties. I wore Chloe at the same time I was learn to wear heels. In retrospect, they were parallel exeriences. Wearing heels killed my feet, but I loved the way they looked and really wanted to adopt a more grown-up look.

    I adored Chloe, but also found it completely overwhelming. I’d spritz lightly on my belly. Anything closer would induce a headache. The lingering scent on sweaters and scarves really was the best part.

    I tried the new version last year and it reminded me that you really can’t go home again. But then, I don’t really want to. I’ve resolved to wearing flats or comfy heels and I don’t bother trying to wear scents that hurt me 😉

    • March says:

      The belly spritz! I still resort to that approach!

      And we could do a post on it sometime, but I do think Chloe as a lingering scent on clothing is particularly lovely. Perhaps, again, it’s because that’s the way I usually experienced it — on something borrowed from my mother-in-law rather than on myself. But it always felt like a hug.

      Oh, I try wearing scents that hurt me all the time, but only in moderation.

      • ScentRed says:

        Sort of like bad boys. You can always date them, but you don’t need to marry them 😉

  • Aubrey says:

    It’s funny that you should post about this… one of my “big” presents as a pre-teen was a set of miniatures which had Chloe, Chloe Narcisse, Sun Moon and Stars and White Diamonds. These were tiny little things, and when I got back into perfume as an adult, I really wanted to obtain the Chloe and Chloe Narcisse, because ONE of those was my favorite (but I can’t remember which, though I can almost smell it in my mind). But I could figure out if I had the parfum or the edt, and I worried that buying “old” bottles meant that they might be off, etc, and my lemming list grew into more recent things… so these fell by the wasteland.

    Any one know if Chloe Narcisse has been equally ruined?

    • Graham says:

      With all this talk about Chloe, I was just thinking about Narcisse, which I had never smelled until recently. I work in a recording studio, and one of our voice actresses came in wearing something that just stopped me in my tracks. I asked what it was, and sure enough, Chloe Narcisse. No idea whether she had a vintage bottle floating around or what (she’s probably a good 15-20 years older than I am), but wow – what a scent. Lurrrrrrrrvvvvvveeeeedddddd it. Big big – no denying that, but somehow perfect with her huge Brooklyn personality… :d

    • March says:

      Narcisse is readily available online, and one can only assume it’s been ruined. Just saying. 🙂

      If it were me (which is to say, if you were daft) I’d first buy, say, a mini of the new stuff, at a discounter or on eBay. Then you could decide how you felt about it. If it seems all wrong, or utterly wretched, you could search for some vintage on eBay — I’d guess it turns up frequently, there’s plenty of the new on there, you’ll have to pick through that. And if you buy “used” or vintage, you have no way of knowing up front whether it’s any good, or how old it is…. but that’s part of the thrill.

  • Ann N. says:

    Lovely, lovely post, March — it brought a huge smile to my face this morning (which I needed after a rough morning with my little one). Especially enjoyed the walk down memory lane with Famolares and Gunne Sax! A boyfriend of mine in the late ’70s/early ’80s gave me Chloe in the beautiful, frosted, Lalique-inspired parfum bottle. I’m off now to see if I can dig it up, although am afraid to open it as it was sitting atop my dresser for years and years. BTW, could that “old parfum varnish vibe” you mentioned smell a bit like maple syrup? I have some vintage frags and I’m getting a little syrupy hit at first, before it finds its groove. Thanks!!

    • March says:

      Oh, jealous jealous! That must be the parfum, go smell it!

      I’m not a chemist. My understanding is that it’s the top notes of a fragrance that tend to die off first, and the base notes, made of sturdier stuff, that stick around …. I have quite a few vintages, and very few of them were completely worthless. Often wearing them involves suffering through fifteen minutes of what I think of as nail varnish (but maple syrup seems reasonable) before they bloom on the skin into the original, lovely base. Of course some scents are pretty much gone.

    • mals86 says:

      Ann, I get “nail polish” or “swimming pool” or the occasional hit of “maple syrup” from a number of my vintage bottles, so it’s not just you. It just depends, I suppose, on what the original topnotes were (seems like bergamot and aldehydes go nailpolishy, and peach can go maple syrup), and how it’s been stored. I just allow about 20 minutes after putting on the scent before I go anywhere, and they’re mostly wearable after that.

    • Gretchen says:

      “Burnt sugar” is how I’d describe it– I smell it in a vintage mini of Revillon Detchema purchased on *bay. Don’t know what Detchema smelled like in its day, but I’ll bet it didn’t have a burnt-sugar note.

