Old Flame: Calyx Comes Back Like a Still-Hot Former Boyfriend

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Liza Herz
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Calyx_Clinique Calyx

Reuniting with a perfume you loved years ago can be as disappointing as running into a high school crush. “I can’t believe I liked you. I thought you were cool?” How nerve-wracking then, to learn that Calyx, my late '80s true fragrance love, is coming back into stores after a prolonged absence. Oh God, what if my taste then had sucked? What if I'd been tacky?

Calyx (from $62 at department stores, clinique.ca) was created by superstar perfumer Sonia Grojsman, the nose behind massive hits like Lancôme Trésor, Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Calvin Klein Eternity and Estée Lauder Beautiful. Revolutionary when it launched way back in 1986, Calyx was full–frontal grapefruit with exotic fruits all wrapped up in white flowers. The first ‘important’ Fruity Floral scent, it was the perfect antidote to the big, room-clearing perfumes like Giorgio Beverly Hills and Dior Poison that dominated that decade. It was idiosyncratic and instantly identifiable and immediately found an audience (Janine expresses Calyx love here).

But in early 2010, the Estée Lauder company closed down Prescriptives’ store counters and Calyx drifted into obscurity. To the enormous relief of its loyal and desperate fan base, it at least remained available online.

Calyx_now Clinique Calyx

Now Calyx is back in stores in time for the holidays, reborn as a member of the Clinique family; its mood-elevating but sophisticated aura blends seamlessly with the brand’s cheery modernist vibe. Smelling it again is a relief -- it's still great. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

And even though it’s a ‘Fruity Floral’, it’s nothing like the red berry/cotton candyish perfumes that define that category now. It’s bright and crisp (thank you, grapefruit) but the floralcy (to use a perfumer word) rounds it out, keeps it interesting. You won’t smolder in Calyx, but you won’t smell like a tween either.

In fact, Calyx smells completely modern. I think I need a Céline bag to go with it. But that could just be a shopping rationalization on my part.