Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History : 100 Great Perfumes Series 5 / 10

I’m happy to bring back the much requested series on fragrances that influenced perfume history. If you’re new to this feature, please start with Series 1, in which I describe how this project came about and how I made the selections.  Perfumery evolves slowly, and classical ideas continue to influence new creations. As I mentioned before, you need not enjoy classics (and you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about disliking Chanel No 5 or not “getting” Guerlain Mitsouko). Every perfume, as is the case for art, music or literature, has its own era and its special flavor, and some of us gravitate to contemporary examples. But smelling classics at least once is important if you want to understand where modern perfumery gathers its inspiration. treemoss

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

41. Coriandre          (Jean Couturier, perfumers Gérard Pelpel and Jacqueline Couturier, 1973) The 1970s were the era of the chypre, a mossy woody fragrance family. It developed much earlier in the 20th century with Coty Chypre giving it a modern form, and then Guerlain Mitsouko making it more accessible, but the love affair with moss really exploded in the 1970s. If you enjoy this genre, the 1970s perfumes are going to be a great discovery.

The genius of Coriandre is in combining a rich floral accord (honeyed orange blossom, baroque roses, fresh lily of the valley) with the classical chypre ingredients–moss, sandalwood, musk, civet, patchouli. A lemony twist of coriander gives it sparkle. Impeccably balanced, Coriandre has a graceful but strong personality.

Coriandre was discontinued and then reissued in 2012 in a much fresher and lighter formula, but its spirit can be found in Estée Lauder Knowing (1988), Sonia Rykiel Le Parfum (1993, an underrated gem), and Comme des Garçons (1994). Agent Provocateur also reminds me of Coriandre with its big spicy top notes.

42. Halston Z14 (Halston, perfumers Vincent Marcello and Max Gavarry, 1976) M Here is another terrific 1970s chypre, this time a leathery, dark type. Despite its heavy, warm character, Z14 is sophisticated and polished. It has a generous dose of spice, playing up the richness of leather and amber.  The contrast between verbena and leafy green notes and the dark, smoky drydown is striking.

You can still find Z14 today, and Elizabeth Arden, the owner of Halston, keeps the brand in good shape. Other classical examples of the same idea include Guerlain Coriolan (1998), Aramis Havana (1994), and Frédéric Malle’s French Lover (Bois d’Orage).

first-van-cleef-arpelsoscar

43. First (Van Cleef & Arpels, perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, 1976) First is a remarkable fragrance not because of how many similar perfumes it inspired (not a whole lot), but because of its polished composition. Many perfumers will name it as one of the fragrances they admire for its technical precision. Essentially, First is a twist on Chanel No 5–take aldehydes, lots of expensive floral essences and shake well. But the subtle touches make First a perfect jewel–the effervescent jasmine layer, the green blackcurrant note, the milky sandalwood.

First is still around in fairly good shape. Try Jour d’Hermès to see how its creator, Jean-Claude Ellena, would interpret the floral theme today, almost 40 years later.

44. Lauren (Ralph Lauren, perfumer Bernard Chant, 1977) If you love fruity-floral fragrances, then you have to thank Lauren for inspiring the trend. Lauren is certainly a world apart from the sweet compotes we have been overfed lately, and it’s refreshing to smell its graceful blend of green grapes, freesia and jasmine. A whisper of moss and woods gives it a mellow finish.

Ralph Lauren didn’t preserve Lauren well, and the stringent fragrance regulations didn’t help either. Lauren today is like an overly exposed photograph of its former self, but it’s pretty enough. Most of its direct descendants like Valentino (1979), Eau de Givenchy (1982), and Kenzo Parfum d’Été (1992) are not available, so look for a similar green floral idea in Hermès AmazoneChanel CristalleThe Different Company Osmanthus, and for something more trendy, Marc Jacobs Daisy.

45. Oscar (Oscar de la Renta, perfumer Christian Bastard-Lafitte, 1977) Oscar brought back in fashion the blend of white floral and oriental (sweet, rich) notes that had a brief moment of popularity in the early 1900s. Brief but important, because that era gave us legends like Coty L’Origan (1906), Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (1912) and Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass (1935).

The perfume was inspired by Oscar de la Renta’s childhood memories of tropical flowers, and the composition is a voluptuous bouquet of tuberose, orange blossom, ylang ylang, jasmine, and rose. The dark sweetness of sandalwood and vanilla further completes the exotic, languorous effect, but the cool stripe of myrrh keeps it in balance.

In contrast to its ancestor, L’Heure Bleue, Oscar is brasher, and it follows the maxim of “more is more.” The same can be said about Vanderbilt (1981), Cacharel Loulou (1987), Dali Laguna (1991, does anyone remember this one?), and Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique (1993). More contemporary ideas: Armani Code for WomenVivienne Westwood Boudoir, and Tom Ford Shanghai Lily.

opium

46. Opium (Yves Saint Laurent, perfumers Françoise Marin, Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Raymond Chaillan, 1977) A bombshell! From packaging to ads to perfume, Opium was a controversial launch in 1977. Its spiced carnation wrapped in amber theme was also a huge success. Estée Lauder thought that Opium was just “Youth Dew with a tassel,” and she launched her answer in the form of Cinnabar (1978). Lancôme Magie Noire (1978), Chanel Coco (1984) and Fendi Asja (1992) were some other descendants of Opium.

Opium was discontinued in 2009 and relaunched in a new guise by Antoine Maisondieu. You can read my new Opium review for more details, but if you want to smell Opium as it was, you would have to hunt down the vintage. Since Yves Saint Laurent made it easier by relaunching Opium in completely new packaging, it’s easy enough to spot on Ebay and at various discounters.

Also consider Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant, Yves Saint Laurent Nu, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Byredo Seven Veils, and Anné Pliska. They are not copies of Opium, but their use of spices, woods and heavy florals echoes the great oriental classic.

47. Azzaro pour Homme (Azzaro, perfumers Anthony Gerard, Martin Heiddenreich and Richard Wirtz, 1978) M Fougère is a fragrance style that blends a distinctive accord of lavender, geranium, bergamot, moss, and patchouli (read about the originator of this family, Houbigant Fougère Royal, in Series 1). Azzaro pour Homme is a forerunner of the big fougères that would give the 1980s their smell–Davidoff Cool Water, Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, and Yves Saint Laurent Jazz, among others.  It’s fresh and bright, with a distinctive anise layer amplified by basil and fennel.

48. Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme (Van Cleef & Arpels, perfumer Louis Monnet, 1978) M One of the major trendsetters, Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme spawned a whole subfamily of leathery, woody chypres for men. You will find here Chanel Antaeus (1981), Puig Quorum (1982), Hermès Bel Ami (1986), and much later, in an even darker, smokier guise, Bulgari Black (1998). Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme smells like a gentleman’s den redolent of tobacco, whisky, cedarwood chests, and worn leather of antique arm chairs. An elegant, unmistakably classical fragrance.

polo

49. Polo (Ralph Lauren, perfumer Carlos Benaim, 1978) M Polo was the smell of an era, and although launched in the 1970s, it looked toward the 1980s with its big presence. It has some elements of Halston Z14, but it’s more forceful and powerful.  Leather, patchouli and thyme are the distinctive elements of Polo, and while the moss is an important note, the woods take over. It’s dry, resinous, reminiscent of pine sap and pencil shavings.

