Big Shoulders, Big Hair, Big Perfume : 1980s Through Fragrance

The beginning of my interest in fragrance coincided more or less with a momentous year in perfumery:  1981.  It was in that first year of what would later be called the Big Eighties that a Beverly Hills boutique released an eponymous scent housed in a box with yellow stripes that evoked the store’s awning. Giorgio was an immediate and a ubiquitous smash, a powerhouse floral so outsized that restaurants were said to refuse seating to Giorgio-wearing patrons.

Giorgio was only the beginning of what would prove to be the last era of “big” perfumes.  By the time super-scents Calvin Klein Obsession and Dior Poison were released in 1985, women were already wafting KL and Vanderbilt (1982), Ungaro Diva and Yves Saint Laurent Paris (1983), Chanel Coco, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum, and Forever Krystle (1984).

These were the biggies of the Big Eighties, a decade that demanded excess in matters of style.  That these fragrances breached personal space was, restaurant banning of Giorgio aside, not a consideration. Shoulder pads ready for a gridiron tackle, weapon-like jewelry, and hair stiff enough to poke an eye out were de rigueur elements of style.

Big Eighties me wore that decade’s grandiose scents with gusto.  By the time I reached for that first bottle of Poison, I had a gigantic head of streaky brown hair that spent half an hour each morning in hot rollers.  Poison was a white-powder white floral based around grape cola and tuberose. It fit right in with an outfit I wore frequently as I attended college classes: neon blue suede skirt and matching bolero jacket, with a pair of dark purple Joan and David heels that had an accent of green snakeskin.  Snapping on a giant pair of red plastic hoop earrings and swiping at my mouth with Dior Holiday Red, I was prepared to take on the day.

Then there was Obsession, Calvin Klein’s throbbing amber. Obsession was an American scent and therefore contained a different type of sexual coding as did Poison.   Poison was born in Paris and its “Poison Is My Potion” woman-as-black-widow ad was counter to Obsession’s clean, black-and-white nakedness.  Where the model in the Poison ad was swathed in black satin and lace, the models (Kate Moss among them) for Obsession, were often bare-chested and bare-faced. For a while, there was a college-campus battle between Obsession and Yves Saint Laurent Opium, and I wavered between them, using Poison for “dressy” occasions and Obsession for wearing spandex leggings and pink Reebok hi-tops.

These were not the only scents I collected and wore during that zany, colorful decade.  Coco was huge, too, but a bit “older” and more elegant than I was. Forever Krystle was forever smelled, but in order to enjoy it you had to be ready to associate yourself with a fragrance based on a popular prime-time melodrama.  Was there a more successful fragrance associated with a television show or did Forever Krystle reach the zenith of that odd marketing scheme?

Givenchy Ysatis appealed to an older crowd.  Yes, there was a Big Eighties scent for my mother, too.  There were scents in every price range (the drugstore scent Lutece was huge, as was Sand and Sable) and configuration, but the popular thread was either white floral or amber.  The outbreak of room-clearing titanic scents often makes me wonder if we are still feeling the backlash today, thirty years later.

Other notable scents released in the Eighties were Fendi, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Deneuve, Alfred Sung, Lady Stetson, Cacharel LouLou, Calvin Klein Eternity, Elizabeth Arden Red Door, and Guerlain Samsara. Elizabeth Taylor began a great theatrical run with 1987’s Passion. Most of these scents are still with us, but does anyone remember what Chris Evert smelled like?  How about Gabriela Sabatini?

Bijan was a designer scent that had a splashy ad in Vanity Fair and that rode a second wave of designer fragrances behind Giorgio.  That one had me running to Neiman Marcus and I wore it through to the end of the decade, at which point the hair came down, the shoulder pads came out, and I bought a bottle of reasonably quiet and introspective Caron Parfum Sacré and wore it until the advent of the fruity-florals, a few years later.

The Eighties were the last decade when perfume could stand in for personality, as something to hide behind, to put on or to take off like a mask. The super-scents of the Eighties paved the way for Thierry Mugler Angel, but things had changed.  It wasn’t the same as cranking your Duran Duran record, teasing your hair, and reaching for LouLou.

By the Nineties, the color and the fun were gone.  Whatever birthed Giorgio vanished into a new austerity and the boutique with the yellow-and-white awning rebranded as Fred Hayman Beverly Hills and then closed its doors in the late nineties, the scent of its original namesake fragrance floating down Rodeo Drive and up into the fragrance firmament where it forever resides in a swath of gilded florals as bright as the Los Angeles sun.

Big Eighties fragrances:  there’s nothing like your first spritz. Do you remember yours?



  • Therese19: Suzanna, what a fun read over a cup of morning coffee. Indeed, the eighties came alive for me once again. June 19, 2012 at 7:23am Reply

    • Suzanna: Therese19, glad you enjoyed this! The Eighties are never far away. June 19, 2012 at 7:39am Reply

  • Kurt: Joop! Homme, still love it. Nowadays I only use the showergel. This beautifully sweet orange flower/tonka combo…. June 19, 2012 at 7:24am Reply

    • Suzanna: Kurt, I loved Joop! Homme. It brings back memories of the late Eighties. My executive assistant wore it and it smelled wonderful on him. June 19, 2012 at 7:42am Reply

  • Zazie: I see those big lucite earrings, and I still have a secret fondness for shoulder-pads!
    I was too young to own a perfume in the eighties – but did own a “miniature perfume” collection (Only a handful of those mini-bottles survived)
    The highlights of my collection (in my eyes) were LouLou and Jardins de Bagatelle. The former I wore sparingly and secretely, while I thought the latter would become my signature scent when I would be a grown up, independent and sophisticated woman, living an impossibly exciting life!
    Come to think of it, I should revisit that Guerlain. 😉
    Thank you for the colorful and joyful post! June 19, 2012 at 8:35am Reply

    • Suzanna: Zazie, thanks for mentioning Jardins de Bagatelle. A truly under-the-radar Guerlain and still widely available. One must like sweet and powdery tuberose and jasmine to enjoy this! June 19, 2012 at 8:43am Reply

      • Zazie: You know, I don’t really remember how it smelled like. I just remeber the image it conjured: a landscape after the rain, with the sky still a bit cloudy but with an impossibly golden and blinding luminosity.

        I discovered very late that I am a white flower lover: I am especially fond of Tuberose and Jasmine (but don’t like them dewy). Maybe I’ll still like JDB after all! June 19, 2012 at 9:09am Reply

        • Suzanna: Zazie, there are certainly plenty of jasmine/tuberose fragrances around to try! It’s quite powdery, but not like a cosmetic/makeup powdery (which is rose/violet). June 19, 2012 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Isis: I wore Paloma Picasso Mon Perfume. Much too young for it, but I loved it nevertheless. Still do, actually, but it is so closely intertwined with my late teens that I can’t really wear it anymore. Still, if I were invited to an 80’s party… June 19, 2012 at 8:38am Reply

    • Suzanna: Isis, I wore PP also! That and Salvador Dali were the most “exotic” of my growing collection.

      Revisited two decades later, PP didn’t work for me at all. June 19, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

  • Nicola: What fun! I started the 80’s quietly in Cristalle EDT (still love it) but by the time I found my groove towards the end (and was in a job) I was wearing Obsession and Fendi. I hated Poison because someone at work wore it without restraint and I wasn’t her No 1 fan so the association did the perfume no good for me. I now have a tiny bottle of Esprit and I love its honeyed berries and tuberose combination (though I don’t actually WEAR it!!). What also made me chuckle about your lovely review was your description of your power wardrobe. They talk about colour blocking today and don’t know the half of it! Nicola June 19, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

    • Suzanna: Nicola, I still love Cristalle (both EdT and EdP) and wear it every summer.

      I find it intriguing that scents we once avoided are now things that are (somewhat) approachable, or vice versa. Obsession, which I adored, smells “wrong” to me now.

