4711 Original Eau de Cologne : Perfume Review

44444

Simple. Lemon with a touch of lavender and piney rosemary. Not a perfume to wear if you want a big trail. Not a perfume that will make you ponder the mysteries of life. Just a good, no-nonsense cologne that smells bracing and sharp and makes you feel clean and energized. And the name is straightforward too, just four numbers. 4711.
4711-1

When I first smelled 4711 at the now defunct pharmacy on New York’s East Side, it smelled so familiar and traditional that I could picture my grandfather slapping some on his shaved cheeks or my grandmother adding it to her bath. This was, of course, pure fantasy. 4711 didn’t exist in my Ukrainian childhood, but because the scent of a classical cologne–and 4711 is anything if not classical–has such a recognizable form, it feels as if this German cologne has always been around.

Created in 1792 by Wilhelm Muelhens, 4711 was a blend of citrus oils and herbs, not very different in style from other 18th century citrus mixtures. One of the first successfully marketed was Gian Paolo Feminis’s Eau de Cologne. Feminis moved from Italy to Cologne, Germany, and his Eau de Cologne, born in 1709, gave rise to a new scent family and put Germany on the fragrance map. Feminis’s Eau de Cologne is now sold as Jean Marie Farina Cologne by Roger & Gallet, but I prefer 4711 by a small margin.

The Mäurer & Wirtz brand owns the formula for 4711, and while they have a number of different colognes (Acqua Colonia, Nouveau Cologne and Wunderwasser), the one I’m talking about is Original Eau de Cologne. It comes in a bottle adorned with an ornate sea-green and gold label and smells like lemon rinds crushed with herbs of Provence. It is sharp, zesty, with a touch of bitterness and peppery spice. And that’s about it.

There are certainly many other much more exciting colognes, from chic Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte to exotic Diptyque Oyedo, but I like the austerity of 4711. Its simplicity and its refreshing character make other complicated citrus perfumes seem too fussy. Its lack of sweetness is wonderful as an antidote to rich fragrances, and sometimes one craves something simple and clean. If that’s the case, then 4711 will satisfy.

It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte used eight quarts of cologne every month. If you have similar cologne appetites, then 4711 will make it easy, since it’s one of the least expensive perfumes you can find on the market. It has a citrus standard lasting power, but since it is a fragrance that has a functional role–wake up, uplift, refresh, a couple of hours are plenty for me. 4711 also makes a great cologne bath (fill up a bath and add a few generous splashes of cologne), my favorite way to relax and wind down after a stressful day. Napoleon was definitely onto something.

4711 Original Eau de Cologne includes notes of bergamot, lemon, orange, lavender, rosemary, and neroli.  The fragrance is available as 60, 90, 300, 400 and 800 ml eau de cologne. The smallest size is 25ml, around €6-10, depending on where you buy it.

Extra: All About Citrus and Some Cologne History

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

136 Comments

  • George: The wikipeadia article on 4711 is really interesting: it has so many BIZARRE associations.
    I like the blue of the bottle (just like Tom Ford, it would appear).
    I don’t recall smelling it but I feel like I have already. A friend of mine says there was a craze for it when she was at high school.
    With reference to yesterday’s “Ten Fragrances every woman should own” article, phrased more appositely for the actual contributors “Ten Fragrances any woman (or man) might like to try”, I would suggest this one, just because it would help you fathom the expense and justify (or not) the cost of the more expensive colognes. I will be making an effort on this one. October 14, 2014 at 7:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! I was thinking how expensive perfume has gotten and how great it is to find in 4711 something so simple, well-made and still reasonably priced. October 14, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

    • limegreen: It was fun seeing how accessible 4711 was in the London and Paris pharmacies. TF Neroli Portofino is a smoother take on this familiar formula but don’t know if it’s worth 10 times the cost of 4711.
      How’s the 4711 soap? October 14, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

      • Victoria: Not worth it to me. At that price range, I’d rather go for something more dramatic like Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger. October 14, 2014 at 10:34am Reply

        • limegreen: It’s such a wonderful review — can you do more of fragrances that have been around for a while? It’s new for many of us! 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

          • Victoria: I’ll review Jean-Marie Farina Cologne too. I don’t like it nearly as much as 4711, but it’s still a good budget cologne. October 14, 2014 at 2:35pm Reply

            • limegreen: Can’t wait!
              re: your comment above and with your knowledge and experience, you should do a list of “instead of X, do Y” — e.g. Instead of TF Neroli Portofino, do Fleurs d’Oranger. What do you think?!
              (Kind of different from the usual recommending something “similar” to perfume X.) October 14, 2014 at 5:24pm Reply

              • Victoria: It’s very hard to get it right. For instance, for someone Fleurs d’Oranger would be an alternative for Neroli Portofino, but for another person, they’re completely different and have nothing in common. I think that offering recommendations with little explanations is more helpful than just giving a list, but we can certainly have a thread where we share what fragrances we find similar. October 15, 2014 at 5:10am Reply

        • George: except they are not really in the same price range: NP is TWICE the price of FD’O. October 15, 2014 at 4:40am Reply

          • Victoria: Yes, precisely. If one is willing to spend that much on Neroli Portofino ($250 or is $300 now?), then it makes sense to look at other luxury lines that offer an equally high-quality perfume but at a better price. October 15, 2014 at 5:01am Reply

  • Michaela: I smelled this one for the first time recently, but I also felt it surprisingly familiar and traditional. So simple and refreshing. I love this review a lot, you describe it perfectly. I’m planning to get a bottle for my early dark mornings or cologne baths. I thought I was far from a cologne lover but sometimes they are just perfect. October 14, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I also never thought of myself as a cologne lover, but they have their place. And if one hasn’t tried a cologne bath, it’s a must! 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 9:26am Reply