Polo is very easy to find at most stores, and I encourage you to spray some on a blotter if you pass by a Ralph Lauren counter. Take a deep breath. You’ll probably recognize it. Almost any perfume calling itself Man/L’Homme owes a debt to Polo, from Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men to Etat Libre d’Orange Je Suis Un Homme.

50. White Linen (Estée Lauder, perfumer Sophia Grojsman, 1978) White Linen is perfumer Sophia Grojsman’s Chanel No 5–aldehydes and lots of flowers. Grojsman added a big dose of musk to mimic the sensation of freshly laundered fabric, and it was a brilliant touch.

Repeating such a feat was not easy, although Bjian Nude, Cacharel Noa and Estée Lauder Dazzling Silver have tried. White Linen also inspired many scents we encounter in a much more prosaic way: laundry detergents, fabric softeners, soaps and shower gels. Next: the bigger, the better. Yes, it’s all about the Big Eighties Perfumes.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Important Perfume Ingredients: treemoss.

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175 Comments

  • Alicia: What a wonderful post! Thank you, Victoria. I realize that I haven’t tried many 1970’s fragrances. I remember dimly trying White Linen, which I understand is a masterpiece, but not being impressed. I had First for a while, which I liked, but the one I loved was Opium. Still love it. Never tried the reformulation; it may be a heartbreak. January 3, 2014 at 9:55am Reply

    • Mary: Don’t try it! It will definitely be a heartbreak. I started wearing Opium in my last year at University and subsequently spent a large chunk of my first teaching salary on the parfum. Later I loved Nu but hated the original Poison. With great trepidation, I tried the new Opium last year and found its opening like washing- up liquid, although it did improve a little with time; but I’d never recommend it to a user of the original. January 3, 2014 at 10:08am Reply

      • Victoria: It’s true, it’s so different that someone who wore the original might be very disappointed. January 3, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

      • Alicia: Thank you, Mary. I will follow your advice. Happy New Year to you! January 3, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

      • Sally: Ha! I commented on this very subject for Victoria’s excellent post about the new Opium, referenced above. I was such an Opium lover in the 80s and think I alone kept YSL afloat :-) I have been creeping ever closer to trying the new version and then, just when I decide to get myself down to The Perfume House here in Poland to DO IT, I run shrieking back into the safety of my vintage parfum. I know I promised Victoria I would give it a fair shot and not compare – but I need more time … January 4, 2014 at 2:31am Reply

        • solanace: I understand you gals. Same thing with the new Jolie madame. Yes, it still is a polished perfume, but it’s way too washed out, and yet too similar to ole JM for me to enjoy it as a “modern”, sheer fragrance. Can’t get to wear it. What for? It just feels like a play that has been censored and is clearly mutilated. January 4, 2014 at 3:11am Reply

    • Victoria: White Linen is not an easy fragrance to like if you don’t like the starchy-metallic fizz of aldehydes, and it packs a lot of it. For now, it wasn’t a love at first sniff, but over time I started liking it more and more. Something about is so calming, serene.

      I like the new Opium very much, but then again, I didn’t wear the original on regular basis. The new one is just a completely different fragrance, so it’s not even a reformulation. It was recreated from scratch. January 3, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

      • Alicia: Perhaps I should try White Linen again. I dont mind aldehydes, not at all. Chanel #5 is my perennial love, and I delight in #22 which packs more aldehydes than most fragrances I know. But it has been so many years since I smelled White Linen that I have no idea why I wasn’t impressed. Since then my taste has changed.
        Opium: I lament when the name of a beloved perfum is given to a totally new fragrance. It betrays expectations. Chanel and Guerlain have done a very good job in preserving the soul of their fragrances despite the European regulations. Can’t understand why Dior is unable to do the same (Miss Dior has gone through so many metamorphosis!), or YSL, or Caron for that matter. As Virgil said: sunt lacrimae rerum. January 3, 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

        • Elisa: To me the biggest difference between No.’s 5 and 22 and White Linen is that White Linen isn’t sweet, which creates a totally different effect. I’ve never much liked aldehydes combined in big doses with amber/vanilla, which is why White Linen is my favorite aldehydic floral. But I know I’m in the minority on that one. January 3, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

          • Victoria: It makes sense, and I don’t think that you’re in minority. For instance, I know many people who can’t stand No 5 but wear White Linen. One rarely thinks of Chanel No 5 as a vanilla rich perfume, but in comparison, it really seems like it. January 3, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

            • Elisa: I hated Chanel No. 5 for most of my life! I’m ready to try it on skin again sometime soon though, I suspect my feelings will have changed. January 3, 2014 at 12:37pm Reply

              • Victoria: What about No 5 Eau Premiere?

                If you could try one version of No 5, I would recommend the parfum. Some counters have testers, so it might be worth asking. It’s worth trying just to experience the quality of the materials that go into it. But I also like the EDT very much. It’s been reformulated over the year to add a beautiful bergamot top note (or rather, make it even bigger), and the citrus is a great companion to aldehydes. January 3, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: I must revisit the current edt. then. I smelled it and in my opinion the No 5 was spoiled. It was always one of my favourite perfumes, this edt.
                  Is the extrait much changed as well?
                  I used to prefer the edt and the extrait, but now I am hesitating to buy the extrait.
                  I didn’t like the new edt at all. More fleeting, more shallow–to my nose at least. January 3, 2014 at 4:16pm Reply

                  • Victoria: I had a chance to smell the original Chanel No 5 parfum at the Osmotheque, and I was surprised how all things considered, the current version is true to it. Of course, if you’re comparing the current No 5 to the one you used to wear, it will seem different. That’s a tough thing about perfume–our memories for scents are very precise, which is why it’s hard to find exact replacements of our discontinued favorites. January 3, 2014 at 5:06pm Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: So true! At the moment I like my Le Dix and Liù better than the current No5 edt.
                      But I must try it again and maybe again!
                      I never saw a tester of the parfum, I will look after that.
                      I bought a tester of No 5 edp—not bad. i like it. January 3, 2014 at 5:25pm

                    • Victoria: I must revisit Liu. I have an old bottle, but I haven’t smelled it recently. January 3, 2014 at 5:51pm

            • Merlin: I like sweet perfumes, but I actually find Eau Premiere too sweet to wear. I used to detest dry perfumes, but perhaps I have evolved enough to try White Linen again! After all, while I don’t adore no.5 EDP/EDT, I do find them pleasant enough. January 4, 2014 at 7:45pm Reply

              • Victoria: I also used to find White Linen too dry and too austere, but it’s interesting how our tastes evolve. Same with food. The kind of sweet things I used to be able to eat as a child don’t do anything for me now.

