Vintage Perfumes; What’s Still Available and What Celebrities Wore

There will always be something seductive and overtly glamorous about perfume; it’s a very personal thing and can be apart of your identity. I remember being young and opening my mother’s bathroom cabinet and looking upon the beautiful bottles of perfume and hoping she would let me have a spritz or two. It was always a special day when mum would spray one spritz onto my top before I went to school, I felt so special and powerful even though I’m sure the other kids thought nothing of it. Many perfumes have come and gone on the market for hundreds of years but some still remain ever so popular. If you’re a vintage lover, I have comprised a list of vintage perfumes that are still available for purchase today. Are any of these going to be your new signature scent?
Photos by Red Leopard Photography


Miss MonMon with one of her favourite vintage perfumes, Chanel No. 5. Photographed by Red Leopard Photography.

4711 (1792)
This is the world first Eau de Cologne and one of the most recognisable scents ever created. Designed by Giovanni Maria Farina, it features notes of orange oil, basil, peach, musk, melon, lily and sandalwood. The Original Eau de Cologne 4711, is named after its location at Glockengasse No. 4711. Link here. 

Chanel No.5 (1921)
Probably one of the most recognisable perfumes of all time, it became even more famous after Marilyn Monroe famously said she wears it to bed and nothing else. The perfume features notes of rose, jasmine, citrus and vanilla for an incredible sensual scent. Link here

Guerlain Shalimar (1925)
This perfume was the first-ever oriental fragrance; it was inspired by the Garden of Shalimar which emperor Shah Jaham built for his wife. It has notes of bergamot, rose, jasmine and tonic bean. Link here

Bourjois Evening in Paris (1928)
With notes of bergamot, apricot, peach, rose, sandalwood and vanilla; this scent was immensely popular until it was discontinued in 1969. It was later reorchestrated and relaunched in 1992 after the company remanded itself. 

Houbigant Chantilly (1941)
With notes of fruit, citrus, spice, rose and leather; this was considered the ‘Rosie the Riverter’ of fragrances. It was designed and marketed for women working in the war effort. Link here

Evian White Shoulders (1945)
An iconic choice for the sophisticated lady, this perfume features long-lasting notes of gardenia, lilac, jasmine, amber and musk. Link here. 

Miss Dior (1947)
Still a very popular perfume today, Miss Dior features notes of a green chore, earthy galbanum and jasmine. It’s a sophisticated and feminine scent that’s lingering and beautiful.  Link here. 

Estee Lauder Youth Dew (1953)
This was the first perfume to encourage women to buy it for themselves as opposed to wait for it to be gifted to them by gentlemen. It features notes of rose, lavender, spices, moss and patchouli. Link here

Revlon Charlie (1973)
The scent of the young working woman; this perfume was designed to appeal to all women who were moving towards the office and the workspace and became exceptionally popular in the 80s with the businesswomen movement. With scents of hyacinth, gardenia, violet and musk. Link here

Yves Saint Laurent Opium (1977)
With deep scents of mandarin, myrrh and amber, this perfume was considered quite scandalous because of its name and was actually banned by several countries. This, in turn, helped its popularity and it became a very coveted scent and highly sought after. Link here


Miss MonMon with one of her favourite vintage perfumes, Chanel No. 5. Photographed by Red Leopard Photography.

If you are struggling to decide on a signature scent for yourself, perhaps look into some of the favoured scents of vintage celebrities for some further inspiration.

Marilyn Monroe: Whilst filming Some Like it Hot, it was revealed that Monroe was delivered under an alias in bulk Floris Rose Geranium perfume to her Beverly Hills Hotel. With notes of rose, geranium, citronella and sandalwood, the perfume has since been discontinued but is available as a bath essence.

Grace Kelly: whilst walking down the aisle in 1956, Kelly was perfumed with Creed Fleurissimo. This perfume was specially commissioned for her by her fiancé Prince Rainer to compliment her wedding bouquet and features notes of bergamot, tuberose, Florentine Iris and Bulgarian Rose.

Elizabeth Taylor: the first celebrity to put her name to a fragrance and launch a perfume empire, she is remembered for scents such as White Diamonds (one of the best selling celebrity fragrances of all time), Forever and Passion. Before this, Taylor favoured  Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles created in 1962. Worn on the set of Cleopatra, it features notes of orange blossom, sandalwood, vanilla and rosemary.

Dorothy Dandridge: the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, Dandridge was known for wearing Tabu by Dana. This seductive fragrance was supposedly created as a scent for prostitutes to wear (although this was never absolutely proven), it carried the tagline of “tabu – the forbidden fragrance”. It includes notes of bergamot, clove, rose, amber, moss, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.

Vivien Leigh: Clark Gable recounted that upon his first meeting with Leigh on the set of Gone with the Wind, that she smelled like violets. Considered a popular scent for movie starlets, Joy by Jean Patou was a favourite of Leigh as well as Olivia de Haviland, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson.

Audrey Hepburn: created especially for Hepburn by Givenchy, L’Interdit (meaning ‘forbidden’ in French) in 1957. It was rumoured that Hepburn didn’t want the scent to be released but it was eventually marketed and released to the public in the 1960s. It featured notes of bergamot, rose, jasmine, violet and sandalwood. Later in her life, Hepburn wore Creed Spring Flower, which was another perfume created especially for her.

I loved researching vintage perfumes for this post; if you would like more information, I highly recommend Laura Jane Atelier and her blog and video on the same topic. Laura Jane is a beautiful person with a wonderful youtube channel. It’s a lot of fun so go and check her out!


Photos by Red Leopard Photography


Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way.

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