Why we love old school perfumes

Old-school perfume

There are literally thousands upon thousands of fragrances on the market – from celebrity scents, to the fragrances created by designer fashion houses to the good old perfumes that have been around for ages. But even with the major influx of new fragrances every year, the older, classic scents are still the most popular.

What do we mean by classic? Well, Chanel No. 5 for example, is one of the best-selling fragrances of all time, and it’s been around since 1921! Filled with neroli and ylang ylang, this scent was famously given the number “5” as Chanel approved it on the perfumer’s fifth attempt.

Did you grow up smelling Opium by Yves Saint Laurent in your mother’s room? It’s been a firm favourite since its release in 1977. Guerlain Shalimar is still a popular choice today, and it was first released in 1925.

So why do we keep returning to these old scents? Partly because they take us on a trip down memory lane. Many of our mothers and grandmothers wore scents like Chanel No. 5, and when we smell it today, we are reminded of our childhood, and of them. Studies have shown that we link smells to emotion, so not only do they bring back happy memories, but they also make us feel happier.

Feeling the recession? During difficult financial times, we are more likely to stick to products we know, and associate with good quality, rather than to experiment with new products we’re unfamiliar with. Plus, as consumers we associate age with prestige. Think about the last advert you saw for jewellery, watches, sunglasses or cars… The most prestigious brands (think the Cartier’s and Rolex’s of the world) are proud of their heritage, and often refer to the brand’s age in ad campaigns. After all, if it’s been around for that long, it must be good, right!

Our final thought? Long ago, fragrances were designed to smell feminine and beautiful. Instead of creating bold, unusual or eccentric scents, perfumers used the limited technology and resources they had to create something that would appeal to as many women as possible. Because these scents are simple and still around, they never date, and we know we can turn to them, no matter what the occasion.

What is your favourite classic fragrance, Beauties?

Other articles you may be interested in:
Our top five fragrance balms
The story of perfume
Your perfume personality
How to wear perfume
Fragrances for different ages

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29 Responses

  1. You don’t get more BEAUTIFULLY old school than Guerlain Shalimar. As James Bond would say: “Sometimes, the old ways are the best.” Can’t argue with Mr Bond. Can we?

  2. I love timeless perfumes in particular Chanel No.5… its classic, sophisticated and the notes make a statement about an individual. Chanel No. 5 communicates an i have arrived message, a talk to me, do you see me and feel my presence message.

  3. Classic perfumes are classic for a reason…women love them and a lot of the newer fragrances seem to be ‘inspired’ by these timeless ones…

  4. My grandmother use to use a perfume – I think it was called 47. We cant seem to find it anymore, was always a struggle to get it when birthdays and christmas came around

    1. My gran also used to use it! its called 4711 and it came in a green and gold bottle; haven’t seen on the shelves for years

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