                But occasionally some gourmand perfumes hit the spot perfectly. January 5, 2014 at 10:17am Reply

          • Eva S.: I like all of them!
            They are very different, Chanel no 5 is my favourite in winter. It works incredibly well in cold weather (I never wear it in summer) One of my most complimented fragances, especially by men.
            Chanel no 22 is harder to like, elegant and sort of cold, on me a it has a hint of smoke, when I wear it I feel like I have a pearl necklace..
            White linen, metallic white, clean and like you say Victoria, serene. January 3, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

            • Alicia: Yes, I like all of them, I wear Chanel #5 at least three seasons (not summer), Chanel 19 is one of my favorite fragrances for the Fall, and #22 I love at Spring time. What can I say? I love so many Chanels! Cristalle, Coromandel, Bois des Isles, Sycomore, and the incomparable 31 Rue Cambon. If Chanel and Guerlain were to disappear my life would be the poorer. January 3, 2014 at 9:34pm Reply

              • Eva S.: I have heard so many praise Sycamore, I have to test it! :) January 4, 2014 at 10:17am Reply

        • Victoria: Opium could be very hard to reformulate, because just about every other ingredient in it is either banned or restricted, but Miss Dior is a puzzle to me.
          P.S. Since my knowledge of Virgil is minimal, thank you for inspiring me to google “the world is a world of tears” and learn something new today. :) January 3, 2014 at 12:26pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: The verse ”sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt” comes from the Aeneid, book I 462. (there are tears because of the facts and the human fate moves the spirit).
            Aeneas , the Troyan hero, safely landed in Carthago, the new city of Dido, sees sculptures of the fights in Troy–his town destroyed by the Greeks.

            Here Aeneas is weeping (we can understand that) ,but he is a true stoic hero! If you sniff the new Opium, Alicia, you could think of this, also from the Aeneid:
            Quidquid erit, superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est. January 3, 2014 at 1:15pm Reply

            • Victoria: I take my hat off before all of you, Virgil quoting people. My mom reminds me that I read as kid’s version of the Aeneid when I was little, but I really don’t remember much. Something else to add to my reading list. Thank you for this! January 3, 2014 at 2:51pm Reply

              • Alicia: Victoria, find a good translation. I know Virgil well simply because I teach his works. I admire all of them, but my favorite is the Bucolics. January 3, 2014 at 9:53pm Reply

                • solanace: I bought a very good edition of the Aeneid a few years ago, and you two just pushed me to read it already. This is a super cool way to start the year, thank you gals! January 4, 2014 at 3:38am Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: Which one did you buy, Solanace? Was it in Latin? January 4, 2014 at 4:09pm Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: My favourite: The Georgica! January 4, 2014 at 5:37am Reply

                  • Anka: Funny, recently I read Peter Handke “Der Chinese des Schmerzes”. The protagonist – a teacher of ancient languages (!) – is reading Vergil’s Georgica as an “agricultural economics written in verses” and is dreaming to translate it once being retired…
                    Handke is one of the few authors I know being very much into smelling his surroundings. In this book: fresh wood, wet wood, log fire, brickearth, fume, apples, quince etc. January 4, 2014 at 9:46am Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: Agricultural economics?! Well, if so, then in any case the most poetical in the world!
                      It is such fine poetry! January 4, 2014 at 11:40am

                • Victoria: Do you have any recommendations for good translations into English of the Bucolics? January 4, 2014 at 8:24am Reply

                  • Alicia: Victoria, you can have both the Bucolics and the Georgics in a single volume, in the Oxford World’s Classics. January 4, 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m off to look for it on Amazon. January 4, 2014 at 2:20pm

            • Alicia: Cornelia (such a patrician Roman name), I will follow the advice, and overcome such fate. January 3, 2014 at 9:45pm Reply

          • Alicia: What you found, Victoria, is an approximate possible translation; I happen to prefer to read it literally, lacrimae rerum, the tears of things. It makes me think as something Magritte would have painted, and perhaps Ezra Pound write. January 3, 2014 at 9:42pm Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: I read it as a genetivus obiectivus: tears because of the things (i.e. the disasters of Troy).
              Same thing as ”amor patriae”, ”metus mortis”, etc.
              (I am a teacher of Greek and Latin). January 4, 2014 at 5:35am Reply

              • Alicia: Cornelia, I envy you the Greek, mine is poor. My last book is the first translation to Spanish of Petrarch’s Latin Poetry (to appear this week in Barcelona). My specific field in the language is Renaissance Latin; while now I mostly teach graduate seminars in Romance languages Medieval and Renaissance poetry, in the past I taught the Roman classics, but only taught the language once, as a doctoral graduate student. I am not particularly good at teaching languages, helas! January 4, 2014 at 7:32am Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: To publish the first translation in Spanish of Petrarca is an honourable thing, Alicia. Congratulations! January 4, 2014 at 8:26am Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: inTO Spanish, I mean. in the new year I must take more care of my English. January 4, 2014 at 8:36am Reply

                  • Alicia: Yes, Cornelia, I would hope so: it took me over ten years to complete it, and nearly 9 to publish it, more than Horace advise. January 4, 2014 at 12:11pm Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: I admire your Ausdauer, Alicia! It is quite an achievement, you can be proud of it. January 4, 2014 at 12:26pm

                    • SallyM: Wow – I’m blown away by this achievement! Very well done indeed. January 4, 2014 at 3:00pm

                • Victoria: Congratulations, Alicia! What an amazing achievement.

                  Incidentally, last night I was organizing my book shelf and I spotted a small volume of Petrarch’s poetry translated into Russian by Ariadna Efron. She was a daughter of Marina Tsvetaeva, a great Russian poet. They’re so exquisitely beautiful, and it helps that Efron was a talented writer and poet in her own right (although she never got to develop her own body work, because the Stalin era repressions landed her in labor camps for nearly 16 years). January 4, 2014 at 8:44am Reply

                  • Alicia: Thank you very much, Victoria! Yes, it took a long time, but that was because I will not translate more than 10 hexameters a day: my translation is in blank verse. It also took quite a bit of time because it is an annotated edition, with full scholarly apparatus. As for the publication it took some time because I insisted in a dual language edition, and finally was fortunate enough that it is published simultaneously by an Spanish editorial house in Barcelona, and by the National University of Mexico in Mexico City. Piano, piano, si va lontano. January 4, 2014 at 12:42pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Even more impressive, now that we know the back story. I admire very much that you’ve insisted on certain requirements and persisted with them. It can be tough to get what you want with the publishers. Again, congratulations! January 4, 2014 at 2:22pm

                    • Austenfan: I loved this whole discussion. It’s what makes this place so wonderful. People always seem to go off on “random” tangents.
                      I only did 2 years of Latin and 5 of Greek at grammar school. I have very fond memories of translating extracts of Homer’s Odyssey.
                      Thank you ladies! January 4, 2014 at 2:31pm

            • Victoria: Thank you to you and Cornelia for expanding my horizons further. It’s so fascinating! January 4, 2014 at 8:24am Reply

              • maja: Speaking of Petrarca, exactly 20 yrs ago I went to see and visit Petrarca’s home in Arezzo, Tuscany (being at the time a student of Italian literature). Incidentally, the same day there was an antique fair very close to the street where Petrarca was born. From that day, if Petrarca is mentioned I can literally smell the scent of old, musty things which is a total shame. :) January 4, 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

                • Victoria: I love the smell of old, musty things, so that doesn’t sound too bad to me. :)

                  Did you enjoy Arezzo itself? January 5, 2014 at 10:00am Reply

                  • maja: Absolutely. It is one of the towns where Piero della Francesca was called to paint, too, so lots of sublime frescoes. The city’s Cathedral is impressive as well. I left my heart in Siena though :) January 5, 2014 at 4:25pm Reply

                    • Victoria: I would so love to visit! So many favorite artists left their fingerprint on that area. January 6, 2014 at 3:13pm

    • Bastet: Actually, I have worn and loved the original Opium for years and still have a small amount of vintage EDT that I save for special occasions. However I also love the reformulation – granted it is not as rich and opulent but it still smells great and I very much enjoy being able to wear it during the day, around the house, etc. I would give it a try! And thank you Victoria for your wonderful review of the new Opium which prompted me to give it a chance! January 3, 2014 at 1:05pm Reply

