Perfume Classics For Beginners

Classical perfumes smell of another era and are the best way to time travel, but if you’re new to this style of fragrance, it can be challenging. In my fragrance  column, Picking an iconic scent for a perfume wardrobe, I explore classics that would be best suited for beginners. In addition, I mention some interesting modern fragrances that have a classical character.


“I have no luck with classic perfumes,” confessed a friend. “My grandmother wore Jean Patou’s Joy, my mother loved Chanel No 5, but when I wear these fragrances, I feel as if I’m playing dress up.” She wondered why she completely missed the allure of fragrances that are widely considered to be iconic. It is easy to attribute it to personal tastes and associations, but I decided to embark on a classics challenge. Please read the rest by clicking here.

What beginner friendly classical perfumes would you recommend?

Image via FT/HTSPI



  • Anne of Green Gables: I really enjoyed the article, Victoria. I still consider myself a beginner and I usually tend towards fresh and clean perfumes but that taste has been gradually changing. Here are some classics (although I suspect that they would not smell the same as in the old times) which I found easy to approach.

    – Christian Dior Eau Sauvage
    – Chanel Cristalle
    – Chanel No 19 Poudre (not a classic but still feels classical)
    – Guerlain Apree l’Ondee
    – Guerlain Chant d’Arome
    – Hermes Equipage
    – Van Cleef & Arpels First (sorry that I keep bringing this up but I think this could make a very nice introduction to aldehydic floral)

    It took me so long to appreciate No 5 but I’m glad that I kept trying. It was a real revelation to try the vintage parfum. February 26, 2014 at 7:43am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Oops, I meant Chant d’Aromes. I’m wearing PdN Odalisque today. I only sampled Le Temps d’une Fête and Odalisque from PdN and the first time I smelled them, I was surprised by how they smelled so retro. February 26, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

      • Victoria: Parfums de Nicolai make good intro or intermediate classics, I think, although they’re somewhat hard to find. February 26, 2014 at 9:45am Reply

    • Caroline: For some reason, First in the current edp just didn’t make much of an impression. Then I bought the vintage eau de cologne on ebay–beautiful, and not at all overwhelming.
      My other iris suggestion for beginners is no 19 Poudre–works better on me than the Prada. February 26, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this list! Apres L’Ondee was definitely the easiest Guerlain for me when I first tried the line. It was the only perfume I felt in love with, while the rest took a much longer time to edge their way into my favorites. February 26, 2014 at 9:35am Reply

  • Hannah: I prefer modern classics, such as Bulgari Black. My sister was the kind of person who only had bad associations with perfume, but after I started wearing Bulgari Black, she wanted to find her own perfume. Even though it wasn’t her style, it made her think differently about perfume. February 26, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

    • Hannah: I’m pretty sure I completely missed the point of the article. How embarrassing.
      I think Samsara is approachable? February 26, 2014 at 8:38am Reply

      • Sandra: I love Samsara too <3 February 26, 2014 at 8:58am Reply

      • Victoria: No, you didn’t! Modern classics make sense too in this context, and I love Samsara. February 26, 2014 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Does she wear it now too? 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 9:37am Reply

      • Hannah: No, she went from thinking all perfumes give her a headache to buying Black Orchid and she also loves Angel. Which goes to show how far off people can be about their perfume tastes before they started sniffing.

        I think Eau des Merveilles is also a good modern classic for beginners. February 26, 2014 at 10:11am Reply

        • Victoria: Ah, that’s a great one to add to the list. Ambre des Merveilles and some other flankers are good too. February 26, 2014 at 2:21pm Reply

  • maja: I am somehow of an opinion that anybody influenced by sweet modern perfumes will definitely have hard time with classics. It takes a lot of sampling, sniffing and curiosity to approach the oldies 🙂 Or maybe it happens naturally – you just click with Mitsouko because it is so timeless. I would say that Cristalle, Arpege or Fidji are pretty safe and not scandalising. Out of modern ones I would pick 24, Faubourg for evening and N.5 Eau Premiere for daily wear. February 26, 2014 at 8:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Someone else mentioned 24 Faubourg Delicate flankers, and I tried one today and like it. It’s sheer and gauzy, so it’s much easier than the original for me (although I admit that I like both). February 26, 2014 at 9:47am Reply

    • cassieflower: I would definitely recommend Fidji, as it was my first ‘grown-up’ perfume back in 1984. I think it has aged well, even though it has obviously gone through reformulations along the way, and doesn’t quite have the same depth I remember. In my part of the world, I only ever see it on sale in edt strength, which is light and airy and definitely wearable even for the fruitchouli brigade. February 26, 2014 at 11:12am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I second Chant d’Aromes. To my surprise, Anne included Cristalle. After many years of perfume smelling and as a lover of chypres, I still cannot wear easily Cristalle. There is something severe (not austere, but I don’t know how to say it) about this perfume.

    I would recommand to that friend the current version of Femme.
    Or Arpège if she wanted it flowery.

    Or, a step further, Jardins de Bagatelle.
    And thereafter I second First.

    Shalimar L’Initial could be a good choice. February 26, 2014 at 8:23am Reply

    • nikki: I know what you mean…. about Cristalle. I used to wear Chanel 19 all the time until they same happened with that one, somehow the green notes are so flat, so unpleasant in a way, I never wore either one again.

      The only Chanel I can recommend is Coco.
      O de Lancôme/4711
      Must de Cartier
      Arpege or Ivoire
      Niki de St Phalle
      one of the Hermes Jardin series

      Those are the ones I would recommend to somebody who is starting with perfumes. February 26, 2014 at 9:11am Reply

      • Victoria: For some reason, for me Coco remains the only Chanel I can’t wear, because it gives me a headache. This is so unfair, because I love the smell.

        And thank you for your interesting and diverse list too, Nikki. February 26, 2014 at 11:00am Reply

      • Amanda Santana: Love your list! February 26, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: What about Cristalle Eau de Parfum?

      Cristalle EDT was one of my first chypres, and like Anne, I found that it opened up the mossy family to me. Perhaps, it depends on how much one likes the green notes, since Cristalle is strong on those.

