Monday, February 18, 2008

Forget me Not : Chloé (Original) by Chloé

It would be hard to imagine fashion in today’s world without prêt-a-porter. Up until the 50’s however, luxury ready-to-wear fashion was unheard of. When it comes to the question of who popularized high fashion as we know it, most remember Yves Saint Laurent who was indeed the first couturier to open a ready-to-wear boutique, Rive Gauche in 1966. Some will even remember that Givenchy and the visionary Pierre Cardin both launched their own pret-a-porter lines in the late 1950s - in a period when launching a ready-to-wear line as a couturier was considered such a taboo, that Cardin actually ended up being expelled from the Chambre Syndicale de Haute Couture for a short while before being reinstated. It was however, quite a few years earlier, in 1952 that the wind of change actually blew, when two true innovators, Jacques Lenoir and Gaby Aghion, launched the first luxury prêt-a-porter fashion house – Chloé. High fashion suddenly became more affordable, appealing to a larger audience, and it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was their footsteps that both Givenchy and Pierre Cardin were following shortly after.

Pastels and muted colors, eyelet and lace details, chiffon and musselin fabrics, gauzy and transparent styles have all been staples in Chloé’s fluid clothing ever since the house was first established. Throughout the years, two words define Chloé best: femininity and romance. To that extent, I simply can’t imagine a better candidate to carry the name of the house on its bottle than the original Chloé, launched in 1975. This beautiful spring fragrance is carefree and innocent, despite the indolic character of some of the notes. It is a scent built around a young, uncompromising beauty: a wonderful rendition of tuberose which manages to be at once green and at the same time creamy throughout the development. The top notes are sparkling and green with the barest, tiniest hint of coconut, which miraculously manages to not make its presence loudly known, but rather adds to the overall feel of the fragrance. By this I mean that even though the note is not instantly recognizable unless you purposely sniff close looking for it, it adds weight to the top notes and gives a slightly sticky sensation. It sounds bizarre, but I feel it even enhances the greenness of the scent. This opening is all girl, utterly youthful and slightly naive. The warmth of the skin slowly brings the heart notes to the fore though, and suddenly youthful naiveté is transformed into the joys of womanhood. The tuberose is unapologetic and strong – its scent deep and lifelike. Indolic notes of orange blossom and jasmine invite others to come closer, in the most seductive manner. Civet lances through the composition in a way that makes the heart skip a beat - an unmistakable invitation to explore one’s sexuality. The drydown is musky and deep, beguiling and ultra-feminine. The whole composition is indeed a sigh of pleasure, an open invitation to enjoy spring: sunny, erotic, flowery, green, feminine... It’s all Chloé.

...And yet, it is no more. The scent has been discontinued and this year the house of Chloé treated us to a new incarnation of the scent. Is it any good? I haven’t smelled it yet even though it recently hit the shelves here as well. Did the original smell dated? Perhaps. The brand does try to appeal to a youthful market – the “Chloé Girl” – and as we know the scent du jour for such a market has to be an inoffensive fruity floral. But herein lies the danger of introducing a fragrance that has a name homonymous to that of your company. The scent that carries the name becomes a signature of the house itself, an embodiment of its style and values. It is a statement that’s hard to revoke unless you axe the fragrance itself when it has served its purpose.

The Original Chloé is still easy to find at online perfume discounters.
Please check Tamara’s pick for this month’s Forget me Not by clicking here.

Images: Pret-a-Porter french movie poster,
Chloé bottle and box from
The original, controversial, Lilly-stopper flacon of Chloé in miniature format,


TMH256 said...


My mother wore this one and every once in a while I would sneak a spritz from her vanity. It was far too grown up for my teenage sensibilities. This was a wonderful review in the sense that it linked fashion to the fragrance in such a way that I completely understood its composition. When I was young, designer clothes were not available in my hometown so I literally lived with my head in the sand in terms of style. Thanks for the insight!

tmp00 said...

This reads as so not me it's not even funny (since I am male and [ahem] past the dewey stage of my life) but I might have to find a small bottle just to have around..

Anonymous said...

I have smelled the new Chloe and it an unbashedly rose fragrance and I love it! And I love the "old" Chloe. It is a classic.

Anonymous said...

I love this type of posts, similar to the one from westwood, where you put it in the context of the fashion world! I agree with tmh, this was very insightful!


Divina said...

Tamara darling, I feel so flattered! Thank you, I am so glad I was able to shed some light into this!

Divina said...

Hey Tom! I don't like labels much and I feel that a lot of female fragrances could be easilly worn by men and vice versa, however you grasped this one perfectly it seems: this one is trully feminine.

Divina said...

Thank you for letting us know, anon. I still haven't smelled the new one - maybe this weekend :) I am curious about it..the bottle is lovely, however it has not received the most glowing reviews so far. Lets wait and see!

Divina said...

Hi Christine! Writing both this and the Libertine review was extremely pleasurable precisely for that reason: I love putting the fragrance into the context. I love fashion, its history, the trends, the people behind the big names... Being able to look at things in retrospect is extremely gratifying!

March said...

I teared up when I read this. My mother-in-law wore this (she died a couple years ago) as her signature scent. She was very much a Chanel-and-furs broad, and her clothes were saturated with it -- and it was absolutely heaven on her. I still have many of her things, and it makes me sad that her perfume is slowly fading from them.

I have smelled the new Chloe and think it's wretched -- very sharp with a green, synthetic top note, like drain cleaner, or bug spray.

Divina said...

March, you finally delurked! *hugs* Your mother-in-law sounds like a marvelous creature, the picture you paint of her is so vivid. It is really sad when fragrances of loved ones fade away. Do you have a small decant? Scents have such a remarkable ability to bring memories to the fore and enhance their colors.. So powerful.