      • Sally: Bastet, when you tried the new formulation, how did you do so without comparing to the vintage? Or did you compare and found that you were ok with the differences? January 4, 2014 at 2:40am Reply

  • Judith: Love it or hate it, Charlie is the 1970s for me. I didn’t wear it but I put it in the same class as Faberge Babe and a Coty with an exclamation mark: fragrances you bought for yourself, a trouser-wearing working girl with a soft, shoulder- slung bag. January 3, 2014 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Can’t agree more on all three. Norell is another perfume that although launched in the late 60s really marked the 70s. I debated about including Charlie, but since the list originated as a perfumery course material, the fragrances I included had to influence perfume genres and trends, and Charlie was mostly a breakthrough as far as its marketing is concerned. I personally like Charlie, and I like its positioning as a perfume a woman could buy for herself, without waiting to receive it as a gift. January 3, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: My mother wore Charlie. All the taxidrivers complemented her on her perfume. January 3, 2014 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Ann: I just started reading with the first part and I’m loving this topic. I’m making a shortlist of perfumes to try, because I don’t know many classics apart from Chanels. January 3, 2014 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Very glad to hear that you like it, Ann! :) January 3, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

  • Aisha: Since reading your blog posts, I’m starting to wonder … do I miss the original Lauren for its composition, or do I miss it because of the fond memories the scent brings back…. At least I still have a little left in my bottle. And thank goodness for Cristalle! :-)

    I really enjoy this series. Thank you! January 3, 2014 at 10:24am Reply

    • jennie: sigh… then i’m not the only one. i looked high and low for the original lauren and that’s how i stumbled onto bois de jasmin. got a mini but i need to get over lauren at last and move on. :( January 3, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

      • Aisha: No, you’re not alone. :-)

        It took me a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng time to get over the loss of Lauren, but I think I have moved on — at least, a little. I’ve only been reading this blog for about eight months, but I’ve already discovered some new favorites thanks to reviews and recommendations. January 3, 2014 at 1:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: It could be both! I feel the same way about Diorissimo, a perfume my mom wore. I really wanted to find the original so that I could get a whiff of those delicate lilies of the valleys, and it made me wonder if I was attached to the scent of lily of the valley or just the nice memories of watching my mom get dressed up and waiting to go to the park with her. January 3, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

      • Aisha: For me it’s Joy and Oscar by Oscar de la Renta that remind me of my mom. She wore those when she and my dad were heading to a party. :-) January 3, 2014 at 1:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: Both of them are such festive fragrances. You put them on and you immediately feel more dressed up and ready for a party. :) January 3, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Sarah: Thank you for a wonderful post. The reformulation of Coriandre is criminal. It was my first signature perfume and I was very sad to smell it again after many years. January 3, 2014 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: When you wear a perfume for a long period of time and then suddenly find it different, it can be so unsettling. My cousin called me one day and said that she’s worried about her skin chemistry changing as she’s getting older. Tresor no longer smells the same on her. I assured her that the fault was all Tresor’s, because it has been reformulated. January 3, 2014 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Eric: I’m very glad to see Azzaro Pour Homme here, one of the greatest masculines. Classy, strong, not just another bland sports cologne. January 3, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s such a distinctive fragrance! January 3, 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Elisa: I love this series and I can’t wait to read the 80s segment! As you know White Linen is one of my all-time favorites, though I rarely wear it. I used to own a small bottle of First, too, but I found that when I wanted to smell old-school ’70s aldehydes, I always preferred White Linen, so I passed it on.

    I’ve still never smelled vintage Opium (at least not as an adult). January 3, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

    • Victoria: The old-school ’70s aldehydes is the best way to describe White Linen, although it doesn’t feel dated to me. It’s interesting to compare it side by side with Chanel No 5 and No 22. If you have the samples of either on hand, try it. Smell No 5 or No 22 first, then take an inhale of White Linen. You’ll notice right away how much rose White Linen contains and how much musk.

      I admit that I haven’t smelled much Opium until I started the perfumery school. Nobody around me wore it, and in Ukraine of my childhood, Lancome and Dior perfumes were much more common. Also, Guy Laroche J’ai Ose! January 3, 2014 at 12:08pm Reply

      • Elisa: Oh yes — it took smelling it next to First for me to realize how rosy White Linen is! I love that about it. As I noted in a comment above to Alicia, I also find that White Linen is much drier than the Chanels (dry like laundry I guess!) January 3, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: So true! Originally, they used very different types of musk too. Chanel’s musks were sweet and flora, and White Linen is clean, cool, soft. January 3, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

          • Alicia: Victoria, on second thought, wasn’t my beloved Rive Gauche created around 1970? I would imagine so because I remember wearing it while I was writing my first book (my way of keeping time). I still wear it a lot. When in Portugal this last summer it was the only fragrance I wore. January 4, 2014 at 1:06pm Reply

            • Victoria: Rive Gauche made its appearance in Series 4. The posts don’t overlap neatly with the decades, and the 70s had lots of trendsetters. One of them even is featured in the next article.

              It’s such a distinctive perfume. What I like about it is that while elegant and polished to the point of perfect, it’s not at all fussy or demanding. It works just as well with a casual outfit as with a cocktail dress. January 4, 2014 at 2:25pm Reply

              • Alicia: Thank you, Victoria. I went to the previous series and there found Rive Gauche. 1969. It makes sense. How I love Rive Gauche. I wear it during the warmer seasons, together with Chamade, and when it is realky hot I go to L’Eau Sauvage, and although less often to L’O de Lancome or Cristalle. There are others, of course, but Rive Gauche is a true love. January 4, 2014 at 9:42pm Reply

                • Victoria: Even the new version of Rive Gauche is good. It’s less aldehydic and more green floral, but I like how light and gauzy it feels. Like being wrapped in an organza scarf. January 5, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

              • Alicia: Talking of something else. A few days ago I smelled in a friend of mine a fragrance unknown to me, which I found entrancing. Armani Prive, Bois d’Encens. As soon as I could I searched for it in your reviews, and saw that you would approve. I bought it today online. Thank you, Victoria. January 4, 2014 at 9:56pm Reply

                • Victoria: Oh, it’s a little gem! Amazing that despite the numerous incense fragrances we have today, it still remains one of the best of this style. Enjoy it, Alicia! :) January 5, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

      • Merlin: Its interesting how that works! I couldn’t smell the rose in L’ombre dans l’eau until I smelled it next to some other perfume that had no rose notes!

