If a woman can tell the story of her life in fragrances, mine began with Chanel No. 5. In elementary school, my mother let me spray it into the air and take a sniff. I knew it was something fancy and expensive since she kept it in a special place in her bedroom. But, like most kids, my sense of smell was more attuned to sweet scents and I wasn’t ready for anything musky, spicy, or powdery yet.
I had never smelled anything so fresh and pretty.
In high school, I wore YSL’s spicy, oriental Paris then switched to Elizabeth Arden’s clean Green Tea eau de toilette. After college, I became a full-on fragrance hopper.
One day, I’d wear Bliss Spa’s cucumber-infused Eau de Toilette or Narciso Rodriguez’s rosy eponymous fragrance. Another, I’d mix Jo Malone’s sugary Nectarine Blossom & Honey with the brand’s spicy Pomegranate Noir. My perfume drawer overflowed with bottles.
Then, about seven years ago, Chloé came into my life.
After years of experimentation, I’ve discovered I’m a fan of clean scents. My running joke is that if Irish Spring bottled a perfume, I would buy it in a heartbeat.
Since no one’s given me a little green soapy bottle yet, Chloé satisfies my need for clean, like that feeling of freshly shampooed hair.
My first Chloé purchase was a heavy glass jar of perfumed body cream ($85). I had never smelled anything so fresh, pretty, sophisticated, and simply chic.
Now, there’s no going back. I’ll dabble in my Narciso again every now and then or try a day of Jo Malone Wild Bluebell. But I always come back to Chloé. And the clean, pretty scent couldn’t be more different from the spicy, sultry Chanel No. 5 that’s been fused into my childhood memories. Plus, I loved — and still do — how truly seasonless the fragrance is. With top notes of pink peony and freesia, it holds up just as well in winter as it does in the hottest days of summer.
Now that I have a daughter, I’m curious to see if my Chloé obsession will rub off on her. Or, maybe signature scents skip a generation — and she’ll end up a Chanel No. 5 girl.
GALLERY: Why I Love Chloé, a Retrospective