With grassy, herbal and sweet notes, Hardy Amies (Hardy Amies 1985) has a clean but slightly bold start. It almost smells like a vintage gourmet sugar coated candy… And it’s a little powdery. The petitgrain, rose and chamomile are airy but covered by sugary citrus. You almost want to eat it it smells so delectable… But that herbal quality freshens the entire thing to a point of wearability even on a hot summer day.
This is super sharp at the start (Charles of the Ritz 1978). The aldehydes and florals, with a very clear orris root and hyacinth, are intensely green. Enjoli could be called soapy but it’s practically too soapy to be called soapy… It almost becomes something else in a very 1980’s way. Almost medical? Matter of fact, this fragrance is the reason I was afraid of 1980’s and 70’s scents for years – I recall Enjoli from my childhood. It used to seem profoundly aloof… Now, however, I appreciate it. And yet, unlike how it was worn in the decade it primarily belongs to in my imagination, I will certainly not be dousing myself in it. A few sprays are more than enough to project well.
Top notes: aldehydes, green notes, peach, hiacynth and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, tuberose, orchid, orris root, jasmine and rose. Base notes: sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla, oakmoss and cedar.
Soapy clary sage, plum and tender, green carnation (Houbigant 1982) are rich and effusive. And vintage orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose and mimosa sing from the heart of Raffinée. Then orris root mixes with sandalwood and cypress to turn up the volume. Certainly there’s musk, vanilla, incense and vetiver but despite their presence the other notes are soboisterous (but not obnoxious) they become accompianments. This is a true saucy, beautiful, sweet and spicy 80’s gem. It’s definitely worth investigating.
Top notes: carnation, orange blossom, plum, clary sage, jasmine, lemon, bergamot and rose. Middle notes: mimosa, tuberose, tonka bean, orchid, osmanthus, orris root, hiacynth and ylang-ylang. Base notes: spices, cypress, sandalwood, cinnamon, musk, vanilla, vetiver and incense.
Instantly enchanting, Sabi (Henry Dunay 1998) is cool and sublime. The lush florals, specifically orange blossom, carnation, hyacinth, tuberose, and angelica combine with spice laden vetiver to create an aromatic wonder. It’s a crisp floral like Private Collection or White Linen but it has such an inviting and warm vanillic base that it’s unique. And then moment by moment you keep being reminded of the vetiver.
Top notes: Indian mandarin, carnation, angelica, orange blossom and bergamot. Middle notes: hyacinth, yellow narcissus, narcissus, jasmine, violet leaf and tuberose. Base notes: sandalwood, haitian vetiver, tonka bean and musk.
Nose: Richard Loniewski
Shanghai (Lenthéric 1911 and 1936) is a sweet, beautifully powdery citrus at the opening. But there’s also a spicy, herbal quality. Neroli is glazed. Lavender and rose are very cheerful. And a gentle, amber tinged styrax plays very well with the aldehydes. Intriguingly it’s almost too sweet for a hot summer day but only almost as it’s reminiscent of Aqua Di Parma Colonia and it refuses to be saccharine.
Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, cinnamon, clove, and citronella. Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, geranium, and lavender. Base notes: frankincense, cedarwood, tonka, vetiver, oak moss, myrrh, benzoin, amber, musk, and sandalwood
Although a simple fragrance in some regards Classic Gardenia (Dana 1995) is still a supple, fruity, slightly musky and lush soliflore. The tea-like wood notes are even a little opulent and as it wears on into the drydown a light, lacy subtlety emerges. For a gardenia lover the vintage of this is worth exploring…
Notes: woody notes, gardenia, and fruity notes.
Punchy, sharp and green orange blossom mixes with gummy jasmine and tuberose, 90’s bergamot, and orchid in Truly Lace (Coty 1992). Then ylang ylang, rose and lily-of-the-valley blast in although they don’t overshadow anything, especially the musk, amber and cedar that chime in slightly after. Finally, vanilla tinged oakmoss arrives. It’s very earthy and green while also being intensely floral. It perfectly matches the 1990’s does Victoriana motif of the label on the bottle.
Top notes: orange blossom, gardenia, green notes, fruity notes and bergamot. Middle notes: tuberose, orchid, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and rose. Base notes: sandalwood, amber, musk, oakmoss, vanilla and cedar.
A very vintage mandarin orange is flanked by a spicy, tea-like bergamot (Lucien Lelong 1936). Green, slightly bitter galbanum meets a subtle tuberose, woody (and slightly funky) herbal jasmine, sugary ylang ylang, and rounded rose. Indiscret is aptly named. It’d be smoky but it’s too floral… It is, however, fairly animalic and spicy. It’s not an easy “day fragrance” although it is somewhat ladylike and soft.
Top notes: mandarin orange, galbanum and bergamot. Middle notes: tuberose, iris, african orange flower, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and geranium. Base note: woodsy notes.
Nose: Jean Carles
Pretty, glittering and ephemeral with notes of lilac and a light, cheerful but lacy peony . (Estée Lauder 1995). Pleasures, a sparkling 90’s fragrance is fizzy from karo karunde being rendered with a deep but buoyant and agile base. Meant to be worn in spring.
In the late 90’s, Pleasures by Estée Lauder was worn by my shockingly beautiful cousin (not just being nice) who was ten years older than I was. I looked up to her a lot… So, when she one day decided to give me a bottle of her Estée Lauder Pleasures (one she said she didn’t want) I wore it and imagined I’d someday be as lovely as her.
Top notes: red berries, green notes, freesia, violet leaf, violet, pink pepper, and tuberose. Middle notes: karo karunde, jasmine, lilac, lily, geranium, rose, lily-of-the-valley and peony. Base notes: cedar, musk, patchouli and amber.
Nose: Anne Buzantian and Alberto Morillas
Vanilla Musk (along with Vanilla Fields) was a very nostalgic holiday scent to me (Coty 1994). It used to remind me of the distant past and the Bing Crosby songs we listened to during Christmas.
It is a sweet, buttery vanilla. Vanilla Musk is an effusive scent – a bit like what Bath and Body Works (among others) intended their warm vanilla fragrances to smell like. And what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in warmth and tenderness. With the perfect mix of cedar and sandalwood it’s burnt sugar vanilla. And the musk is very bright and embracing.
Notes: vanilla, musk, cedar and sandalwood.