        Next time I’m in a department store I will do a Chanel 5 and White Linen comparison:) January 4, 2014 at 6:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: As Elisa mentioned, you’ll also notice how much vanilla No 5 has (and also tonka bean which smells like hay and toasted almonds). Our noses are complex apparatuses. January 5, 2014 at 10:11am Reply

  • MTD: Just wanted to say thank you for an interesting read. January 3, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! I’m glad you like it. January 3, 2014 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Yelena: Fantastic list. was just thinking about the Halston and wondering if the reformulation left any of it’s amazing character. I think a bottle is in my future if you give the go-ahead. Also recently remembering First and the scent of Polo on my father in the early, early 80’s. Can’t wait for the next installation. January 3, 2014 at 11:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Women’s Halston, right? I’m not sure, because I haven’t smelled it in a while. I know that there was a relaunch at some point, but I don’t know if it was just tweaked or completely changed. I hope that it’s preserved well, because that’s another great classic. January 3, 2014 at 12:11pm Reply

      • Morelle: Halston Woman has completely changed and does not bear the slightest resemblance to the original. Nowadays it is a harmless little floral thing, with a nice blackcurrant note. I bought an FB of the new incarnation on ebay in my early perfume hunts, and the reviews I’d read of the original version did not gel at all with my acquisition. A friend recently gave me a bottle of vintage Halston she no longer wanted to use, and it is a different creature altogether (love it). January 3, 2014 at 7:18pm Reply

        • Morelle: I just checked: my Ebay acquisition is the 2009 incarnation as EdP. Today, it is only available as EdT, it seems, launched in 2011, and could be completely different again (said to smell of bananas!) There’s also an alcohol free version from 2012 which seems quite different from the EdT. I also own a sample of the 2007 EdP , which is very different from the 2009 version, truer to the original in top and heart, but with a much sweeter base. January 3, 2014 at 7:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s what I feared. Thank you for your comment, sad though the news are. January 4, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

    • Merlin: I bought my version about two years ago from a discount pharmacy. It was inexpensive and came in a 100ml bottle. There were quite a number of them and they did not look like very old stock. It says on the box Halston / Natural Spray / Cologne. (Apparently there is a version that says ‘alcohol free’ rather than ‘natural spray’ and it is more oily). The box says it is distributed by EA fragrances and the actual bottle is signed Halston in white.

      I have never smelled the vintage edition, but have to say, I love this stuff! The opening is unremarkable, but about half an hour later it blossoms. I don’t really smell floral notes here – mainly a mellow golden peach on a mossy bed. It doesn’t matter how many other perfumes I have on – this one projects a beautiful sweet but tangy glow that entirely shadows the others and makes them seem feeble.

      This was my gateway chypre, and may still be my favorite – though I now two or three more expensive (and more highly regarded) examples. January 4, 2014 at 8:47pm Reply

      • Morelle: I will give that cologne version a try, your description sounds good. Maybe Halston saw the error of their ways and withdrew the aberrant EdP to replace it with something that can at least be classified as chypre (whatever else it may have in common with the original). January 5, 2014 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I love these kind of posts and lists.
    Thank you Victoria! January 3, 2014 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure! It’s fun to write about history and perfume. :) January 3, 2014 at 12:12pm Reply

  • nastja: Thank you for bringing back this series! And thanks for pinpointing that familiarity I couldn’t put my finger on in White Linen — Grojsman’s Chanel No. 5 with lots of fabric softener — of course! January 3, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s been long overdue, but other commitments kept getting in the way.

      White Linen is such a fascinating fragrance. The formula is relatively short, but it’s so well-balanced. January 3, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: These posts are so useful for somebody interested in the history of perfume, like me! Inspiring too—now I know that I must certainly try Van Cleef&Arpels Pour Homme! I am not a gentleman, but I love tobacco and whisky (Laphroaigh and Black Label).
    White Linen is fantastic, I would love to wear it but unfortunately it remainds me of somebody really naughty (it was her signature scent).
    Looking forward to the 80ties with my beloved Poison! January 3, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: sorry, reminds January 3, 2014 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Some types of whiskies are good enough to be worn as perfume. I don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke, but I’m addicted to tobacco notes in fragrance. Isn’t it odd?

      The ’80s is a fun decade for perfume, and there are so many perfumes to discuss. January 3, 2014 at 2:40pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: what about cigar smoke? January 3, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: In small quantities only, although with cigars it’s very hard. :) January 3, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Anka: My favorite single malts are Lagavulin and Oban. The former being really smoky, the latter is rather mild (it’s often called a ladies’ whisky…). January 3, 2014 at 3:44pm Reply

  • maja: This series is great. Thank you. I wore White Linen just the other day. It is a great fragrance and the rose note is so wonderful. But there was something bothering me and now I understand – massive dose of musk. :) January 3, 2014 at 1:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: The musk is a big presence, and it’s tenacious like few other notes can be. By the way, White Linen used to be available in all sorts of excellent body products, including creams. I haven’t seen if they’re still for sale, but they were very good. January 3, 2014 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Ann: Victoria-
    My compliments to you and your meticulous research. Your generosity in educating us all is much appreciated and anticipated! January 3, 2014 at 1:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Ann. I’m glad that you find these series useful. January 3, 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Ferris: What a fantastic series. I always enjoy reading them and always learn something new about perfume. Thanks Victoria! January 3, 2014 at 1:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear this. :) January 3, 2014 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Anka: This series is so much fun! I’ve never even heard of Halston Z14 – sounds like an old car.
    One of my very first fragrances was Anais Anais. It’s interesting, because I am not into tuberosis (to put it mildly) but it’s so nicely balanced here that I can enjoy it. The ultimate 70s favorite for me is Nahema, but you probably count it to the 80s? And I’m a lover of Aromatics Elixir, which for me is more of an aromatherapy-kind-of-thing than a perfume. It makes me feel calm, contemplative and laid-back. Actually, I have to put it on now… January 3, 2014 at 2:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: It really does sound like an old car, now that you mention it!
      Anais Anais is still coming up (the 10 perfume installments don’t fit the decades neatly), but Nahema isn’t on the list. It’s one of Guerlain’s masterpieces, but commercially it was a big flop, because it was ahead of its time. I was told that Guerlain had to sell a part of its real estate to bolster the profit line after the Nahema fiasco.

      Aromatics Elixir is on the list, though, and it was in Series 3. I wouldn’t be able to leave out such a classic. January 3, 2014 at 2:56pm Reply

      • Anka: Wow, the story about Nahema is interesting, thanks for sharing it! Off I go to read Series 3 (already wearing AE). January 3, 2014 at 3:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: In one of the interviews with Jean-Paul Guerlain I read, he mentioned that he considers Nahema to be his best work and that he was crushed when it didn’t perform well. January 3, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: I feel for Jean-Paul Guerlain. Nahéma is one of the most beautiful perfumes in the world. I didn’t know it was a flop. January 4, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

            • Victoria: Just went and put some on, because Nahema makes any day beautiful, even such a cold, rainy and windy one as what we have today. January 4, 2014 at 2:14pm Reply

  • minette: sonia rykiel’s le parfum is one of my favorites!

    this makes me want to revisit many of these classics – thanks for the trip down scent-memory lane! January 3, 2014 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: So many of Rykiel’s perfumes were excellent. Nancy mentioned 7eme Sens below, and that one is a bold, rich ’70s chypre. They don’t make them like this anymore. January 3, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Wow, I have to foster what many of the other BdJ readers have commented. And, after all is said and done I still love First. It became my signature fragrance for years and always received compliments (men and women). You mentioned Sonia Rykiel’s Le Parfum (1993). This is not to be confused with Seventh Sens or is it the same fragrance. Her fragrances along with her fashions were both well thought out and pure elegance! The memories that you have stirred in me will probably stay with me for the rest of the day while NY re-groups from our first snowstorm to start 2014. January 3, 2014 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please stay warm and safe! I just watched the news and saw the pictures of Manhattan covered in snow.

