Words: Charlie Leeves
As part of our Fragrance Rewind series, our next stop is the scents of the 50s, 60s and 70s! We have carefully curated a selection of only the best from these decades – did you perhaps own any of them or maybe your parents did? It’s time to experience a blast!
The 50s were an interesting time, the fallout of WW2 was still being felt around the world and new art movements were emerging. Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art showed how society’s views had changed over the past decade with a shift towards mood and colour over traditional mediums and forms.
Although launched in 1948, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps became one of the defining fragrances of the 1950s. L’Air du Temps translates to “the air of the time”, this perfume aimed to capture in a bottle the atmosphere of a post WW2 world. Top notes of carnation and gardenia accord make this an iconic floral fragrance. Heart notes of jasmine and rosemary pair poetically with bold sandalwood base notes. The dove on top of the bottle is the symbol of peace and perfectly sums up this fragrance. It captures a moment in time and puts it in a bottle, the scent is calming and relaxing - no wonder it is still popular today.
The 50s are credited with inventing the Teenager. The UK saw the rise of Teddy Boys and in the States, Greasers tried to emulate the effortlessly cool James Dean. Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfectly embodies the spirit the youth who were emerging to be the biggest influences in fashion, beauty, and music. Youth Dew is a timeless female fragrance from the 50s made for the youth. It’s mixture of delicate floral notes and rich spices has led it to be labelled one of the sexiest fragrances of all time, quite fitting for a decade that boasted Hollywood stars like Marylyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. It’s in its duality that’s this scent finds its allure; no longer were female fragrances solely defined by floral scents. The top notes of rose and lavender are coupled with earthy moss and bold spices in the base notes. This fragrance embodied youth culture at the time and like most things from the 50s, its timeless nature makes it perfect for everyday wear today.
Labelled as the “Swinging Sixties”, this was the decade of love and counterculture. Out went the social norms of the previous half a decade and in came a new world of flamboyant clothing and the relaxation of social taboos.
One of the most defining moments of the 60s was Beatlemania. The Beatles not only influenced music, they influenced society as well allowing young people to express themselves in new ways.
The Beatles were able to hold onto the charm of decades gone by. They wore suits onstage and still bowed after each performance and this subtle sophistication is emulated in the fragrance Aramis. This fragrance embodies masculinity, top notes of citrus and bergamot play off the sage heart notes to create a full-bodied scent. Finally, raw base notes of leather and oak moss bring this fragrance to a close. This woody fragrance stands the test of time; it was perfect for adding that effortlessly classy touch to a decade known for a carefree attitude to life and it is still a favourite of many men today. In the words of The Beatles, “money can’t buy me love” but what it can buy is a fantastic fragrance…
Breakfast at Tiffany’s staring Audrey Hepburn was a standout films of the decade and cemented her as a style icon. It is therefore no surprise to see a fragrance like Hermes Caleche emerge during the decade. This was the first women’s fragrance produced by Hermes and it manages to capture the beauty of the 60s. Citrussy top notes of bergamot and orange blossom add a tangy zing to the scent. Floral jasmine and ylang-ylang sit weightlessly on the skin slowly emitting waves of seductiveness. Finally, cedarwood and oakmoss close this sent with a full-bodied goodbye. The class of the stars of the silver screen lives on in this fragrance, allow yourself to be a star of your own with Hermes Caleche.
The 70s were a decade of change, being described as the “Me Decade” by some historians. Gone were the feelings of togetherness that sprouted after the Second World War and in came the idea of individualism. Britain elected its first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the social changes that started in the 60s continued and picked up pace in the 70s.
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was released in the mid-70s. No one had ever experienced a song quite like it before, it managed to combine rock and opera seamlessly. Paco Rabanne Homme was a new fragrance in the 70s and just like Bohemian Rhapsody Paco Rabanne Homme was also the first of its kind - it was the first ever aromatic fougere, creating a whole new fragrance family! This aromatic scent combined lavender and thyme in the top notes giving the fragrance and airy lightness to it. The heart notes brought a clean feel to the scent with natural geranium and cloves. In keeping with natural element of the fragrance, base notes of tobacco and oak moss round off this fragrance. Paco Rabanne Homme was a trailblazer in the fragrance world and is still one of our favourites today.
This was also a decade full of controversy, the Watergate Scandal sent shockwaves across the world. Not to be outdone, the perfume world had a controversial fragrance as well. The fragrance was Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. It was almost stopped from being produced due to its name; however, it has endured these initial hardships to become one of the most popular fragrances of all time. This oriental scent combines mandarin orange and aldehyde in the top notes to give a rich flavour to the start of the fragrance. Soon carnation and patchouli add floral and herby notes to this alluring fragrance. Finally, classic touches of ambery accord end Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. If you want people to become addicted to you then this is the only fragrance, you’ll need.
There was a huge cultural shift from the 50s to the 70s moving away from collectivism to individualism which is reflected in the fragrances released during this time. Scents became bolder and more experimental but always held on to an air of classiness. My dad always says, “you can’t beat vintage”, maybe he has a point!
Vintage has never been cooler!
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