The Top 5 Classic Perfumes

bathtub tray of chanel perfumes


Perfumes may come and go with the seasons, but a few special fragrances never go out of style. Here, we run down the five most classic fragrances from the past 100 years. You'll notice all of these launched in one of two specific decades: the roaring '20s or the 1940s, when America was recovering from World War 2 and people began spending money on beauty again.

These are the classic scents that launched to huge acclaim, and continue to be produced, worn, and loved by new customers today.

01 of 05

No. 5 Perfume by Chanel

In 1921, Coco Chanel is rumored to have asked perfumer Ernest Beaux to create something that "that smells like a woman, not a flower bed."

The resulting elixir would become the world's most iconic fragrance. An instant sales success when it was born, Chanel No. 5 remains the grande dame of perfume sales to this day, with a bottle sold worldwide every 30 seconds. Today, many celebrities, including Eva Mendes, Victoria Beckham, Jessica Alba, and Celine Dion reportedly wear Chanel No. 5, no doubt attracted by the brand's sophistication and classic image.

02 of 05

L'Air Du Temps Perfume by Nina Ricci

L'Air du Temps launched in 1948, in the aftermath of World War 2. To capture and celebrate the longed-for return to peace and optimism, the fashion house of Nina Ricci—known for its ethereal, flowing dresses—set out to develop an innovative new type of perfume for its female clients.

L'Air Du Temps ("the spirit of the times") was an instant sales success. The beautiful bottle, topped by intertwining doves, is still in production and decorating the vanity tables of elegant women around the world.

03 of 05

Joy Perfume by Jean Patou

When times get tough, a new perfume can't fix your finances, but it can take your mind off them for a while. In 1929, Parisian perfumer Jean Patou created Joy Perfume for his wealthy American patrons whose fortunes were ravaged by that year's Wall Street crash. Despite their financial losses and the high price of Patou's product, Joy was cheaper than couture, and women flocked to purchase it.

Patou's well-timed gamble paid off, and an instant classic was born. More than 80 years after its debut, Joy remains a consistently best-selling fragrance. In historical sales, it is out-ranked only by Chanel No. 5. 

04 of 05

Shalimar Perfume by Guerlain

With a name that literally means "temple of love" in Sanskrit, Shalimar is an amber-scented perfume that spawned a host of successful imitators. Guerlain's fragrance takes its name from the Indian Gardens of Shalimar, where Emperor Shah Jahan met the woman who inspired him to build the Taj Mahal. A runaway success since its birth in 1925, Shalimar's irresistible blend of fragrance notes have given it pride of place on the vanities of the world's most famous women from different generations including Rita Hayworth and Kate Moss. 

05 of 05

Miss Dior Perfume by Christian Dior

Miss Dior was the first perfume by Christian Diorlaunched in 1947, shortly after the success of the designer's groundbreaking New Look collection, which revolutionized women's fashion and reestablished Paris as the fashion capital of the world following World War 2.

"I created this perfume to clothe every woman in exquisite femininity, as though each of my gowns were emerging, one by one, from the bottle," Dior apparently said.

Miss Dior has undergone a makeover in the years since it was created. The perfume now referred to as "Miss Dior" is actually not the original fragrance. The classic fragrance is now called "Miss Dior Classic" and "Miss Dior Original." 

It still gets rave reviews on sites and remains a popular fragrance choice today. 

Up next: Check out 15 of the best retailers to buy perfume online.

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