  • rosarita: We bought 4711 at a German grocery store when I was little. I still keep a bottle in the refrigerator for hot summer refreshment 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that’s a good idea. Nothing feels as refreshing as a splash of ice cold cologne. October 14, 2014 at 9:27am Reply

    • ginnie: I crave this living in India so I keep a spray bottle in the fridge too. Just returned from Turkey and Greece and disappointed I could not find it October 14, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: How wonderful that you got to travel to Turkey and Greece!
        Did you look for other lemon colognes while there? Turkey puts out several wonderful colognes that are beyond inexpensive, but smell wonderful. The last one I bought on a whim (through an online Greek grocery store called Parthenon Foods), made in Turkey, came in a ribbed plastic bottle and it was pure heaven. I think I paid something like $10 for it! I still have one bottle left and I’m glad because I haven’t seen it on Parthenon Foods since. (As per usual.) October 14, 2014 at 9:13pm Reply

  • solanace: Straightforwad colognes have a special place in my heart. I think the industry keeps trying to figure a new fresh scent out, but the truth is that nothing beats a good classic cologne in this camp. You mentioned my current favorite, Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte, but I just kindly recieved a couple of big samples of vintage 4711 from a sweet perfume fairy, and it is very satisfying indeed. Curious to try the current formulation now. October 14, 2014 at 8:29am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Please do and let us know! I smelled 4711 a lot in childhood, it was a classic in the family. I remember it as a softer cologne, more neroli and less citrus, but I could be wrong. So I am very curious on what you think!

      I have always a bottle of 4711 and of Fresh, the Hema cologne is on my bedside in hot nights. Also very good foor cleaning second hand books. October 14, 2014 at 9:02am Reply

      • Victoria: I have a soft spot for Hema store, which provided us with all of the basics in the first months of moving to Belgium. I haven’t tried their cologne, though. October 14, 2014 at 9:28am Reply

        • Austenfan: The Hema is great! October 14, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

          • Victoria: Isn’t it! I kind of regret that we don’t have one close anymore. October 14, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

      • solanace: I´ll look for the new version to make a side by side test, and I’ll let you know my thoughts. (How fun!)

        This is a great tip concerning old, smelly books! October 14, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried the vintage one for a while, so I’m describing the one available now. I’d love to hear how they compare when you smell them.

      Another classical favorite is O de Lancome, gin & tonic with a bit of moss. October 14, 2014 at 9:30am Reply

      • Illdone: True !! O de lancome vintage and present formulation are great in summer.
        I also have a soft spot for the Mugler cologne although technically it’s an edt 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

        • Illdone: Oh, and I forgot to mention ; Berdoues has some lovely soft colognes! October 14, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

          • Victoria: I tried their violet cologne, which was very nice. October 14, 2014 at 2:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: Mugler Cologne is excellent too. Angel overshadows most of the collection, but their cologne is one of the best. October 14, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

      • solanace: I have yet to try O de Lancome! October 14, 2014 at 12:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: It feels like something out of an Agatha Christie novel (minus the murder). October 14, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

          • Bookwyrmsmith: In one of the Miss Marple movies she is seen using 4711 before going to dinner. October 14, 2014 at 9:37pm Reply

            • Victoria: Oh, thank you for mentioning this! I have all of Miss Marple movies with Joan Hickson, and I’m tempted to find the scene. October 15, 2014 at 5:20am Reply

          • solanace: Now I want to try it even more! They only seem to have the flankers, O this and O that, here, but I’ll keep looking for the original. 🙂 October 15, 2014 at 4:59am Reply

  • Anka: Great review!
    Since I am a child I have a tiny little 5 ml bottle (yes, it comes in bottle shape!) of 4711. But I used to think of it as some sort of medicine which helps when I have low blood pressure, feel nauseous or dizzy – wonder water, indeed.
    I learned it from my grandmother who thought of perfume as needless decadence. I guess 4711 was her way to stick to this stupid opinion and indulge in the pleasure of this cologne at the same time. What a pitty!
    Outside of Germany it seems to be a real cult brand.
    Have you seen their stunning artist edition for the 222th anniversary?
    http://www.fragrantica.de/Neuigkeiten/4711-Artist-Edition-zum-222j%C3%A4hrigen-Jubil%C3%A4um-2799.html October 14, 2014 at 9:06am Reply

    • Michaela: Very nice story of your grandma and the wonder water! I think your tiny bottle is beautiful. Thank you for the link, the bottles are gorgeous. October 14, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I have seen elaborate 4711 signs over the perfume shops in Nuremberg. Around here in Brussels, 4711 is sold at every pharmacy, and some stores have these beautiful displays. Those small bottles are just irresistible. October 14, 2014 at 10:25am Reply

    • Annette Reynolds: Wow, that anniversary edition bottle IS gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the link. October 14, 2014 at 9:15pm Reply

  • Anka: I meant: Since I was a child, haha. October 14, 2014 at 9:08am Reply

    • Michaela: I believed you! 🙂 Naturally, a small child must have a small bottle 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

  • zephyr: Have to chime in on 4711 – it was my first fragrance! My sisters and I were introduced to it when we were children, by our much-beloved Oma, my father’s mother. I’ve kept a bottle of it on my dresser ever since. Love its straightforwardness – crisp citrus! My 14-year-old son likes it and uses it too. October 14, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Such a nice story of family and perfume!

