Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chloe See by Chloe: fragrance review

When she's gone, beautifully arranged in her coffin, her hair in loose curls, you never quite remember the color of her eyes or the timbre of her voice, there are no emotional scars of fights you had with her, nor mirth with which you shared confidences laying on the golden wheat of summer in the sleepy afternoon. She's gone, and it was really fine while it lasted, but little persists behind. We all have a relative like that. The See By Chloé eau de parfum is a bit like that, hard to sketch in a few striking, characteristic strokes, but at the same time difficult to dislike; a monochrome which hums with a familiar, harmless buzz which you really can't place.

via becauselondon.com

In an uncharacteristic discordance between ad copy and actual smell the See By Chloé offshoot of the Chloé fashion house introduces the new fragrance thus: "This fragrance captures the audaciousness and strong personality of the Chloé woman. An addictive floral fruity fragrance, it captures the irresistible and playful personality of a young woman fully embracing life. The fusing top of juicy bergamot and apple translate her energy and her urban edginess. Her natural feminity is conveyed through a beautiful floral bouquet of jasmin and ylang that grows into a sexy veil of vanilla and addictive musks."
 Rather contrarily I find that the becoming elements of the fragrance are its elegant powdery scent, which translates as a bit retro, its bitterish soapy trail, and its subtlety of ersatz fruits. The "energetic" part is clearly delusional, if by that we have come to expect upbeat fruit salads with added zing. Perfumer Michel Almairac took a zig when you expected him to take a zag and infused the fruity floral fragrance archetype with a soapy-smelling, aldehydic and musky bitterness which makes See By Chloé both eerily familiar (it reminds me of segments off Lauder's Pure White Linen, Essence by Narciso Rodriguez and something else, maybe Nude by Bill Blass?) and a bit like body products of yesterday.

In a way See By Chloé stands in media res in the Chloé narrative, as it is bookended by the silky powderiness of Love, Chloé (which I had pegged as a supreme parfum lingerie) and the scratchy soapiness of the re-issued Chloé by Chloé perfume.
If I were to bring a musical analogy, I'd say that while we associate most "playful, upbeat scents" with a C-sharp major key, this one plays definitely on a  D-flat major like a harp playing scales into infinity.

Essentially a linear perfume, equal parts feminine as masculine, with a fuzzy warmth which projects at a considerable radius, and a pronounced longevity especially when sprayed on fabric, See By Chloé strikes me as inoffensive and innocuous, probably aimed at a younger audience with no intricate expectations beyond the "you smell good" quip, and yet I can't bring myself to say it's worthless. It's slowly growing on me and though I realize that I have hundreds of bottles more interesting than this, if I were offered a small bottle of the eau de parfum I might find myself wearing it while solving the Sunday paper crosswords. (Though if I'm to take any clue from Bette Franke depicted in panties and a leather bomber jacket -and nothing else- in the ads I'm clearly wasting my Sunday mornings on said crosswords...)

The flacon is inspired by vintage bird cages, rather lovely to hold and with a nostalgic typeface. Model Bette Franke is the face of the advertising campaign. See By Chloe is available in 30, 50 and 75 ml of Eau de Parfum at major department stores.
More on the See by Chloe site.


  1. Sounds interesting Helg - will keep my eyes out for it to arrive at my shores :)

  2. annemariec01:15

    Sounds like your dilemma may be that See by Chloe will last considerably longer than the time it takes you to do the Sunday crosswords, leaving you with the long-winded remnant of a slightly boring fragrance. That's when you have a shower, I guess.

  3. Miss Heliotrope01:33

    Since when were apples urban & edgy? I'm not great at horticulture, but surely that's wrong? & all the apples in my local green grocer's are roundish - no edges.

    If it's natural feminity, why does it smell like flowers? Most females I know don't smell that way without added scent.

    I like your comment about upbeat fruit salads - sitting in the bowl singing "Always look on the bright side of life."

    Advertising, the greatest fantasy genre.

  4. I've seen this perfume EVERYWHERE lately, it's so refreshing to read a review that wasn't all "omg guyz it smells rlly good!!1"

    The bottle is charming, I'll definitely be giving this a whiff next time I'm at the mall.

  5. Not sure if it has hit Australia yet but will look out for it Friday when I am in the city. I am very intrigued by your review. Hope it improves my crossword skills

  6. M,

    oh you have PLENTY of far more interesting fragrances. It's just a wallpaperish scent for when one wants to mingle or not give the impression "of wearing perfume" *replete with pointing fingers at the perfumed individual! LOL

    Seriously, it's better than the average fruity salad of today because it's a bit bitterish, but that's all.

  7. AMC,

    exactly right!! Brilliant comment!! :-D

  8. C,

    you tell me!!
    You have deconstructed this the way it was supposed to be deconstructed. I find nothing "edgy" or "urban" about the scent or the "notes" that are supposedly evoked, but I suppose powder and soap are not really popular references to make in regards to a fragrance with a perfume price tag or one aimed at the general audience.
    Anyway, the scent isn't too bad, regardless. A bit dull overall maybe, but not really worthless. (Then again I rather fancy most musks, please note)

  9. Gil,

    you're welcome.

    I guess it's not the be all and end all of nowadays perfumer for sure! It's nice but that's all. Perhaps many people who have been enamored with it have not sampled too extensively (not everyone is supposed to, anyway!) and it's true that amidst the department shelves selection of the moment, SbC doesn't fare too bad. (Plus I'm told the scent strips in the magazines actually smell even better than the real thing!)

    The bottle is very nice indeed. Which surprised me for some reason, but then I recollected all the Chloe bottles are good; well designed functionally and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

  10. M,

    hahaha! Yeah, because if you wait on it to improve other things you'd have to wait a while. It's a good carefree scent for those moments we don't want to think about perfume or for when we don't want to wear something that is perceived as "geez, perfume!!".

    Then again I much prefer to wear Gaiac 10 at those instances, but that's me... ;-)


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