      I bet there are many such associations as your co-worker/Poison one that still act as deterrents. June 19, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

  • Nikki: Giorgio was truly terrible, almost sickening! My mother in law wore that one! The only one worth wearing now is Ysatis, which is a classic and more understated. Paris is also still wearable, even though it is quite loud but YSL, the beautiful pink of the stopper, the gorgeous faceted bottle, this one will stay. EL’s Beautiful is a good fragrance on the right woman (this one is not unisex!), Samsara another powerhouse that was just too much and so easy to recognize, the woman was nothing, the perfume everything. Obsession, no thank you. Never liked anything Calvin Klein. And then Cacharel’s Loulou, art deco bottle deep turquoise and dark red, considered a masterpiece by some, but headache inducing to most. Poison smells divine on the right person and is a weapon of destruction worn by all others. I wore Teatro alla Scala, Tribu, the first Armani (in that lovely roman flacon), Paris…Interesting reading in the morning, Suzanna, thank you for taking us back to the 80s! Let’s not forget Safari, the perfume that came out just when “Out of Africa” played in the theatre, such smart marketing! Cher introduced her perfume “Uninhibited” in the late eighties…I guess Eternity, another absolutely terrible Calvin Klein, was later…One could smell that disgusting aquatic/melon scent from miles away…conferences with women wearing Eternity were truly unbearable events, especially in hot and humid Chicago, no wonder I still can’t stand anything Calvin Klein, after almost 30 years! Such is the power of scent… June 19, 2012 at 9:27am Reply

    • Suzanna: Nikki, thanks for adding fuel to the Big Eighties fire! As you can see, the scope of the discussion is enormous, and you bring up some great perfumes!

      I still wear Samsara and Paris (although as I mentioned in a post about DSH Perfumes I am crazy about her “take” on Paris called La Vie en Rose…)!

      Tribu was something one of my boyfriends adored. I had a bottle, bought in a Macy’s. I can barely recall it now. June 19, 2012 at 10:48am Reply

      • Nikki: Samsara is a lovely perfume on the right person, definitely! I actually sold 3 lbs of vintage EDT on e-bay last month and now I still have 2 Meteorites Samsara extrait before reformulation on e-bay. Although I like, I can’t wear it. Glad you are also a Paris lover! June 19, 2012 at 12:22pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Nikki, Samsara is mostly sandalwood on me and remain that way once the top burns off. I love it! June 19, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Jillie: Hi, Nikki – oh my goodness, I feel so sad that you don’t like Eternity, but I do understand what you mean about the potency of scent and its associations. Eternity was my top fragrance in the 80s, and I loved its rosiness spiced with carnation. I never got the melon/aquatic notes that you and others mention (and I usually hate anything aquatic!), and I would sometimes alternate it with Paris – which you did like. Isn’t it strange, how extreme our likes and dislikes can be, and odd that there may be no obvious explanation. But association is the big killer – my reason for not liking Poison! June 19, 2012 at 11:01am Reply

      • Victoria: Paris and Eternity are kind of like siblings to me, but with very different characters. Fun to think of you, Jillie, sporting those perfumes along with your favorite Essence Rare. 🙂 June 20, 2012 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: Nikki, did you mean Escape by Calvin Klein, by any chance? That was a big marine perfume! Makes the marine scents of the 1990s seem like mere nothings. Eternity was a powdery rose-violet. It’s a sillage monster too, to be sure! I love the parfum version, which oddly enough, feels softer and gentler. June 19, 2012 at 11:40am Reply

      • Nikki: Hello Victoria:

        I didn’t like Escape either and that was marine, you are right. Eternity had this really strange smell, not sweet, I don’t know, like air freshener although the first time I smelled it on somebody I wanted to know what it was as it was very different but then it was so recognizable and just wore me out, as it was everywhere. I really dislike Calvin Klein and Issey Miyake perfumes…they make me sick. The first time I smelled Giorgio I also wanted to know what it it was and that was enough, one time only! I think Amarige came out in the 80s, too? Another killer perfume. June 19, 2012 at 12:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: Amarige is a killer! OMG! The first time I smelled it, it was on a coworker who wore it in massive quantities. I ended up asking her what this perfume was, just so I could avoid it. But I think that if worn in moderate doses, it could be a beautiful, sultry tuberose. I’m going to try this. Wish me luck. 🙂 June 19, 2012 at 12:57pm Reply

          • solanace: May The Force be with you, Victoria! When I was a kid, I used to make red carpet gowns for my cat out of my father’s socks. He HATED wearing them, but I never quite knew what it felt like until I was silly enough to spray my neck with Amarige, a few months ago.

            Beside Amarige (my spray bottle is half full, what I was thinking?), I also wore the black Armani (back then I thought it was a bit matronly, so now I have an almost full bottle, and it is gorgeous!), Loulou, El Biutiful, Magie Noire (1978, according to Gaia, but big enough to be here), that horrible thing Escape and, of course, Giorgio. I wore a full bottle of it, in a tropical weather. And I still like the memory of it! Lovely post, Suzanna! June 19, 2012 at 3:32pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m in tears laughing! I don’t know what’s funnier–the fact that you made gowns for your cat out of socks or that you finally empathized with him thanks to Amarige. Thanks for a laugh, A! I was feeling under the weather, and this really cheered me up. 🙂 I will go easily on Amarige then. June 19, 2012 at 3:48pm Reply

              • solanace: My pleasure! You have cheered me up more than a couple of times with your great blog! June 20, 2012 at 11:53am Reply

  • Elizabeth: In the 1980s, I was a little girl, so my fragrance memories of that era are of playing with the bottles on my mother’s vanity. She had Cinnabar, Shalimar, Fendi, Youth Dew, Giorgio, Passion, all of the heavy hitters. And she continued to wear them well into the next decade. I remember that I really wanted her to buy Tea Rose, but she wouldn’t because she didn’t do florals. I was so disappointed, but I have made up for it with my own collection of floral perfumes! And my mother still wears Passion. 🙂 June 19, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

    • Suzanna: Elizabeth, you point out something important, and which was beyond the scope of this post but which needs mention here. Many ET fans are lifetime devotees of her perfumes. I have known quite a few of these!

      Cinnabar has suffered with reformulations. It smells now just of cinnamon, and a too-hot one at that, no nuance. I wish I could smell the original again, and I will say that about a lot of these fragrances. June 19, 2012 at 10:51am Reply

  • mals86: Fun post!

    I was a teen in the 80s, graduating from college in 1990, and I remember those days of big big BIG perfumes so well – and, to be honest, not particularly fondly! Every dorm reeked of Poison. Every auditorium was a choking miasma of Opium, Obsession, and Youth Dew (an evil triad in my opinion).

    I’ve come to an appreciation of Poison nowadays – I think the issue was that nobody applied lightly back in the day, and just a dab or two of the danger-potion is actually very lovely on me now.

    In that decade, I was wearing the original Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, from a dabber bottle of EdT that lasted probably twelve years and was my very favorite. Also the pretty floral-chypre Prince Matchabelli Cachet, soft rose-amber Revlon Xia Xi’ang, and Noxell Navy. I bought a bottle of Sand & Sable at the age of 18, and my mother the white-floral hater MADE ME TAKE IT BACK, on the grounds that it was far too mature for me. I also loved Aspen for Women, which I still have a hard time describing – it was a big floral with a piney angle, an ambery drydown, and an aquatic opening. Sounds like a bit of a hot mess, but how I loved it. It was a lot more full-bodied than the aquatic florals that would come to the forefront in the 90s, with none of their swimming-pool chemical nature.

    Oh, and I also longed very much for Victoria by Victoria’s Secret, a gorgeous floral chypre that whispered of satin negligees under proper outerwear… couldn’t afford it. Now I have three bottles via ebay, and every one of them has turned. So sad. June 19, 2012 at 10:16am Reply

    • Suzanna: mals86, what a downer about the Victoria! I don’t remember that one at all.