      Le Parfum is different from 7eme Sens. It’s a woody oriental, with lots of iris, mimosa, osmanthus and sandalwood. 7eme Sens is a chypre. Which one did you wear? Both are elegant and quirky, a rare, special combo. January 3, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: It was 7eme Sens. I don’t recall where I used to purchase it however years later, I happened to walk into Rykiel’s boutique & that’s when I discovered her other fragrances hoping that I could purchase Sens but was informed it had long disappeared even in France. Every note you mention is probably one of many reasons I was such a fan. Life may change for us but our love of certain notes and fragrances never seem to leave. January 3, 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: So true, some preferences are shaped early on and they never fade away.

      They must have discontinued 7eme Sens because of the regulations on most and some other ingredients. Otherwise, most of Rykiel’s range is still intact and available at her boutiques. January 3, 2014 at 3:25pm Reply

  • george: Love this series of articles! be interesting to see what you put for the more recent perfumes- a more controversial area I feel? Especially with the advent of niche- where great perfumes don’t necessarily set-off mainstream trends. January 3, 2014 at 3:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you!
      Yes, it’s a bit harder as we get closer to the modern times. But despite niche perfumery billing itself is innovative, most offerings simply offer twists on classical ideas. The entire Tom Ford Private Collection is a good example. You have a No 19 type, Habit Rouge type, Drakkar Noir type, etc. Another reason to try classics–you can save a whole lot of money. No 19 is still much less expensive (and higher quality) than many niche launches inspired by it. January 3, 2014 at 5:03pm Reply

      • Sally: An excellent point – I am such a vintage lover, not just because I’ve been collecting for many years, but because I feel that some of the niche brands are just so outrageously overpriced for “thinner” fragrances. I dont really see them as inferior per se, but as you say, the classics are simply higher quality, certainly in part due to the freedom from recent regulations. January 4, 2014 at 3:17am Reply

        • Victoria: So true, I can’t bear to see all of those niche lines coming out of nowhere and demanding 300 euros for a fragrance they took off the shelf at some supplier house.
          The classics also have to follow the new regulations (unless you managed to find the older bottles), but it’s just that when many classics were made, the budgets for juice itself (the fragrance concentrate) were higher than they’re today. The money put into formula is not everything, of course (there are plenty expensive but dull perfumes), but if a perfumer can spend freely on the quality materials they need, it gives them more freedom. January 4, 2014 at 8:36am Reply

      • george: I love Tom Ford and the way he luxuriates in his own voice when he speaks; the perfumes not so much. I was thinking more of perfumes like Geranium pour Monsieur or La Myrrhe- less influential than say Britney Curious maybe? (I would also say Iris Silver Mist but everyone seems to be doing a pre-destined to be an also-ran Iris perfume nowadays as a result). I guess my point is that influence is often a much more neutral or even pejorative term when related to modern perfumes than the classics. I absolutely agree with your points regarding niche in general though. I can’t count the number of times I’ve I put to my nose to the “amazingly inspired” niche fragrance scented strip to inwardly utter “crap fracas”. January 4, 2014 at 9:14am Reply

        • Victoria: It doesn’t have to be pejorative. Even great classics we admire are influenced by something. Very few fragrances are entirely new. For instance, Shalimar influenced Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fils de Dieu, an excellent perfume. And well, even the great Shalimar itself wouldn’t exist without Coty Emeraude.

          My definition of a copycat is Molinard Nirmala (an almost exact version of Angel). But in the end, it’s just a judgement call. For instance, Paco Rabanne Calandre and YSL Rive Gauche are very similar, and yet both are considered perfume legends. January 4, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

          • george: We are at cross-wires here! January 4, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

  • annemariec: I have a question, again about White Linen. If SJ put musk in it to mimic the smell of fresh laundry, laundry detergents must already have had musky scents in them. I wonder when that occurred? (I like to know about the origins of things, as you see.) It suggests that the manufacturing of detergents was certainly on a global scale by then and that they smelled more or less the same, so that everyone *knew* what to expect of a laundry smell. Only when that occurs can a fine-fragrance perfumer work with the idea to improve it and successfully present it back as a perfume.

    Earlier in the century I suppose that soaps and detergents (like soft drinks and confectionery) had been made by small local suppliers. Detergents and may have been scented in diverse ways, or not at all. It takes mass production and globalisation for very large numbers of people to come to the same expectations as to what a things should smell (or taste) like.

    Okay, I’ll stop rambling. Can’t wait for the 80s! My formative era, for better or worse … January 3, 2014 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a pretty cool observation. Yes, by the 1970s, the production was starting to move onto a larger scale. But even today, there is no globally recognized smell of laundry detergent or soap. Every region has a specific type that it prefers, and the tastes in this area are very conservative. But back to White Linen–in the US in the ’70s, its scent definitely resonated for people with the fragrance of detergents. It may not have been the case in Europe, and there is a reason why White Linen had more success in the States than in France, for example. January 3, 2014 at 5:09pm Reply

      • annemariec: Oh good, it’s reassuring (to me at least) that there are still some cultural and regional differences in scented things. After all, we work hard to preserve cultures of food and wine. January 4, 2014 at 2:23am Reply

        • Victoria: Some regions have more established traditions, but in others, especially poorer ones, the inexpensive body sprays edge out the local outfits. For instance, in India, many attar sellers can’t compete with Axe, and the younger generation gravitates to lighter, simpler scents. It’s a normal process, but I hope that there will be something to prevent the traditional, artisanal crafts from dying out. After all, the artisanal weaving persists in India, despite the influx of cheap, mass-produced fabrics. January 4, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

  • Yulya: Ah, thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing back the series! It is such a pleasure to read and to remember… January 3, 2014 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: It was in the works for a while, so I’m glad to have finally pulled it together. Little by little, it will get done. ;) January 3, 2014 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Merlin: This article inspired me to go get a spritz of Halston Z-14. At some point i seem to have decided it was a little too harsh and challenging, so the bottle has sat for some time. But what a pity – its wonderful! (Perhaps my recent infatuation with Azuree has put it in perspective!)

    Halston for women, however, was my gateway chypre – the first I ever liked and I still enjoy its mellowed peachy and rounded tones.

    What I was wondering is how it is possible to trace the lineage of a perfume to one ‘ancestor’ rather than another. It’s something I always wonder about when I read articles on the history of perfume. For instance, since both Polo and Halston Z-14 are leather chypres, wouldn’t a later leathery chypre be potentially indebted to both?
    And to make everything even more of a muddle, aren’t the genres themselves quite rough designations, given that the beauty and character is so often in the detail rather than the general structure? January 3, 2014 at 5:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: It might be indebted if it uses a similar structure. It may not mean that a perfumer deliberately decided to redo Z14, of course. Probably the genres mean much more to the professionals than the consumers, because a professional perfumer can figure out right away to what type a fragrance belongs and how it fits into the genealogy. They can recognize the patterns with experience, and some patterns like chypre or fougere are very specific. The more you smell, the quicker you can spot these patterns. It’s sort of like music or styles of cuisine. January 3, 2014 at 6:03pm Reply

      • Merlin: That makes sense. In many ways I’m still at the like it/don’t like it dichotomy! I’v dramatically expanded what I like, and have some idea of notes, but but grasping structure and pattern in perfumes is still a bit beyond me! January 3, 2014 at 6:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: But that’s ok too! When I look for perfume to wear and enjoy, I don’t put it on and immediately start wondering if it’s a chypre or if it belongs to the same family as First. Knowing your own tastes is far more important than recognizing patterns. January 4, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

          • Merlin: Yes, I once read somewhere that whether one likes a fragrance or not is the most irrelevant thing of all. I still think that that is an important principle in that it makes one take on a far broader perspective and allows for a much more open attitude, one that is receptive, rather than simply reactive and judgmental.
            But, paradoxically the exact opposite is true at the same time – whether one likes it is the ONLY relevant matter – because ultimately it is the striking of that inner chord that matters.

