Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History : 100 Great Perfumes Series 4 / 10

Mimosa

Series 1 :: Series 2 :: Series 3 :: Series 4 :: Series 5 :: Series 6 :: Series 7 :: Series 8 :: Series 9 :: Series 10

I am continuing the 100 Great Perfumes series that originated from the perfumery training course I designed. The next ten fragrances display a trend that would peak in the 1980s—increasingly louder fragrances. This was an American phenomenon that first was explored by Estée Lauder in her Youth Dew fragrance and that subsequently received a new interpretation with fragrances like Lagerfeld Chloé, Giorgio Beverly Hills and Christian Dior Poison. The fragrances below also highlight a new trend that would mark the 1970s—green chypres, a vibrant combination of exhilarating green notes and the earthy darkness of moss and patchouli. Where would we be today without fragrances like Chanel No 19, Estée Lauder Alliage and Clinique Aromatics Elixir?

31. Rive Gauche (Yves Saint Laurent, perfumers Jacques Polge and Michel Hy, 1969)

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche illustrates the strong link between the present day perfumery and the past. Although overall this floral aldehydic blend continues the theme of Chanel No 5, it takes its main elements from Paco Rabanne Calandre (1969.) At one point in the development, it is difficult to distinguish the two perfumes, yet wearing them side by side, one can immediately see why Rive Gauche gained its iconic status. It weaves the same silvery floral tapestry of Calandre, but it wears like a silk slip. Calandre, in comparison, has an edgier beauty. Today, Rive Gauche does not resemble its original version (please see the linked review for more information.)

32. Ô de Lancôme (Lancôme, perfumer Robert Gonnon, 1969 )

A classical cologne that still retains its vibrancy and freshness—an elegant citrus-orange blossom accord suspended over a mossy, ambery base. It exists between the mossy neroli of Chanel Cristalle EDT and the fruity jasmine of Christian Dior Diorella. Remarkably successful and still very influential. Its bracing gin & tonic effect can be found in numerous citrus colognes on the market today from Eau de Rochas to Jo Malone Lime, Basil and Mandarine.

33. Chamade (Guerlain, perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain, 1969)

Chamade is a love story of rose and hyacinth. Its creator Jean-Paul Guerlain was known for building his fragrances on a series of strong contrasts. To give the strong signature to Chamade, he relies on the juxtaposition of different strong sensations, from the plush richness of florals to the green bitterness of cassis. Chamade is embellished with a strong accord of green notes, while hedione infuses it with remarkable radiance. To this day, its beautiful evaporation curve and its perfect harmony fascinate perfumers. It is simply magical! Chamade subsequently influenced Jean-Paul Guerlain to create Nahéma, a fragrance in which he amplified the rose accord to the fullest. Moreover, elements of Chamade can be found in Gucci No 1, Caron Nocturnes, Rochas Byzance and Jean Patou Sublime.

34. Chanel No 19 (Chanel , perfumer Henri Robert, 1970)

The green floral genre originated with Balmain Vent Vert. Yet, despite the originality of Vent Vert, its rather aggressive, bold character did not much resonate with consumers. The next (more successful) contender was Chanel No 19, an exquisite marriage of green notes, galbanum, iris and vetiver. It was the trendsetter for fragrances like Hermès Amazone, Ivoire de Balmain, Estée Lauder Beautiful, and Cartier So Pretty.

A side note on galbanum, fragrance and politics. When Chanel No 19 was created in 1971, it was formulated with a superb grade of Iranian galbanum oil, which was sourced especially for this fragrance. However, when the Iranian Revolution broke out in 1979, the oil became unavailable. No 19 had to be reformulated, which was accomplished with much difficulty, because the original galbanum oil was of a particularly fine, rare caliber.

