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.
Sometimes 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