Chloe L’Eau de Chloe ~ fragrance review

L'Eau de Chloé advert

Can I pick the winners? No, I most emphatically cannot. The success of Chloé's 2008 comeback fragrance, Chloé Eau de Parfum, took me totally by surprise — I had found the juice average at best. Granted, we all know that sometimes, the right generic but likable juice, in excellent packaging with engaging advertising, can sell very well indeed, but I did not find Chloé all that likable, in fact, I found it so unlikable and dull that I did not bother to review it. 

After it did so well, I tried it several more times to see if I'd missed something. Nope. On this one, I stand firmly with Chandler Burr:

Not only is Chloé an uninteresting, clichéd floral — why are houses still launching saccharine, vaguely unidentifiable composite flowers? — it smells like a perfume masquerading as a fabric softener. What’s worse is that there are some good fabric softener scents out there; this smells cheap and slightly chemical.1

Perfumistas, by and large, seemed to agree — it has its fans, of course, but Chloé was never the darling of the perfume blogs. I confess I skipped the newer concentrations (they later did an Eau de Toilette and an Eau de Parfum Intense), and I further confess that the newest iteration, L'Eau de Chloé, got my attention mostly because of the pretty pale green color scheme, although it's also true that the brand's 2010 offering, Love, Chloe, convinced me that Chloé might in fact make some fragrances I might like.

As it turns out, I don't like L'Eau de Chloé nearly as well as Love, Chloé. I do like it far better than the original Chloé, though, and I will not be at all surprised if L'Eau de Chloé wins over a few perfumistas.

Perfumer Michel Almairac (yes, he also did the 2008 Chloé Eau de Parfum) reportedly replaced the original's rose note with a 22% concentration of rosewater, and the scent's opening is supposed to evoke frozen lemonade. And yes, the opening is lemon-y, although to my nose, it's something more like what a grapefruit-lemon-lime Skittles Sour might smell like — an energetic burst of tart citrus, flat rather than sparkling, and aiming for fun over realism — if it was accompanied by a garnish of crushed greenery. It's got a nice kick to it in the early stages, and should do well to attract snap-purchase decisions at the fragrance counters.

The heart is sheer florals, still slightly green, only slightly rose-ish, over a dry, summery, modern chypre base (read: patchouli cleaned nearly beyond recognition plus some pale woods). It's nice enough — it doesn't, like the original, remind me of a cleaning product — but it's not exactly bursting with personality once the fun of the top notes fades away. That's the modern way, of course; it's perfectly office- and elevator-friendly, will presumably wear nicely even in hot weather, and has decent lasting power for an Eau de Toilette.

I wore L'Eau de Chloé next to Chanel's Cristalle Eau Verte, another greenish citrus-y modern chypre. Just out of the gate, the two vie for attention, but after 30 minutes, both fragrances have settled down into safe-for-work status. After 60 minutes, I prefer the Cristalle Eau Verte — the Chloé is still hanging on, but it's comparatively bland next to the creamy florals in the Cristalle, and I'm tempted to reapply for another burst of citrus. After 120 minutes, I did give the Chloé a little boost, still, after yet another hour had passed the Chanel won out.2

Verdict: L'Eau de Chloé is nicely done, and definitely worth a try. But I liked it best the first time I tried it, and less each time after that — it's just a little too well-behaved for my taste.

L'Eau de Chloé product range

Chloé L'Eau de Chloé is available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette and in matching body products.

1. Read the rest of Burr's review at Scent Notes | Chloé by Chloé at the New York Times.

2. Mind you, I picked that Chanel only because it seemed vaguely related to the Chloé — it is not a favorite of mine. Next to what I think of as the "real" Cristalle (and a perfect old-school summer citrus chypre), the original Cristalle Eau de Toilette, both Cristalle Eau Verte and L'Eau de Chloé strike me as unforgivably flat and uninspired.

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51 Comments

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  1. mals86 says:

    I do love that color. It’s so fresh and restful, and it would definitely snag my attention at a counter.

