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.
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.