      Wasn’t Chloe grand? Another that I wish I could smell in its original form. That and Halston to my nose seemed made out of precious metals. June 19, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

      • Nikki: Oh Chloe! That was lovely! I remember some very feminine girlfriends having this huge powder of Chloe in the most beautiful nude peachy color, it was so utterly feminine. Chloe is great, not for me, but for the right person, it is a knockout! June 19, 2012 at 12:24pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I would like to get my hands on the vintage Chloe, but I’d be afraid that it had turned. June 19, 2012 at 5:23pm Reply

  • iodine: In the eighties I was ten-ish and was already falling down the rabbit hole of perfume addiction- thanks to a kind old lady in a perfume shop that loaded me with samples- Guerlain mostly.
    I do remeber having the aforementioned Jardins de Bagatelle- can’t actually remeber how it smelled, but I recall the feeling it conjured up, as Zazie points out.
    But my big eighties perfume was Giorgio of Beverly Hills! I remember abundantly dousing myself in it to go to high school, and my schoolmates lamenting about its deadly sillage- one said that it smelled of… celery! June 19, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

    • Suzanna: Celery! I’ve heard other perfumes accused of having celery, but not Giorgio! You’ve made my day with that comment, iodine, and now I must seek out the juice to see if I can find that vegetable.

      Your comment reminds me of what a craze Giorgio created. There is no other way to describe it. Poison had a craze of a lesser intensity, but that Giorgia craze was over the top. What other perfumes caused such desperate fandoms?

      Brilliant marketing and an obvious need for glitz and glamour as depicted on TV shows like Dallas and Dynasty were responsible for the mania, and I don’t think we will see that confluence of factors again. June 19, 2012 at 10:56am Reply

  • Safran: Mid eighties – my early twenties, I startet with Private Collection, Cinnabar and Paloma Picasso, followed by Lagerfeld’s KL and then Obsession, Poison, Paco Rabanne la Nuit. Later Dune, Egoiste, Roma and Paris – some of the eighties powerhouse scents ;o).
    I still like a few of them, but can’t wear them anymore.

    Safran June 19, 2012 at 10:41am Reply

    • Suzanna: I appreciate but still cannot wear Private Collection. Lagerfeld KL was a favorite of mine, and around too shortly, I think. Oh, to be transported back to the perfume counters of that era!

      Funny that we can’t wear these anymore, or approach with such caution. June 19, 2012 at 10:58am Reply

      • Fragrance Fanatic&1980s lover: Why “can’t” people wear some of these fragrances? (Ones still available,of course) I’d really like to know. I mean,is there like,a law or something?So many on here say they “can’t” wear them,because of the year they were made/came out in…why on earth not??? If you like it,wear it,enjoy it&be happy! (: August 16, 2014 at 3:11am Reply

        • Victoria: Wear whatever you want and whatever makes *you* feel happy! But for someone else to say that they can’t wear those perfumes anymore is equally valid. Our tastes change or specific scents have strong associations we no longer wish to be reminded of. Or one simply wants a new period in one’s life to be marked by a different perfume. That’s ok too. August 16, 2014 at 10:40am Reply

  • Kerrie: So much fun to read this! I was addicted to the big 80’s perfumes and tried just about everything mentioned here. It’s interesting how we change over time because the last big frangrance I bought was Dior Addict. It was everything I could imagine in a perfume at the time…until I tried it again the other day and could not tolerate it. I am still trying to find something with depth, but in tune with our times! June 19, 2012 at 11:18am Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks for stopping in, Kerrie!

      Addict–that was really in the scale of the Big Eighties. A carryover. I loved it when it was first released but now find it claustrophobic. Mine is so old it has become like an aged bottle of liqueur.

      Good luck in finding something modern–there are many niche scents that you might enjoy if you liked Addict originally. For one I will recommend pc02 from biehlparfumkunstwerke (Luckyscent has this) and perhaps Vero Rubj. June 19, 2012 at 11:32am Reply

  • lari: fendi, most definitely fendi. i would still be wearing it today (maybe not in summer) if it were available. i miss it much, always, (even into the 2000s) received compliments on it. i was sad and annoyed that the fendi line of fragrances were discontinued-theorema, asja etc…if you didn’t like them you couldn’t say they weren’t unusual. i had serious distaste for all the other 80s fragrances, but fendi, well nothing since has been as good for me. June 19, 2012 at 11:36am Reply

    • Suzanna: Lari, Fendi was another with diehard wearers. It was Big Eighties filtered through Italy. Goes for a lot on eBay now, doesn’t it? (I recall it being sold at Marshalls, along with Theorema, too.) June 19, 2012 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Elisa: I have a bottle of Fendi — I bought a handful of bottles from a woman who was moving and didn’t want to transport her fragrances. I got the Fendi, some Aramis, a spray mini of Amarige, and a HUGE factice of YSL Y for about $35. Quite a good day! The Fendi is gorgeous. June 19, 2012 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Suzanna: What a score, Elisa!

        And to think they were practically giving Fendi away in Marshalls and not that long ago! June 19, 2012 at 12:59pm Reply

    • silverdust: I knew I had just seen a listing for Fendi the other day when someone suggested I’d like it. I didn’t know that it had been discontinued, but TFS sells oil-based dupes of rare and discontinued scents, which are the featured items right now:

      I know what it’s like to have one of your faves DC’d. Most of mine have or have been reformulated! June 19, 2012 at 1:24pm Reply

      • Suzanna: Silverdust, I’ve bought from TFS before. I am not sure that what I bought (some Guerlain “type” scents) were that much like the originals, but they were pleasant in their own regard. June 19, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

  • Paeonia9: Oh, how article brings back memories! I remember how I cried when I couldn’t get the money for Duran Duran concert tickets. The first fragrance I chose for myself was Sand & Sable (I was 11 and getting ready to start Jr High). My Mother went from Opium and Maja to Sophia by Sophia Loren, My mom’s best friend wore Raffinee and Maxim de Paris…Oh, and does anyone remember those Designer Impostor fragrances that came in aerosol cans? Sadly, I can say I had several of them. June 19, 2012 at 11:50am Reply

    • Suzanna: Paeonia9, you bring up an important topic: Designer Impostors. These in their own way were every bit as momentous as Giorgio and Poison (and were horrid copies of each). They were extremely popular and certain impostors (like Poison) could not be kept on the shelves. They had their own empires! June 19, 2012 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Bluepinegrove: Halston saturated office and elevator airspace in the early eighties. I might have loved it if it hadn’t been so popular– and mighty. Hmm, maybe I should seek it out now with an open mind. June 19, 2012 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Bluepinegrove, I sought some out and I don’t remember it at all; it’s as if I have lost olfactory recall. I did buy some vintage that appears to be in good shape. I then misplaced the bottle, so I need to dig it out and try again! June 19, 2012 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Hallo Suzanna! Hair stiff enough to poke an eye out—Very funny! I like your vivid style. Poison was my signature scent, I fell in love with that perfume. On my skin it is a balsamic tuberose, and now I am glad to have the same sensation with a rose: Une Rose, also by Fléchier. I alternated with Rochas Lumière. I love also Diva, and the marvellous Fendi (thank God I bought a big bottle!) And Chloe–I like the tuberose. I think you are too young to remember, but in the early eighties Versace had a wonderful perfume, named “Gianni Versace”, a beautiful oriental. June 19, 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Anna Minis, I do not know Gianni Versace. Thanks for adding it to the mix–I’m sure there is a reader or two who will recall it!

      I too love Une Rose and Lumiere. Fortunately the latter can be had reasonably, unlike Une Rose! June 19, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Nikki: I remember the first Versace! It was in a square bottle and really heavy but gorgeous! Hmm, I guess when one turns 50 soon, the 80s are the fun decade! June 19, 2012 at 12:27pm Reply

      • Suzanna: They were a fun decade, Nikki! Preposterous and outlandish in many respects, but fun!