    Never see ANY of the Chloes around in my (lame-oid) local mall, so I won’t have to worry too intensely about resisting it. I’ve been going through some unwanted mini bottles to find something appropriate to donate toward the charity auction at Scents of Self, and ran across my mini parfum of original Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, which I wore in edt for more than a decade… it’s too much of an emotional risk to wear it now, but boy, was that a good solid perfume! Sigh.

    • mals86 says:

      If it is okay to mention, here is the Scents of Self link:
      http://thescentsofself.com/2012/02/22/donate-and-do-good/

      If not, please edit, Robin. Thanks.

    • Robin says:

      The original original Chloe was a truly great scent — it had personality to spare. (perhaps more than some bystanders appreciated, LOL)

      Surprised your mall doesn’t have Chloe though! Now I’ll have to check my lame-oid local mall (the smaller of the 2, where the highest-end store is a very lower-tier Macys — I normally drive 40 minutes to get to a decent mall with a decent Macys, as well NM & whatnot) and see if they have it.

      Link is just fine — it’s a great idea.

      • mals86 says:

        I don’t even have a Macy’s. I have to drive 55 miles to reach one.

        (I was dabbing my old Chloe, if that helps… :) )

        • Robin says:

          Oh, I did not mean to snark on KL Chloe — I wore it too!

          • KateReed says:

            Is that 1975 Chloe? Bluefly still carries it, if anyone’s looking. There are lotsof other things there I haven’t seen in quite a while too. It’s under the Beauty heading.

            (BTW, has anyone tried eyefly yet? I need new glasses.)

          • Robin says:

            I have not tried eyefly, but want to try this new eyeglass place — all done online & they send you frames to try:

            http://www.warbyparker.com/

          • KateReed says:

            Oh wow, there’s a gorgeous pair of bright green frames in the men’s section there! I was checking out eyefly mostly because I want to go back to metal frames but…well, a girl’s gotta have sunglasses too, right?

          • nozknoz says:

            Now you’ve done it, Robin – I’m fascinated that eyefly offers a “Colonel monocle”!

          • Robin says:

            Isn’t that fun? And it’s actually very good looking, I think.

            (But in case anyone else wants to see it, it’s at the Warby Parker not the eyefly)

    • Thalia says:

      I love original Chloe! I have a mini of that from the ’90s, and it is just big and complex and pleasant to smell. I can see how spraying rather than dabbing would take it over the top pretty easily, though.

      I assume the current version of the Lagerfeld Chloe, at drugstores everywhere, has been reformulated into nothingness?

      • Robin says:

        I have not tried it so no idea…but can only assume it’s been redone several times over.

  2. Lucy says:

    Funny, I tried this last night and ran back home only to find you hadn’t done a review yet. This dried down to a dull rose scent on me and I ended up scrubbing it off during dinner because it was interfering with my enjoyment of a bacon cheeseburger. The use of rosewater was an interesting idea, and the difference was noticeable, but I think I’ll just keep buying $2 bottles of it at the grocery store.

    • Robin says:

      The rosewater *is* an interesting idea, but it’s too slight in the actual perfume. I adore the smell of my old-fashioned rosewater & glycerin skin spray! I should have tried layering it w/ the Chloe, didn’t think of it.

      • NinaraPoll says:

        What is this rosewater and glycerin spray of which you speak? I’ve been looking for a good one for a while now, and my curiosity is piqued.

        • Robin says:

          I buy it at vitacost, but you can find at health food stores too…Heritage Products Rosewater & Glycerin.

    • KRL says:

      I love rosewater as a skin tonic and only wish it was $2 at my grocery store :(. It’s more like $20 at Whole Foods…

      • Robin says:

        Check vitacost…I pay closer to the $6.

      • Rappleyea says:

        An excellent on-line source of hydrosols is AV-AT.com. The natural perfumers’ group recommended him, and I buy my essential oils from him. He deals directly with rose growers in Turkey, and has the best rose essential oil I’ve ever used.