      Sometimes you don’t need anything else but crisp, simple citrus. I also find it indispensable on dreary, grey days when you wake up and already feel tired. October 14, 2014 at 10:28am Reply

  • zephyr: Forgot to add – Anka, those anniversary-edition bottles are stunning! Wonder if they’ll be available here in the States – will try to find one here in Chicago. Those are keepers! October 14, 2014 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m curious about that too. October 14, 2014 at 10:29am Reply

  • AndreaR: Silly me. I saw a big bottle of this in it’s unopened box at my local thrift store and didn’t buy it!! October 14, 2014 at 10:03am Reply

    • Victoria: They also have great soaps! October 14, 2014 at 10:26am Reply

      • AndreaR: Scented soaps add such a touch of luxury to a bath or shower. I always think of that wonderful scene in Gigi when the fancy aunt is taking a bath. October 14, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: What a great scene that one is! October 14, 2014 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Aurora: I discovered it while living in the US, it wasn’t available in France. I liked it immediately. You describe it very well, thank you for listing the notes, and it has a real dry-down doesn’t it, it doesn’t vanish from skin leaving no trace like some other colognes.

    The nostalgic equivalent for me, being French, is Jean-Marie Farina and Bouquet Imperial by Roger & Gallet (I think the latter is no longer made).

    But honestly, whispering as this is unpatriotic, there’s something more instantly recognizable about 4711 it is more special, well I like it best, so there. October 14, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

    • Victoria: As much as I wanted to love Jean-Marie Farina for all of its illustrious history, there is something about that cologne that doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe, too aggressive, too sharp to start with and too flat in the drydown. I bought a small bottle on a whim when my pharmacy had a sale, but I mostly use it in my bath. It works well. October 14, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

      • Aurora: Yes, it is more a ‘for him’ cologne. Bouquet Imperial was much better. Supposedly, Bonaparte used it but there are other claims from various houses so the poor man must have simply drowned in cologne.

        Also, how could I forget to mention Bien Etre yesterday – you have reviewed Eau des Familles very well, you had such a good idea to notice it. Their regular cologne and their eau de lavande are very pleasant too and they are even available in supermarkets in France so you don’t even need to go to the pharmacy for them. October 15, 2014 at 5:59am Reply

        • Victoria: I was laughing over your comment earlier and then later in the day came across some old press release also claiming to recreate “Napoleon’s cologne” formula.

          Thank you for reminding me of Bien-Etre, which is sold at the supermarkets here as well. October 15, 2014 at 11:27am Reply

          • Aurora: Oh it’s such a funny coincidence, Victoria!

            When I stop and think more seriously that he was a dictator, with a very aggressive foreign policy, I wonder what it says about French people that perfume houses feel the need to make such claims. October 16, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

            • Victoria: And who ultimately weakened the French global standing. There is an interesting new book about Napoleon by historian Andrew Roberts, by the way. October 16, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

              • Hamamelis: Thank you for mentioning this biography, I am very happy that on this blog besides perfume occassionally other life enhancing pleasures can be found, I am reading a very enjoyable detective that one of the contributors mentioned in the book question some time ago, and will look at this Napoleon book. October 17, 2014 at 3:00am Reply

    • lp: Yes Imperial Bouquet is a so refreshing, and unusual. I miss it. It always reminds me of being in Europe- cause right now I’m not, and I wish I was! October 14, 2014 at 4:38pm Reply

      • Aurora: Hello, Ip I hope you’ll have the occasion to go to Europe soon.

        Roger & Gallet has stopped making Bouquet Imperial, but who knows, they might bring it back as many people miss it. October 15, 2014 at 6:41am Reply

  • irem: I am originally from Turkey where a big bottle of “Lemon Cologne” (limon kolonyasi) is a household item as ubiquitous as dishwashing detergent. There are many local brands but most of them are very similar to 4711 and are simply called “cologne”. There are also lavender and tobacco colognes for example, but “cologne” alone always means lemon cologne.

    In Turkey, cologne is used for every imaginable task but rarely as personal perfume. It is a well established tradition to offer guests a few splashes cologne in their hands first thing when they make themselves comfortable in a seat. I am not sure how polite it would be to offer a guest hand sanitizer in any other country, but in Turkey it is OK as long as the ethanol comes in form of cologne. Cologne is also the first choice of antiseptic used on minor “boo-boos” and which burns like hell. A few drops on a cotton ball act like a “magic eraser”. It is used to swipe necks to keep shirt collars pristine, and also to clean all sorts of imaginable objects. My aunt used to mop her stone kitchen floor with cologne – she would buy it in 5 litter canisters.

    I guess I treat 4711 the same way. I drained my last bottle cleaning the bathroom countertop. October 14, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for explaining this cologne tradition! In western Europe perfume has such a specific usage that it’s hard to conceive it having other roles, but of course, cologne to begin with was used more like a health and skin care product rather than just “scent.” It was made based on grape spirits and could be drunk.

      I’ve been offered rosewater this way in some parts of the Middle East, and I always loved this tradition. October 14, 2014 at 11:14am Reply

      • irem: I guess the original tradition in Turkey too was to offer rosewater during the Ottoman times. There is a special vessel called “Gulabdan” from farsi to keep and serve the rosewater. Rosewater was preferred for religious reasons I think, alcohol in any form is frowned upon in many religious circles. I don’t know how cologne took the place of rosewater in modern times, but when I was a child in Turkey we always had a bottle of cologne for all kinds of uses. We sometimes had rosewater in the fridge which we used solely for culinary purposes: mainly for Ashure and Gullac. I don’t know whether you are familiar with these dishes, but you would love them. October 14, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

        • Victoria: I love anything with rosewater and use it a lot. On most evening, I make a rose tea, which is simply hot water with a spoonful of rosewater. Sounds simple, but it tastes and smells wonderful.

