Chloe: that floaty, dreamy, feminine. Two women – one from 1975, the other 2008. Rivals who, though sharing the same name, could hardly be further apart.














The upstart debutante, ‘Chloe Eau de Parfum’, released in 2008, immediately had ‘winner’ stamped all over it. As soon as I smelled the perfume I thought ‘bingo’ : yes – this will sell by the truckload – a scent that had the familiarity of certain other fresh, floral scents – Calvin Klein’s Escape came immediately to mind – yet felt completely contemporary and fully realized:  a sharp, piercing, ‘hydroponic’ floral of roses, peonies, lychees and urban, ‘ambered’ chic with cooler than thou freesias. Winning all the awards it could possibly win the following year, from the FIFI best fragrance to the Grand Prix Du Parfum, the reborn Chloe has now become an inextinguishable part of the city olfactory lexicon. You smell it on ladies who lunch; on those that smell so chemically clean their bones squeak; lingering on their unimaginative, but fashionable coats and at the edges of their sheening, high-grade makeup.


























I hate this perfume. Really, really hate it. With a passion. I admit that in an way it has perfect construction and is very clever. It works from all angles. It ‘encapsulates the times’. But it is, also, quite inhuman. The strength of its entirely synthetic composition is unholy.



While programmed by the current conservative codes to act all feminine and soft – virginal, prim and proper but with a cleverly flirtatious ‘taste of what’s to come’,  this scent, when you peel back the skin,  has the infallibility and metallic machine strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unrelenting killer robot in Terminator 2.Hasta la vista baby: : : :  I’LL BE BACK. ‘Chloe Eau De Parfum’  is so hissing, so acidically ‘chic’ and penetrating, that when a women wearing too much of this perfume approaches, the scent radiating from her poreless skin – – like a shield, her inviolable armour of hygiene – the smell, of those screeching, hysterically oyster roses –  violates your tongue, your bloodstream – she blinds you with her prettiness: you taste her chemicals, you shudder.


































Chloe suddenly realizing that she smells really, really  horrible.






































Yesterday I picked up, for song,  a 15ml vintage parfum of the original Chloe, that soft, adipose, white floral classic still loved by many and who continue to lament its reformulation as a relegated, drugstore cheapo. Shaped disturbingly like a severed aortic heart valve (or else a truncated calla lily, depending on your mindset), it is easy to understand why lovers of the current Chloe would label this languorous predecessor a ‘grandma’. There is a fuzziness, dare I say it, a ‘perfumey’ quality  – a word I hesitate to use ordinarily as I prefer to find better descriptors – but yes, that aldehydic, padded, cosy, curvaceous skin-clinging quality that the ‘old’ perfumes had – the ones that made you want to move in closer and nuzzle up to the bosom, rather than hold your breath and scream and run.



Yes, the vulnerability and soft, gauzy neediness of this perfume – a cottonwool tuberose with sweet breath of coconut and honeysuckle – may well disgust her younger contemporaries. Certainly. I understand that fully. In comparison to their taut, boned musculature, their brand new tea dresses and their agitated, smiling anorexia, this Chloe, so rounded and smooth, smells almost fat.





Yes, my sweet contemporary darling, I suppose, in a way, it kind of does:  but unlike your cold and hyperbolically perfect self, so sharp and unyielding, so poised and indisputable, this Chloe –  woozily insinuating, skin-warm and swoon – smells beautiful;  real.

































The film stills I have used here for this (predictably unpopular) post  – no one likes me when I get all poisonous – are all taken from ‘Chloe’, an erotic thriller from 2010 that I am very fond of and have seen several times. Full of genre tropes but filmed with an arthouse sensibility (by Canadian director Atom Egoyan), this is a breathless, sapphic twist on Fatal Attraction  – all you-think-you-cansleep-with-me-and-just-throw-me-away? obsession and lace n’lipstick thrills, starring Julianne Moore,  – playing a top level gynaecologist in Toronto pursued by a fractured, psychotic high class prostitute, Chloe (a siren who has also seduced her husband and son),  and a character played quite alluringly, and hypnotically,  by the beautiful (and in fact, very 1975 Chloe – had she been around back then I’m sure Lagerfeld would have used her in the advertising campaign), Amanda Seyfried.

























I’ll leave you to imagine who prevails.

















Filed under Flowers

21 responses to “CHLOE vs CHLOE

  1. Lilybelle

    Like you, I loathe the new Chloe and love the old one.

    • Is it just a generational thing or can a person be objective about this perfumed evil doppelgänger?

      I do think the new Chloe is perfectly constructed and balanced in its way and totally understand why people would gravitate towards it. The problem is that it smells vile.

  2. I share your passion in hating the new Chloé and loving the old. When I smell the current Chloé I get nauseous, no joke.
    The old KL Chloé was my mom’s signature for more than 15 years, and she used to knit sweaters for us that always smelled great when they were finished. Smelling it now makes me nostalgic.

