Back when I was a teenager, and devoted to all things alterna-hip and ironically retro, I wore an emphatically unhip and earnestly retro perfume: the original Chloé by Parfums Chloé. This Chloé, not to be confused with the brand new Chloé, which smells like angry soapsuds, had peach-colored juice and came in a peach-colored box. That was all it took to seal the deal in my impressionable mind that Chloé was a peach-scented perfume, but like so many other things I was positive I knew at 18, I slightly right, but mostly wrong.
In fact, Chloé was a tuberose, rich and animalic; green at first, then sultry. The beast in this beauty sprang from the jasmine, with its hint of overripe decay. The effect was densely feminine, a wallow in the womanliness I did not yet possess.
I moved on from Chloé, then forgot about it, until the other day when I tried Parfums DelRae Amoureuse. Parfums DelRae is a San Fransisco-based line that features scents that smell to me like “proper” perfumes. And no wonder, since Michel Roudnitska is the nose behind most of their fragrances, including Amoureuse. Roudnitska is the son of two perfumers, with his father Edmond’s output providing some real doozies in the masterpiece-of-all-time category: Eau Sauvage, Diorissimo, and Diorella, all for Christian Dior. Son Michel seems to have the same taste for the friction between fresh and funky, betwixt the tang of citrus and the putang of indolic and animalic accords.
(Kids, I know it’s hard to believe in our world of apologetic laundry-detergent body-sprays, but in the olden days, one expected at least a sprinkle of skank in each and every bottle of fancy perfume.)
So when I smelled Amoureuse, I flashed on “Chloé Classic” in a pleasing episode of Recovered Perfume Memory Syndrome. Amoureuse is heady and deeply sexy. It makes a vivid, sweeping entrance, announcing itself with tangerine and the green, peppery sweetness of cardamom. In no time flat, huge lilies are surfing the impressive sillage, which is billowing and room filling.
All of this carry-on is certainly plush and diva-esque, but where my nostrils really perk up is at the onset of the dirty-minded jasmine and creamy tuberose. It’s the Chloé effect. And then comes my absolute favorite aspect of Amoureuse: the warm, honey drydown that hums for hours on the skin.
Honey in perfume is tricky: it can read as sickeningly sweet, or even worse, public-toilet urinous. Not a problem in Amoureuse, where the honey is perfect, adding a buttery voluptuousness. It suggests raunchiness, without actually smelling raunchy.
Heady, voluptuous, densely feminine - that’s Amoureuse. Now excuse me while I wallow in my womanliness.
Image: Anouk Aimée with Jean-Louis Trintignant in "A Man and a Woman"