      Can’t agree more on Shalimar Initial. It’s a well-crafted oriental with a sweet, fruity edge. February 26, 2014 at 9:49am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: The strange thing is that I like green mossy notes very much, but there is something in Cristalle…I can’t define it. February 26, 2014 at 9:54am Reply

        • Jillie: Cornelia, you are absolutely right about Cristalle – it has a certain astringency that makes my nose wrinkle, but that’s why I love it! It was so innovative when it first appeared, and I chose it for my wedding perfume. I am sad that today’s edt is not the same and has been somewhat tamed. February 26, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

          • Elena: I need to try Cristalle again. I spritzed myself once when I was very first getting into perfume, and it was severely off putting, but I only gave it about one minute and probably never went back to that wrist, or wiped it off. But I love all manner of green notes, and I wonder if I’ve matured enough to appreciate it? I certainly would know enough now to let it move through to the dry down before really deciding. February 26, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

          • Victoria: What an elegantly scented bride you were! 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 2:22pm Reply

        • Anne of Green Gables: Could it be galbanum? Do you have a similar problem with No 19 by any chance? February 26, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Anne! No, I love No19, especially the vintage, but also the current version.
            I love also Silences, and mossy green chypres like Scherrer etc. The only exception is Cristalle. February 26, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

            • Victoria: I see what you, especially in comparison to No 19 and Cristalle. Cristalle is raspy, a bit sharp, but No 19 is smooth and silky. It also has a lot more bitter orange buds (petigrain) than No 19. February 26, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: I’m sure that you can survive without Cristalle and how lucky you are to have vintage No 19. 🙂 It’s always so interesting to see how our perceptions differ. I love Shalimar but I don’t like Shalimar Parfum Initial. There’s something that smells really synthetic and plastic in the beginning (it makes me imagine sweets made out of plastic!) that puts me off. February 26, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, that vintage No19 is fabulous. It envelops you with so many green colours and it has such a fine, leathery drydown.

                I agree that Shalimar L’I. has a vaguely plastic note, but I like the rest of it so much that I can step over it. February 26, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

                • Solanace: This is a beautiful description of vintage No. 19. I’ll have to get a sample. February 26, 2014 at 2:35pm Reply

            • Patricia: Have you tried Cristalle Eau Verte, Cornelia?

              I love the original Cristalle, but agree that it can be difficult to wear. The Eau Verte version is extremely wearable and is one of my “go to” fragrances when indecision takes over. February 26, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you, Patricia, it goes on my list! February 26, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

            • Rowanhill: Cornelia, I am there in the same club with you, just cannot make it work with Cristalle but love 19 and Scherrer. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with my mum’s classics so otherwise there has been no issue with the classics, No 5 is one of my all time favourites, except in EdP. February 27, 2014 at 2:24pm Reply

      • zari: Did somebody say Cristalle? 🙂 I LOVE this fragrance. The green, crisp notes, like I’m sitting in a cool forest with a sun dappled grass and trees, and a slow moving river of cold water rushing past nearby in the middl of summer, are what I love about Cristalle. It’s not boardroom power suit as I’ve read some others describe it. All January and February, I’ve been thinking of July and Cristalle! February 26, 2014 at 9:26pm Reply

        • Victoria: In college I remember reading an article in Vogue about Cristalle and how it captured the feeling of endless summer. I saved up from my allowance, bought a bottle and escaped to my imaginary St. Tropez with it (which incidentally was much more exciting and glamorous than the real place). 😉 February 27, 2014 at 8:19am Reply

  • Sandra: Great article! I think in this day in age people forget the classics. Or maybe its just an American thing. After watching some BBC series on perfume and how they showed Macy’s perfume department pushing their launches on everyone that walks through the door versus a more refined way to shop in Paris.
    I love Shalimar, but only the dry down part. I went through a period of love for the Shalimar L’Initial until I broke a bottle in my closet. Glass everywhere. Its been months and my shoes down below still smell. Oh well… I will revisit soon.
    One classic I would like to try again, when I don’t have anything else on is Nahema. February 26, 2014 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t imagine living with such a strong smell around and still enjoying the perfume. Did you manage to get it out in the end?

      Nahema is so worth revisiting. Incidentally, I’m smelling it on a blotter right now, and it’s heavenly. February 26, 2014 at 11:02am Reply

      • Sandra: Well, it spilled on to a pair of suede heels and I aired them out in the hallway. I think its the bag that the shoes are in that is retaining the smell, and some other purses I have down below. I ended up just bringing some to the textile recycling at the union sq farmers market.
        Any suggestions on how to get the smell out? Maybe when its warm enough to open the windows I can air it out.

        Ok, I will try Nahema again! Do you recommend the extract or EDP? February 26, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

        • Carolyn: You can try wrapping them in newspaper. It’s good for absorbing smells (and insulation too). Plastics (not cellophane) will hang onto smells and it can be a pain to “re-scent” them. February 26, 2014 at 12:03pm Reply

          • Sandra: Great! I will try that February 26, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: I read somewhere that you can remove the smell of footsweat by putting the shoes in the freezer, perhaps it works with perfume as well! February 26, 2014 at 12:11pm Reply

          • Sandra: In that case my fiance may find all his running and biking shoes frozen! HA! February 26, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

          • Ann: That might be in an attempt to kill the bacteria, no? February 26, 2014 at 2:36pm Reply

        • Anne of Green Gables: I’m sorry to hear that you had such a traumatic experience. You could try putting the shoes in a box with baking soda or activated charcoal. February 26, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

          • Sandra: Ah-baking soda may help… February 26, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

            • Miruna: Oh this is so useful and it answers a question I didn`t yet get to ask. My travalo atomizer leaked inside my purse, and now it smells like no less than 5ml of Aromatics Elixir! February 27, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

              • Sandra: Uh oh! Hope it didn’t ruin anything February 27, 2014 at 6:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: Baking soda is my recommendation. That’s what I used to deodorize my purse after I spilled a bunch of perfume samples in it. You might have to change the pack of baking soda a couple of times, but it will absorb the odors well.

          As for Nahema, the extrait/parfum is the best, no doubt. The EDP is beautiful, but if you want to get a proper idea of what Nahema should smell like, do try the parfum. February 26, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

  • WJ: As approachable classics, I would recommend: Paris YSL, Joy and Arpege and something fresh like Courreges in Blue, Eau de Rochas and First.