      • Lucy says:

        I have a great little grocery store that specializes in all sorts of ethnic foods. I found both rose and orange blossom water in the Lebanese aisle. I believe the brand name is Ziyad, and they’re just a couple dollars each. I’ve also seen the rose water in the International aisle at Meijer (like a Super WalMart), but it’s $3.99 there. I like using them as toner too, and in the iron for steaming my pillowcases. :)

  3. behemot says:

    I tried Chloe L’Eau in sephora. Also love the green color. I liked it better than original, it is not bad, but I am 100% sure I am not going to buy this one. But I have to admit, It was not irritating to me, as opposed to 2008 Chloe.

    • Robin says:

      Exactly — it is not irritating! Truth be told, it does not even remind me of the original, in any way, although I did not wear them together to investigate.

  4. LaMaroc says:

    I got a chance to sniff this at the mall this weekend and it’s funny but I find this one way more like a dryer sheet than the previous Chloe. That one was pure cheap floral bug spray on me. Love, Chloe is in regular rotation now among my other fragrances. Has anyone tried the Intense version?

    • Robin says:

      How interesting! I wonder if that is the green/lemon thing.

      I did not try the LC Intense, and meant to.

  5. annemarie says:

    The Chloes are like the J’Adores and the Miss Dior Cheries. I stare at them in the department store, I frown, I pick one up here and there, and I wonder which will be the least generic and boring. Um … maybe … um … this one … no, it’s all too confusing. I walk away without a spritz.

    At least the colour distinguishes this latest Chloe. That will be a help next time I’m at the mall.

    But – bah! Wear Habanita today.

    • Robin says:

      Ha, your Habanita will beat up my L’Eau de Chloé and walk away without a scratch ;-)

  6. dominika says:

    So I’ll admit it – I like the bland rosewater Chloe ;) For sentimental reasons, maybe – it was the first high-end perfume I bought after I got me a decent job, and I wore it for a year or two and found it pleasant and comforting…

    Later I got bored with it and gave it to a friend. She wears it sometimes, though, and I do like smelling it on her :)

    I’ll be looking forward to trying this one and seeing how it compares.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, please do admit it — I am not anybody’s arbiter of taste!

  7. victoriaf says:

    I’m wearing it right now, and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it. On me it is a chypre in style of Coriandre and AP, but lighter and less mossy. My expectations were very low after I smelled the original Chloe (the one from 2008, I mean), so it turned out to be a nice surprise.

    • Robin says:

      I think that’s why I liked it best the 1st time I wore it — it was a nice surprise to me too given how much I disliked Chloe EdP.

      I do miss Coriandre, still!

      • nancyg says:

        I miss it, too. Got it at Eatons in TO back in 1979…

  8. RusticDove says:

    The magazine sample strip smelled SO good! It was the first sample strip that excited me since Bvlgari Jasmine Noir. I’ll still give it a sniff @ Sephora of course, but I’m considerably less excited about it now. :/

    • Robin says:

      You know, I heard that, so I ripped the one from the last Allure open (I usually toss them) and I cannot smell a thing. Literally nothing. Very odd, wonder if mine was defective?? Or I’m anosmic to whatever they’re using for the scent strip.

  9. violetnoir says:

    So, how do your really feel about these fragrances, R, lol?

    This first Chloe was so horrendous, I could not imagine how it would even compete with the beauty and quality of the original Chloe from the mid-70′s, but I guess it sells like hotcakes.

    I have to admit, the scent strip in this month’s Allure for the L’Eau version was actually intriguing. This may turn out to be the first time that a magazine scent strip has smelled better than the actual fragrance! What a hoot!

    Hugs!

    • Robin says:

      So weird that I cannot smell that darned scent strip (see comment just above). But any scent strip is going to place emphasis on the top notes, right? So would not be surprised if many of them smelled better than the scents themselves?

      Using a question mark because I really don’t know. I usually rip them out of the magazine and toss them.

