The Chloé series is basically the olfactory translation of the “vintage silk camisole over razor-sharp boyfriend trousers” style pioneered by Stella McCartney: a retro-powdery rose on a dry woods base. The first three offerings played on the now-classic, green-tinged litchi-magnolia-peony-muguet accord (eau de parfum), the contrast between aquatic fruit on top and a powdery violet-iris accord (eau de toilette) and a full-on oriental honey-amber-tonka base (eau de parfum intense). For L’Eau de Chloé, Michel Almairac (who signed the entire series) has kept the note in the cosmetic register, by sliding from the powder puff to rosewater, whose use in beauty care goes back as far as its first distillation.
Of all the products extracted from roses, it is rosewater, according to Almairac, which reflects the flower’s scent most accurately. How to use it as a raw material in a fine fragrance formula is, however, a thorny problem, since in addition to alcohol, fine fragrances also contain a fair amount of water: adding eau de rose on top of that would make the product unstable. Then Michel Almairac had a brainwave: why not replace the water by rosewater, and add it directly to a chypre base along with the alcohol? It is, he says, a first in modern perfumery, and apparently no mean technical feat.
The hurdle, at least in French, is also semantic. À l’eau de rose is a term used since the 19th century to designate saccharine romantic novels. And with its ingénue romping in a summer field, the ad shot by Mario Sorrenti does flirts with David Hamilton aesthetics –seeing as they were already passé when the parents of Chloé’s customer base reached puberty, they can now be referenced as a charming retro touch.
However, L’Eau de Chloé’s blushing rose chiffon is draped over a chypre backbone, and chypre couldn’t do mawkish if it tried. Adding enough rosewater to make up one quarter of the final product also has peculiar effects on the balance of the fragrance: the hugely lush, very natural-feeling rose pulls the unsweetened lemonade top note well into the heart, and sustains its rose-ness all the way down to the light (i.e. neither earthy nor musty) patchouli base. L’Eau de Chloé wears as effortlessly as model/actor Camille Rowe-Pourcheresse’s gauzy dress in the ad, but for all its breeziness, it is extremely stable, practically potent enough to be tasted, and amazingly long-lasting.
Picture taken at the L’Eau de Chloé press presentation
I was so miffed that they recycled the name for something so different from the original Chloe that I haven't sampled any of these. Nonetheless, Octavaian seemed to appreciate some of them, and now, with your wonderful explanation, this one sounds really interesting. I guess I should air kiss and make up with Chloe! ~~nozknozRépondreSupprimer
Nozknoz, the original Chloé was the first bottle of grown-up perfume I bought (Tigress doesn't count), on my first trip to Paris. I'm not a huge rose fiend, but of the four Chloés I find the oriental one, EDP intense, the most interesting along with this newest one. Worth a sniff!RépondreSupprimer
Interesting. In Italian something done "all'acqua di rose" (using rose water) means something done quickly and superficially.I have not paid any attention to this series but will give it a try, thanks Denyse.RépondreSupprimer
Use rosewater instead of water? Duuuh, I wouldn't call this groundbreaking since it is a natural perfumer's standard. However, if one quarter of the final product is rosewater it also must contain increased levels of dispersing agent (carries its own scent and the more you ad the more the final product gets a stale smell in my opinion). Anyway, higher percentages of water should result in mellower sillage and better longevity. I have sampled water based perfume from "I hate perfume" and I have made an attempt to it myself without using a dispersant (I just shake the bottle well before use). I can attest that staying power is improved and you need much less essence than with alcohol to achieve same tenacity.RépondreSupprimer
PS: From some providers I have seen a product listed as Orange-blossom Water Absolute. Meaning an absolute is obtained from isolating the aromatic essences of the hydrosol. If this is possible I don't see why the same can't be done with rosewater. It would make it easier for it to be used in EdP concentration.
Silvia, so it's a totally different meaning from the French one, which seems to spring from the fact that pink is a "feminine" colour... Interesting indeed!RépondreSupprimer
Kostas, I should have specified "a first in fine fragrance". The scent does, by the way, contain alcohol.RépondreSupprimer
As I'm sure you've noticed I'm not familiar with natural perfumery, which is much less developed in France.
As for rosewater absolute, it didn't come up during my conversation with Michel Almairac so I suppose it's not what was used.
This sounds so much better than I expected, given that I still love the original Chloe and, like Nozknoz, am so annoyed with the newer version that usurped its name. I'll give this one a sniff, at least.RépondreSupprimer
Gretchen, we're all hoping the original Chloé might make a reappearance...RépondreSupprimer
It is just that rosewater has been used as a perfume since it was discovered by the arabs and it was probably the first perfume not based in fat. When alcohol based perfumes became the staple they still contained rosewater. It was replaced in perfumery later in favor of synthetics. To revisit the roots of perfumery in a modern context is beyond any doubt very important but it is not a new invention. Not trying to discredit anyone. Simply pointing out the difference.RépondreSupprimer
Kostas, I do say in the post that its use in beauty (and fragrance was not dissociated from cosmetics for centuries) goes back to its first distillation. Obviously this is a first not in the entire history of the world, but in an industrially-produced alcohol-based fragrance. The history of rosewater in fragrance would warrant another post, which I'm afraid I'm not qualified to write!RépondreSupprimer