    I also love Private Collection from Lauder (as well as White Linen). February 26, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Eau de Rochas is a great recommendation (and others too, of course). It’s not mentioned often, maybe because Rochas is not that widely distributed in the US, but it’s an excellent fresh fragrance.

      And Private Collection is my personal favorite from Lauder, and I think that it’s one of their most wearable classics. February 26, 2014 at 11:05am Reply

  • Jan Last: Great article to get us thinking! I would probably start with the Dior grouping of Diorissimo, Diorella, Diorling and Diorever. Then move to Lanvin, Arpege and a tiny bit of My Sin, which I don’t wear much, but I do open the bottle and take a nice sniff often. I am still wearing vintage Ivoire. February 26, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Do you have vintage My Sin? Lucky you! February 26, 2014 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Is Diorling in the current version still ok? I made a note to revisit it, but I haven’t had a chance yet. With Dior one never knows how they might reformulate their classics. February 26, 2014 at 11:05am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I would like to add Van Cleef (in the diamond shaped bottle) to my list. It may not be a classic, but it is old fashioned in a good way.

    And when that friend can appreciate First, maybe she is also prepared for Boucheron. February 26, 2014 at 9:26am Reply

    • Victoria: A grand diva perfume!

      My friend was looking for something classical but that didn’t smell old-fashioned (according to her, I should add, since old-fashioned can such a subjective description). Anais Anais, interesting enough, fitted that, but she’s looking forward to trying more. She enjoyed sampling different scents, though. February 26, 2014 at 11:08am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Did she try Jardins de Bagatelle? February 26, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

        • Victoria: Hmm, she may not have tried that on. I’ll share a sample out of my own bottle then. February 26, 2014 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Bhama: Wonderful article! I consider myself a classic perfume newbie and still am scared to try most of them! I cannot stand the aldehyde top notes of Chanel no: 5, even though I love the mid and base notes. I am definitely more of a Shalimar girl than a no:5 one. The few perfumes that smell classic to me which I adore are SSS Nostalgie, Vancleef and Arpels First and Andy tauer’s Miriam. February 26, 2014 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Bhama, have you tried No 5 Eau Premiere? If you love all of No 5 but the aldehydes, it might be a good compromise. February 26, 2014 at 2:16pm Reply

  • briony: When I think of ‘new classics’ powdery rosy ones spring to mind like Agent Provocateur and Amouage Lyric. I was lucky enough to grow up with the original Rochas Femme, No. 5, Diorissimo and my absolute favourite, Nina Ricci Capricci – one of the few advantages of getting old! I found the Guerlains too fusty when I was young although I have since grown into them and they are now among the ones I love the most. Sadly today the Femme and Diorissimo I remember are long gone and Capricci is ridiculously expensive. I did get the chance to smell it in Paris a few weeks ago and it brought the memories flooding back. February 26, 2014 at 9:29am Reply

    • maja: I was wearing Capricci yesterday. So wonderful! February 26, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Oh yes! And Farouche as well. February 26, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

        • Patricia: Love Capricci and Farouche! February 26, 2014 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Those are such great suggestions, especially since both AP and Lyric have a classical inspiration. But they smell modern and are different enough from many other fragrances on the market.

      I’m making a note to revisit Capricci. I have only the vintage bottle, but I would love to smell it in its current version. If you say that it’s still beautiful, that’s great news. February 26, 2014 at 2:18pm Reply

      • maja: Mine is vintage, I am not sure if the current version is still valid. February 26, 2014 at 3:40pm Reply

        • Victoria: Will have to revisit then! February 27, 2014 at 8:24am Reply

  • Heather H: I remember looking for a fragrance that resembled what my mother used to wear. Victoria suggested Chanel #22 and Joy. I think those are great recommendations for a beginner. I started with Chanel, and Chanel still remains my favorite perfume house. I also love Arpege–It reminds me of Amourge Gold, but more affordable. I remember trying Diorissimo for the first time. My baby and I were shopping, and she gave me the biggest smile after I sprayed Diorissimo on my wrist. I remember thinking, “This is the one.” February 26, 2014 at 9:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Heather, what a sweet response from your baby! 🙂 Hope that Diorissimo will recall some nice moments for her when she’s older.

      Thank you for mentioning Arpege, and yes, for the price, it’s a great quality perfume. February 26, 2014 at 2:21pm Reply

    • Solanace: What a perfumista, your girl! February 26, 2014 at 6:33pm Reply

      • Heather H: I Know! The strange thing is I just started getting into perfume when she was born. Of course I am careful around her. I only spray the back of my neck. February 26, 2014 at 9:59pm Reply

        • Solanace: I’m sure this early contact with different scents will be great for her development. 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 3:04am Reply

    • zari: Heather, that is a very sweet story. I hope you continue to enjoy Diorissimo. February 26, 2014 at 10:17pm Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: Your article was lovely, Victoria! You suggested Diorissimo as an approachable classic and I would agree. I love Mitsouko, but I used to be very intimidated by it, and often still feel like I need to be dressed up to wear it.

    For modern works that feel like classics, I really love Balenciaga Paris. It’s nothing too in-your-face, but to me it’s a really lovely, powdery violet that makes me feel fancy but that I can still wear with jeans and a T-Shirt. I would also recommend Chanel Beige from Les Exclusifs as a modern classic. February 26, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Ashley, thank you! Mitsouko still feels like a challenging perfume to me, even though I now love and wear it often. I often get comments from people trying it for the first time and being put off, and I can definitely get why. It took me a while to like it, but it was worth to revisit it time to time.

