Smell, as Helen Keller once said, is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived. A scent detonates softly, causing an explosion of memories and triggering powerful images and emotions.
Certain fragrances have the capacity unlock these nostalgic memories and emotions. A small whiff and we are carried back in time. A tiny dab on the wrist and it becomes a part of us and the memories of everyone we know. Such are the hallmarks of classic fragrances. They possess a timeless appeal, removed from the vagaries of trend. They are harmonious in an eternally beautiful way.
In this day and age when fragrance has become commoditised and more than a thousand new perfumes are launched every year, it’s easy to become confused and to be swept away by the latest celebrity trend.
For this reason, classic fragrances become the choice for many. As confusion reigns, classic fragrances could be the way to go. Created by master perfumers, these fragrances have stood the test of time. They have been huge best sellers in their times and continue to circulate in one form or another to this day.
Here are some of the classics to choose from:
A French phrase which means “the air of time”, Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps represents a feeling of liberation right after the 2nd World War. The glass doves that make the stopper has become a symbol of peace.
L’Air du Temps has a delicate floral fragrance with a blend of bergamot, musk and sandalwood added to a summer bouquet of gardenia, jasmine and clove-scented carnation. A bottle of this perfume is still sold every five seconds around the world.
Miss Dior is a couture fragrance in every sense of the word, right down to the bottle, which is a stylised interpretation of a tailored suit with square shoulders. It was created for an “elegant and spirited young woman in love.” At the time of its release in 1947, the perfume was an innovation in terms of women’s fragrance by using fresh green notes. The highly esteemed scent of Indonesian patchouli forms the base note of the perfume.
About 400 years ago, Emperor Shah Jahan of India fell deeply in love with Princess Mumtaz Mahal. As a symbol of his love for her, he had a garden built for the princess and named it Shalimar. When she died, he built a mausoleum in her honour and called it Taj Mahal. This love story captivated the imagination of Jacques Guerlain, who then created Shalimar, a classic soft amber perfume that has remained popular for 90 years. Shalimar was the first to contain vanilla note and ethyl vanillin, making it a leading benchmark among sensual perfumes of today.
Opium is an oriental spicy fragrance created by perfumers Jean Amic and Jean-Louis Sieuzac. Its launch in 1977 courted controversy as some people condemned its name as condoning drug use. The name may not have been socially responsible, but it certainly paid off for Yves Saint Laurent. For 35 years, Opium has been one of the world’s top selling scents.
For Coco Chanel, the number 5 was especially esteemed as signifying the pure embodiment of a thing, its spirit, its mystic meaning. It was in 1920 when Chanel chose the bottle labelled no. 5 when she was presented with glass vials numbered one to five and 20 to 24.
"I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck,” Chanel said. Described as smelling like a flower garden in the abstract, not one that ever existed in reality, Chanel No. 5 is arguably the best-known perfume in the world.
Last but definitely not the least, perfumer Henri Almeras created Joy for couturier Jean Patou. According to reports, the perfume was a reaction to the Wall Street crash that happened in 1929, which made a huge negative impact on the fortunes of Patou’s rich clients in USA.
Patou had it created to send as a gift to his wealthy American clients, and it is probably the only perfume that originated as a floral fix for financial woes. For many years, it was promoted as being the most expensive perfume in the world, and no wonder – it took 10,000 jasmine flowers and 28 dozen roses to create just 30ml of the perfume.
How about you – what’s your choice of timeless perfume? Make sure to share with us your captivating perfume of choice.