Classic Women's Perfumes

These days, it seems like anyone can make a perfume . Nearly every celebrity has his or her own fragrance  (or fragrance line) on the market. We personally blame Elizabeth Taylor; who knew White Diamonds would unleash such a torrent of designer  and celebrity perfumes ? Whatever happened to the good old days of signature scents like Chanel No.5 ? Don't fear, we have all those oldies but goodies here for those ladies who'd rather have Dior  than Hello Kitty , guaranteed to suit any situation, day  or night.

Perfume in the 1920's-1940's

A breakthrough period in perfume, the birth of many iconic scents occurred between 1920 and as late as 1950, depending on whom you ask. More natural, feminine  scents were popular and remain iconic; jasmine as a base or middle note  seems especially popular with the following.

The Early Years

Chanel No. 5 by Chanel 

Launched in 1921, this is everything that Coco Chanel dreamed of: "a woman's fragrance that smells like a woman." Top notes include ylang ylang, neroli, and aldehydes. Jasmine and mayrose are at the heart, and the dry down consists of vetiver and sandalwood.

Shalimar by Guerlain 

The standard oriental perfume. Launched in 1925, this fragrance is simple, subtle, yet beautiful. You'll be swept away by its notes of patchouli, vanilla, bergamot, lemon, jasmine, incense, and rose.

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci 

Created in 1948, L'Air du Temps fresh, feminine, and truly timeless. This spicy floral contains notes of jasmine, gardenia, iris, carnation, chrysanthemum, musk, and sandalwood.

Joy by Jean Patou 

Born in 1930, this perfume's high concentration of its jasmine and rose notes helped make it one of the most expensive perfumes of its day. It can be a bit overwhelming to some noses. Now, it's surely a classic that you'll either love or hate.

Miss Dior by Christian Dior 

Created in 1947 by the infamous and iconic Christian Dior, this scent has recently changed its name to Miss Dior Cherie . No matter what you choose to call it, this floral is sophisticated, yet soft and youthful at the same time.

Perfume in the 1950's and 1960's

 A more versatile time for perfume, with companies like Estée Lauder launching coordinated scented bath products , oils, and perfumes. This is also a time where the perfume bottles  themselves became master works  of art, with feminine silhouettes or circular simplicity.

Fifties and Sixties

Youth Dew Amber Nude by Estée Lauder 

Youth Dew was first created in 1953, but has recently been updated by Tom Ford. The original was a blend of spicy, oriental top notes and a strong clove, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, rose, and orchid heart. The base notes consisted of amber, tolu, benzoin, vanilla, and patchouli. However, the updated version is softer, more mild, and certainly more enjoyable for today's noses. The difference is the substitution of the spice for fruit and flowers, making it rich but well-balanced, powdery, and feminine and sexy.

Diorissimo by Christian Dior 

Created in 1956, this scent is extremely feminine and floral. Through top notes of muguet or lily of the valley, Dior created a hopeful, spring-like perfume that doesn't overpower. It is said to be the scent that bares Dior's soul, adding a certain iconography as well. The jasmine base notes can give some headaches, but all in all this is perfectly girly.

Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez 

This exotic scent is a floral oriental. Its main notes are jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, and musk. There is also a splash of rose thrown in there amongst notes of nag champa, spice, and vanilla. Bal à Versailles can be worn as a daytime scent and transitions well into an evening and special event fragrance.

Perfume in the 1970's

Chypre was big in this decade, though the overall goal of designers was to create something sexy and seductive . Spicy scents and more complex fragrances helped revolutionize an industry previously run by small houses, making way for new designers and perfumes  by prominent fashion labels.


Opium by Yves Saint Laurent 

Perhaps the sexiest scent of all time, this oriental perfume will blow you away. The notes of dark incense and sandalwood are exotic and seductive.

Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel 

This white floral became a huge hit among young women in the late 1970's. It is composed of lily, hyacinth, and carnation with top notes of orange blossom. The incense and spice are what give it a more classic feel despite its lightness and airy floral heart.

White Linen by Estée Lauder 

This is perfect for everyday wear. Notes include aldehydes, peach and citrus, rose, jasmine, lilac, muguet, ylang-ylang, cedar, honey, amber, civet, and tonka bean. You'll love how it'll remind you of a summer morning, even on winter nights.

Perfume in the 1980's

A time for bold declarations, with designers competing for trendy young consumers  and promising the next big signature  fragrance. Linear scents, which have a consistent smell rather than revealing different notes through out the day, began to really shine in this era. Musky scents  have also been popular in recent years. Colognes  for men  became more widespread around this time as well.


Coco by Chanel 

Become a strong, fierce, stylish woman like Coco with this dramatic perfume. It's perfectly sexy and confident. The top notes are fruity like a Sunday morning mimosa, but quickly fade into a warm floral heart of rose, jasmine, and orange flower. Bits of vanilla and amber linger long enough to make your mouth water. It's a sensuous treat good enough to eat.

Obsession by Calvin Klein 

Sexy. Bold. Steamy adverts in black and white. We can all joke about Obsession's ad campaign, but it truly is a sensual fragrance. The source of the seductive scent? Notes of bergamot, rose, mandarin, orange blossom, jasmine, coriander, tagete, and armoise, and oakmoss, and amber make up this perfume.

Samsara by Guerlain 

This scent is easy to love. Launched in 1989, this perfume is strong, but perfect for fall and winter. You'll love its notes of jasmine, warm sandalwood, soft rose, narcissus, tonka bean, and powdery vanilla.

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