Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chloe Narcisse


Don't underestimate the power of our olfactory memory or its emotional impact.

I wore Narcisse, the 1992 release from Chloe, for a few months between 1992 and 1993. It was an extremely tumultuous time in my life in every possible way and I was searching for many things, including a signature scent.  A former friend hijacked my beloved Paloma Picasso, making it impossible for me to wear it again. Nothing in my life back then was quite right. I hated business school and every moment of every class in the Department of Economics, and I'm not even going to start talking about relationships with two very wrong guys, or about the heartbreak that followed me everywhere during those months.

My mother wore the original Chloe and she bought me a bottle of the newly-released Narcisse. I used it exclusively for a short time before passing it on to my sister who wears heavy fruity-florals much better than me. I haven't smelled it in many years but when I saw a bottle of the parfum on eBay for half a song I decided to get it. Just because.

I don't think I was ready. Every time I dabbed a bit on my wrist it was like a brutal ride through a time machine. It made my cozy house, the snow outside and the New Jersey suburb disappear. I felt like I was back in a city by the sea, hanging out with a bunch of my college friends in an outdoor cafe (and probably not wearing sunscreen), my heart heavy with angst, worry and the shame of the scorned. The cloying sweet cloud of big pink flowers and a candied cinnamon-tinged fruit hovering over me as thick as depression. There was anxious about impossible to decipher advanced microeconomics, neverending papers that had to be written and the date on Friday night.

Smelling Narcisse was an instant panic attack. It felt so real.

There's something about this perfume that is just off. The parfum version is just as unbalanced as my old EDT. It screams where it needs to whisper and hits you in the gut with an extra dose of sweetness. There's also an air freshener note, the worst interpretation of frangipani in a perfume that didn't come from the dollar store that even a creamy vanilla-sandalwood base couldn't redeem.

I could not be happier to not be 22 ever again.

Narcisse by Chloe in EDT can be online from just about any perfume retailers, usually under $30. I'm pretty sure the parfum has been discontinued, but it makes an occasional eBay appearance.

Assorted ads for Narcisse from 1992-1993: imagesdeparfums.fr

15 comments:

  1. Oh dear (((hugs))) I so get what you mean and I am so sorry for your roller coaster ride through history with Narcisse. I have some scents that are ruined for me- regardless of their beauty (Cristalle, Rive Gauche) due to the torment and heartbreak of when I wore them.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  2. I made it through an Econ bachelor's degree with only minor scrapes and bruises. But now I'm stilling paying off my degree and hate my boring, low paying job and desperately need to do something NOT in the business world before my soul is completely sucked out and painfully murdered. I equate my job to a Dementor (Harry Potter, anyone?).

    I am glad you made it out in mostly one piece, and hope you currently have a job that isn't your own personal Dementor.

    That out of the way - my time machines are Ralph and VS's Heaven (remind me of high school)... then Burberry and Vera Wang The Fragrance remind me of my terrible two years living on-campus at Bentley. I didn't even wear them; my evil room mates did.

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  3. Hi Gaia! Funny you posted this yesterday as I was trying out a sample of Vero Kern's Rubj, and I got an immediate rush of recognition - some drugstore scent from the 80's. I swear it's Chloe Narcisse, but am not sure. I used to wear it - boy, was it a killer. Rubj is a definite dup of something...is it Narcisse? I need to post this on a board and see if I get any agreement, or if someone can identify the scent for me if it ain't Narcisse...

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  4. Wow the ad really matched the description of your emotions while wearing the scent!

    Sorry - you had to go there again!

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  5. For me, I still have a "Ughuhuh... HIGH SCHOOL" moment whenever I walk by a BBW, and probably will until the day they close. There are a few scents that I like (really lightweight, work-friendly EDTs) but the store itself seems to emit the exact same mixed, fruity, sugary scent that hung in the girl's locker room.

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  6. Brilliantly said and sorry you had to go there once again.

    Narcisse was an (unwanted) gift to me and I tried hard to make it work because I loved the person who gave this to me, but I just couldn't. It is unbalanced and weird. I wonder why the frangipani doesn't perform its magic to soften. On the contrary it screams. Ah well, there's a discontinuation I (we) won't be lamenting! ;-O

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  7. Thank you, Jane, and everyone else for getting it and relating to that feeling. It actually makes it better.

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  8. Gretchen, comparing these jobs and the "business" world to dementors is exactly right. I was employed in a couple of such places years ago and had dementorish bosses. I hope you escape yours as soon as possible.

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  9. Karin, to my nose they are nothing alike. I adore Rubj which is all beautiful white florals and an animalic fruity musk on my skin. I don't know if it has any frangipani, but that might be what you're smelling.

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  10. Lexi, you're right- the ads couldn't be more fitting.

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  11. Pending, I know what you mean about BBW. I find the same thing to be true for Victoria's Secret.

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  12. Elena, I'm quite amused (though not really surprised) that we have a similar impression of Narcisse.

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  13. I wore the original Chloe (yet never loved it - it was a gift, and the prevailing attitude in my family was "use it up"). I was pregnant with my first child when I won as a door prize a small bottle of Chloe Narcisse. I knew very little about perfume then - as compared to the little I know now! - but I disliked it very much. It was shrill, it didn't hang together. Glad to see I didn't discard a masterpiece unknowingly.

    Some scents are time machines, aren't they? It is miraculous, even if the time machine takes us places we'd rather not revisit.

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  14. Wow! I was just 18 a three weeks when the dorms gave each incoming freshman a lil welcome box, we girls received a lil' secret deo and a lil bottle of this lil cute flower topped perfume... Chloé Narcisse... boy that lil' scent will forever remind me of "what could have been..."

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  15. hey precious lady, i lived the same "trubulances" but with an other parfume ( lulu - cacharel) but im extremely happy to read what you wrote. just wanted you to know there's someone far far away from you ( Turkey) who felt the same way with a signature of a bottle.. greetings and hugs. Asli

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