        Was this the Oriental Versace? The brown juice? If so, I had some and could barely smell it. June 19, 2012 at 1:00pm Reply

  • Kerrie: Thanks Suzanna – I will seek out your recommendations. I guess I’m nostalgic from having loved so many fragrances in the 80’s & 90’s… Recently, I revisited Arpege because my mother wore it and I once loved it, but this was all wrong, too. I am considering two new fragrances I discovered by Marie Saint Pierre (a Montreal fashion designer) called “B” and “C”. They are made in France and seem to have depth & quality that most new fragrances do not seem to have anymore. Have you tried either of these? June 19, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Kerrie, I don’t know those scents, but a reader might. I have not heard of this designer, either, and now want to seek these scents out.

      I wear Arpege here and there. I wear No. 5 (vintage) more. June 19, 2012 at 12:16pm Reply

  • about2laugh: My personal big 80’s perfumes were Lauren by Ralph Lauren (technically late 70’s but whatever), Le Jardin (remember the Jane Seymour ad?!), Lancome Magie Noire (again, technically late 70’s), Chanel No. 22, Sung by Alfred Sung but mainly Lauren.

    I loved Giorgio, Opium, Poison and Paloma Picasso and Beautiful on other people, though. June 19, 2012 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Suzanna: about2laugh, yes! Lauren! The original one. I loved that. I can still smell it, more or less, in my mind. It was a chypre. Today’s version is nothing like it.

      Jane Seymour indeed. I’d forgotten about that one–was it Max Factor? June 19, 2012 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Emma: Loud 80’s perfumes and shoulder pads are gone but big hair and heavy makeup are still around, just watch the Real Housewives, the most popular show on cable in America 😉

    In the US we associate big 80’s perfumes with carreer woman in shoulder pads suits, in France back in the days also young girls in High School wore COCO, YSL PARIS and POISON which made them feel more assertive and ladylike. These girls would skip lunch to save money so they can buy a Hermes scarf and perfume, that’s how it was back then.
    The irony is that these girls who did everything in the book to be so classy and sophisticated are now women in their 40s who probably wear Juicy Couture and Chloe!

    I think I’ll be wearing vintage POISON tomorrow 😉 June 19, 2012 at 12:26pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Brava, Emma, for making tomorrow a vintage Poison day!

      I bet you are right about the Juicy Couture-wearing middle-aged women. I’ve noticed that here–fun scents that sophisticated European teenagers of the Eighties wouldn’t have touched. June 19, 2012 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Lenore: I wore Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Paco Rabanne’s Calandre into the early eighties and then finally succumbed to Paris by YSL around ’84. Dabbled with Poison but always found it a little loud for me. It was definitely not a time to be shy! June 19, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Lenore, big perfumes were just accepted accessories to the fashion statements of the day. They were no more unwieldy than the big earrings we wore.

      Now, if you smell someone in such a cloud of perfume it seems toxic and we back away in horror, waving our hands to clear the air.

      Then, it was only worthy of remark if it were the restaurant that banned Giorgio. June 19, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Rina: How fun was this??!! The memories come flooding back, helped, in no small part, by my satellite radio playing all 80’s all day, LOL!

    I was all over the map then (literally and figuratively) so what I remember is Coco, Niki de Saint Phalle (loved the snakes!), Poison, and Polo on ALL the guys!! OY VEY, that was a biggie!

    Thanks for a fun read, both the article and everyone’s comments!! June 19, 2012 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Glad I’ve hit a home run here, Rina!

      I had the St. Phalle, yet, when trying it a couple of years ago I couldn’t cope with it and gave it to a male friend who adored it. Why didn’t I like it, or Paloma, any longer? Why had I liked them in the first place? What had changed?

      Coco has been a close friend of mine for years, regardless of other fashions in perfume. June 19, 2012 at 1:07pm Reply

      • Rina: I agree on the St. Phalle too! I tried it a few months ago, thrilled to have found it again and all I could think was “WHAT was I thinking??! I WORE that?” Strangely (or not), the COCO shower gel smells divine on my DH! He sneaks it every now and then…. June 19, 2012 at 4:16pm Reply

        • Kerrie: LOL – and St. Phalle used to be a ‘lighter’ one for me! June 19, 2012 at 4:50pm Reply

  • The Scented Hound: Ahh, the 80s. As a male, every frat house was choking with Polo which was just horrid. My favorite at the time, Givenchy Gentleman. My girlfriend at the time used to wear Lauren which I loved. It was a scent to me that was almost edible in its sweetness! I wonder if I would still like it now?! Fun read. June 19, 2012 at 1:15pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Scented Hound, that Lauren really was something special. What’s on the shelf today is not the same thing at all. The original was crisp and tailored, IIRC, and a chypre. I have no recollection of what the notes might have been. June 19, 2012 at 5:54pm Reply

    • lari: Oh, Givenchy Gentleman! I had a very dear cousin (very European) visiting and while sitting in the front seat of our family car (i was in the back) I got a serious whiff of GG. It was love (my cousin was a very elegant young man)-I almost climbed into the front seat to check the scent. From then on boyfriends, bosses, male friends of that era received GG for their birthdays. Recently while trying to help my son choose a fragrance, I thought about GG and Eau Sauvage. What memories these bring up! June 20, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

      • Suzanna: What a great story, lari! I can almost picture the elegant cousin. Thanks for sharing this. June 20, 2012 at 10:42am Reply

  • Kerrie: Wow – Niki de Saint Phalle and Paloma, too. I did the same thing – loved them so much and then it changed and I gave them away 🙂 Such memories – thanks for bringing them back! June 19, 2012 at 1:32pm Reply

    • Suzanna: So happy you’ve enjoyed this post, Kerrie! Seems we all have special memories of these big scents! June 19, 2012 at 6:19pm Reply

  • sara: Ahhh the 80s…several scents I wore then (Coco, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Rumba, La Nuit) I still wear now. Never did like Poison or Obsession. In retrospect, I like the scents from that era so much more than the anemic, safe scents of today. June 19, 2012 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Anemic is a good word, Sara, to describe what is being sold today, or what is happening to classics.

      I still wear Coco and always keep a bar of the soap in the bath. June 19, 2012 at 6:20pm Reply

  • Cheryl: Those outfits sound “rad”…very “awesome”.
    Cinnabar and Opium were in the background, but I wore KL, Shalimar, and CoCo. Giorgio and Poison were for more grownup women than I was at that time. And Obsession completely passed my demographic and I have never really smelled it on anyone. Eternity…not so lucky there. (Those were brutal times. ) Bijan was a rumour…no one could afford it…I think you had to fly somewhere far away to obtain it. I also had a few tester bottles on krizia and Nikki de Saint Phalle and Molinard de Molinard. Skin scents like White Musk (various brands) were every where. The older women of my generation were wearing Nina Ricca and Oscar de la Renta.
    Just wearing perfume took a kind of courage and elan, it seemed to me. June 19, 2012 at 1:42pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I really loved KL and I think was able to afford just one bottle of it before it vanished. I liked Orientals but I preferred florals like Chloe; however, I recall that KL was enormously appealing. June 19, 2012 at 6:25pm Reply

  • Kerrie: Molinard de Molinard!! Another favourite I had forgotten about and so much fun to remember these! June 19, 2012 at 2:01pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I never saw a Molinard on a counter, or perhaps I just wasn’t looking for them. That one is still in circulation. June 19, 2012 at 6:26pm Reply

  • MaryAnn Hardy: I MISS big hair. Mine was all chestnut curls from the spiral perm. Perry Ellis was my 80’s scent for work and Lauren was for play. Evening was “Santal” by Roger et Gallet. Sadly, these scents are all gone. AND I miss the shoulder pads too. But they could be troublesome. Shoulder-Pad-Migration was always a problem. One memorable experience was flying in an old open cockpit, bi-wing airplane …and losing my shoulder pads during the barrel rolls! June 19, 2012 at 2:13pm Reply

    • Suzanna: HA! MaryAnn, your story is hysterical! You were very intrepid and the shoulder-pad sacrifice was a small one to experience that flight!