          Interesting about cologne replacing rosewater, but maybe, it was seen as more modern. October 14, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

    • Annette Reynolds: Irem, thank you for this post! I was just commenting earlier that some of the best citrus cologne I’ve gotten recently has been from Turkey, and it was very inexpensive! I can close my eyes and smell it now: heaven… October 14, 2014 at 9:17pm Reply

      • irem: Thanks Annette. Turkish colognes are inexpensive indeed, and some of them are pretty good. Your comment makes me want to stock up next time I go there. October 14, 2014 at 11:00pm Reply

    • Joy: What a great idea. It is such a generous and pleasing ritual. I went on-line to look for this and found it on Amazon. The homes in Turkey must smell lovely! October 14, 2014 at 10:00pm Reply

      • irem: The houses would smell lovely after a cleaning – at least until the next meal was cooked. Almost all Turkish dishes start by sauteing quite a bit of onion in olive oil until lightly browned which smells initially very good, but not after you have had the meal. That’s when you really need the cologne 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 11:19pm Reply

    • Lynley: I noticed this when I was in Turkey. The hand-wipe sachets in restaurants would be limon kolonyasi, and sometimes there’d be a man with a bottle of it at the ready for an after-lunch clean-up. I believe it’s what mothers would put in a handkerchief to wipe grubby little faces too- SO much more pleasant than spit! 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 10:16pm Reply

      • irem: Hi Lynley, you are a great observer. At one point you could find tiny plastic bottles of limon kolonyasi (30 ml or so) to be carried in handbags. I am sure mothers would use those to wipe grubby little faces.
        My mom never cleaned our faces with cologne, but when we ran a fever we would get the limon kolonyasi treatment: arms and legs wiped down with a handkerchief soaked in kolonya. The evaporating alcohol quickly brings the temperature down. Now I remember how after one time I was sick I couldn’t stand the smell of kolonya for a very long time. We made up eventually. October 14, 2014 at 11:12pm Reply

    • Michaela: Amazed by your comments, thank you! October 15, 2014 at 3:50am Reply

  • Kat: I walked into one of my favorite shops today and noticed a beautiful light scent, lemony and a couple of other things. I asked the assistant if it was her perfume but she whipped out a bottle of 4711’s new formula (Nouveau Cologne) that she had used as room scent. I’ve always wondered what it smells like, reviews on perfume sites were not that favorable but when she handed me the bottle I really liked it. It’s lighter than the classic formula which is a bit too harsh for me. I went to the local drugstore but alas they only got the classical one. I guess that’s what on-line shopping is for. October 14, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I need to try Nouveau Cologne too. It’s also very inexpensive, and I’d imagine that it’s softer, more floral, based on the online descriptions. October 14, 2014 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I love colognes, love them, and 4711 is not exception. I use this one mostly in baths, and it is such an uplifting and soothing scent. I love having a review of such an accessible scent, thanks! October 14, 2014 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s one of those perfumes that I always have around and kind of take for granted. But then I realize how much overprice, overhyped stuff there is out there, and I appreciate it even more. October 14, 2014 at 2:32pm Reply

  • MontrealGirl: Ah yes, 4711 was what I remember from my childhood in Switzerland, seeing it in the apothecaries. I recall getting wet-towels with the wonderful green-gold packaging in the airplane and in the stores and it was so refreshing to whip your hands and the back of your neck. I had to go out and get a bottle as part of my collection for nostalgia sake and I have a mini one too but I must say that it doesn’t smell as I remember it. I do wonder if they changed the formula or if it is my memory that fails me. It seems less citrusy, more synthetic smelling. It is still a classic. October 14, 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have no doubts they’ve changed something about it, if only because the bergamot oil used today has to be treated to remove the elements that cause photo-sensitivity, and it changes the oil’s scent. I imagine some other ingredients are also different. But I still like it the way it is. October 14, 2014 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Figuier: Thanks for this! 4711 was my first ever perfume – my piano teacher gave me a small bottle (15ml?) when I was 8 or 9, and it made a very big impression. I don’t recall that I actually wore it, but looking the bottle & its grown-up ornateness, and sniffing the contents made me very happy. I also have a vague memory of using it to scent a cotton handkerchief, which I probably lost or mislaid before I could ever use…I still think it’s great stuff, and I keep meaning to get myself another bottle. October 14, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: The vision of a little girl scented her handkerchief is so sweet. 🙂 I remember my grandmother and mother doing this. And I just carry the paper napkins, Kleenexes in my pursue. How boring! October 14, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

  • benvenuta: I remember that my mother and grandmother had some 4711 products when I was a child – I thought the scent was very sharp and bitter. Now I enjoy colognes during mornings and during hot summer days. Last summer I used kept a spray bottle of water scented with few splashes of 4711 in the fridge and sprayed it all over my skin on hottest days and nights. Into my face too, which I wouldn`t be able to do with undiluted cologne! It was so refreshing. I like Guerlain colognes too – but I don`t think I`d ever splash a Guerlain fragrance with abandon like I do 4711.
    I also own a bottle of Selin Turkish lemon cologne that I bought in the UK. It`s a very straightforward lemony smell, zingy and pleasant. October 14, 2014 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve seen Selin at our local Turkish store but I never tried it. Now, I definitely will!