      Beige and Paris are my modern classics choices too. Both are often described as bland, but I don’t see them that way at all. Polished, well-mannered, elegant, maybe. Can’t wait to try Beige in the parfum concentration. February 26, 2014 at 2:24pm Reply

      • Hannah: Mitsuoko is one of the few old classics that I like so I found it interesting when I found out a lot of people have trouble with it. In reality, I’m an awkward and aloof weirdo but the delusional version of myself is alluringly mysterious and intriguingly aloof. I think Mitsuoko is like that. So Mitsuoko is like me, but the idealized version instead of the actual me.
        I don’t know if I have trouble with L’Heure Bleue or if I just don’t like it. February 26, 2014 at 4:18pm Reply

        • Jennifer C: lol I think that might be my case too! Mitsouko and I hit it off pretty much immediately. It’s still my favorite classic Guerlain, though Shalimar grew on me after I tried vintage. I didn’t think I would like L’Heure Bleue since I don’t normally go for powdery, but I got a small decant for my SIL for Christmas and almost kept it for myself! February 26, 2014 at 5:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 Your comment made me smile. Well, part of perfume’s magic is that it can help us weave whatever fantasy we want, but if something makes you feel good, you already project something to others–more confidence, more glamour, more elegance, etc. February 27, 2014 at 8:30am Reply

    • zari: I’ve a question on Mitsouko – I tested it on my wrist in a discount store in NYC a while ago, and it smelled sort of musty to me, though I was very excited and expecting something very different. The bottle I tested from was nearly empty if I remember correctly, and was not in a box (it was a tester). Could it be the bottle had gone off, or is there a musty factor to Mitsouko (to modern noses?).

      Thanks! February 26, 2014 at 10:19pm Reply

  • GEETA: Loved this blog particularly, although I follow you regularly.
    my own favorites are Guerlain’s L’heure bleu and Nina Ricci L’air du temps.
    I didn’t think Prada came close to Guerlain by the way 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Geeta. Yes, Prada may in a different style, but I like it anyway. February 26, 2014 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Cyndi: Here’s the irony – I prefer many of the classics to a lot of today’s “scents.” However, when I wear them, I often feel out of fashion or “old.” To me there is nothing like Shalimar or Chanel No. 5 or Fracas. My favorite perfumes do tend to e classics. February 26, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Cyndi, you smell amazing! 🙂 I smell so much Shalimar and No 5 on young, fashionable women in Paris, and it really changed my idea of what’s in or out of fashion as far as perfumes go. February 26, 2014 at 2:30pm Reply

      • Terry: I am so happy to hear this, V…I miss Ma Griffe, though. So many beautiful scents, gone by the wayside. Oh, the memories they do inspire for a sentimental woman, like me. March 1, 2014 at 7:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: On the other hand, there are so many interesting choices we have today, both modern and modern classics. At least, I try to remember this as I miss some of my favorites. March 2, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

    • zari: Cindy, No. 5 smells awful on me, but Shalimar is just beautiful. I wear it in EDP and Shalimar Parfum Initial; as I was driving today, I was deep in thought about Boucheron – it is so beautiful and I don’t know anyone who wears it! It reminds me of Coco, which I also wear, though very different. I’m “young” but definitely gravitate toward the “old” scents! February 26, 2014 at 10:22pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Great read, Victoria – as usual 🙂
    Diorella, No. 19, Cristalle and Mitsuoko were the most approachable classics to me. As for modern perfumes with a classic feel, I’d probably recommend 28 La Pausa, Beige, Bel Respiro or 31 RC from Chanel’s Les Exclusifs range or some of the Hermes scents – Hiris, the Jardins or even Eau de Narcisse Bleu – rather than Infusion d’Iris or No. 19 Poudre (I love the opening of both but then everything gets drowned in a load of white musks). February 26, 2014 at 11:33am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: You must be a born chypre lover, rainboweyes! I’m warming up to Mitsouko but I still find it challenging. February 26, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Carry on, Anne, and your reward will be great. Mitsouko is perhaps the best perfume ever. February 26, 2014 at 12:15pm Reply

        • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you, Cornelia. At least, it’s a good sign that Mitsouko keeps me intrigued so I test it on regular basis. It could be that I still wouldn’t want to wear it myself in the end but that’s also fine with me. 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 3:32pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Victoria informed us that Thierry Wasser will bring back some of the former version of Mitsouko. Maybe you will fall in love with it then! February 26, 2014 at 5:13pm Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: Yes, I saw that too and I think the one I tested recently in Paris must have been a reformulation. I asked the SA if it was the new reformulation but she just told me that this is an old perfume. So I told her that I know that it was created many years ago but I heard this was recently reformulated. Is this what you have here? Then she thinks I’m making stuff up so I gave up and just tested. I still don’t love it but this time, I was glad to detect a lot of vetiver in the drydown, something I haven’t noticed before. February 27, 2014 at 6:29am Reply

      • rainboweyes: A born chypre lover sounds nice, thank you! I think I actually might be one, yes 😉 And I passed my olfactory genes on to my younger son (aged 8 now) who loves smelling things too! He enjoys sniffing himself through my scent collection and my samples (his current favourite is Byredo 1996) but I have to be careful of what I wear – if it’s the wrong scent (he hates figs) he will stear clear of me and won’t give me a hug 🙁
        The good thing is, he finds all my irises “yummy” 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 11:47am Reply

        • Victoria: So sweet! 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 12:26pm Reply

        • Anne of Green Gables: Oh, wie süß! 🙂 He’ll grow into a fine young man with an excellent taste in perfumes and I’m sure he’ll thank you for that. February 27, 2014 at 3:32pm Reply

          • rainboweyes: 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 3:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: A good call on Les Exclusifs. Many are approachable enough for someone used to the contemporary perfumes, and yet they make one get an idea of how classics behave.

      Thank you, glad that you liked it! February 26, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Tijana: Great article Victoria! I feel lucky and privileged that I was exposed to classics early in my life through women in my family and I attribute that early exposure to my ability today to appreciate both good and bad fragrances and to be able to distinguish love vs. respect of fragrances. I love your articles! Thank you so much! 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Tijana! You’re lucky indeed. There is nothing like being exposed to perfumes through your family. What perfumes do you remember from your childhood? February 26, 2014 at 2:44pm Reply

      • Tijana: So… My mom wore Cialenga by Balenciaga, Chanel No 5 & Cristalle, Hermes Amazone and Miss Dior mostly, although she loved fragrances enough to experiment with many others that were popular at the time like Le Dix, Fiji, etc. (I wonder who I got the fragrance bug from from ;-)). Later when it came out she also wore Chanel Coco. My grandma wore almost exclusively Givenchy III and I still have a bottle of it, so when I sniff it, I always remember her and the days I spent with her (many wonderful memories). I got my first “real” French perfume when I was 14 from my mom – it was a small bottle of Caleche from Hermes – it was my most treasured possession and I only wore it for “special” occasions. 🙂 March 7, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

