Monday, October 3, 2016

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" by BWL, Ltd.
Happy Reading! 


If you can locate a bottle, purchase it.  The fragrance is so 'Phantom'!

I must admit, I love the coffee notes of this fragrance.  Not as heavy as the original"Opium" fragrance.
I frequently wear this fragrance when I am dressed in jeans, or not wearing my pearls. 


  1. This is interesting! I remember buying Charlie for my daughter every Christmas, my daughter-in-law bringing me "the good stuff" from Paris, and my sister wearing Tweed. Then there was the boyfriend who bathed in Brut... :-)

  2. Very cool post! I have to confess I've never been a big perfume girl. Good thing since my guy has allergies to so many scents!

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  4. Sadly, these days, a woman who wears perfume may be causing a lot of headaches to the people around her. My mother and I are both extremely sensitive to artificial fragrances. I used to work with a woman who used perfume in an attempt to cover the stench of her cigarettes. Even in the dead of winter, I'd have to open the window, and I'd still have a headache all day long. I used to have to avoid another wonderful, friendly coworker because just giving her a hug gave me an all-day headache as my shirt picked up a bit of her perfume. To me, it's just not worth being around people who wear perfume any more, no matter how great they are.

  5. Not sure how White Linen didn't make it to the list. It was one of if not THE best selling fragrance for Estee Lauder. I met the guy who created it. A sweet French man who was (of course) very charming. And yes, he worked for a fragrance company that my husband worked for.

  6. I'm another who is allergic to most modern perfumes. Chanel No. 5 and Estee Lauder Beautiful are my scents. I'm also fascinated by the Science of Smell and perfumery. Both featured prominently in my romantic comedy Scents and Sensuality. The heroine of that book created personalized perfumes. Fun book to write.

  7. I wish I had know about your expertise a few years ago, Connie! I was searching for a perfume that a teen would have worn in the early 1960s. I kept coming up with things from Yardley of London, etc., that would have been more toward the end of the decade. I forget what I eventually used. Emeraude, maybe. But it was incredible how much time I spent trying to find a fact that went in one sentence of the book! I could have just emailed you!
    I like a perfume that's name just simply Estee. I got out of the habit of wearing perfume because my son was so allergic.

  8. I remember Ben Hur from the Five and Dime. Lol. That was some nasty stuff! I'm crazy about most scents. I love the light floral fragrances. Great blog post!

  9. Thanks for all the great information, Connie! I recognize some of the perfumes but I'm sadly lacking in knowledge on the subject.

  10. What a fascinating post! Loved reading this. Though many of these scents were pretty pricey, it got me to thinking about vintage perfumes. When I was in college, the popular scents were White Shoulders and . . . gosh, the other one escapes me. You could buy in the drug store in round cylinders. The tops changed by fragrance. I think one may have been Tigress, another something like Norwegian Wood (or am I thinking of a Beatles song?!)But the silliest of all was one that was popular in the 50s and was really awful. Sold in dime stores. It was in a blue bottle and called Evening in Paris. My brother used to get a tiny bottle for my mother (for something like a quarter!) and she would say how much she loved it. So when he was older and got a good-paying job, thinking my mother adored Evening in Paris, he got her the huge boxed set for like $30! When I was in my 20s, I wore Norrell. Anyone remember that?
    It's kind of sad that people realized perfumes negatively affected allergies. Few people I know wear it anymore.


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