Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chloe L'Eau de Chloe: fragrance review

Cast your eye back to the days when you were a kid in a floral print sundress, pig-tails hanging down the sides of your face, flowers pinned carefully on the hair by an older sister or attentive mother, and selling lemonade off a kiosk outside your school or terraced porch to amass money for summer camp (or something along those lines). I hear this gets done a lot in America. I can only tell you that I hadn't had any of those experiences, but lemonade drinking I did as a kid. A lot. It was the official drink of summer (along with sour cherry juice which is just as delicious, if not more) and gulping it down, all thirsty after a run in the fields cutting off wild roses & poppies or a swim in the sea, was one of the major joys of careless late spring and summer days. Perhaps there's something of that ~childhood-reminiscent, innocent and eager about it all~ that is so very refreshing and uplifting when we encounter a citrusy smell. Perhaps that's also why perfume companies are sure to bring forth a slew of citrusy colognes and fragrances into the market with the regularity of a Swiss clock, each spring as soon as the caterpillars turn into butterflies. There's just something optimistic, open and joyous about them, isn't there. Which is where L’Eau de Chloé comes in; from its frozen lemonade top note into its rosewater heart and down to its cooling, mossy base, it's an improvement on the previous Chloe edition* and a scent which instantly puts a smile on my face, even if it doesn't really mesh with my style, having no dark nor serious intentions.

Nikiforos Lytras, The Kiss

The recent "madness" for Eaux
Perfumer Michel Almairac was commissioned with a citrusy built on "clean" rose with a dewy character. Eaux are big as a variant in existing fragrance lines lately, rather than just a rehash of the citrus-herbal Eau de Cologne recipe, with predictably good results; especially at Dior (who had it all with their classic Eau Fraîche) with their Miss Dior Chérie L'Eau and J'Adore L'Eau Florale. Other contestants in this revamped "eau" game include Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte, Chanel Chance Eau Tendre and Chance Eau Fraîche, the three Ô de Lancôme, Eau de Shalimar by Guerlain (a different attitude as this is a complex citrusy oriental rather than just a citrusy, fresh, uncomplicated splash on), Hermes Eau de Gentiane Blanche and Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, even Serge Lutens with his L'Eau Froide and the previous L'Eau de Serge Lutens. It's a good alternative for warm weather wearing when you live in a hot climate.

Perfume impressions and formula structuring
Almairac used the transparent, luminous and at the same time lightly sweet and delectable natural note of rosewater (a distillate from rose petals) in L’Eau de Chloé to counterpoint and at the same time accent, via the common elements, the tart lemonade opening and the lemony magnolia blossom in the core. What was less easy to accomplish was how to stabilize it into a formula that would retain structure. The perfumer opted thus for a mossy-musky base accord which simmers with the angular, lightly bitter beauty of chypre via patchouli and woody ambers (ambrox). The fragrance belongs in the genre of Versace Versence or a modernised/watered down Coriandre by Jean Couturier.
The effect is that of a fizzy, sparkling, tingling the nose grapefruit and citron opening, vivid, spicy and refreshing at the same time with the gusto of carbonated fizz drinks bursting on your face which is prolonged into the proceedings. The peppery, crisp freshness evolves into the bold rosy heart of L’Eau de Chloé, balanced between powdery-minty and retro; non obtrusive for casual day wear, but with enough presence to uphold itself throughout a romantic afternoon. It's because of this that the fragrance projects more as a feminine than a citrusy unisex, which might create its own little problems (i.e. usually unisex citruses are the best). The mossy, patchouli-trailing with a warm, inviting "clean musk" vibe about it is discreet and rather short-lived (as is natural for the genre) and I would definitely prefer it to be darker and more sinister, but the fragrance overall serves as a reminder that small miracles are what we're  thankful for these days.

Advertising images
L’Eau de Chloé utilizes the familiar girl in a field of grass imagery in its advertising, first used by Balmain's classic Vent Vert (which did have something very meadow-like about it!) and perpetuated into recent releases; I'm reminding of Daisy Eau So Fresh by Marc Jacobs for instance. The young sprite is mythologically loaded, reminiscent of nubile teenagers in Greek classical myth deflowered by philandering gods, and it remains a feminist concern thanks to its sheer helplessness (who will hear your cries in the distance?). But perhaps we're injecting too much into it. Perhaps just rolling on a field on a warm, sunny day is a joy into itself and in this land of perfume fantasy all the big bad wolves are programmatically kept at bay or exitinguished with a squirt of a well chosen perfume sprayer. It's a thought...

