Thursday, 30 January 2014

Review: Clinique (Prescriptives) Calyx: The Resurrection Of The Fruit Salad

The close of 2013 saw the re-launch of Calyx, a fragrance that stomped all over it’s much maligned fruity floral genre with steel capped DM boots. Formerly manufactured by Prescriptives (an Estee Lauder Group company who disappeared into the murky depths of ‘internet only’), this long lost perfume has been resurrected under the brand Clinique. It is in effect – a zombie perfume, that which is back from the dead.

It’s not alone. That’s the thing about Zombies – they multiply. Whilst in the films they are resurrected as a rapidly decomposing reanimated (and therefore worse) version of their former living selves, it seems that perfume zombies are frequently making a come back as a ‘poshed up’ version, often with a much increased price tag and a fancy new bottle.

Recent Zombies of the posh variety have included Carven’s delightfully mossy green chypre – Ma Griffe which reappeared in a remarkably classy bottle, accompanied by a winsome sister in the form of Le Parfum, created by Perfumer de jour – Francis Kurkdijan. A 100 ml bottle of ‘new’ Ma Griffe costs about £75, whereas 100 ml of ‘old’ Ma Griffe is easily available on Ebay and at dilapidated seaside town chemist shops for about £30. I have no idea if they smell like each other or not, only that when I wore a sample of the new version to a summer wedding last year I felt elegant and a bit snooty.

Caron’s Zombies are walking the earth too, with Bellodgia regenerating as ‘Pui Bellodgia’ and Parfum Sacre becoming, well a less lipsticky version of Parfum Sacre, and much the better for it it is too.  Again, the price tag has jumped unfeasibly high for the reforms. In similarity to Carven, they too have gained a new sibling, in the form of My Ylang, a startlingly vibrant floral that sits high up on my want list.

Back to Calyx.

I don’t really recall the original very clearly, although I should given that it was enormously popular in my teenage years, not quite in the league of CK One and The Body Shop’s Dewberry Oil, but well loved by a generation.  Note to teenage self: don’t put Dewberry Oil inside your New Balance rave trainers, it will make them smell worse than the effects of twelve hour’s dancing inside a sweaty industrial unit..

According to Clinique’s publicity department, it contains exactly the same notes as it’s former self, of which there are many. It’s essentially a highly tart tropical fruit salad with a strong lily of the valley green astringency. Despite not being generally fond of Muguet, I like it enormously. Tropical scents tend to expel an eau de naff, being essentially sweet, fruity and a bit giggly. They are the starting point of teenage girlhood, for those who have yet to appreciate the eroticism of a heavily spiced oriental or the grown-up glamour of a dry chypre. Even worse, they are a frequent sub genre of the celebrity scent, touted by C list celebrities who like their fans to believe that they smell of lurid sweets and sugar. However, Calyx exists for grown ups being entirely devoid of anything resembling ‘sweet’. This is how it wears:

Upon the first spray, you are hit by an enormous whiff of passion fruit, sharp, tart passion fruit, not that of the gourmand desert variety. This soon wears off leaving a multi-faceted fruit salad. Again, not sweet, more lush in an aquatic manner. You can sense cucumber, melon and all sorts of other watery delights. This is topped with a slightly herbal quality, essentially the scent of ‘green’. Cassia and mint notes project a sensation of bracing radiance that uplifts you in similarity to the effect of a citrus cologne. An hour or so into it’s wear, floral and mossy notes dominate the fruit. For oakmoss chypre lovers, this is where you’ll feel a great sense of gratification, for it is truly ‘forest floor’. The mossy quality blends seamlessly with lily of the valley, again proliferating the essence of verdant foliage. Lily of the valley tends to appear overly artificial to my nose, but here it creates a highly natural sense of the outdoors which appeals to my city-locked claustrophobia enormously.

In short, I’m impressed.

Now then Clinique, please can we bring Wrappings back to life too and resurrect it from it’s gift set grave at Harrods?


  1. I have a sample of Calyx from approx. 3 years ago. Does it mean I have an "old(er)" version?

    In general, I'm against "resurrections" - unless they are done very close to the original. Otherwise I feel like company is trying to make money on my memories.

    1. Hi Undina, sorry I missed your reply. Yes, the one you have is the original. Though it's possible that the new one isn't a reform as the Estee Lauder Group made their own IFRA friendly oakmoss molecule quite a while ago. I don't see anything else in the notes that would require an update. The bottle looks more or less the same too.
      I picked up another sample today, it's still giving me great joy!