      • Ann N. says:

        Yep, burnt sugar definitely covers it. Thanks, everyone. For a minute there, I thought there might be something wrong with my sniffer. And like you said, Mals, it may be most pronounced in peachy, or somewhat sweet frags (I was spraying several vintage iterations of Cartier Must –NOT the heavy-duty EDP, the more fruity/floral Must EDT and Must II).

  • Momlady says:

    Chloe *smiles*… Mom circa late 70’s. Mom can wear her some florals…and by that I mean that some how she could apply it in such small doses…and yet subtly radiate this massive floral in a way that, even if you knew what Chloe smelled like you’d ask…’what are you wearing? That smells great.’ Of course this is also the woman who could wear white from head to toe and never pick up a speck of dust or dirt. I swear she could probably change the oil in her car while wearing a white evening gown. Florals just love her. Joy *sighs* another great example. I on the other hand cannot wear florals…big or small. Just appreciate them from afar…on someone or something else. With some of the Big Smells from the 80’s 30 years isn’t quite afar But for me Chloe will always be Mom’s fragrance. And that’s ok.

    • March says:

      That’s funny, in my original post (when my mother in law died) I mentioned the same thing — I was shocked when I finally figured out that her scent was Chloe. Because on her it was somehow this fantastically expensive concoction — it didn’t smell that way on *me,* that’s for sure. And I think the entire time she wore it (I assume in the EDT) it wasn’t an “expensive” scent. She was the sort of woman who was very flirtatious (in a correct way) with men, something I think of as Italian? And so her scent always seemed to fit her, sweet and romantic and flirtatious and sexy.

      Yeah, I love some of those not-far-enough scents! Poison!!! 😡

      • Momlady says:

        Well, March you’ve sent me on a journey with this post. My Mom(at that time) was a bigger than life kind of woman. Big hair, big make-up, furs, jewelry..the whole deal. Very daunting for a dweeby teen…especially since I’d spent very little of my life with her until this point in our lives(long story..and definitely off topic). Yet she wore the big scents..they didn’t wear her. In fact she used a very spare hand when it came to fragrance. You felt as if you had been invited to share a very special and intimate secret with her. She didn’t care for sprays..just those little drop at a time. While Chloe will always be hers (for me,anyway) I wouldn’t call it her signature scent. I guess that’s where I got the idea that a woman can wear scents to suit her mood,her feelings at the time. I know she wore it just for herself..because she loved it.

        • March says:

          See, I think that’s a wonderful perspective. I love your description of her fragrance being a shared secret. And you’ve made me feel a little less bad about the fact that my girls will not associate one signature scent with me!

  • I’ve been thinking of the original Chloé too: I bought a bottle as a teenager on my first trip to Paris and miraculously, it’s still there in my parent’s place. I take it out once in a while to see if I want to repatriate it to Paris (after all, this is one of the only vintage perfumes I own that actually got to be vintage under my ownership) but… no. I wouldn’t wear it. It’s probably at the origin of my tuberose love, but I think this type of composition is dated, and I can’t see myself living in it now.

    • March says:

      It is dated, definitely. And I can’t imagine running around drenched in it now (can’t quite picture you in it either!) I wonder … thinking of it in context, younger women might have worn it because it seemed sexier/more mature, and I think to grown women it would smell romantic? It’s nice to have as a reference smell.

  • Joe says:

    I appreciate the scent memory that you’ve shared.

    I know not a thing about any version of Chloe, but I’m not sure I want to, either. There might not be any actual similarity, but your description (Wall of Smell) reminded me somehow of LouLou, which I find nice for about 30 seconds, and then it evolves into a horror show. I think I have Post Traumatic Big-Hair-Era-Floral Disorder. But now that I think about it, I’d like to do a side-by-side skin test. Is that a little sick?

    • March says:

      Okay, you threaten to try Loulou and Chloe side by side, and then you wonder about the horror?! /:) Dude. Throw some Giorgio on there too, that’d be perfect. 😉

      Loulou I am trying to remember the words from Perfume Legends, which it is. And I think there was something to the effect of a dissonance, a tension, in the scent. All I can say is, I have not gone back and re-smelled it since its debut, and I should. I hated it then.

      Chloe is a decidedly big hair floral. I have asked myself whether I’d feel as warmly toward it if I didn’t have my mental associations with a woman I loved, and I think I would. But it does smell pretty dated.

      • sweetlife says:

        Hee, hee! As part of my long-neglected idea to write a series of posts on Other People’s Perfumes I have a bottle of Lou Lou sitting on my desk in it’s oh-so-80’s turqoise bottle, waiting for me to wear it long enough to have Thoughts. I have some without wearing it all, actually, because it belonged to a friend of mine who is a total no-makeup, no-heels, no-muss-no-fuss, kind of gal. She had owned it since she was fourteen. Her mother wore Opium at the time. Nuff said, no?