      I was told at the Guerlain boutique that Eau Imperale is made with grape spirits so it can be drunk! Now, I didn’t want to experiment, but I’m curious whether it is really true. October 15, 2014 at 5:03am Reply

  • Tati: The timing of this review is perfect as I have a large bottle on its way right now! In Austria my mother used this as an aid for headaches, applying it at the temples.
    Recently I have got into the habit of putting cologne on first thing in the morning to wake up. Somehow I am not ready for perfume yet, that early. I’ve almost finished a bottle of Acqua di Parma Colonia and thought this would be a good change. Also love the Blood Orange & Basil, which is very similar to the Guerlain Allegoria. October 14, 2014 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know what you mean, a splash of cologne really makes me feel refreshed. Have you tried Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria? It’s such an interesting cologne–citrus and lots of amber. Another one I like is Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine. A happy, bright orange. October 15, 2014 at 5:05am Reply

  • Joy: This was such a great review! I used 4711 a lot when I was younger. I loved it in the summer especially. I think there was a soap also. My best friend and I would spend much of the day swimming and sunning at the lake where we lived. Before heading home to town, we would splash ourselves liberally with 4711 to freshen up. We thought we were so European! I just had a sample which I used up quickly. I will have to purchase a bottle. I also enjoyed all of the alternate suggestions for use and the suggestions for other colognes. I intensely dislike the smell of hand sanitizers and wipes. I think that I will keep a bottle of 4711 in my car with some tissue to sanitize my hands.
    My grandmother always put her perfume/cologne on her handkerchief, never on her person. If she needed a rejuvinating sniff, out would come her hanky. Every morning she would put on a clean apron that she had made. Then she would dab or spray perfume on her handkerchief that she had made including the lace edge and the embroidery, then into her apron pocket. It was very charming. October 14, 2014 at 5:05pm Reply

    • Kat: They do make refreshing tissues, if you can buy them where you live that would be much easier. This is such an interesting thread, I never realized how much 4711 was part of growing up and everyday life for me (and that it’s not like that everywhere). The scent does have a negative connotations on German speaking sites, where it’s normally referred to as old lady’s scent. I guess that’s what overexposure can do. October 14, 2014 at 5:58pm Reply

      • Lynley: The wet sachets are great in summer for on-the-go freshen-ups. They have them here sometimes but I haven’t seen any for a while. L’Occitane used to have these in Verbena, but the 4711 were much cheaper 🙂 October 14, 2014 at 10:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your grandmother must have been such an elegant lady! I can just envision her embroidered handkerchiefs and aprons. I love this story! October 15, 2014 at 5:11am Reply

  • Jordi: Sometimes I wish there were more well made simple colognes as this one or I knew more of them. Something just nice and easy a kind of “jeans” of perfume for the days you don’t feel like “dressing up” with a “Shalimar” .

    I’ve never tried a scented bath but sounds great for these days we are leaving summer behind and stepping into winter. October 14, 2014 at 5:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are must be many small local brands, especially in Spain, that specialize in these kind of colognes. I used to like Jo Malones for this purpose, but now they are too expensive. I don’t want to pay $100+ for something that should be just a straightforward, simple citrus. October 15, 2014 at 5:15am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for your wonderful, comprehensive review of 4711.

    I recall my first experience of 4711 with fondness and amusement. The state primary school that I attended for grades one and two held a carnival each year, and it always had separate lucky dips for boys and girls. My first lucky dip selection, at age five, netted me my first bottle of perfume – Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass. At that time, I didn’t know what it was, and on the advice of my younger brother (all of three), I poured about a third of it into my bath that night, arousing the ire of my mother, who could smell it all the way from the kitchen!

    My second lucky dip, the following year, scored me a perfume bottle that had undergone a change of identity. The quarter-ounce bottle had a gold cap with words carved on both the top and side. But I couldn’t read the words because someone had painted over them in strong silver paint with a flower on the top and a swirling pattern on the side. The unidentified fragrance within was very lemony and fresh, and I enjoyed using it.

    A few years later my curiosity won out and I painstakingly scratched off all the paint from the cap with a pin. The words “Christian Dior” were revealed underneath the picture of the flower on the top, and “Miss Dior” under the swirling pattern on the side.

    Within another couple of years I had been given a bottle of 4711 as a gift, and, with much delight, I recognized it as the fragrance from my lucky dip bottle. I suppose my initial sample of 4711 might have had a faint tinge of Miss Dior to it! As a consequence of my lucky dip experience, I have a soft spot for 4711.

    I still have the empty vintage Miss Dior bottle, albeit with scratch marks all over the cap! For many years I actually used it to store pins for sewing; however I now keep it as part of my precious collection of my very first perfume bottles. October 14, 2014 at 6:38pm Reply

    • Michaela: Beautiful story! 🙂 October 15, 2014 at 3:52am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thanks Michaela.

        I should have added that if Blue Grass had been a cologne, then my three-year-old little brother could have taken credit for introducing me to my first cologne bath. I suppose that, as Blue Grass is a rich floral, you could say that I had a “floral bath” instead! October 15, 2014 at 3:59am Reply

        • Victoria: The story of your precocious little brother encouraging you to take a cologne bath is priceless! 🙂 October 15, 2014 at 5:25am Reply

          • Tourmaline: I have to agree! I think that my younger brother has a better nose than he realizes. Years later, he gave me a 7.5 ml bottle of Diorissimo perfume essence for my 30th birthday. It was my first bottle of Diorissimo, and he chose it because he liked it so much, not due to any request on my part. (Actually, he loved the smell of jasmine and he thought that it was a jasmine perfume. Well, he came close, and while it is a lily of the valley fragrance, it does contain jasmine.) That was in 1991, long before the EU changes and the consequent change to Diorissimo. I still have most of the bottle left, and I am so grateful to him for having given me what remains my only bottle of the original perfume. Years later he bought me a bottle of Annick Goutal’s Le Chèvrefeuille because he knew that I loved the smell of honeysuckle. He is not really into fragrance for himself, but he often listens, very patiently, to my spirited chatter about perfume. My “little” brother is about to turn 51! October 15, 2014 at 9:02am Reply