            I suppose its best to try maintain both principles. As confusing as that seems! January 4, 2014 at 6:35pm Reply

            • Victoria: I see what you mean. I also think that the like vs dislike can be limiting when one is first starting out to explore scents, because the initial reaction is always to go for something familiar (that’s how the marketing tests operate and why we never get truly novel ideas this way). It’s best to allow oneself to experience, to explore without judging, or at least, to think “what does it remind me of?” rather than “do I like it?” January 5, 2014 at 10:09am Reply

              • Merlin: I’m getting progressively further off topic, but I was also wondering about the role that familiarity plays. I’v noticed with myself that I often fall in love with a scent only after the umpteenth time I have smelled it.
                Even stranger – at the beginning of all of this there were many perfumes which I could barely smell! Now, the same perfumes seem quite striking. Examples would be Lutens’ Rousse and even his 5 O’clock Gigembre. They used to strike me as wan and far too thin and now they seem quite dense and substantial.
                I’v noticed that people with more experienced noses are able to form quite accurate judgments much quicker; and so they depend less on having become used to a smell. January 5, 2014 at 5:32pm Reply

                • Victoria: Same thing happened to me too! For instance, I used to think that Perles de Lalique was very thin, but when I smelled it a couple of years later, I was surprised how rich and opulent it felt.

                  I was reading Guy Robert’s book on perfumery, and I remember him mentioning that the best thing is to smell the same thing over and over again (rather than to smell a lot and quickly). He meant it as part of the professional studies, but it applies to smelling for enjoyment too. January 6, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Hildegerd: Hmm, I think i recall seeing a full bottle of vintage Opium some where…

    If I remember I will go straight back and buy it January 3, 2014 at 6:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: They are still fairly easy to find and not that expensive, especially the EDT. January 4, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

  • FearsMice: Adding my cheers for the return of the series! I remember all these perfumes (except for the two pour Hommes on the list) and loved many of them. I guess it’s time now to stop moaning over Coriandre and Lauren, and at least give the new Opium a fair trial… January 3, 2014 at 8:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Cabaret Gres was another perfume that reminded me of Coriandre, but it might have been discontinued. I love the combination of rose and lemony spice (and moss). January 4, 2014 at 8:20am Reply

  • Victorialh: I was very lucky to work at a cosmetic counter during the late 70’s, early 80’s. I still have bottles of original Opium, a smidgen of Lauren, Halston, Oscar and many many others. I remember the launch of Opium, it was absolutely a sensation! My signature fragrance at the time was Chloe, but I left work every day drenched in about 20 fragrances as customers grabbed my arm to test on or sprayed indiscriminately in my direction.at the time I gave away more gratis product that I care to think about. I cringe when I think about that full bottle of Shalimar I gave to my sister’s ex mother in law! January 3, 2014 at 9:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re so lucky! These are becoming such rarities. Do you wear any of them?

      Last year I visited an exhibit devoted to Yves Saint Laurent, and I loved the part with his sketches of Opium bottles and various bits of inspiration–Chinese lacquerware, prints, paintings. When a perfumer and designer work closely together to match the fragrance to the packaging, the result can be so special. It must have been an amazing launch. January 4, 2014 at 8:23am Reply

      • Victoria LH: I wear them on a rotating basis so as not to go through any too quickly! And yes, the packaging was exquisite, so unlike anything we ever had previously. The store window dressers had a field day with it!
        The talk of lacquer reminds me of Charles Revson’s launch of nail polish for Revlon. He didn’t want his nail color to be called polish, as the word “to polish” reminded him of manual labor, like polishing floors. He decided lacquer was a much better word, as lacquer was meant for beautiful art and precious things!
        Currently I have been enjoying Mitsouko, although this article made me open my vintage bottle of Oscar for a sniff. I have just a few drops left in my bottle of Lauren, sadly. It was my sister’s scent in the 80’s, so sad it is gone. January 10, 2014 at 5:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: Victoria, thank you for this story. I had no idea, but what a brilliant naming tactic. Revson was really a marketing genius! January 12, 2014 at 4:48am Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: I loved Oscar. It was my first serious grown up perfume. The more recent formulations have not been kind so I was very happy to try Esprit de Oscar which smelled more like the original to my nose. I bought the big bottle and have been enjoying it ever since. I wear Halston Z-14. I find it to be rich and dry in a way no other fragrance is. Now I am curious about the other perfumes on the list! January 3, 2014 at 10:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love it that you wear Halston Z-14. Not so many people are familiar with it, but it’s really an excellent perfume. If one likes dry leather, it’s a must try. January 4, 2014 at 8:26am Reply

  • Sally: What a marvelous series! I have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening alternately reading (starting with series 1, being a latecomer to the blogging world) and running off upstairs to rootle around in my collection for sniffs to go with the words. I turned 13 in 1969, so the 70s were “my time” – I’ve blathered on enough about my love affair with Opium – suffice to say, ’twas my signature scent for many years. I never cease to be impressed by your knowledge and eloquence with which you write, Victoria, and can hardly wait for the next in series. Next week, you say? Excellent … January 4, 2014 at 3:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Sally! Needless to say, I have a long way to go in my knowledge of perfumery, but I like to share whatever I learn along the way.
      Next week would be too ambitious for me. :) These series take a lot of research, but I hope to do one month, as much as my other commitments allow. January 4, 2014 at 8:39am Reply

      • SallyM: I can only imagine how much time such research takes. It took me a whole evening just reading the words already laid out for me :-) I know I’m not alone in appreciating the time and effort you put into your posts. I have been so impressed by the perfume blogging communities – the respect and kindness people show each other is truly heartening. And as Austenfan remarked earlier, it is so rewarding and interesting to read the “side notes” that often develop from original topics. It provides a window into the lives of contributors which lends a “family” feel to the group. January 4, 2014 at 3:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love the side angles too for this same reason. This is why I enjoy replying to comments so much and can’t imagine having a blog without an open comment section. :) January 5, 2014 at 10:02am Reply

  • Austenfan: It’s even nicer to read this series as we are approaching current times.
    I remember repeatedly trying Opium in the eighties because it was such a big hit, and I loved the ads and that other YSL monster Paris.
    I never got it. I actually remember being revolted by it. Mind you I didn’t wear orientals back then, although I did like Dior’s Poison. Having sniffed so many fragrances since I wonder how I would appreciate it now.