      Oh, yes, that Santal was lovely. I remember this. And Perry Ellis, thanks for mentioning it. I don’t think I ever tried it. June 19, 2012 at 6:29pm Reply

  • rosarita: What a fun article and comments! I was in my 20s as the 80s began; it was definitely my nightclub and party era. I wore Pierre Cardin in the early part of the decade, and my best friend wore Halston, then Obsession. I discovered Coco when it first came out and I’ve loved it ever since (met my husband the night I bought my first bottle.) I did it all – the big hair, Maude Frisson cone-heeled pumps, lightning bolt earrings. Ever larger and brighter earrings, period. Mini skirts and dog collars and the B52s playing in tiny clubs. I had a lot of fun 🙂 June 19, 2012 at 2:25pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Those Maude Frisson heels were a hugely covetable item–and way out of my financial league. The cone heel made a huge influence on shoe design. You had to read Vogue to know about Frisson. I thought those shoes were the epitome of style.

      I used to buy Betsey Johnson dresses, the stretchy ones with big prints. They were skintight and I’d wear them with black tights and black heels and a loud white floral. June 19, 2012 at 6:31pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: A couple of my first crushes were due in part to the fragrances these guys wore. The first was Polo. And then there was Drakkar Noir. Oh boy, I fell hard for that one. June 19, 2012 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Perfumista8, in my mind the men’s scents were best from the late seventies into the eighties. Am I crazy? June 19, 2012 at 6:44pm Reply

      • Perfumista8: You’re not crazy. Those scents had presence! And, it seems like a lot of men wore a signature fragrance back in the day. June 20, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Joan: I’d say my favorites are Calyx and Poison. I like Giorgio too. I haven’t developed a taste for Loulou yet. I think I’d like to make it a point to become a connoisseur of 80s fragrance at some point.

    The Book (Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s tome) made a good point about 80’s perfumes being full of bombast, but with an unfavorable comparison about 90’s fragrances being “pinched, mean, and filled with sour probity” or something along those lines. I’ll take the bombast any day. June 19, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Joan, I never quite developed a taste for LouLou, although it was hugely popular in Europe. I recall it being grape-y and ash-tray-like, plus powder.

      ’90s frags may have derailed from the steamrollers of the Big Eighties, but people were certainly ready for things like L’Eau d’Issey! June 19, 2012 at 6:36pm Reply

  • fleurdelys: Oddly, I never wore any of these heavy hitters back in the day. Now, in my perfumistahood, I’ve found my skin wears big fragrances well! Poison can be very pretty when used with discretion, Paris is totally glam, and I love the honey note in Diva. I never tried (or smelled on others) Obsession, Giorgio, or Amarige, but unfortunately the sickening Eternity was everywhere. I can appreciate Niki de Saint Phalle and Paloma Picasso, but these chypres are just too harsh for me. The big fragrances stretched into the early 90s too – Dune, Spellbound, Escape, and Tresor are examples. June 19, 2012 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Fleurdelys, I have a friend here who anoints herself with Eternity. Worse, she owns a restaurant and greets all customers–there is a cloud of Eternity settling over the diners.

      Regarding Diva, every time I would shop at Nordstrom in Orlando I would come away with multiple samples of it. “Oh, have you tried Diva?” they’d ask. It’s as big as they come and I thought well done, though too much for me in my Florida un-fashion (hiking boots and t-shirts). June 19, 2012 at 6:39pm Reply

  • Nikki: What a fun thread, nothing better than perfumes and memories! I remember walking the streets of Berlin, then still divided, everybody wearing black, and Madonna. That was her decade, the funny hair and that movie with the Arquette woman, “desperately seeking Susan”. Calandre was also one of my favorites then, and O de Lancome but that is a classic and I still wear it. The fashion! The pulled up sleeves on dressy suit jackets, the funny hair, the really bright lipsticks! Yes, I remember Nikki de St Phalle, too, and Lauren by RL. Sunglasses and pink lipgloss, bright pink lipsticks! June 19, 2012 at 4:31pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Nikki, yes! That lipstick! Nearly neon in hue. I liked the purple-toned pinks best, but there were a lot of Pepto-type pinks (milky) also, the opaque and matte ones. I liked mine with a little shine. I still look good, if garish, in that color.

      Madonna was the perfect embodiment of the Eighties: slightly outrageous, quirky, inventive, clever, a self-promoter of epic proportions. I can remember single men buying tickets to her first big tour, just so they could get a look. She was another craze, like Giorgio. June 19, 2012 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Teri: Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 🙂

    My first child was born in the early ’80s and there is a family picture of a smiling me holding the infant, all decked out in my ‘hair band’ poofy, belacquered hair, a shoulder-padded suit with a fuschia jacket and perwinkle skirt (yes, they were a matched set if you can believe it), with a nipped in waist, and enormous periwinkle-colored wedge-shaped earrings.

    At the time I thought I was the height of cool, but this picture never fails to make the family laugh when we go through the family photos.

    My scent at the time was Giorgio’s Red, which I have to admit I still wear occasionally. Back in the day it was a real man-magnet. Men seemed to love it. Not so sure about my co-workers, though. Our dueling scents combined were probably an environmental hazard. I still remember that group of women so clearly…maybe it was all of the in-your-face scents they wore. I had never thought of that before, but it’s as likely as any other reason. One wore Perry Ellis, one Eternity, one Poison and one Safari.

    I have to laugh thinking about the groups who followed us in that conference room with that cacophony of scent left to greet them. June 19, 2012 at 8:35pm Reply

    • Suzanna: What a great memory, Teri! I can believe that blue and pink were a matched set. Fun!

      I don’t recall noticing perfume so much in the Eighties, prob. because of the giant clouds of it. It didn’t stand out so much when everyone wore the same few scents, did it?

      I would wonder, too, what the aggregate smell of all those perfumes was. June 19, 2012 at 9:37pm Reply

  • ewewhojane: Way too many laughs about these memories! I broke up with a boy (devoted Dead Head that he was) because he loved Opium, then took up with a boy who loved me in Obsession, only to move on to a man who preferred me in Paco Rabanne – oh this is way too horrible!
    Now I’m married to a man (a Vermonter who wears flannel to buy me Serge Lutens at the Palais Royal) who thinks it appropriate for me to bring out Kilian’s Straight to Heaven at the dinner table to show my 18 year old daughter’s boyfriend what is a decent fragrance for her for summer!
    Things can change, thank goodness… June 19, 2012 at 9:00pm Reply

    • Suzanna: erewhojane, yes, train ’em early in which niche and upscale fragrances are appropriate for a young man to buy for a young woman. There will be no awkward gifts of fragrance for your daughter, no awful watery juice tinted pink or perfumes that smell of nothing but the air inside the mall….

      Love the mental pic of your hub. in flannel in the Lutens boutique. June 19, 2012 at 9:40pm Reply

  • nozknoz: This is a great topic! I wore Chloe in the early 80s, and Rochas Lumiere when it came out. Then I discovered Annick Goutal and wore Eau d’Hadrien, Passion and Heure Exquise. I like YSL Rive Gauche and Paloma Picasso’s Mon Parfum very much now, but did not own them at the time. ~~nozknoz June 19, 2012 at 9:42pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I can see the through-line from Chloe to Goutal! Also, it’s interesting to me that so many people (here and elsewhere) loved the original Lumiere, which was then completely reformulated and turned into a fruity rose scent! June 20, 2012 at 8:38am Reply

  • Kaori: Nostalgia ! In the early 80s, I wore mainly something from CD and YSL coming out in the 70s. Later I wore YSL Paris regularly for a while. It was a fun era!