            • Michaela: He is good! And you are lucky 🙂 October 15, 2014 at 9:27am Reply

              • Tourmaline: You are so right, Michaela. My brother has his own gift for fragrance, and I am indeed lucky to be on the receiving end of his patience and his perfume choices! October 15, 2014 at 9:35am Reply

            • Victoria: It’s wonderful that you have all of these scent memories and connections. And he does have a great nose and a taste for perfectly crafted florals. October 15, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

              • Tourmaline: It is wonderful indeed; I feel very blessed. I have told my brother that you agree with my view that he has a great nose, therefore it must be true!! He was amused and appreciated the compliment. October 16, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

    • Victoria: This is such a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. It makes me want to see that bottle. So, it was 4711 decanted into a bottle once used for Miss Dior? That must have been a pretty good combination. October 15, 2014 at 5:17am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thank you, Victoria.

        Yes, the 4711 had been decanted into the empty Miss Dior bottle. Indeed, I think that the combination of those two fragrances was serendipitous! I chose the lucky dip in 1968, so the bottle would have been pre-1968. It is very pretty – cylindrical with vertical striation to the glass. It is a shame that I scratched the gold lid while removing the paint with the pin. I would never do such a thing to a perfume bottle these days! If only I had been allowed to wear nail polish at that age, because then I would have had access to nail polish remover, which might have removed the paint without the need for any scratching. Alas, I was not permitted to wear nail polish until I was at least 13.

        I will happily take a photo of the bottle; however I don’t know how to attach a photo to a comment. October 15, 2014 at 9:05am Reply

        • Victoria: You can just email it to me, and I will upload it.

          I wasn’t permitted to wear nailpolish either at school, only on days off. But days off were also ballet days, and the nailpolish on the hands was a completely no-no. So, I hardly ever paint my nails, only my toes, but I paint them all year round, even in the winter. October 15, 2014 at 11:31am Reply

          • Tourmaline: I have emailed you a few photos of the Miss Dior bottle, as well as one of the infamous Blue Grass bottle, which used to have a coating of silver paint on the cap.

            Oh yes, nail polish was forbidden at school for me as well. When my mother finally allowed me to wear it when I was 13, I looked forward to Friday afternoons, when the first thing that I would do after I had returned from school and had some afternoon tea, was to apply nail polish to my fingernails. Back then, to my mother’s relief, I preferred pale colours including Cutex and Rimmel frosted pinks and peaches. I took ballet classes for only a couple of years when I was seven or eight, so I was fortunate not to have your ballet class restrictions.

            Even today, I am rarely without nail polish. I keep my fingernails very short because I play the piano and type a lot, so my nails benefit greatly from the decorative touch of nail colour. My motto is that a bare nail is a wasted opportunity! My favourite shades are fifties-look bright reds and pinks. Oh I am so with you on the toenail polish, Victoria; brightly-painted toenails always look so glamorous. Like you, I keep mine painted all year round. October 16, 2014 at 8:29am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you! I will take a look when I get home. Can’t wait! October 16, 2014 at 10:42am Reply

        • Amer: Tosca, another fragrance from this company is my earliest recollection of fragrance… and my first taste of it. My favourite aunt used to wear it and I remember liking it so much that I took a sip from it once… When said about your brother convincing you I thought immediately you’d drunk from Blue Grass. October 15, 2014 at 6:41pm Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Amer,

            I think that a quick swirl or spray of Blue Grass in the mouth would probably do a reasonable job as a breath freshener! Based on Michael Edwards’ list of notes for Blue Grass in his 1993 booklet, “The Michael Edwards Fragrance Notes: Head, Heart & Soul Notes”, it would scent one’s breath with neroli, lavender, carnation, jasmine, musk and sandalwood. I hasten to add that I’m not tempted to try it!

            Oh, I have a bottle of Tosca. After my mother died a few years ago, I acquired her collection of perfume and other scented products, including soap and talcum powder. (About half of these items were gifts that I and my two brothers had given her over the years.) A 25 ml spray bottle of Tosca EDC was among the 30 or so bottles of perfume that were to be found in various places around the house, and about two thirds of it remains. I think that this was probably one of the fragrances that Mum bought for herself. According to the above source, Amer, your sip of Tosca would have scented your breath with citrus oils, soft aldehydes, patchouli, ylang ylang, amber and sandalwood!

            I have to confess that about 15 years ago I endeavoured to scent an ice cream cake with perfume. I was preparing a gift for the above-mentioned brother, and there was a slight violet theme to the gift because it included a box of Beech’s Violet Cream chocolates, which we both enjoy. I bought a vanilla ice cream cake, placed about 10 pieces of card sprayed with Yardley’s April Violets EDT around the cake in its box, and left it in the freezer overnight. The next day I removed the pieces of card and took the ice cream cake and gift over to my brother for his birthday. We each had a slice of the cake, and I was gratified to find that at least the outer layer of the cake and the cream decorating it had been perfumed with the violet scent, which worked well with the original vanilla flavour of the ice cream. Fortunately my brother liked the cake! I assume that this method would work with just about any food, although one would have to combine scents and flavours with care. October 16, 2014 at 7:33am Reply

            • Amer: wow! Ice cream and icing enfleurage (in a way)! You are genius! I once cooked a three course meal with all dishes having flowers as ingredients, a “folie” to amuse friends really but your idea never occurred to me! Thank you! October 16, 2014 at 3:06pm Reply

              • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Amer, for what my idea is worth. I thought that it was “folie”, actually, but it was also great fun! However your three-course meal could not have been the least bit folie; on the contrary it sounds as though it would have been wonderful. I would love to know what the ingredients were for each of the courses.