35. Diorella (Christian Dior, perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, 1971)

Although Diorella started out as an aromatic-citrus accord reminiscent of Eau Fraîche de Dior (1952) and Eau Sauvage (1966,) a strong peach note gives it an entirely different character. With the heady touch of jasmine absolute, Diorella gains a rich and warm facet. What made Diorella influential was its interesting watery accord, which has inspired the dewy fruity notes in fragrances like Prescriptives Calyx and the marine effects in Calvin Klein Escape. Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert is very much influenced by the interplay between the watery and floral notes of Diorella. Amouage Jubilation 25 for Women and Frédéric Malle Le Parfum de Thérèse give a taste of Diorella in its pre-reformulation glory.

36. Alliage (Estée Lauder, perfumer Francis Camail, 1972)

Alliage (sometimes spelled as Aliage) is the queen of green chypre fragrances that include such gems as Estée Lauder Private Collection, Jean Louis Scherrer, and Clinique Wrappings. Dramatic, grand and elegant, it relies on a large dose of bitter-green galbanum. The rest of the composition—the rose-vetiver structure—revolves around this explosive accord. Today, Alliage’s bitterness is somewhat attenuated; however, I still find it to be a beautiful and original fragrance. It would be an interesting discovery for anyone who loves the green chypre genre since there are very few good examples remaining.

37. Aromatics Elixir (Clinique, perfumer Bernard Chant, 1972)

Few fragrances possess such a dramatic presence as Aromatics Elixir, an orchestration of rose and patchouli, bolstered by dark, balsamic notes and woody violets. Dusky and moody, it fills the space with an unforgettable aura. This masterpiece has influenced the creation of such excellent fragrances as Jean Couturier Coriandre, Ungaro Diva, Paloma Picasso, the original Fendi, and Estée Lauder Knowing. Still available in an excellent form.

38. Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (Paco Rabanne , perfumer Jean Martel, 1973) M

Paco Rabanne Pour Homme deserves legendary status for many reasons, not the least of which is its incredible offspring Yves Saint Laurent Kouros (1981). Among the aromatic fougère fragrances for men, it was the first to rely on the juxtaposition between the spicy woody and sweet ambery notes.

39. Gentleman (Givenchy, perfumer Paul Leger, 1974) M

The elegant leather and vetiver pairing of Givenchy Gentleman has deeply influenced the woody genre of masculine perfumery. Unfortunately, the Gentleman of today smells not at all like the original. Avoid the current wan woody incarnation and opt for Lalique Encre Noire, Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinare and other dark vetiver fragrances.

40. Chloé (Lagerfeld, perfumer Betty Busse, 1975) discontinued

Chloé is the forerunner for loud florals like Giorgio Beverly Hills (1981) and Givenchy Amarige (1991.) It is essentially a voluptous tuberose, accented with heady white floral notes of ylang ylang and daffodil. Supported by the darkness of sandalwood and oakmoss, it is seductive, opulent and striking. Today, it is the type of fragrance that might appear dated, but one cannot help but admire Chloé for its boldness. I find traces of Chloé in Hermès 24, Faubourg and Versace Blonde.

Coming up next: the same year saw the launch of the first fruity-floral and the dark and controversial oriental.

Photo: mimosa, a classical perfume raw material, from wiki commons.

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49 Comments

  • karin: I fell in love with Rive Gauche in the early 80′s. And I so miss it. Rather than continue to wear it through the years, I moved on to other things – Poison, Cristalle, Beautiful, Angel, etc. I recently purchased the reformulated Rive Gauche, and it saddens me. It is similar, but not the same. I suppose I should seek out a vintage bottle…but I haven’t had the courage. What if that doesn’t live up to my memories either? Ah well… May 13, 2011 at 8:33am Reply

  • mals86: Ahh, Chloe. Wore it for more than a decade, and didn’t appreciate its beauty enough. I bought a mini bottle on ebay a few years ago, and was stunned by its strong mossy, woody character underpinning the lush florals. I can’t wear it now, it has too many associations with high school and heartbreak, but it was a beautiful thing. May 13, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • Suzanna: Brilliant article. So well written and full of fascinating detail; where else would we learn about the Iranian galbanum oil?

    I, too, wore Chloe. I’ve been trying to find a vintage bottle to see if I recall it as it was. Sometimes this is not the case. For instance, my vintage Rive Gauche is more powdery than I recall.