    I strongly remembered that Shiseido started to sell their fragrances at the shops. I recieved a sample of Nombre Noire and liked it very much. I couldn’t afford to buy the full bottle at that time 🙁

    Kaori June 19, 2012 at 10:22pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Kaori, the Shiseido scents totally passed me by. Not sure why; probably the abundance of other scents distracted me, or I wasn’t in full perfumista mode at the time.

      I have never smelled Nombre Noire! June 20, 2012 at 8:49am Reply

  • Isabeau: My favourites were Loulou and gabriella sabatini.

    I dont know of these scents were eighties or nineties but i loved moments by priscilla Presley, White musk body shop, kenzo ca sent beau, magnetic by gabriela sabatini, roma, venezia, chloe innocence oh i could go on and on…

    So many great fragrances with great memories June 19, 2012 at 10:36pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Isabeau–finally! Someone who remembers the Gabriela Sabatini fragrances!

      Not sure when Ca Sent Beau was released, but Moments was released in 1990, Roma in 1988, Venezia in 1992 (but absolutely was in that Big Eighties tradition!). Thanks for adding these to the list! June 20, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

  • marsi: Fantastic post! The comment thread is great too. I know what my SOTD will be tonight — Paloma. I rarely wear it now but it’s a reminder of my own big hair, big shoulders days. Can’t believe it used to be my daily office perfume. June 20, 2012 at 11:19am Reply

    • suzanna: marsi, I can believe Paloma was your office perfume. Paloma was always confident, classy, stylish, and aware, which to my mind was the image one would want to project as a working woman in the 1980s. June 20, 2012 at 11:51am Reply

  • Natalie: Thank you for this wonderful article–I succumb to nostalgia frequently, which is I think why I try to “rescue” all these vintage perfumes from sinking under the vanishing horizon of the 20th century. I was just a kid in the 80s, but I remember all that ad copy (Paloma Picasso in her red lipstick!) and my glamorous older cousins wearing Poison. I wore Eternity and Anais Anais.

    This was just great–keep ’em coming!! June 20, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

    • suzanna: Natalie, sometimes I can’t help but buy a vintage frag on eBay, hoping to uncork either a memory or else to revisit what I once loved. The former works better than the latter. I often am mystified about why I liked something.

      Right now I am looking for vintage Chloe and the original KL.

      Thanks for letting me know you appreciated this post. We have in the works a couple of other related posts I hope you will enjoy! June 20, 2012 at 11:55am Reply

  • Sassa: Poison. I remember distinctly NOT wearing it because, being the fire breathing feminist that I was (and, BTW, still am), it was considered emblematic of the masochistic woman model, and not politically correct for an enlightened ‘womyn’. How ironic that I saw nothing wrong with Opium, which I positively DRENCHED myself in for the entire decade. I don’t know how anyone remained in the same zip code with me during that time! When I wanted a break, I used Ombre Rose, White Linen or Habanita. I was continually disappointed that I couldn’t wear ‘Red’, because I thought it smelled so good on other women.
    As an aside – I still roll up the sleeves on my jackets – I swear it makes you look one dress size smaller. June 20, 2012 at 12:19pm Reply

    • suzanna: Sassa, unusual and great fashion tip (and I still like that look!). Thanks!

      Drenching with Opium I think was a common practice, if one could afford to do so.

      Your “break” fragrances are interesting bec. to me they are more or less in the same family, and one opposite Opium, except that Habanita has the same time of sexuality to it. June 20, 2012 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Poison, the Godzilla of Perfumery, emblematic of the masochistic woman??!! The man-eating Poison? The only disadvantage of Poison: it chases the men away. Excellent perfume for feminists. In that context: what of the sweet, cosy, powdery Ombre Rose? June 20, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

    • suzanna: Anna Minis–at some point in the 1980s, I’d have loved to have a man-repelling perfume! Or at least one to repel what my mother called “the wrong sort.” :–) June 20, 2012 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Sassa: Anna Minis: Good Question! I think it took another couple of years before feminism developed a healthy sense of irony. That happened right before we developed a sense of exhaustion.
      I was minoring in Women’s Studies at the time, and I remember our professor saying that the name reinforced women’s passivity – the image she had was of a woman applying poison to herself, like Cleopatra and the asp, and that this willingness to off herself made her more attractive in a culture that asked women to subjugate themselves rather than confront the patriarchy.
      Quite a lot of guilt to pile onto one fragrance! June 20, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

      • suzanna: Sassa, that’s fascinating. Thanks for explaining what the professor said about this perfume. June 20, 2012 at 1:19pm Reply

        • Perfumista8: Yes, thanks for the explanation. Very interesting. June 20, 2012 at 6:51pm Reply

  • Ruth: For me, it was Must de Cartier…EDT and Parfum, alone and together. This was my first experience with different formulations and with blending. I almost never wore the parfum alone, wore the EDT daily, blended with parfum for evening. Daily wear was ladylike suits (with shoulder pads of course), silk blouses with bows (and shoulder pads) and Etienne Aignier pumps in my first and last corporate job. Oh, and a very blue/burgundy lip color by a brand that I think is long gone, but I can still remember the black twisted tube. Thanks for the memories! June 20, 2012 at 12:40pm Reply

    • suzanna: Ruth, I have a bottle of that Must daytime version (the EdT) sitting right here. It was and is quite unusual and terribly hard to describe. Whereas amber plays an enormous role in the nighttime parfum version, it doesn’t in the EdT. EdT is perhaps grassy-green, but it isn’t a “green” scent.

      I’d have loved to smell the two versions together. I didn’t get around to the parfum version until much, much later.

      Ah, the bow blouse. Remember the “Dress for Success” book?

      (I’d have liked that lipstick color, whatever it was.) June 20, 2012 at 1:24pm Reply

      • Ruth: Suzanna, I think definitely the ‘green’ elements were what drew me in. I’m just now learning what all those elements are by reading the detailed descriptions (by you, Victoria and others) of perfumes I’ve worn and loved (19, Cristalle, Rive Gauche, Calandre…). Most have changed too much for me in reformulations…sigh. Of course my tastes and ability to wear certain things have changed as well. June 20, 2012 at 2:24pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Ruth, if you can still wear Must, the vintage is available and is in top form. Mine is just as fresh as it was three decades ago.

          It’s an interesting story behind that scent. There was the EdT for day and then that parfum version for night as you recall wearing. Then, the EdT for day was discontinued (this is the one I have) and replaced by an EdT version of the parfum, while the parfum still was made so they were simply diff. concentrations of the same.

          Somewhere, there has been reformulation of this version. It is sharper and not as rich as before.

          The original EdT was marked “Ligne Voyage.” June 20, 2012 at 3:22pm Reply

          • Ruth: Much as I loved it, Suzanna, I don’t think I could wear anything that intense anymore. But I might have to try it just to see. On another note: There’s something just slightly disturbing about the fact that a perfume I used to wear in its original form is considered vintage. 😉 June 20, 2012 at 3:39pm Reply

            • Suzanna: Ruth–agreed!