Notes for L'Eau de Chloé: lemon, peach, violet, natural rosewater, patchouli, cedar.
Available from major department stores.

*NB: I'm hereby referring to the screechy laundry-detergent like Chloé Eau de Parfum by Chloé (2008) and not the excellent, violet-tinged nostalgic powdery fragrance Love, Chloé.

Model: Camille Rowe-Pourcheresse. Shot by Mario Sorenti, Music: Lissy Trullie / Ready for the floor.
More at www.chloe.com/eau

Painting by Greek painter Nikiforos Lytras, The Kiss.


  1. Citrus, citrus and more citrus. Every time I read that there is citrus in a top note, I am not likely to try it. Because it's one of those top notes that do make me feel like vomiting.

  2. Annika07:21

    I so wanted to like this and actually bought a 30ml bottle. While I love the top and base notes, this has that sinus attacking detergent to the max quality in the middle notes that the original edp has... I'm hoping Miss Dior Eau Fraiche will be my new scent - it has citruses, galbanum, gardenia, jasmine and patchouli so it could be like this minus the brain freeze :D BTW, first comment here. I love how much I've learned from reading this blog, thank you so very much :)

  3. E,

    oh dear, that bad huh? :/

    Well, I think you should stay away from this one, then. It's quite crisp.

    Curious, though, indulge me: Classic orientals (Shalimar, Emeraude, Bal a Versailles etc) are built on a citrus top note to contrast with and unsweeten the base. Does it bother you there as well?

  4. Annika,

    thanks for "finding" your way into the comments and thanks for your most kind words on the site. :-)

    To be perfectly honest, this is not my first choice of a citrus mossy spring-summer thing, but it's acceptable for what it is. I do prefer Dior's L'Eau, which is greener and more white floral in the mid-section. The way things are, I tend to feel all fuzzy when something mainstream manages not to be a surupy mess, I guess.

  5. No overt citruses for me either.

    Nor innocent childhood (I was a little neurotic), girls rolling in the fields (one of the stupider things to do, however romantic it may sound; whatever grows in the fields is not comfy and if it is, it's the young shoots which means that one would get all muddy and then shot by a rightfully annoyed farmer) or anything fizzy, sparkling and tingling.

    I'm not into the eau madness either. Maybe Eau de Ankh or oh-de-nill for those who get Terry Pratchett references, and if I need to go the summery unobtrusive way, I have a bottle of Guerlain's Eau du Coq, which is tolerable enough for me and surroundings. All that Eau Oh So Fraiche iterations annoy me to no end. Hey, if flankers are needed, why not, say, Chloé, Miss Dior, you name it, Asphalt, with extra jasmine absolute and birch tar? It would also make tell-tale stains on light summer clothing.

  6. Eliam Puente14:55

    Interesting read. I was only able to smell this one for a few seconds but below all of the fresh citrus I did notice a very soft, watery like floral. It's interesting to me that there is actual rosewater in it since I didn't think modern commercial perfumes would use such age old ingredients. I do like the smell of rosewater though. It's very soft, sweet, and comforting.

  7. L,

    I should imagine that with your sour turning "problem" this isn't for you. :P

    Interesting about what you say about Du Coq though!

    As to Asphalt flankers, now there's a thought. It's beyond the capabilities and the imagination of major companies though, I'd presume.

  8. Eliam.

    thanks for stopping by!
    Yes, rosewater is a delightful fragrance and it's rarely used only due to technical reasons, not because it's not perfect in any other sense. It's interesting that it projects itself so nicely within the citrus.

  9. There are some, like Shalimar that don't bug me when the citrus top note isn't very sharp. With BaV, I don't get any kind of citrus in there. I think it steams from wearing Frapin's Espirit de Fleurs when I was getting over a stomach bug and still a little nauseated. Since then, I've become fussy about citrus in my perfumes

  10. Ah, makes sense!! Sorry you built that association. :-(

    Shalimar used to have a very "round" bergamot top (natural), It's synth now. Bal a Versailles too, though the more "powdery" element came forth sooner.

    Not to worry, so many other categories to choose from!


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