    Chloe was huge, but no larger than what everyone else was wearing: Opium for one. It was a day of gigantic competing perfumes and although this sounds like the antithesis of chic or of taste today, back then loud frags were just part of one’s wardrobe. It was the era of bold stylistic statement.

    Aliage is one that I’ve been smelling on other people recently and it smells “right” still, as it did when it seemed so effortless and chic. Even today it is as distinctive as the others on your list and perhaps more so due to its strength and unmistakable signature.

    Greens are a bit difficult for me to wear, although my introduction to fine frags was through the big greens, many of which you mention above. I’m happy with Bel Respiro, which is a training wheels green! May 13, 2011 at 10:16am Reply

  • Karen: I ADORE Chanel 19, but cannot find the parfum on the market anymore, seems it has been pulled by Chanel. Maybe it’s that Iranian Revolution situation. I troll for it on Ebay now, it is my absolute favorite ever! May 13, 2011 at 11:39am Reply

    • Donna: Hi Karen
      You can find #19 on Chanel.com October 6, 2012 at 10:41pm Reply

  • OperaFan: These are some of the perfumes I grew up with, either loving or hating (Chamade I discovered more recently and started me on my Guerlain love affair). Chloe was on my want list for a long time but I never had the funds to purchase it. I haven’t smelled Rive Gauche or Aliage since the mid ’70s as a young teenager and wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate them. Think I would feel differently now.
    A year or so ago, I noticed a friend in church choir wearing Aromatic Elixir and thought she had on Mitsouko. That started a conversation where she told me it had been her signature scent for many years but she noticed the change in her most recent bottle.
    Thanks, V – for the trip down memory lane… May 13, 2011 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Memoryofscent.wordpress.com: Some trully iconic fragrances in this list. Aromatics Elixir is one of those fragrances that hit you and in a second you know what it is. Whenever I am walking down the street and I smell it on someone I cannot help but turn around and wonder “who is wearing this?”. Definitely someone with a sense of personal style. Back in the 80′s it was huge but nowadays it is only a memory of what fragrance used to be. I often wear its masculine sibling, Aramis 900. But to tell you the truth, in today’s terms Aramis 900 is more floral while the original AE is more balmy. I can see myself wearing either.

    Christos May 13, 2011 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Another great list. I recently sniffed Rive Gauche. I remember owning a mini ages ago, but can’t remember the smell. I like the current one but have been hesitant to get a bottle as I might want to look for a vintage bottle. I own Diorella in modern and in vintage form ( both EDT and extrait). I prefer the vintage but the current version is still very pleasant to me.

    ( Isn’t Calyx by Prescriptives?) May 13, 2011 at 1:24pm Reply

  • behemot: Yes, I also think Calyx is by Prescriptives. May 13, 2011 at 2:21pm Reply

  • minette: what an interesting list! it’s funny, but the way they sell/sold alliage – as a “sport” scent – kinda ruined it for me. your pitch is much more effective! must go revisit it.

    i snagged some o de lancome a couple of months ago, and it’s just as i remember it from the ’70s, when i wore it – quite lovely. i think i missed chamade and rive gauche in their glory days, but still appreciate both. need to go find some paco rabanne… i have a feeling i would know it from the early ’80s and a favorite bf.

    cheers! May 13, 2011 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Victoria: It is, I just was going to write Clinique Happy first for that example and then changed my mind and included Calyx instead.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile May 13, 2011 at 4:01pm Reply

  • mals86: I see that I got all verklemft over Chloe and completely forgot to mention how much I love Chanel No. 19 and Chamade… May 13, 2011 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Jennifer: I love your articles so much I stop everything else to read. I used to be so intimidated by perfume. It was like not knowing what drink to order. Now i can research a little it helps me understand what I like and why. I was a 70′s baby and an 80′s adolescent. I need green chyphres, I crave them. I just purchased Chanel 19 eau de parfum from the Chanel website. I also bought a whole 3.4 Edt version from Lord and Taylor. I also own some bold fragrances like Knowing, Gucci (dark brown bottle, Hynotic Poison and Alien. I wear them in fall and winter and/or when the need for coziness and warmth returns. Right now I am in love with the luminous Jean Claude Elena fragrances. I am currently enjoying a bottle of Un Jardin En Mediterranee which is so sparkling and alive. Yesterday I sampled Un Jardin sur le toit and found it lovely and even more lasting. His perfumes are the anti-headache, anti – stuffy, living, dancing fresh perfumes. If I could only pick just one. Perfect for spring and summer!!! May 13, 2011 at 7:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sometimes it is downright painful to revisit one’s favorites that have been reformulated beyond recognition. Yet, the original Rive Gauche is still easy enough to find. May 14, 2011 at 10:48am Reply