              Also, I find the original Must intense, at least comparatively speaking. One drop lasts for ages. June 20, 2012 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Cleopatra did not ”subjugate rather than confront the patriarchy”. Cleopatra lost the battle (31 b.C.; Actium) and had no opportunity to ”confront the patriarchy”. Her fate: being showed as a war victim in the triumphal procession of Octavianus, the emperor Augustus. She was too proud for that. What kind of nonsense those professor told you! Kind regards, Anna. June 20, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Perhaps “Perfumes of Cleopatra” might make for an interesting post! June 20, 2012 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Sorry, I mean: that professor, singularis June 20, 2012 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Oh, Suzanna, certainly!! Cleopatra was a great “parfumista’, even the sails of her ship were stongly perfumed. June 20, 2012 at 3:37pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I will take note and sail ahead with this topic, Anna Minis! June 20, 2012 at 5:37pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Cleopatra and her sails are on deck, Anna Minis! June 21, 2012 at 11:56am Reply

  • Nikki: This is by far the most interesting topic, from the 80s to Cleopatra and Poison, the perfume! Women’s studies were offered at my university, too, but they didn’t take me, probably because I was wearing red lipstick and perfume! Got an MBA instead, being one of the only females in a sea of males from all over the world (Thunderbird). That was quite an experience as a western woman! Equality hasn’t reached most of the world yet! However, I have always felt that women’s studies were somehow strange, I don’t think we even offer that in Europe? Now, reading the comment about one’s professor, I am even more convinced there is something a little wrong here. Women in power seem to be judged by their femininity or perceived lack thereof. I find that quite unfair. Nobody judges male politicians by their masculinity or lack of…Viewing a woman yielding immense power like Cleopatra as a victim is not only historically inaccurate, it is not encourageing for females. There is an interesting biopic about Margaret Thatcher on netflix (not the sad movie with Meryl Streep), and these points are brought up: she is not enough of a woman to be a leader! It is quite sad when a powerful person gets reduced to their gender, of course, always the female gender. No matter what one thinks about Margaret Thatcher, the fact remains that she opened doors to women in politics. I want a female leader who wears high heels, perfume, red lipstick and who is highly intelligent and ethical. I see no problem in being all of that. I don’t want to read another word about female leaders being overweight (Angela Merkel), lack of taste (Hilary Clinton)…as the Dalai Lama said, the world will be saved by a Western woman (wearing perfume!).
    Now to Must de Cartier, the perfume was just wonderful and I remember buying it and wearing it all the time. I recently sold all my Must de Cartier, including Ligne Voyage, as I couldn’t wear it anymore. It was a great fragrance though. June 21, 2012 at 10:05am Reply

    • Suzanna: Nikki, thanks for your comments! I agree, let’s have a woman in power whose stylistic attributes include the wearing of perfume and red lipstick.

      I struggle with Must also. I can only apply one drop! June 21, 2012 at 10:36am Reply

  • Anna Minis: If Cleopatra had been male, she also had to go into the triomphal procession of Octavianus. That’s what happened in antiquity when a king, or queen, had lost a decisive battle, in this case the battle at Actium. Precisely because she had been so powerful, she was too proud for that.Octavianus won the war, she was defaited. That had nothing to do whith ”confront patriarchy”. June 21, 2012 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: p.s. There is a powerful woman in Brussels, Neelie Smit-Kroes. (from Holland). She is very elegant, wears lots of lipstick, high heels, beautful and expensive handbags and I bet she wears perfume! June 21, 2012 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Anna, I will google her! Thanks! June 21, 2012 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Nikki: Yes, I did google her and no, this is not the woman I am thinking of, I am thinking of a truly sexy woman, in her thirties, forties, with sex appeal which is the important factor, sex being female~ and no, this woman may have red nail polish but no sex appeal at all! What I mean is a politician who is female, sexy, has sex appeal and is intelligent and powerful, not somebody who is female and wears red nail polish, I want the whole enchilada so to speak…feminine power.. Red lipstick and/or red lipstick does not convey sex appeal, sorry, unless one is sexy as I described in a previous thread. It is a fallacy to think putting on red lipstick/nail polish makes one sexy, the red color is an extension of one’s sexiness and either one has it or not, this lady does not have it. She could be a a man for all I care. That is not feminine power although the person is female. There is a stark difference and unless we vote for women who have it all, we get Margaret Thatcher and this woman to begin with, the end result shoud be something quite different though. Nice try though. Everybody can wear red lipstick….but wearing it with sex appeal and intelligence that is the challenge we have to thrive for. June 21, 2012 at 11:01pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks for adding your thoughts to the dicussion, Nikki! June 22, 2012 at 12:13am Reply

  • Anna Minis: Well, Nikki, Cleopatra was the woman you are looking for: sexy, highly educated, powerful. So every feminist can wear Poison: she was not masochistic! Btw: let us not forget this is a blog about perfume… Greetings, Anna. June 22, 2012 at 4:43am Reply

    • Suzanna: Anna, Cleopatra is indeed a powerful figure, even in this blog about perfume. June 22, 2012 at 6:36am Reply

  • Ariadne: I am reading The Book of Lost Fragrances, by M. J. Rose, a suspense novel that begins in an Egyptian tomb just cracked opened by Napoleon and one that is mysteriously permeated with intoxicating perfume! Recommended summer reading! June 22, 2012 at 9:32am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, I just read that book myself, and enjoyed the Ames Soeurs fragrance by Joya made in response to the book. June 22, 2012 at 10:40am Reply

  • Rowanhill: Coco Chanel and Paloma Picasso were my signatures at the time, finishing high school and beyond, and Oscar de la Renta of course. I still enjoy the first two on occasion, especially Paloma, which at the time made me feel so glamorous and elegant. June 23, 2012 at 1:45pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Rowanhill, I agree that Coco and Paloma are scents to make one feel glamorous and elegant! Coco parfum is sublime and Paloma is just so stylish.

      Oscar de la Renta–was this the one that was reminiscent of Guerlain L’Heure Bleue? June 23, 2012 at 2:17pm Reply

      • Rowanhill: I do not find Oscar de la Renta similar to L’Heure Bleue, but the Oscar fragrance is the signature one with the wavy clear glass bottle and black top. Also the prereformulation Rive Gauche was great. June 24, 2012 at 7:51am Reply

  • eminere: Nothing substantive to add except to say that I love that vintage Dior Poison campaign visual. 😀 June 24, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

    • Suzanna: Eminere, I agree! I love all the vintage Dior ads. We have yet to see their like again today.

      Thanks for commenting! June 24, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Brian Shea: Wow, Victoria your descriptions of your fashion sense and color choices in the 80’s I find suprising, judging from a description of your current wardrobe you mentioned in another post(all black I believe). I still have my 80’s love of color, in fact I think I’m more colorful now than ever( I did have a black period in the late 80’s and early 90’s-how alternative!)
    I remember I, my brothers and the other boys at school all wore Polo, Drakkar Noir, and Tuscany, and later in the 80’s and into the 90’s Cool Water. Ha! I always loved the smell of Drakkar, however regrettably it always turned skunky on me 🙁 I remember it was my first fragrance that I owned, I got a bottle for Christmas. I think it was 1984. I felt so grown up! And sexy LOL! June 25, 2012 at 12:18am Reply

    • Victoria: The post is written by Suzanna, Brian, but I should still show you some of my photos from the 1980s! I think that one of my favorite ensembles from that time was a pink puffy jacket embellished with royal purple.
      I like color very much, but in NYC I’ve gotten lazy. Plus, in a lab nobody sees what you’re wearing anyway, and on many days I would just throw on a pair of jeans and black turtleneck. June 25, 2012 at 3:20am Reply

      • Suzanna: Brian, I assure you that my vivid taste for color in the Eighties has turned into a muted one now. I wear black, dark gray, olive, and navy, although I still miss a bright fuchsia Dior jacket I bought at the very end of that era. June 25, 2012 at 8:05am Reply

        • Brian Shea: Ah, I wasn’t aware there were other people writing posts on here! I would love to see those photos! I work in a kitchen so I too am covered up and working in a very messy environment, so my style or fashion sense doesn’t come out very much. However apparently my 80’s inspired t-shirt with it’s digital looking multicolored bands apparently was bright enough to show through my chefs coat as my co-workers were quick to point out! That shirt always gets lots of attention. Suzanna, I love fuchsia! I just got a t-shirt from American Apparel, very basic, but the color is this gorgeous fuchsia/purple! I think it’s the most intense color I own now. Speaking of fuchsia, I was in Sisily/Benneton with a friend and the poster above the register had a couple of male models with brightly colored clothes on, one had fuchsia jeans! With kelly green and royal blue sweaters and shirts! That’s even too much color for even me! June 25, 2012 at 8:41am Reply

          • Victoria: Brian, it’s just me and Suzanna writing here (and occasionally a guest poster, but that’s limited to 1-2x a year). Suzanna joined me a couple of months ago.