        • Victoria: What beautiful perfumes to be exposed to as a kid! You’re very lucky, Tijana. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing the stories of these elegant ladies. March 7, 2014 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Maren: When I first began exploring perfumes a year ago, two I tried that had a retro feel that I felt comfortable wearing are Chanel 31 Rue Cambon and Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque. I soon bought a bottle of No. 19 which I love. I also loved Apres L’Ondee from the first, but my 27 year old daughter wrinkles her nose on that one so I think that’s not for the young so much!
    It took me awhile but now I finally get No. 5 and still working on understanding Joy. And Mitsouko, I have to be in the right mood for that one. 🙂

    Love the article. I have yet to try O de Lancome and Rochas Femme…think I’ll be seeking those out soon. February 26, 2014 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: O de Lancome is like gin & tonic with a twist of lime and a spring of orange blossom. There is also a stronger orange blossom accented flanker, by the way, but I think that nothing beats the original for the refreshing cocktail feel. 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: What is your opinion of that flanker? I found it rather shrill. February 26, 2014 at 5:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: I found it mostly flat and reminiscent of grape juice. Flat and sharp is an odd combination. But on a friend, from afar, it smells good. February 27, 2014 at 8:31am Reply

      • Maren: Victoria you make O de Lancome sound so tempting! Gin & tonic with lime, orange blossom, is a must try now. February 28, 2014 at 12:52am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s a classical cologne, so if you don’t mind dry, bittersweet citrus and some moss, it will be a great discovery. February 28, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

    • zari: I’m commenting on everyone’s posts way too much I realize – but:

      Maren – the first time I smelled JOY, I sprayed it inside a department store and walked outside to a blue sky day. I don’t know if it was that beautiful sky, the name of the perfume, or the scent itself, but I seriously felt an intense rush of being uplifted, happiness for no particular reason. Unfortunately, Joy is one of those perfumes that feels like its wearing me (like Fracas). But I hope you get to love it! February 26, 2014 at 10:31pm Reply

      • Maren: Zari, your experience testing Joy for the first time sounds wonderful. I love how fragrance can evoke a mood. Your description makes me think of one of those beautiful clear blue September skies, and I think i’ll be breaking out a sample on the next clear blue day! Maybe it would help with the relentless sub-zero frigid weather we’ve been having where I am! February 28, 2014 at 1:03am Reply

  • Ann: I agree with all of the terrific suggestions–in particular First, Diorissimo, and Shalimar. I haven’t worn it in years, and so am working on memory, but I also think EL’s Knowing (not so old, but still classic) is a good intro. Along those same, lines I wonder if your friend would like Boucheron (I like this fragrance but I know it has some serious detractors), or an even later classic–Bvlgari Pour Femme. Two classic lites that I enjoy are Youth Dew Amber Nude (I still cannot wear Youth Dew), and Womanity–for a lite intro to the weird and wonderful.

    Since yesterday’s story on the Guerlain Muguet release, I’ve been dousing myself in Diorissimo EdT. I can’t tell if it is really fading on me very quickly or I’m just reveling in too much juice. Fortunately, I’m working at home and so won’t run the risk of drowning any innocent bystanders in Lily of the Valley 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Great suggestions, Ann! Thank you. Womanity is definitely weird and wonderful, although to some, it’s only weird. The name notwithstanding, it works really well as a perfume for men. If you have a brave man around, I recommend a little experiment. 🙂 February 26, 2014 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Inventress: I think Chanel Coco and Dior Poison are classics that beginners may also appreciate. Shalimar is a little difficult until it gets to the drydown. Oddly enough, it smells differently on me now than it did at the beginning of autumn. Timing is sometimes everything. February 26, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Poison is often described as polarizing, but I found in my perfume classes that those used to modern tuberoses find it ok, not too difficult. The new Eau de Toilette has also been lightened significantly, so it might make it more acceptable. February 27, 2014 at 7:59am Reply

  • Snowyowl: I love and feel the story and history of a scent is largely what attracts me to wearing it, so naturally I’m more drawn to the classics. And I know I fall for what Woody Allen writes about in Midnight in Paris about the projection that things were somehow better or more intriguing in a different era than one’s own. It gets, for me, to what scent represents each day as I select what will accompany me on my path- today, reverence to those who came before- so of course Mitsouko or L’Heure Bleu.. Let’s not forget the ‘masculine classics’ – I love wearing Guerlain Vetiver and Heritage, Chanel Pour Monsieur and I somehow throughout the day have the thought of the past with me.

    When I started my perfume obsession/journey, I started with the classics- just dove right in, so that’s much of what I wear. I now can also appreciate the more modern interpretations and smaller-scope niche companies who attempt to start new traditions. Thanks for a wonderful article, helps me articulate in my mind about why perfume is so meaningful for me.

    Also congratulations on a wonderful nine years- you are such a bright spot in my (and many others!) life! February 26, 2014 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for reminding about the masculine classics! How could I forget my absolute favorite, Habit Rouge? And Vetiver can also be approachable enough for someone who likes woods and citrus. Or Vetiver Pour Elle, as an alternative.

      And thank you for your nice words! 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 8:23am Reply

  • Jo: I think Shalimar EDT is a good classical introduction – especially for wearers of the modern heavy vanillas like Armani Code and Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon. Anyone who likes florals should try out Diorissimo. Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere of course is another good one. Maybe also Agent Provocateur’s Maitresse – definitely has an older feel to it, but lighter on the aldehydes which may put off new noses. Van Cleef & Arpels Un Air de First is also a gentle introduction to galbanum. February 26, 2014 at 3:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I need to try Un Air de First, which already sounds great, since I love the original.

      Maitresse can be a good aldehydic compromise. Another one I just thought of is Dolce & Gabbana Sicily. February 27, 2014 at 8:25am Reply

  • Leah: Oh what a great topic. I was having such a hard time deciding what to wear this morning that I left the house with Gucci Rush on one arm and vintage YSl Y on the other (I know, I know!).

    I am so happy to see Cristalle mentioned so often here – I wore this almost exclusively along with Calyx and Lauren as a very young woman, but I can understand how Cristalle may be challenging for some as an introduction to the green/chypres.

    In that regard, I find YSL Y a little more approachable – it is a bit drier and slightly powdery so it takes a bit off the edge that green chypres like Cristalle or No 19 can have.