  10. Karin says:

    I wish Chandler Burr was still writing those reviews – I enjoyed reading them! Sorry to hear about the Chloe. I usually ignore all mass market releases…unless there’s a perfumista buzz. Sounds like this isn’t one to get excited about…

    • Robin says:

      Interested to read other reviews…maybe other bloggers (and readers!) will like this one more than I did.

  11. magpie says:

    This smelled really lovely on the strip inside my weekend newspaper, but now I don’t have much hope for it! I would love to find a summery perfume with a distinct “rosewater” note – I almost always have a rosewater and glycerin spray on hand for a pick-me-up, but the scent is so very fleeting.

    • Robin says:

      Maybe you’ll find the rosewater more noticeable than I did, who knows?

      • magpie says:

        Maybe, but I have other reasons for low expectations now! If the copy said something about “capturing the fragrance of pure rosewater” or “centered around an ethereal rosewater accord” I’d be more inclined to believe that they made an effort to pin down the scent of rosewater and keep it there. I’m no perfumer, so maybe I’m wrong about this, but “made with 22% rosewater!” sounds gimmicky to me, since I already know that it takes a lot more than plain rosewater to make a perfume smell like, well, rosewater.

  12. KRL says:

    I love that you did a side-by-side on this. Not only fun to read, it’s very helpful. I have a small decant of the Cristalle – maybe I’ll take it out for a drive tomorrow.

  13. Rappleyea says:

    Great review! You saved your best line for last:

    “…both Cristalle Eau Verte and L’Eau de Chloé strike me as unforgivably flat and uninspired.”

    :-D

  14. Omega says:

    I don’t like Skittles and I don’t like sour…that doesn’t sound good, lol.

  15. Omega says:

    I need a fume that doesn’t behave! That is risky, dark, crazy, bombastic! I am done with the girly stuff, someone make a 22 note bomb for crying out loud! hehehe. And yes, I am thinking of Poison there..IMHO we need another ground breaking BOMB!:D.

    I don’t want a skippy in the forest, bubblegum, field of dreams teeny bop hayride..give me some JUICE! hehe.

    • Robin says:

      Tom Ford is nearly the only one making mainstream bombs now, otherwise, you nearly have to go vintage or niche.

      • Omega says:

        Ya, I know:). I need to dabble in some Tom Ford scents, sadly, I haven’t tried any..I must get on it!

  16. OVincze says:

    I completely agree with you on this one Robin; I was surprised to find that I liked this far better than the 2008 Chloe, which I find very bland and extremely boring but I too definitely prefer Love. I find this very likeable and wearable and would wear it in the summer heat if I got a bottle but do not find it exciting enough to grab a bottle of it even though it is priced well and we can get coupons but have others far ahead on my list right now.

    • Robin says:

      Not sure if I’ll ever buy it or not…probably would if I found the right price.

  17. Mihaela says:

    Chloe (2008) is a rose-detergent-conditioner feerie! Never liked enough to wear it but I admit it can smell nice on other people, just not on me. It’s a perfume that screams and I find it a bit on the cheap side. L’eau de Chloe is, to my surprise, exquisite. I have fallen for it and I like it even mor enow, in freezing winter. Everything is nice in this little uncomplicated perfume: name, bottle, colour, the pale rose with clean patchouli and the sparkling top citrus. Well, I’m infatuated with it & I find it romantic, fresh, feminine and wel blended. I could not realate to your Crstalle comparison because I am not a Chanel lover and I fail to apreciate their creations. Everytime I try them they smell so masculine and cold and this intelectual coldenss in them puts me off forever. But L’eau de Chloe doe snot aim that high and maybe that’s why I love it so much; it is not an abstract geometric criystal like composition, it’s just a nice elegant and crisp fragrance with a retro-girlie vibe I find utterly adorable! Thr others Chloes did not talk to me at all unfortunately…. The concept in Love Chloe seemed nice and I so much wanted to love it, but it does not work at all with me! I love the top notes and then comes disaster. It smells to me weird and old and not very attractive. Too bad for the bottle, which is great.

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