    First is gorgeous, and luminous fits it to a tee.
    Do you think Ellena’s La Haie Fleurie is inspired by First as well?
    White Linen took me a while to appreciate, as I found all the aldehydes off-putting at first. However loving that rosy drydown so much I kept on trying and eventually got a mini with the parfum first and a bottle with the edp later. It’s become one of my favourite bedtime scents, as I too find it very restful. January 4, 2014 at 2:42pm Reply

    • SallyM: Hi Austenfan, It would be very interesting to me to see how found vintage Opium now and if you have changed your opinion. Even more interesting would be how you found the newer version – perhaps you would like this more? January 4, 2014 at 3:11pm Reply

      • Austenfan: If I ever have the occasion to smell vintage opium I will let you know what I make of it now. January 5, 2014 at 8:02am Reply

        • MaureenC: I’ve still got a half bottle from whenever I wore it thirty years ago so tried it again recently. Whilst its still beautiful I’ve moved on and I no longer find it satisfying, however one sniff and the 1980s are well and truly evoked! January 5, 2014 at 8:45am Reply

          • SallyM: Yes I can relate to that Maureen. Opium lover that I was for many years since its initial launch, when I smell it now (I have several bottles in various concentrations from the 70s/80s) I don’t wear it anymore as I’m not after that heavy hitting powerhouse these days. And therein lies the irony of my dilemma with the new Opium – it would probably be a good choice for me to wear – I’d get the unmistakable Opium smell, but not as “in your face” which I now lean towards. I just cant bring myself to do it though – it’s like I’m betraying an old friend (which most of my “in life” friends would find totally mad, but I know people can relate to here :-)) January 5, 2014 at 3:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Orientals is not one of my favorite types either, but I’ve grown to admire many classical ones and even enjoy some of them. Opium was definitely one of those fragrances that inspired strong emotions. It’s too bad that the overarching marketing strategy today is to avoid those kind of polarizing scents. Which is why we have lots of likable but forgettable perfumes. On the other hand, a few decades down the road we will see what will end up standing the test of time.

      I haven’t worn La Haie Fleurie in a while, but for some reason I recall it as a much creamier, heavier perfume than First. I need to try it again and compare. I do remember liking it very much and even having a bottle. January 5, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

      • Austenfan: My La Haie Fleurie was purchased a little over 2 years ago. Last bottle in the shop as it had already been discontinued.
        It is sweeter, but First has a much stronger sillage. Mind you my First is EDP and LHF(dH) was only ever made as an EDT. The Artisan firmly spells spring or summer to me, whereas First does not seem to be connected to any specific season.

        Isn’t it all to do with catering to the market first and foremost? And not about creating original products? Reading about how Monty Python came into existence I realised that such a show would probably not be made today. The original 6 Pythons didn’t really have a very well defined idea of what they wanted to do. It took them a few shows to find their feet. And look how they are selling now. January 5, 2014 at 12:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: Some of it has to do with catering to the market, or to the perceived desires. In the past, the fragrance development directors picked what they truly believed in, and sometimes it worked, sometimes it flopped. Not to say that it was the ideal way either, because politics played a big role too. Also, perfumers and especially young perfumers (and female ones) were rarely acknowledged.

          I love your example of Monty Python! January 6, 2014 at 3:12pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I don’t know the fragrance industry well enough to really judge, and in a way I don’t want to. It might spoil my pleasure in fragrance.
            I am not surprised it was such a masculine territory. I suppose Cellier was one of the few women in her generation to be successful in that profession. Plus I remember reading in an interview with Mme. De Nicolaï that she has never regretted leaving the Guerlain fold to start her own house. So the changes haven’t been all bad.

            I was pleasantly reminded of my 5 comic heroes when they were interviewed recently because of their new show.
            Cleese has already announce he is now physically incapable of doing Silly Walks as a result of replaced joints!
            They were thinking of calling it: One down, 5 to go. Or Monty Python Live, mostly. January 6, 2014 at 4:27pm Reply

            • Victoria: I think that one of the reasons Cellier was successful is as much due to her great connections with the fashion designers as to her talent. She was, of course, one of a kind in many ways.
              Back then as now, the connections matter a lot. Perfumers who are great at interacting with customers will often be more successful than those who are more introverted. Of course, if you have talent, nobody can take that away from you, but today you have to be a skilled perfumer as well as a good salesperson to make sure that your idea will be the one accepted. Anyway, it’s probably not too different from how many other industries operate. January 7, 2014 at 10:15am Reply

  • Moi: What fun this series is—and so informative. Thank you! And thanks for covering First. I have a big ol’ honkin’ vintage bottle of it and it’s just a spectacular piece of work—still a very wearable fragrance. I was in Junior High in the late ’70s and just beginning to “fume”-igate myself with fragrances of my choosing (in other words, not nicked from my mother’s dresser :o) ). My girlfriends and I spent hours at the perfume counters at several local shops in the mall, so a lot of these perfumes are near and dear to my heart. And, like several of the posters above, I will mourn until the day I die the passing of Lauren. What a beauty. What a shame. January 4, 2014 at 6:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: The original First also contained some incredible raw materials. I don’t know to what extent it still does, but the current version smells very good. Of course, if you compare side by side, the gaps become very obvious. In the ’70s you could still use all sorts of things that are downright illegal now.
      Anyway, you’re lucky to have the vintage bottle! January 5, 2014 at 10:15am Reply

  • MaureenC: This series is great, whilst things like the guide are entertaining and informative I really enjoyed your approach. Just as it really doesn’t matter if you “like” the Demoiselles d’Avignon or the Rite of Spring it is important to understand their influence so it is with a critical breakthrough in the perfumers art January 5, 2014 at 5:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, I was trying to think how to put it best. I occasionally see comments that people feel bad about not liking classics, or even worse, an assumption that if you like classics, you have “a good taste” in perfume (by reverse, if you like Light Blue, your tastes are questionable). But our experience with perfume is so subjective and personal that this simply doesn’t hold for me. I may not like Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme, but to a friend of mine it reminds of a childhood memory of eating orange blossom marshmallows. Anyway, the classical fragrances have a very distinctive aesthetic, and they were created to elicit strong emotions, so it’s normal that they appeal to some people but not to others. January 5, 2014 at 10:27am Reply

  • Hannah: How different is the Opium circa ~2005, versus the original Opium? January 5, 2014 at 10:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t have any to compare right now, but off the top of my head, it would have been less spicy, because by 2005 the restrictions on the use of some materials that give Opium its spicy twist were tightened. Still, you would recognize it as Opium. January 5, 2014 at 10:29am Reply

  • Persolaise: Ah, I’m so glad you’ve decided to return to this series :-) I love a good list!

    My heart sinks a little every time I think of current Opium, but at least I have a pretty good vintage sample in my collection.

    Looking forward to your take on the 80s… January 6, 2014 at 5:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you!
      If you have some vintage Opium, you’re set. So little of it is needed that your bottle will last for a long while. :) January 6, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Alexandra: Polo – such a gorgeous distinctive scent! Really interesting post, just stumbled upon part 5, going to have a read of the rest now :) January 16, 2014 at 11:30am Reply

  • Mary P.: Thanks so much for returning to this series! It’s wonderful! I am looking forward to the next installment :) February 15, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Very happy to hear it! I’m working on the next part. February 17, 2014 at 5:47am Reply

  • Ysabella: I have both Lauren and First. Lauren is the first “real” perfume I bought for myself when I started working just fresh from college (back in the early 80’s) and it evokes memories of a special time in my life. I used it very sparingly…only when I feel extra speical. So love it! First ranks among my special perfumes, too. It will never be an everyday perfume for me. For me these 2 are the kind of perfumes that you are scared you’ll run out of and won’t be able to buy again. I also have White Linen and though I like scent, it’s not one of my favorites. I’ve worn Fidji and Rive Gauche so many years ago, and I’m curious to try it again. Great post, btw. ;) March 17, 2014 at 1:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I tried First not long ago again, and I liked it very much. It has always been one of my favorites, but there was a period of time when I didn’t wear it. March 17, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

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