    Ironically, Gucci Rush strikes me as a good introduction – while it is thoroughly modern and can appeal to younger women accustomed to fruity florals, it has some retro references in its peach and lactonic aspects.

    While the price point is not ideal for those just starting to explore perfumes, Chanel 31 rue Cambon is a great introduction. While not technically a chypre, it creates a nearly perfect illusion of one and is simply stunning.

    For those looking to explore aldehydes without the heft of Chanel No 5, Caron’s Fleurs de Rocaille might be a good starter. The idea is there but rendered with more subtlety. Just make sure it is Fleurs plural and not Fleur – that is a different fragrance altogether.

    While I would essentially cite all the Guerlains and Chanels as good starters, I have been having a love affair lately with American perfumery (though in truth, much of it was created by the French anyway) and have had Private Collection, Aliage, Azuree, Aromatics Elixir and Wrappings in heavy rotation lately. Given that these may be easier to find at a better price point than Chanel and Guerlain, these may also be some good suggestions, though be prepared for the bold character these have! February 26, 2014 at 4:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Leah, Y and Gucci Rush make total sense as a duo to me, because both are fruity chypres. One is classical, and another is a modern classic. 🙂

      Thank you for your other fantastic recommendations! I wish I had such guidance when I was starting out my classical adventure. February 27, 2014 at 8:39am Reply

    • Bastet: I love Wrappings and was so glad to see it mentioned here! So spicy and delicious, one of my old favorites for winter and early spring. February 27, 2014 at 10:12am Reply

  • Alicia: I have been a long time without internet in the wilds of Big Sur. Now, again in NY, I read with delight this blog. I notice that Guerlain and Chanel are well served here. May I add some forgotten classics by Caron? My favorite Farnesiana, my mother’s beloved Narcisse Noir, and Parfum Sacré. February 26, 2014 at 5:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: A big omission, I think, especially since Parfum Sacre and Farnesiana could be excellent introductions to classics. February 27, 2014 at 8:38am Reply

  • Amer: Victoria, there has been a weekly “collector’s” magazine that circulated in many european countries by a company that specialises in this sort of press. Every issue would have a collectable miniature of a perfume classic. I never bought it but I recall that many of the perfumes listed in your article featured as a mini there at some point. I wonder if they were the real thing. Do you happen to know if perfume companies make that kind of promotion deals? Seems weird but fakes being distributed like this all around Europe would be as unlikely. I guess my real question is: did the people who got it have a chance in perfume education or did they throw their money on fakes? February 26, 2014 at 6:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, interesting! I’ve never heard of this, but I’ll have to research it. February 27, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

      • Amer: I could tell you the publishing company’s name if you want to look into it February 27, 2014 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Mary K: Classics I really like are Farnesiana (just mentioned above), as well as Jicky and Je Reviens. Of course, there have been reformulations and they are not the same as they once were, but I though these might be good ones to mention. February 26, 2014 at 6:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning them, Mary. Jicky, by the way, has been re-reformulated, and I’m liking it now much more than I used. February 27, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: That’s wonderful news, Jicky was one of my signature scents. How do you know that you have the latest version? Did the package change? February 27, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

        • Victoria: The packaging is still the same, I believe. But the code on the bottle should start with either 3 (standing for 2013) or 4 (standing for 2014). This is what I deduced from comparing the packaging, but it’s merely my guess. February 27, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

  • Solanace: I think Eau de Shalimar is a great introduction to the classic Guerlains. Also, Annick Goutal has a classical timeless style with a modern sensibility. Current Jolie Madame is chic and affordable, and can lure someone into wilder leathers and fuller violets. 🙂 Is Ma Griffe still produced? February 26, 2014 at 6:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ma Griffe is still around, but when I smelled it recently, I didn’t like it one bit. It was sharp, shrill and sour. Not only did it not smell like Ma Griffe, it simply didn’t smell enjoyable. February 27, 2014 at 8:36am Reply

  • george: La fille de Berlin! Or maybe naming a perfume under a year old is pushing it a little?

    I’m not to blame for its precociousness. February 26, 2014 at 6:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you. It’s of another era. February 27, 2014 at 8:35am Reply

  • molly l: I haven’t smelled most of these classics, unless you count when I was a kid. It’s not because of disinterest, but more of a lack of opportunity. When I got into perfume a few years ago, it was by way of niche perfumery. And my tastes are so widely varying–from big white florals to green chypres to incense. I know I would love the classics; I actually prefer to go against the grain of current mainstream perfumes, which is what led me into niche in the first place. I don’t want to smell like everyone else, or even of this era necessarily. I love the idea of time travel through perfume! It is definitely time for me to delve into some of these classics! February 26, 2014 at 7:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that you’ll have lots of fun, Molly, as you start to explore classics. If you’ve jumped into niche first, then you’ll recognize many similar themes, because niche, overall, takes lots of inspiration from classics. February 27, 2014 at 8:34am Reply

  • Karina: I have only recently begun to appreciate classics. It was a little challenging at first getting used to the ‘curves’ of them as you say (I love that metaphor!) but it was so worth it when the sheer beauty of these old fragrances began to reveal itself to me. The time travel aspect as well is fascinating, when I put on a classic I imagine the kind of woman that would have worn it in the past, what she was wearing, thinking etc. Some modern fragrances are very good but the classics just have that beautiful mystery and elegance to them. February 26, 2014 at 7:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: So true. And as one of my colleagues likes to remind, classics were also created with different budgets in mind. Chanel No 19 at its price is a way better deal than some iris niche perfume that costs way more. February 27, 2014 at 8:33am Reply

  • Lizzy: One of my first scent memories is my mother veiling herself in Halston before a night out or en route to some holiday festivities. I always thought of it as part of the air of grace with which she carried herself–and noted that the men around her came to attention when she entered the room. She was not a large or even statuesque woman–she was petite and yet projected a powerful presence.