        • March says:

          That bottle! It’s supposed to be this design classic, and I don’t know, it makes me laugh. Not that I’m the Queen ‘o Fine Taste.

        • nozknoz says:

          What’s funny is, if you look at perfume bottle books, the Lou Lou bottle is clearly modeled on an antique art deco bottle – but with 80s colors! LOL

  • aotearoa says:

    I know nothing of Chloe, but I just wanted to say how much I look forward to and enjoy your articles March. Also thank you for your tip re the ebay seller for my lovely bottle of Miel de Bois which arrived safe and sound in NZ from Canada. Now, just wait ’til I staret on those vintage bottles…

    • March says:

      Oh, hey!!! It’s always nice to hear those things work out. Mine was perfect and got here pretty quick. I did sort of wonder whether I’d lost my mind but have been wearing it … I hope you have too!

  • Eric says:

    I worked an estate sale in August and, among many things, the woman had several manufacturer’s samples of Chloe, EDT and Parfum. Man, if it still smelled like this (of course it doesn’t but still) I’d have bottles of it.

    The EDT is kind of “A tuberose and laundry musk walk into a bar” and smells professional, like an ironed white button-down and a shiny blond ponytail. It’s a little strident and the tuberose gets buttery fast but it’s quite nice compared to what is now.

    The parfum is terrific, though. A syrupy, buttery tuberose that smells like it would have the texture of caramel sauce. I can really pick out the sweetness of the coconut and something boozy holding up the tuberose’s breasts like a push-up bra. It’s my preferred concentration and I’d probably wear this once a week during the summer had I the ounces to back it up.

    • aotearoa says:

      Ha! Tuberose in perfumes always smells like a push up bra to me -brilliant analogy!

    • March says:

      Those are such great descriptions. And your EDT description — to me that’s part of its approachability. I mean, it ought to be ridiculous, and Too Too Much. But there’s something warm and friendly about it.

      Now you’ve seriously got me wanting to try the perfume, you terrible enabler, you!

      • Eric says:

        You’re right, the EDT is JUST this side of tasteful but it’s just so sunny. It’s too buttery in the heart for me (Fracas is, sadly, the same way) but I’d recommend it if it were still the same fragrance.

        The parfum is really worth hunting down in my humble opinion. If I had more than .3 mL left, I would definitely share some with you.

        • March says:

          I have no doubt I’ll get my hands on the parfum sooner or later … and I just bought a “vintage” spray for nothing on eBay, fingers crossed!

  • hongkongmom says:

    beautiful,beautiful article MArch just like a very special scent!!

  • Flora says:

    I used to smell Chloe every time I went to Nordstrom, but I never bought it, probably because is was so big, and I back then I would not have worn something like that except for an evening out. Now that I wear Bal a Versailles without batting an eye, I wonder if I could pull off Chloe too?

    I always wanted a Gunne Sax dress, but I lived in a town too small to have a store that carried them, so I just mooned over them in the pages of Seventeen and Cosmo. By the time I moved to the big city, I was too old for them, but that never stopped my secret craving….

    • March says:

      My Gunne Sax dress was probably one of the few times in my life I was “on trend.” (My mother didn’t approve of trends, and I often looked like a mini Jackie Kennedy. And not in a good way.)

      But I begged her, or maybe my dad, for that dress. It’s not quite as hideous as the link — it was off-shoulder, ivory, with a huge boob-ruffle, and pleats to the floor (thereby hiding my famolares.) I’m sure I had a wrist corsage on one of those plastic stretch bands. I felt like the Queen.

  • (Ms.) Christian says:

    March-another beautiful post. I’ve never smelled Chloe, old or new, and probably never will, but you shared a stirring memory. Thank you.

    • March says:

      Oh, you’re welcome! And it is worth smelling if you ever run across an old bottle and are at all partial to big white florals.

  • Natalie says:

    I have nothing to say about Chloe — I find it neither fantastic nor offensive — but I just wanted to say… FAMOLARES! Despite all the freaky ’70s stuff that’s come back, those wavy-soled wonders are one fad I’ve never seen revived. I don’t think I’ve even seen the name in 30 years — thanks for the flashback!

    • March says:

      The real bummer is — if you google it, they’re still in business, but as far as I can tell they do ugly (wavy-soled) low heeled orthopedic sandals. If they had an ounce of sense they’d re-relase those platforms. Were anything cooler than Famolares? No. I had the rainbow ones. 😡

  • Kate says:

    By all means, do spritz some Chloe around to honor MIL Big Cheese. And this from someone who used to wear it, also in the 80’s. :d/

    • March says:

      Heh. I only had sample vials, but I just bought an “old” bottle off Ebay, fingers crossed it’s any good…