    • I LOVE the idea of Chloe scented sweaters!

      • jennyredhen

        I loved the old Chloe as well could’nt believe the new one.. how can they make a perfume so completely different to the original and give it the same name..I actually bought a bottle on line expecting i to be the same.. what a waste of money that was…… on a different note I see Luca Guadagnino director of I Am Love that polarising movie starring Tilda Swinton has released a new movie called A Bigger Splash apparentlyit is “very different but oh so similar” and also stars Tilda Swinton as well as Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson It is described as a “film you will either love or hate”… and its showing here now… cant wait to get there!! Have you seen it. If its here it must be in Japan by now.

      • Thanks for letting me know about this I had no idea there was another one by him! As you know I eventually adored I am Love but I can imagine how such artful earnestness could piss certain people off. I want to see it- quite like Mr Fiennes at times.

      • Incidentally, the thought of expecting Chloe, and then getting ‘Chloe’: what a shock that must have been to your nose!

  3. Veritas

    I love both… KL Chloe I wore when I was 16…the new Chloe my daughter wore when she was 16…I think I love the new because I associate it with her….

  4. It does bug me that people just totally ignore the review here (the film, etc) and just blab on about which one they prefer. A very boring and dull response. I feel like giving up sometimes.

    • Veritas

      I hope that comment was not directed towards me….I did indeed read the entire post but as I am not a film aficionado or film critic I usually don’t direct my responses to that subject….same for politics…..or religion….I am . after all, most interested in what you have to say about the perfumes…
      apologies if my response was dull and boring…..

  5. I have to concur with you here. I do adore the older Chloe, for all the obvious reasons you stated, but I also have to give credit to the new Chloe for being well crafted. It was, in my opinion, too well crafted. It hits all the right notes, it seems to be just what the focus groups called for, but it lacks a soul. It is a disembodied scent. It is the scent choice of ladies who lunch, those who have nonstop conversations that are so vapid, well the silence would be more fulfilling and satisfying. This is a polished lifeless get together.
    Now the original Chloe, she is a fully fleshed out woman with lovely tales to share. She may not always say the right thing at the right time, but what she says is substantial. She is a little rough around the edges and her chignon is a bit messy, but it is a lunch date that leaves you feeling great, not empty. It is a satisfying scent.
    I adore how you juxtaposed this scent review with the movie, a movie I adored on so many levels. I agree with you, Amanda Seyfried would have made the perfect muse for the original Chloe. She is a complete package, never too polished, yet quite refined at the same time. She really know herself.
    I guess that sums up the difference between the two Chloe scents. The newer one is aspiring to something she may never be, and eventually realizes that. Original Chloe knows who she is and even though she has aspirations, she is still content with herself and just enjoys life.

    • I wonder if we are being too harsh on her…this new one. I agree with you wholeheartedly, of course, but perhaps the right wearer could embody her with soul. I don’t know. This was a very bitter review! Sometimes I just like to vent, and I need a victim.

    • PS. I wouldn’t have thought that you would like Chloe. Duncan (like most people) thought it was a load of trash.

      • I don’t think this review was too bitter, just refreshingly honest. I personally don’t think this fragrance could ever be imbued with a soul, just the same way as a modern steel structure rarely has a soul.
        I do not really like this scent, the modern one, but it is crafted better than many newer ones I have smelt. I guess that is it, it is just not too horrible. That speaks volumes about most of what is being sold these days.

  6. bella ciao

    In terms of soulless, there are worse offenders than new size zero Chloe, at least to my nose. To me it is just undemandingly, superficially not-unpleasant. I guess to some extent it means I wish I were a squeaky clean lady who lunches, kept in style by her husband, always tastefully tarted up:)-
    My real bêtes noires are those soulless concoctions made for “office wear”, those that are not as soft and ditzy as new Chloe but pretend to project a some sort of business edge. They immediately conjur up über-ambitious fast trackers at some global business consultancies, huge law firms, tax optimizers and the like. Infusion d’Iris could be their stink of predilection. I just hate it with a vengeance and if I were to take the time and rant about that kind of stuff, this would top my list. There are more of that kind but I seem to have put then out of my sphere of smell, so no more naming (and probably offending as well).
    Also why waste a perfectly decent Sunday on non-perfumes? When there is Vanille Ylang, Bois des Iles or Guet Apens to be sprayed, so much more flesh and decadence:)-

  7. Larkin

    God, I’ve never understood Chloe, new or old. I sprayed it 10, 15 years ago and hated it – was that too modern, still? And now – blech. Just can’t smell anything good there. Chole was, and is, flat and perfumer’s alcohol on me, in odor. Like smelling scotch tape and stainless steel.

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