                I enjoy just about any food containing flowers, although my experience thus far has been limited to chocolates and sweets flavoured with violet, rose and lemon myrtle (a plant that is native to my home state of Queensland in Australia), Indian rose-water ice cream, rose tea, and rose petals on iced cake. I have already done an Internet search for the Kusmi “Violette” tea that Victoria mentioned in an earlier post, and I look forward to trying it someday, as I am particularly fond of violet perfumes. October 16, 2014 at 9:21pm Reply

    • Teresa: Tourmaline: I love your story! Your primary school was so lovable and forward-thinking in their choice of lucky dip gifts. 🙂 and the image of your baby brother persuading you to pour Blue Grass into the bath is funny, too. October 20, 2014 at 10:36am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Teresa,
        I’m glad that you enjoyed reading my story. I think that the “Parents and Friends Association” (or whatever it might have been called) at the school was probably responsible for requesting donations for the carnival lucky dips each year. It seems that there were indeed some forward-thinking parents who donated the perfumes for the little girls’ lucky dips. I was very fortunate to select bottles of perfume two years in a row. I’m sure that they played their part in turning me into a perfume lover.

        My brother told me the other day that while he remembers the bottle of Blue Grass, he doesn’t recall his advice to me (well, it was nearly 50 years ago!) and he doesn’t recall the 4711 either. However, when I emailed him a photo of the Miss Dior bottle, he did remember that. One of the first perfumed products that my brother and I both liked back then was bubble bath, and this no doubt prompted my brother’s idea of pouring some of the Blue Grass “Flower Mist” (as it says on the bottle) into the bath. October 21, 2014 at 8:44pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Teresa,

        I’m glad that you enjoyed reading my story. I think that the “Parents and Friends Association” (or whatever it might have been called) at the school was probably responsible for requesting donations for the carnival lucky dips each year. It seems that there were indeed some forward-thinking parents who donated the perfumes for the little girls’ lucky dips. I was very fortunate to select bottles of perfume two years in a row. I’m sure that they played their part in turning me into a perfume lover.

        My brother told me the other day that while he remembers the bottle of Blue Grass, he doesn’t recall his advice to me (well, it was nearly 50 years ago!) and he doesn’t recall the 4711 either. However, when I emailed him a photo of the Miss Dior bottle, he did remember that. One of the first perfumed products that my brother and I both liked back then was bubble bath, and this no doubt prompted my brother’s idea of pouring some of the Blue Grass “Flower Mist” (as it says on the bottle) into the bath. October 21, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

  • angeldiva: Victoria! What a wonderful writer you are! I wish I could contribute to the enjoyment of 4711, but am not really familiar with it’s scent. Since enjoying this web experience I have changed the way I shop at the drugstore. I take my time and really test different scents. I even tried Truth Or Dare. I did however purchase a dress, because, it had a similar pattern to the 4711 label.
    And, thank-you so much for sharing the multiple uses for colognes, universally. May I say that I have recently followed in the footsteps of my Queen: Sophia Loren! She rolls her hair in Chanel spray perfume. Miracle of miracles I found one of my high school scents: Jai Ose online. Oh this smells rich on me, and the memories of the 1970’s… Well, you had to beeeee there! It has a bit of dark looking oil in the juice, and I mix it with Frizz Ease on my wet hair. Well, my hair is softer, and I love the effect. Now all I need is the husband! LOL
    Peace October 14, 2014 at 7:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your hair looks beautiful and you’re gorgeously perfumed! It’s a win-win. 🙂 October 15, 2014 at 5:18am Reply

  • angeldiva: Forgive me… All I need is THE husband ! October 14, 2014 at 7:07pm Reply

  • angeldiva: All I need is A husband… lol

    Fifty -three, and still looking! October 14, 2014 at 7:08pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: Victoria, thank you for this terrific piece on 4711. I’ve been using it for several years (yet still always searching for the “perfect” eau de cologne that I found, then lost by Berdoues, and before that by Maja) and really do love it.

    I’m curious to try the other versions and will do so post-haste!

    Would love to see more of this type of review by you: of some of the old, “cheap” classics. What fun!! October 14, 2014 at 9:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it! I’m now inkling to try Maja again, but I can’t find it around here. Berdoues should be easier to find, but I’m not sure if these are sold in the US.

      There are not so many perfumes like these–cheap, easily available classics. Which is too bad. October 15, 2014 at 5:23am Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: Unfortunately, Maja stopped making their beautiful cologne some time ago. It’s full name was: Le Bain Natural Eau de Cologne – Concentrated Cologne. It was, by far, my all-time favorite cologne. I still have the bottle, but of course there’s nothing left in it. Now I refill it with other colognes I find that are similar.
        Berdoue’s wonderful Eau de Cologne is still made, but I can’t seem to buy it anymore. The one I loved was 1902 Cologne Tradition – Naturelle. It comes in a huge bottle (of which I still have two). Haven’t seen it in the U.S. at all; even online. But maybe I’ll need to search it out again. It’s definitely on their website.
        If you haven’t tried their line, you should treat yourself, Victoria. Their stuff is beautiful. October 15, 2014 at 11:00am Reply

        • Victoria: I will do! They all sounds so good. Thank you, Annette. October 15, 2014 at 11:42am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’m quite surprised about the popularity of 4711 outside Germany and even more about its cult status. It was a staple in our household back then in my childhood but an absolute taboo to me – 4711 was an old lady scent! I haven’t smelled it for ages and definitely need to revisit it now.
    As my husband is from Cologne, I often walk past the 4711 House but I’ve never been to the museum. Maybe next time…
    But I’m quite curious to try their newest release called Plum and Honey! October 15, 2014 at 5:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe, I should visit Cologne at all in a perfume pilgrimage of sorts. 🙂 I have no excuse, since we are so close!

