There is a certain allure that comes with the classics, and this is especially true of fragrances. For example, Marie Antoinette wore “Jardin Secret,” a fragrance by Parisian perfume house Lubin that was rediscovered and revived as “Black Jade” in 2011. A spicy chypre floral, Jardin Secret/Black Jade is opulent and feminine– the scent embodiment of Marie Antoinette herself. That’s the power behind perfume: its ability to complement and create identity, which is an important aspect of being a public figure.
Here’s a roundup of historical fragrances with their famous fans. Let’s take a look!
Jicky by Guerlain
Worn by Brigitte Bardot, Jicky is considered the first “modern” perfume in the industry’s history. It was the first “abstract perfume” in a sea of “figurative perfumes,” and is the oldest perfume in continuous existence (it was first manufactured in 1889).
Created by Aime Guerlain (the son of the Guerlain’s founder Pierre Guerlain), Jicky was inspired by a young woman Aime was enamored with. The juxtaposition of bright and aromatic top notes with a warm, spicy base makes this Oriental Fougere contrasting and surprising, much like the dynamic duality of coy sensuality that Bardot was famous for.
Shalimar is another legendary perfume from the house of Guerlain. In production since 1921, it was actually the result of a playful experiment by Jacques Guerlain (Aime’s nephew). One day, Jacques poured a whole bottle of sweet vanillin into Jicky, and Shalimar was born.
Shalimar, which means “temple of love” in Sanskrit, was a direct product of the 1920’s fascination with the Far East. While Art Deco style flourished and films like Casablanca glamorized Morocco, Guerlain took inspiration from the Taj Mahal and the mythical gardens of Pakistan. Heady, exotic, and mysterious, Shalimar is not for the faint of heart, and has thus been popular with many starlets and entertainers.
Joy by Jean Patou
Declared by Jackie O. as her signature scent, Joy is one of the most successful fragrances in history and is respectfully referred to as “the world’s most expensive perfume.”
With 10,600 jasmine flowers and 336 roses, Joy smells like “a light avalanche of flowers from the east and west” according to the Patou website. It is a white floral in its purest sense. Decadent yet delicate, and classy like no other, just like Jackie O.
Chanel No. 5 by Chanel
Chanel No. 5 is arguably the most iconic fragrance of all time. Launched in 1921, Chanel No. 5 was a trailblazer and a multitude of “firsts.” It was the first to be created specifically for women (historically, fragrances were unisex); the first to be marketed by a fashion house; and the first created using revolutionary alchemy techniques. It was also the first to be advertised during the Super Bowl, and the only perfume immortalized in Andy Warhol’s art.
The story goes that Chanel’s perfumer Ernest Beaux made a variety of vials for Coco Chanel to test out, and she chose the fifth vial, hence the name. An intoxicating blend of rose, jasmine, and aldehydes, it is very widely worn. But the most well-known of its wearers is Marilyn Monroe, who famously said that Chanel No. 5 was all she wore to bed.