            Fuschia, kelly green and royal blue in the same outfit would be too much for me as well, but I can tell you that here in Belgium men don’t shy away from bright colors. Red jeans are very common. I just saw an elderly gentleman walking by wearing a fuschia sweater draped over his shoulders (the rest of the outfit was fairly staid–white shirt and grey pants)! June 25, 2012 at 10:39am Reply

            • Austenfan: Actually in Holland wearing red/reddish denim trousers as a man is considered very posh.
              It’s been a long time since my last visit to the States but I do remember thinking at the time that people dressed more conservatively.
              Around the Mediterranean men will wear pink and lilac and colours like that. June 25, 2012 at 5:27pm Reply

              • Brian Shea: No doubt Americans dress conservatively especially in the Midwest and probably on the East Coast, and men especially. However, here in Miami it’s a different story! There is a sort of flashy trash/Jersey Shore/Ghetto Fabulous kind of look that seems to be popular, although it is quite common to see many people who do look actually chic and stylish, if not a bit edgy.
                I think I take after European tastes actually! June 25, 2012 at 11:10pm Reply

                • Suzanna: Brian, I am from Northern Florida, but I visit Miami once a year and I tend to agree with you. There is more use of color in general in Miami, which I think reflects the vivid colors in nature one sees there. June 26, 2012 at 1:37am Reply

                  • Brian Shea: Yes, the colors in nature here are most striking. The sky, the sea, the foliage, the almost electric colors of some of the flowers….The colorful buildings(you won’t see pink or aqua buildings in Chicago! Or, if you do it will be the most insulted house on the block!) June 28, 2012 at 11:57pm Reply

              • Suzanna: Austenfan, the only glimpses of European male fashion I get is via Sartorialist, so thanks for the info on men wearing colors. The Eighties really were the last era where men wore significant color here in America. June 26, 2012 at 1:36am Reply

                • Brian Shea: Yes, it’s true about the 80’s, men, and color. I both remember all the color in the 80’s and I see it every time see either a movie, a video, or some picture from the 80’s. It’s amazing sometimes how colorful the 80’were. The 90’s put a cabosh on colorful clothes for men, the style being dark, murky, muddy colors(or non-colors really) and neutrals. And it’s still around as the norm, although color does seem to be coming back with some(thank god).
                  I am an occasional visitor to the Sartorialist. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the styles of some of the people he features, but I do enjoy looking at the blog. And the book is good too. June 29, 2012 at 12:04am Reply

              • Victoria: I need to go to Holland since I’m so close by. Not necessarily to see the red trouser wearing men, but just to visit. 🙂 June 26, 2012 at 5:11am Reply

                • Austenfan: Yes you should. It is so different from Belgium. The towns of Goes and Middelburg are quite close to Belgium and though not big, very pretty indeed. It would be easiest getting there by car though.
                  Also using the Thalys, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are within very easy reach. June 26, 2012 at 10:42am Reply

            • Brian Shea: I see colored jeans quite often around here as well, in fact my previously mentioned friend did actually buy some royal blue jeans, although that’s not horribly different from regular blue denim. Brightly colored jeans are something that enjoy and think look great on others but are not something I would feel comfortable wearing myself. I like neutrals for my pants and jackets(although I do have a deep plum purple velvet blazer!) and colors for my shirts, sneakers, and ties(don’t wear them much though). June 25, 2012 at 11:04pm Reply

              • Suzanna: I don’t see colored jeans at all here (UF is here); I don’t think we are the fashion capital of Florida!

                That blazer sounds smashing. June 26, 2012 at 1:39am Reply

                • Brian Shea: It is quite nice, although I never have an opportunity to wear it. June 28, 2012 at 11:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: I so wish I had my mom’s bright blue dress that she wore in the 1980s. I probably would alter the shoulders a bit, but I would still wear it for the color alone! June 26, 2012 at 5:13am Reply

  • linda: I’m surprised no one mentioned Dior Dior by CD. That’s my favourite scent of all times. Pity it was discontinued early 80’s 🙁 June 28, 2012 at 9:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Linda, I don’t think Dior Dior was as widely available (where I was) as the ones I discussed in the post. I don’t recall ever seeing it! June 29, 2012 at 8:09am Reply

  • Brian Shea: Suzanna and Victoria,
    Speaking of wearing a bunch of bright colors, today I wore that saturated fuschia/purple t-shirt with my bright blue board shorts. Did I get the looks! At times I thought to myself that it was kind of a loud outfit, but mostly, I just didn’t care! My friend liked the combo. June 29, 2012 at 12:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds fantastic, Brian!! I can tell you that you would fit right in here in Brussels and nobody would bat an eye. June 29, 2012 at 6:58am Reply

      • Brian Shea: See! I told you have European tastes! 😀 June 30, 2012 at 8:53am Reply

  • topaz: I was sadly unable to wear most perfumes in the 80s- my father claimed to be allergic to them. I adored Giorgio but it lingered forever so I couldn’t “sneak” and wear it. The original Victoria’s Secret was my most worn (oddly enough, this very floral scent didn’t bother my dad) and I would carry Exclamation! to spray at school. November 2, 2013 at 9:08pm Reply

  • Nati: Oscar de La Renta, Paris, Narciso Rodriguez, Carolina Herrera and Poison!! Simply stunning… I wore them to school, at 7am. If thats not glamourous I dont know what is! October 27, 2014 at 8:15pm Reply

  • C. Brown: I did a search for Raffinee as I remember smelling it in the 80s and thinking I liked it. I never bought it, and when I went to find it in the last year or so seemed not to be able to find it or maybe the formulation was changed…

    I was an Opium addict. (And, once, my boyfriend, now my husband, bought me a bottle of eau de parfum.) I also liked oils as well; one of my favorites, oddly enough, was hibiscus (almost the complete opposite of Opium). I did like Giorgio, but didn’t like smelling like everyone else. And couldn’t stand the copycat scents (even though, truly, they were really what I could afford).

    But one day, while going to school on the bus in Montreal, a woman stood next to me. She smelled so divine that I was visibly inhaling around her. I got her to tell me what she was wearing: Estee. After class, I excitedly got off the bus and made a beeline for the department store and the Estee counter. Alas, alack! I had and still have an odd body chemistry, so that fragrance which smelled so heavenly on that lady smelled exactly like bug spray on me! July 7, 2016 at 1:27am Reply

  • Kaitlin: Your description of your outfit was such a visual! I can’t imagine! I was born in 1989, so I feel like I missed out on a really fun decade! January 27, 2017 at 4:27pm Reply

  • Jacquie: The 80s and early 90s were all about high school, uni days, falling in and out of love, fun, sexy men and dance for me, I wept for the by gone days. How I loved the 80s. I just came of age when 1980 rocks in, the world came alive.

    I had and still love and wear all the oldies,
    Coco Chanel
    Rive Gauche
    Giorgio (this is my recent discovery) July 8, 2017 at 2:31am Reply

  • Abigail: I graduated from HS in ’83. In HS, Fiji by Guy Laroche was it for me. It’s what I bought in France, in ’84. Soon, it was Coco by Chanel and Paris by Yves Saint Laurent. Heavy, sweet, but with natural elements. Anything by Calvin Klein smelled of plastic, and any “Big” fragrance (Red Door, Poison) was just too obvious and horrible smelling. Eventually, it was Ysatis, Eu de Givenchy, and Tresor. Now, it’s just about only Atelier. Fig, Cacoa, orange blossom. A woman’s scent history certainly may evolve. August 7, 2018 at 10:32am Reply

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