  • Victoria: I have never worn Chloe, but I smelled it often on friends. You are right, it has such a strong character and is so memorable that it is impossible to disassociate the scent from the memories. With some perfumes, I can do it easily, but not with Chloe. I do admire it though! May 14, 2011 at 10:49am Reply

  • Victoria: Those two are among my top favorites too! Wearing Chamade this morning. May 14, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Suzanna, thank you!
    I love your description of Bel Respiro as a training wheels green. As much as I love green notes, I also find them difficult to wear. Bel Respiro never fails to delight though. Cristalle EDT is another green floral I love. May 14, 2011 at 10:51am Reply

  • Victoria: It is definitely not pulled from the collection. Probably, it is just that Chanel limits its distribution to certain stores. May 14, 2011 at 10:52am Reply

  • Victoria: I checked Chanel website, and it is still there. I doubt Chanel would discontinue such a classic. May 14, 2011 at 10:53am Reply

  • Victoria: Jennifer, thank you for your kind words. Perfume world is just confusing at first, mostly because there is so much choice and so little information. Yet, little by little one learns. We all started out like you! :)
    Sounds like you are building a beautiful fragrance collection! Feel free to ask questions as you delve further into this fascinating field. May 14, 2011 at 10:55am Reply

  • Victoria: I chuckle at Alliage as a sport scent, because in my mind, I associate that category with the blue tinted men’s juices that smell like knock offs of Cool Water… Yes, not at all appealing! May 14, 2011 at 10:56am Reply

  • Victoria: I also like the current version of Diorella. It is just thinner and flatter, but overall, it is very good. Chanel Cristalle EDT also shares some DNA with Diorella, and it is interesting to smell them side by side. May 14, 2011 at 10:57am Reply

  • Victoria: Aramis 900 is excellent, just excellent! I also see myself wearing it time to time, whenever I have a craving for such a bold chypre. I agree with you, it has quite a plush floral accord, which comes as a surprising twist in the course of its development. May 14, 2011 at 10:59am Reply

  • Victoria: Once I’ve actually stopped a woman in the street to ask her about her perfume. It was Aromatics Elixir! Its sillage is incredible. I do not wear it often, but whenever I do, it feels so good. May 14, 2011 at 11:01am Reply

  • angie Cox: Karen I don’t know where you live but I’m running to stock up on No19 perfume. May 14, 2011 at 8:11am Reply

  • MARY: Mimosa was the flower the hairdresser put in my hair and I had in my weddingbouquet in 1982, so may years ago.
    My overall fragrance that day was Chanel 19, perfume, bodylotion, even deodorant. So it reminds me of 5-11-1982………….. May 14, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Rowanhill: Thank you for yet a lovely article. Ah, Chloe. My mother had the perfume in the beautiful frosted bottle and of course I also put it on, age appropriate or not. Not that I could now wear even if available but it is a lovely memory, whereas I would love to wear Rive Gauche were it what it originally was, also frequently tested from my mum’s perfume tray of goodies. May 14, 2011 at 3:58pm Reply

  • violetnoir: The first fruity floral? Calyx? The dark controversial oriental would have to be Opium? Loved them both, but Opium never loved me back!

    Anyway, I loved RG and Chloe, the former first and then the latter when my grandmother gave me a bottle after it debuted. In fact, I have received more compliments on Chloe than any other perfume I have worn since. Crazy, huh?

