Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade by Connie Vines

Nothing can transport you back in time like a fragrance. They say that your sense of smell is the most powerful and evocative sense, and it’s true: Emeraude reminds me of my mother, Quorum my husband, and Halston Z-14 reminded me of my teens and guys who bathed in a cologne—rather than indulging in a spritz or two.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel

This may have been a dramatic overstatement.  However, when I was in the business of selling perfume, quotes such as these, gave women confidence when she entered a room! And Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time. A bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds (this includes me , too).

Coco Chanel also stated that women should wear perfume wherever they hoped to be kissed. Wise words indeed – please note that this does not mean ‘layered’ in perfume, as perfume counter girls armed with spray bottles will advise you.  No one should be able to smell your perfume, unless they’re that little bit closer than is polite, then it should be something delicious and intoxicating.

Whilst researching which perfumes were popular over the decades I was surprised how many of these I’ve actually owned. Over the years, I’ve tried Anais Anais, Shalimar, Opium, Poison, Red, and Patou 1000 before, I finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Of course, I selected one of the most expensive perfumes on the market, but I guess there is a good reason why it’s been a bestseller since it was launched in 1921!

Vintage Perfumes: The Fragrances that Defined Each Decade

It’s surprising how many of these perfumes are still best sellers even now, but then why would they go out of fashion?

Popular Perfumes in the 1920s.

Popular Perfumes in the 1940s.

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (in a pretty glass bottle with a bottle stopper fashioned as two doves).

After the war lighter and fresher perfumes became more popular, one of which was the still-popular Miss Dior by Christian Dior in 1947

Popular Perfumes in the 1950s.

Femme de Rochas was a rich, sultry perfume aimed at the femme fatale created in 1944.

Arpege by Lanvin is a floral romantic perfume, created in 1927, but became particularly popular during the 1950s.

Max Factor’s Hypnotique and Primitif (as advertised by Jean Patchett above) were popular and an affordable perfume for the masses compared to the fragrances by the big fashion houses.

Soir de Paris by Bourjois was a popular fragrance amongst teenagers during the 1950s. It was discontinued in 1969, but relaunched in 1992

Popular Perfumes in the 1960s.

Oh! de London by Tuvache, YSL Rive Gauche was a popular 1960s scent.

Hubert de Givenchy created L’Interdit for Audrey Hepburn, and she wore the perfume for many years before it was released into the public in 1957. She featured in the adverts for L’Interdit throughout the 1960s.

Tuvache’s Oh! de London is a bright sparkling scent which perfectly captured the mood of the swinging sixties.

Guerlain introduced the heady oriental scent Chamade in 1969.

Popular Perfumes in the 1970s.

Charlie by Revlon and Diorella by Christian Dior, a perfume for the independent woman who has everything, were both very popular.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, launched in 1977, and was a heady, rich oriental evening perfume.

Christian Dior released the classic perfume Diorella, which combines citrus and musky notes.

Anais Anais by Cacharel, launched in 1978 and was an immediate hit (my brother gave this to me as a Christmas Gift).

Did I list one of your favorite perfumes?

Or, perhaps a fragrance you’ve never dared to try?

Perfuming is an art.  Indulge your senses, enjoy the fragrance—it’s mystical; it’s magical, it is the new you!    

How does Connie know so much about perfume and the art of perfuming?

While attending college, I was employed as a fragrance consultant at an ‘exclusive’ Perfumery.  I was trained by the House of Versailles to select a client’s fragrance by her/his pH level and fragrance family preferences. 

You will discover more about the art of perfumery in my next release An anthology titled 
"Gumbo Ya Ya" for Women who like Cajun Romance
Happy Reading! 

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  1. This is a great post! My fav perfume for the past 30+ years has been Estee Lauder's BEAUTIFUL, with her INTUITION a close second. I lovelovelove perfume. Glad to know i'm not the only one. Heehee

  2. I was fascinated by your post. I know little about perfume and have only picked it out by choosing the scent that I like best. When my m-i-l was alive I could always count on buying her Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds to make her happy.

  3. I have to say I've never been a big user of perfume. I do remember having a bottle of Charlie when I was younger, and also using Love's Baby Soft when a teen. Other than that I haven't owned perfume in quite a few decades. I'm more of a scented body lotion type of person now. More subtle yet still pleasant to the senses.
    But I do agree scent is powerful. I remember my mother having a jar of rose scented lotion when I was very young. I actually incorporated that into my newest story with the heroine having a memory of "her" mother using a rose scented lotion also.

    1. I loved CHARLIE on other people. Me, not so much!!!

  4. I love perfume as well. My favourite for a few years was Sung by Alfred Sung. Then, I store clerk mentioned that her grandmother used it. That was the end for me. I had to try something new. Then I moved to L'Air du Temps and now I'm onto some Calvin Klein, but may move to Chanel No. 5 next time. I love your quotes from Coco Chanel!

  5. I'm back to say today is my mother's birthday. She passed many years ago, but her favourite perfume was Youth Dew by Estee Lauder. I always loved it too, many because she wore it. When we had to divide her belongings, I took her bottle and used it, finding a bit of comfort in the scent. My nieces, however, felt sad and overwhelmed when they realized I was wearing it. What comforted me upset them - scent is VERY powerful. I didn't wear it again, because why upset people I love?

  6. I went to a perfume museum when I was in Paris almost 20 years ago and it was so neat seeing how they make perfume, how they decide what to put in, how much of it, etc. This post really reminded me of that!
    I always think of my mom when I smell Beautiful by Estee Lauder because that's what my dad always buys her :)

    1. OMG they have a perfume museum??? I need to go to Paris.

  7. I have had many favorite fragrances over the years, always devastated when they became discontinued. I considered several my 'signature scent'. When someone liked it enough to ask the name, I typically told them something else, even though I know the same perfume can smell different on different people. Sad so many people are allergic, and so many gatherings 'scent free'. But nothings is worse than someone who smells like they bathed in the stuff.

  8. Omg, the ironic timing of this post is almost eerie!! I just wrote a scene about two particulate characters having their "signature scent" and I needed to research popular perfumes from the forties and fifties that are still on the market! Awesome post!

  9. Interesting! I remember that my sister and my aunt wore Tweed, and I loved it. I never thought I wore perfume well, so I seldom wore it, but love it on other people.

  10. Connie, great post. My heroine in SCENTS AND SENSUALITY is a perfumer. I loved using true perfume facts in that romantic comedy. The hero's mom wore Tabu, a perfume from the 60's. So much fun writing that.

  11. I wish I had known you when I was working on my women's fiction. I was going nuts trying to figure out what perfume was popular in 1965-1067. I kept going around in circles.
    My husband bought me Estee - the name was just plain Estee. And I liked it a lot. But my son had such extreme reactions to any kind of fragrance I got out of the habit of using it.

  12. I really enjoyed this post! I don't wear perfume and never have, but I loved playing with my mom's bottles. I loved the stoppers. I really liked the stroll through these historic perfumes. Their names are so interesting and who they were meant for was really neat. Thank you for the information!

  13. White Shoulders. My late aunt wore it all the time. You could tell when she'd been in the house b/c the beautiful scent lingered even after she's left. It was the only perfume I ever wore ... back in the days when perfume was a must in you were working in a business atmosphere. Haven't worn perfume in decades but if I ever decided to do so again, it would be White Shoulders.


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