The perfume in the 80’s was loud, proud and would announce it’s arrival a long time before you entered a room, and stay a long time after you left. There were big bouquets of aldehydic florals and massive oriental spice bombs. I shouldn’t forget the HUGE jammy roses and the loud syrupy tuberoses either.
These fragrances, affectionately known as ‘Perfumes with Shoulder Pads’ by the #fumechat Tweeters are representative of the era, and whilst they may not be entirely popular today I have a real soft spot for them.
This is me in the 80’s, I was born towards the end of the decade so I missed out on the majority of the awesomeness although I do like to think I rocked some pretty impressive fashion during that time, take this pair of dungarees for example. Snazzy huh?
Anyway, less about me and more about the perfume! I have compiled a list of my top 5 80’s fragrances (shown below in order of release), a greatest hits if you like. The 5 that I’ve chosen, despite sharing nucleur longevity and sillage, are all very different and each showcase a different interpretation of the 80’s style of fragrances.
Yves Saint Laurent Paris 1983
Ahh Paris, the capital of fashion, the most romantic city in the world – how do you encapsulate the scent of Paris in a fragrance?
You employ Sophia Grojsman to do it, that’s how. I think it’s safe to say that Sophia Grojsman (she also did Calyx, Eternity and Beautiful etc) was the Queen of fragrances during the 80’s and in my opinion Paris is Grojsman at her absolute best.
Paris is all about bright pink roses and creamy violets. The rose is BIG, sour, almost wine like and the violets are soft and powdery. It’s a stunning scent and although it smells more than a little bit dated I get a kick out of wearing it, it shouldn’t fit but it does.
Chanel Coco 1984
Coco takes the heavy oriental spice and amber of fragrances like Opium and Cinnabar but lightens it with mandarin, jasmine and orange blossom. Coco is exceptionally well blended and it screams ‘Chanel’, the base is warm with rose, leather and sandalwood.
I’ve always thought Coco is quite remarkable because it seems like two different fragrances, smelling it close up and smelling the sillage are two different experiences.
Given the choice of Coco, Opium or Cinnabar I would choose Coco every time.
Christian Dior Poison 1985
No-no-no-torious! Poison was the bad girl of the 80’s, the vamp if you like. She would stay out all night and sleep all day. If Poison were a song she would be Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love.
Poison is a scandalous blend of syrupy fruit and huge white florals (tuberose, ylang ylang and jasmine), the base is chock full of incense, amber and musk. She smells of sour grapes, flowers and honeyed incense.
Poison is loud, proud and bombastic, she is a force to be reckoned with, a tour de force.
Estee Lauder Beautiful 1985
Beautiful has a special place in my heart because my mother always used to wear it, I hadn’t smelled it for a very long time (Mum stopped wearing it) until very recently. Smelling it for the first time since I was a child was a truly lovely experience, I bought a bottle almost immediately.
Beautiful opens with dewy orchard fruit, sweet, dewy and crisp, accompanied by bright, sparkly aldehydes. There are flowers, but like a lot of Lauder scents the impression is of a sweet floral bouquet, not individual floral notes. Beautiful is billed as a floral but it feels like a chypre, the base is mossy and dark and it perfectly balances out the sweetness of the bouquet.
Compared to a lot of 80’s fragrances Beautiful seems less than OTT but it certainly can fill a room and I think it’s the best and most well-made of all of the 80’s fragrances.
Guerlain Samsara 1989
Samsara came pretty late in the game and was Guerlain’s attempt at tapping into the 80’s trend of larger than life orientals. It’s a warm, exotic blend of heady jasmine and creamy sandalwood.
Samsara was very much a break from tradition for Guerlain, She is an odd bird with unusual nuances of coconut, almond and even burned rubber but she is most definitely a Guerlain, just with the volume turned right up.
I’ve never had the privilege of trying vintage Samsara but the buzz is that the new stuff doesn’t even come close.
Join the Discussion
I’d love to hear your thoughts about 80’s perfumes or just the 80’s in general, what were your memories of the decade?
Do you like 80’s fragrances?
What are your favourites?
Do you agree with the five that I have chosen?