    Hugs! May 14, 2011 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are right about Opium! :) I also never wore Opium. I admire it very much, but it is not a fragrance I ever crave. Not even sure why.

    A friend of mine who wore Chloe for many years said the same thing. She had random people stop her in the street to inquire about her perfume! May 14, 2011 at 9:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love this image that you describe–a little girl stealthily reaching for her mom’s treasures. :) I used to do the same thing. My mom’s bottle of Diorissimo seemed like the most amazing jewel. May 14, 2011 at 9:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for sharing this wonderful memory. You were such a gorgeous bride, I can just picture it! May 14, 2011 at 9:53pm Reply

  • Mike: I love this series Victoria, it really puts a lot of perfume history in perspective! When is Part 5 coming? ;) June 18, 2011 at 5:42am Reply

  • l’homme vert: ‘Chanel’ 19 was Henri Robert’s masterpiece for the house of Chanel, I remember the original parfum was the colour of liquid gold & contained massive quantities of Florentine orris and Persian galbanum, the combination of these two elements created a cool metallic base, almost platinum like in effect where the absolutes of rare woods & superb white florals were then set in place to complete this most exquisite olfactive jewel. Many years earlier this marvel of ‘Haute’ Perfumery had been demonstrated in Fath’s ‘Iris Gris’, two more greats now lost to the fragrant ether of antiquity ! December 11, 2011 at 12:51am Reply

  • Alityke: What a wonderful series Victoria. I was. Teen in the 70s and adore the citric chypres from that time. Wearing Ivoire, Givenchy III and Cristalle. I failed at big florals until my 20s when I wore Opium, Poison and Byzance.
    No19 and Chloe weren’t for me at he time yet now I’m in love with No19 and I’m toying with the idea of a little bottle Chloe off eBay. To explore tuberose after discovering Tubereuse Criminelle.
    A brilliant time for innovative fragrances April 30, 2012 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing! I love how you went back to rediscover those fragrances. Chloe is definitely worth having, and since it’s discontinued and will not return (or at least, not in its original form,) a mini might be a nice investment. April 30, 2012 at 2:57pm Reply

  • BABE HUBBS: i myself started out with Wrappings as a signature scent many many many perfume filled years ago and had totally forgotten about it until reading this post and said let me look thru my collection in see if i have a drop or two.. i have aromatics and the other in the iced smooth bottle but wrappings atlas none… where can i buy REAL Wrappings??? May 11, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Dl: Hi. Are you thinking of pursuing this series of articles? It was a great initiative. August 13, 2012 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: DI, definitely! Once we finish our move and I get my vintage perfume collection back. It’s hard to write about perfumes and offer alternatives without being able to re-smell them. August 13, 2012 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Dl: Hope your move goes well. I have a big move coming up in two weeks, so I can sympathize. Already worrying about how to move my perfume collection :) August 13, 2012 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck with that! Do you have parafilm? It’s excellent for sealing bottles, especially the stoppered bottles. August 13, 2012 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Dl: I’ll keep that in mind! thanks for the advice: I’m worried most about my stoppered bottles ( lutens and pure perfumes). August 13, 2012 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Shirin Alzebari: Can anybody help to enlist for me which are The “Effervescent” Perfumes, Thank You. August 24, 2012 at 10:19am Reply

  • Mike: What happened to Series 5, etc? :) September 11, 2012 at 10:56am Reply

  • Davy: Hi, Victoria.
    Now I am a trainee perfumer in fragrance company.
    All your article are very useful to me.
    I am waiting for your series 5, etc. January 6, 2013 at 2:23am Reply

  • rob brown: Isn’t Bernard chant the composer of EL Aliage? I know he did Aramis Devin, which is essentially the same fragrance. January 4, 2014 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: It was Francis Camail. I worked at IFF, the house that produced Aliage, and the formula was considered to belong to Camail. It’s also possible that either he lent his hand with Devin or that Chant was influenced by his work. After all, Aliage’s incredible green top note inspired many perfumers. January 4, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

  • Ysabella: Love Chloe! I always have a bottle and replace it when it runs out. March 17, 2014 at 1:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a bombshell! March 17, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

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