Sultry and somber Sun Moon Stars (Karl Largerfeld 1984) begins with a boozy pineapple and freesia. Meanwhile, a pungent jasmine, supple carnation, and a lily-of-the-valley wearing stilettos meet lotus. And sure, fruity, peach kissed sandalwood and vanilla add warmth and sugar but again, this fragrance is as ultimately blue and otherworldly as the bottle. Perhaps it’s the way the vanilla and pineapple come crashing into each other accompanied by a symphony of perfect notes moment by moment from start to finish. Whatever it is it’s certainly one of the most evocative scents in my collection.
Nose: Sophia Grojsman
Supple, citrus laced freesia haunts rose, tuberose and an orange blossom reminiscent of a perfectly sweet apple in Tendre Poison (Dior 1994). The asafoetida is melancholy and demure as it mixes gracefully with heliotrope, vanilla and rosewood. But always that apple-like sugary, loveliness returns. This is a definite beauty.
Top notes: bergamot, mandarin orange, asafoetida, and Brazilian rosewood. Middle notes: orange blossom, rose, freesia, tuberose, and honey. Base notes: heliotrope, vanilla, musk and sandalwood.
Nose: Edouard Flechier
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
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.
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.
Vintage Poême (Lancôme 1995) is round and luminous. The honey-hued florals are alternately soapy and juicy, and while that sounds rather odd it doesn’t present as anything but a perfect sort of beauty… Imagine taking a peach infused milk bath in a clawfoot bathtub with fresh mimosa, angel’s trumpets, freesia, and daffodil bouquets in a sunny, open windowsill nearby. It’s supple, rich and lovely with a slightly vanillic amber bitterness that illuminates the base creating a prismatic, warm light.
Top notes: peach, Himalayan poppy, plum, green notes, black currant, mandarin orange, datura, bergamot and narcissus. Middle notes: Rose, jasmine, freesia, leather, mimosa, orange blossom, tuberose, vanilla flower, ylang ylang, and heliotrope. Base notes: musk, amber, tonka bean, vanilla, orange blossom and cedar.
Nose: Jacques Cavallier
No. 4 (Jil Sander 1990) has a very warm, heady start. It’s a gorgeous oriental with particularly notable air anise and geranium that eventually mixes with nutmeg and myrrh to create spicy opulence. And, of course, being a late 80’s/early 90’s fragrance the florals are bold and beautiful. It’s perfect for a colder day as it sort of resembles mulled wine at times, but on a warmer day when the scent can fully bloom (especially the musk, patchouli and sandalwood), No. 4 is truly breathtaking and memorable.
An usually beautiful scent, Ballade À Venise (Roberto Capucci 1996) is honeyed yet bright and crisp. The olive blossom and passion fruit are gorgeous and the orange blossom and jasmine are anything but heavy. Like a warm sea breeze on a sunny day or a perfectly crisp green apple at its best, this is the most enjoyable kind if sweet.
Top notes: mandarin, orange blossom and marigold. Middle notes: olive blossom, ylang-ylang, jasmine and passion fruit. Base notes: galbanum.