    I still think No. 5 a great classic, even for some beginners; I certainly fell in love with it although perhaps by the time I was introduced to it I was ready and willing to fall 😉 February 26, 2014 at 8:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s such a great vision! Lizzy, these stories about our mothers and just fragrance memories in general are such a treat, so thank you for sharing. February 27, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

      • Lizzy: Thank you, Victoria! It is a pleasure to share these memories and i find this especially so now that I am a mother myself–I hope I smell as good to my little one as my mother did to me 😉 February 27, 2014 at 8:59am Reply

        • Victoria: I can already imagine how many wonderful scent memories your little one will have. It may sound so trivial–perfume–but kids remember scents like nothing else. February 27, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

  • carole macleod: Eau de patou is a classic. it is so easy to wear but has enough cmplexity to keep me interested.

    L’eau de L’artisan-is it old enough to be a classic? Verbena and that twist of seaweed in the middle. And Diorella. All I can think about is fresh fragrances-Eau de Cologne. So sick of the polar vortex!

    Carole February 26, 2014 at 8:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I need to check the year on L’eau de L’artisan, but it could work either way, because the idea is very classical. Eau de Cologne is such an iconic perfume family. February 27, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

  • Illdone: I would like to add a small remark to your wonderfull article Victoria.
    I might have mentioned it before but I’ve been collecting perfume for many decades now and some of the perfumes you mentioned I lived through in “real-time”. I also try everything I can get my hands on that is new, niche etc. too many to mention.
    Now for the small remark 😉
    Try everything classic that was once considered strong, stuborn or too intense DABBING!! You’ll be blown away by the quality , ingredients and finesses. After that try a small spray to let you live with the perfume for a day. The classics shouldn’t be sprayed with abandon if you’re not used to their intensity.
    Everyone oversprayed in the old days and that created a lot of aversion to some wonderfull fragrances. February 26, 2014 at 8:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, what a great tip! Many classics are very strong, and spraying can be overwhelming. Thank you for mentioning this. February 27, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

  • Alicia: I like to add two of my favorite fragrances, both Dior, Dune and Eau Sauvage, which I love come summertime. A classic for beginners? To your thoughtful suggestions I woud like to add YSL Paris. And not particulary for beginners, but I have to mention the unforgettable Opium. I love most Amouage creations, but if I were to choose a classic among them, I would say Gold. Victoria, thank you for this post; it made me think, and dream of old glories. February 27, 2014 at 1:28am Reply

    • Victoria: And thank you and others for your interesting comments. It’s fun to talk about the perfume greats, isn’t it? February 27, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

  • Courant: The more I know the less I know and that’s all I know. February 27, 2014 at 2:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I feel the same way. 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 8:13am Reply

  • Merlin: I never considered a relationship between L’heure Bleu and Infusion d’Iris! The first is the first ‘classic’ I ever bought – and the second is something I wear regularly.

    Funny story: I was out sniffing the other day and had a number of exclusive (modern) Guerlain’s sprayed at various points, and a few other things as well. Late that night, brushing my teeth i became aware of the most wonderful scent coming from my right inner elbow. It must be one of the Guerlain’s, I thought, so rich and complex. How much would I pay for such a scent?

    Eventually I remembered that I had been playing with my bottle of Arpege (which has a bust nozzle) and had wiped a little on that spot. My miracle, knee dropping scent was the Arpege! Replacing it with a functioning 50ml bottle would cost me all of $30 at a local discouter:)

    One classic that no one has mentioned is Bal a Versailles. I think that one is relatively approachable! Another is Heure Exquise… February 27, 2014 at 3:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Bal a Versailles is a fun period film of a perfume, ie. a modern perfume made in the classical style. Tom Ford collection is another similar idea, especially since Ford isn’t shy about plundering the archives of classical houses for his line.

      And what a great story about Arpege! 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 8:13am Reply

      • Merlin: Thinking Arpege might be a modern Guerlain probably indicates just how far my nose still has to go, lol!

        I’m obviously still at sea without the usual cue of brand and bottle:) But, at least I can say that I have always loved it, regardless. February 27, 2014 at 2:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’d be surprised how many unexpected connections one can find. 🙂 And then, Arpege and Guerlain’s Liu aren’t too different. February 27, 2014 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Brainfodder: As a newcomer to the intoxicating world of perfume (just short of 2 years), I have found the men’s classics (and those that are perhaps more androgynous) far more approachable and easier to immediately appreciate than some of the women’s classics.

    My love of woods, leather accents, spices, citrus, drier chypres, and my greater difficulty in appreciating heavy rose, indolic jasmine and powder may explain this. Associations abound; the smell of powder and lipstick and the inside of my Nan’s handbag – gloriously reminiscent, but not how I wanted to smell.

    Much to my delight these things are slowly changing.

    Knize Ten I immediately adored, Cuir de Russe, Pour Monsieur, Eau Sauvage and my first and still greatest love, Bois des Iles. February 27, 2014 at 5:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for these great additions! I think that your reminder is spot on, especially for those of us who don’t care for florals or powder or too much sweetness. February 27, 2014 at 8:12am Reply

    • NeenaJ: I completely agree. The excessive adlehydes and strong floral notes in most classics bring on nearly instant migraines for me.

      The original Zen (black bottle) *if it’s even considered a classic?* is one of the few women’s classics that I can wear and enjoy. Bottega Veneta is my perfect modern classic women’s scent. February 27, 2014 at 9:49am Reply

      • Victoria: I think that Zen can be called a classic, and it’s from the 60s, so it fits. 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Miruna: Oh, blimey! Reading all of you guys` comments, thinking of all the perfumes I see you mention that I haven`t even gotten to smell yet is so intimidating, it always makes me want to just sit still here, at the back of the classroom and listen quietly in order to not interrupt your conversation.

    Just like Brainfodder, I found the masculines easier to wear and fall for. I second Eau Sauvage and Guerlain Vetiver and i`d like to add my beloved Grey Flannel and Habit Rouge. I own Habit Rouge in the current EDT formulation and Shalimar Parfum Initial EDP and wear them both, but while the latter feels more feminine and sophisticated, Habit Rouge is rounder and behaves better regardless of the season or of my outfit. I think Grey Flannel is also a very beautiful undemanding fragrance, it suits a silk blouse and stilletos just as well as a plain white tee and jeans.

    I`d also mention Dune, one of my top favourites, which I think gets way less love than it deserves. February 27, 2014 at 6:05am Reply

    • Nemo: I agree that many classic masculines can be easier to wear and understand for beginners. The added plus to that, I think, is that you also get used to the idea that you don’t have to restrict yourself to trying perfumes that only fit your gender (I guess feminine perfumes, in this case)! I have very much enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and suggestions so far 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 7:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Goodness, Miruna, one shouldn’t feel this way at all! The beauty of our discussions here is that we learn from each other, and there is no limit to what can be discovered together. Many fragrances I know are thanks to your comments.