      With my love of plums and honey, I’d love to try this new perfume too. October 15, 2014 at 5:35am Reply

  • Nikki: What a coincidence! I was just in Cologne at the Dome and the 4711 store! It is wonderful, truly great, to be close to a medieval church, have this amazing 4711 scenting the air, and drink Frueh Koelsch beer which is a light version of beer and very refreshing. Such a beautiful city!

    I noticed the new design, too, quite art deco looking. You can get 4711 also as soap and perfume stick which is refreshing as well.

    Mopping with cologne? I love it, great idea. I will try it soon, maybe even with Jean Nate as they have these huge bottles. October 15, 2014 at 7:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Now I definitely need to visit! October 15, 2014 at 11:28am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Speaking of the Dom and 4711: I have a round bottle with the Kölner Dom on a metal plate.
        On the other side : ”Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Neumarkt” and two little angels carrying a picture of the shop.
        My mother bought it in Gent, ± 1960. I remember it as a refined neroli cologne. October 15, 2014 at 4:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love those vintage labels. October 16, 2014 at 10:33am Reply

    • Kat: Mopping sounds really like a good idea. However do not try to clean your glasses with 4711 – they will be all sparkling clean but your eyes won’t be happy *cough* not that I ever tried that 😉 October 15, 2014 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Amer: I fondly recall some of the 80’s tv spots for 4711 but my recollection of the scent itself is of a citrusy cologne but with neroli and sandalwood being the more distinctive notes (apparently memory adjusted reality to my tastes). I genuinely like it but unfortunately I have no place for fleeting fragrances in my small collection of full bottles. I also remember it being even cheaper in the past. In recent years Maurer, in an attempt to reintroduce it in the mainstream market and to the designer fragrances consumer, flanked it with several remixes and raised its price. Not sure what happened to the juice of the original though. Recently, in collaboration with visual artists they produced some huge decorated bottles of the original cologne for collectors in “collector’s” prices… October 15, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I have only started using it in the past couple of years, so I’m sure I missed some of its golden period. But I like it the way it is now. I also noticed the parent brand doing all sorts of promotions and extra launches, which makes sense if they want to have more visibility. October 15, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I have (as I said already) the same memory: more neroli in the past, less citrus. Maybe I am not wrong after all! October 15, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

        • Amer: The commercials were so funny. People would put it on and act as if under the influence of ecstasy! If only a fragrance could do that. October 15, 2014 at 6:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Makes sense. Someone else commented it is less floral now. October 16, 2014 at 10:28am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi V,

    Wow! Look what a dialogue this created about 4711. What first struck me about this was the packaging and I can’t remember what occasion or even when I wore since my memory wears thin on this one. With the multitude of fragrances out there and most unaffordable I guess we can take a break from this to sport some tried and true fragrance. For the life of me, I can’t believe I’m about to mention of all fragrances: Aqua Velva! I remember a group of us back when sported this and didn’t steal it from our fathers and boyfriends but purchased it on our own because Old Spice with its great bottle was on most shelves! October 15, 2014 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Aqua Velva was such a popular perfume, on par with Old Spice. I’m trying to think what modern fragrance approaches it today. October 16, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

  • Mary K: I do remember this one, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a bottle, but I can still remember what it smells like. I like it and when I next come across a bottle, it might be time to purchase it and enjoy. October 15, 2014 at 4:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s perfect for those days when you need a quick boost, so I keep a small bottle on hand. October 16, 2014 at 10:28am Reply

  • angeldiva: Aqua Velva rocks! Hello Don Drapper swinging 60’s cologne. I can find it in any drugstore, and some supermarkets. I’ve never tried it on, but it smelled wonderful on my late father.

    P October 16, 2014 at 2:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I was still at the perfumery school, I got a vintage bottle of it and I remember being impressed with how well it was made. October 17, 2014 at 7:32am Reply

  • caroline: I totally agree that the formulas must have changed. My newest bottle this year 2015 does not smell anything like the bottle that I just finished. Why ruin a perfectly delicious item. (I was using this perfume for over 40 years and no I am not happy with my current bottle – I should have stocked up while it was still the old formula!) January 11, 2016 at 8:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I need to try some of the variations. I heard that the plum one was very good, but of course, it’s not the original by any stretch. January 11, 2016 at 11:24am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Olivia in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: A Pimsleur course. I own a vintage book called Image de la France that I can’t wait to delve into once I give myself a little language review. It’s an… September 19, 2017 at 4:46pm

  • Austenfan in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: This year I seem to really dislike September! Having all this gloomy weather doesn’t help. Still I will adjust in due course, as I always do. It’s nice to wear… September 19, 2017 at 4:33pm

  • Victoria in 5 Ways to Transition Into Fall: Oops, I meant the EDT! September 19, 2017 at 4:11pm

  • Danaki in Nazik Al-Malaika on Why Do We Fear Words: Indeed! This is a really good translation. I read Al-Malaika as part of the school curriculum for Arabic literature. There was her work, Nizar Qabbani and Jubran. And you have… September 19, 2017 at 3:43pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2017 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.