The Scent of Mid Century

Fragrance evokes memories. It imprints nostalgia in the mind of the wearer and in those they come in contact with.

Whether getting dressed for a day at home with the family, an evening hosting guests for dinner, or a date night to the theater- Doris enjoys selecting perfume to match the mood. Here is a brief over some fragrances that were familiar to the Mid Century woman, and perhaps to you too.  

4711 is light, lemony and almost jasmine and orange blossom infused. The history of 4711 is what excites Doris the most. First made in 1792- 4711 is the oldest known Eau de Cologne that is still made to date. The original creator (residing in French occupied Germany) used a secret combination of essential oils and botanicals and sold it as a ‘Health Drink’. But when Napoleon decided that all medicinal goods must be labelled with exact contents, the maker did not want his secret recipe to be revealed. So he began marketing it solely as a fragrance! It is truly a gorgeous fragrance with a delightful old fashioned appearance. Doris highly recommends having a test next time you are in a pharmacy. The 1800s brought about famous personal care brand Yardley. Whose fragrances include Rose, Daisy, Violet & Lavender. Yardley was and still is very affordable and still creates authentic ranges that were heavily used throughout the early 1900s and beyond. The 1930s launched Joy which is still available today- and said to have been a favourite of many silver screen actresses. The 1940s & WWII Era brought with it some very frugal behaviours and cuts to most people’s luxury item budget. It also saw many women come out of the kitchen and into factory jobs. Rumour has it that Dana created Chantilly with women working the war in mind, and as such- factory workers would spritz themselves with this to make themselves feel more feminine. It is known as the “Rosie the Riveter” fragrance and was priced to be accessible during the times of the tighter purse strings. It is still affordable but a little hard to come by. Chanels’ No 5 was available from 1928. This classic scent however, arguably got its icon status in the 50’s after a line from an equally as iconic blonde bombshell. Chanel No 5 is strong in scent- and price point. A very affordable ‘dupe’ is Arpege, which launched in 1927 and was also extremely popular throughout the 1950s & 60’s. Tabu came on the scene in the 30’s but was popular from the 1950s and still sells out at the local pharmacy. Once described as the ‘forbidden perfume’ with seduction in mind. It smells of warm spicy sandalwood, amber, and even vanilla. It is glorious and it would be equally as sexy on a man or woman. Quelques Fleurs was available from 1913 to date, this was Princess Diana’s favourite. Although an icon later down the track, this fragrance was a luxury French perfume throughout the entire century. It has a strong white floral vibe, with a maternal comfort. 

Want to smell like your favorite icon?

Marilyn Monroe although famously claiming to wear Chanel No 5 to bed, is believed to have favoured a perfume called Rose Geranium’ by Floris. It is no longer produced in perfume, but available in bath products. I think it’s easy to imagine how it smelt. Lucille Ball is believed to have splashed herself with this unisex cologne, still available today- Florida Water. Elizabeth Taylor: created her own White Diamonds range, which we can safely assume was created based on her own tastes and perfume preference throughout the golden age of screen. Dolly Parton is known for having a humble taste for Mary Kay’s ‘intrigue’, sadly this is discontinued, but its spicy notes could be duped easily by Tabu. Ava Gardner wore a Rose infused Creed perfume which is sadly no longer available, However Grace Kelly’s wedding perfume Creed Fleurissimo is still available for a pretty penny. Jackie O’ & Vivien Leigh both were reported to have loved Joy by Jean Patou which is still popular today.