      Thank you for your list and for your reminder not to overlook the men’s counter. Habit Rouge was my gateway to Shalimar, by the way, and I still wear more of HR than the latter. February 27, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

      • Bastet: Also, just wanted to note that I like to wear HR in the daytime and then dress it up with a bit of Shalimar at night; they blend really well. February 27, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

        • Victoria: What a cool idea! I’m totally copying it. 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

        • Miruna: I do the same, but with Shalimar PI! 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

      • Miruna: Well, that is where my passion for perfume started, at the men`s counter. I fell in love with Grey Flannel while trying to find something to replace my husband`s Rochas Man. Needless to say, he didn`t think much of it. Which ment more trips to the mall, more perfume sniffing, and eventually the accidental crossing over to the women`s – where I used to think everything smelled girly-fruity-flowery-boring, until I happened upon Rush, Dune and Jungle! February 27, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s an awesome story, Miruna. Proves once again that the men’s counter is too good to leave to boys only. 🙂 February 27, 2014 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Bastet: One of my favorite classic men’s perfumes (I wear it more than my husband does) is Chanel Egoiste. I recently replaced my old bottle and it still smells pretty good to me! February 27, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

      • Brainfodder: I love Egoiste! I bought it for my husband, and it’s delicious on him, but I suspect I wear it more 😉 February 27, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I forgot to include Frederic Malle Iris Poudre (and Ferré, its younger sister) in my modern classics recommendations. I actually found them too classical until just recently but I guess I’m falling in love now… February 27, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Great additions! Ferré is especially a good one for those who are looking for irises that aren’t too earthy and green. And overall, it’s a very good perfume. February 27, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Lindsay: Oh what a wonderful discussion!
    I would say to try:
    Shalimar, No. 5, O de Lancôme, 4711, Mitsouko and more recently the wonderful Samsara, Dior Dolce Vita/Eau de Dolce Vita, Dior Dune, Jean Patou EnJoy, Shalimar L’Initial, and Guerlain’s Plus Que Jamais. And from his side of the dresser Vetiver/maybe Platinum Egoiste. I’m off to smell some bottles! February 27, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, lots of other great choices to consider. Thanks so much, Lindsay. 🙂 February 28, 2014 at 8:04am Reply

  • Lindsay: And ditto Bottega Veneta NeenaJ!… February 27, 2014 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Theresa: So many good suggestions – the mind reels! One modern scent that evokes the classics that I like a lot is Andy Tauer’s Noontime Petals – sheer and sparkling. I love it – am contemplating a FB.

    In general, I find the more masculine scents more approachable. In fact, when I’ve put on a dab of one of my many samples and it is too girly, my husband wrinkles his nose and declares it “too flowery.” That is the most negative thing he’ll ever say. February 27, 2014 at 3:36pm Reply

    • rainboweyes: Noontime Petals sounds lovely, I have to try it! But now that you’ve mentioned Andy Tauer – Miriam from his Tableau de Parfums series has a very classical touch to it. February 27, 2014 at 3:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, Tauer’s perfumes in general have a classical bend, so they’re a good start for someone new to the rich and curvy style. February 28, 2014 at 8:05am Reply

  • Aisha: Oh, I really like Anais Anais. I just wore it on Valentine’s Day actually. It was the perfume I used to wear (in college) when I met my future-hubby. I switched to Lauren during our second year together as a couple. Maybe I’ll wear that next Valentine’s Day. I still have some of the original left, and the scent won’t last forever….

    I love all the suggestions! March 1, 2014 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Enjoy it while it’s still fresh, Aisha! I keep telling the same thing myself as I deplete my bottle of Apres L’Ondee parfum. It would be worse to discover that it has turned before I used it up. March 2, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

      • Aisha: Oh, I know I should use it up. But why is it so hard to let go? It’s not even my favorite fragrance these days, but yet I find I’m not ready to say good-bye. LOL! March 2, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also discovered that once something is used up completely, you still get a nice boost of aroma from the empty bottle. So, this made me less prone to hoarding. 🙂 March 3, 2014 at 6:45am Reply

  • Kathy Bible: I think that Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps is a great intro do the classics. It’s a real beauty with a lot of depth. It was my mother-in-law’s signature scent and I always think of her when I smell it. March 2, 2014 at 2:54am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a distinctive perfume, and when I smelled it recently, I also thought that it wouldn’t be too challenging, especially since the new version is somewhat tamer. Tamer, but still very pretty. March 2, 2014 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Michaela: While not exactly answering your question, my 12 and 14 nephews offered a proper example of beginners reactions. I am a beginner as well, but I trust their opinions better, as they are so genuine, they are not influenced at all by prejudices or memories, they don’t care about the price, or author, or anything else than the smell itself. The girls are merely enjoying their Aquolina Pink Sugar era (I also like it). They were playing with my perfums and they instantly expressed themselves in terms of ‘pfwow’, ‘mmmm’, ‘wow’ when they sniffed respectively: Van Cleefs & Arpels First, Bulgari Eau Parfumee Au The Vert, and, big surprise, Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel. The nicest compliments on my perfumes lately 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: They are the best perfume critics! 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

  • Michaela: 12 and 14 years old 🙂 sorry March 19, 2014 at 8:40am Reply

  • Wrenaissance Art: For ladies:
    l’Heure Bleue
    For men:
    Vetiver (Guerlain)
    Acqua di Parma (original, not the “flankers”)
    Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel (I remember this in the ’70s & ’80s as being a more subtle and sophisticated alternative to Polo ! et al.)
    Modern easy classics:
    Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile
    Bulgari Eau de The Vert December 6, 2014 at 6:49pm Reply

  • G: I don’t know about classic, but I would recommend these perfumes for a beginner because they aren’t overpowering, don’t have too much personality but are still really beautiful.

    bulgari femme
    thé pour une été
    caldley island lavender
    après l’ondée
    diorissimo May 4, 2015 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for a great list! Lots of interesting and diverse choices here. May 4, 2015 at 3:40pm Reply

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