Perfumes from the 1950s were a personal statement
But the 50s did something more profound: It changed how we thought about perfume. No longer just a luxurious accessory, perfume evolved into a personal statement, reflecting individuality and personality.
Women began to choose fragrances that were more than just pleasing to the nose — they chose scents that felt like an extension of themselves.
This shift set the stage for the timeless perfumes we adore today. Think about the classic floral notes of Joy, or the mysterious attraction of Chanel No. 5. These iconic fragrances from the 1950s still hold a special place in our hearts and on our dressing tables.
Memories in a bottle
These perfumes do more than just smell wonderful; they capture the 50s’ spirit. They’re like bottled memories, each spray transporting us back to a time of optimism, sophistication, and elegance. Each scent serves as a nostalgic time capsule, allowing us a sensory journey back in time.
What perfumes were launched in the 1950s?
The 1950s was a prolific era for the launch of several iconic perfumes that have stood the test of time. Here are some notable fragrances that were introduced during that period:
Diorissimo by Christian Dior (1956): Diorissimo, a floral scent created by legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, was intended to embody the smell of the lily-of-the-valley, which Christian Dior considered his lucky flower.
Youth Dew by Estée Lauder (1953): Initially released as a bath oil that doubled as a perfume, Youth Dew became a groundbreaking success. This oriental spicy fragrance was an affordable luxury that allowed women to buy their own perfume, a shift from the tradition of women receiving perfumes as gifts from men.
L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (1950): L’Air du Temps, which translates to “the air of time,” captured the optimism and change of the post-war period. The fragrance is a blend of floral and spicy notes encased in a bottle with a distinctive pair of intertwining doves on the cap, a symbol of peace.
Vent Vert by Balmain (1953): Originally released in 1947, Vent Vert was reformulated and relaunched in 1953. This fragrance was noted for its intense green and fresh notes, a departure from the heavy, opulent fragrances popular at the time.
What are the most popular perfumes from the 1950s?
Here are 10 of the most popular perfumes of the 1950s, from luxury labels to more accessible brands:
Chanel No. 5: This iconic perfume, characterized by its rich composition of aldehydes and florals, was a favorite among many women in the 50s for its elegance and sophistication.
Youth Dew by Estée Lauder: Launched in 1953, Youth Dew was a game-changer in the perfume industry, appealing to consumers with its spicy, sensual aroma.
L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci: Introduced in 1948, its popularity soared throughout the 50s. It was recognized for its spicy floral scent and beautifully designed bottle.
Avon’s Topaze: Being one of Avon’s most popular scents, Topaze was adored for its rich, spicy aroma. Its affordability, coupled with Avon’s door-to-door sales model, broadened its reach significantly.
Emeraude by Coty: A part of Coty’s impressive fragrance line-up, Emeraude was appreciated for its Oriental floral scent, making it a favorite in many households.
Prince Matchabelli’s Wind Song: This 1953 introduction made a lasting impression with its bright and spicy scent, making it a beloved choice of the era.
Shalimar by Guerlain: Despite being launched in the 1920s, Shalimar remained a top pick throughout the 1950s with its intoxicating blend of exotic florals and vanilla notes.
Joy by Jean Patou: Known as the ‘world’s most expensive perfume’ at the time, Joy continued its reign as a luxury favorite in the 1950s with its opulent, floral composition.
Diorissimo by Christian Dior: Launched in 1956, Diorissimo quickly became a favorite for its fresh, lily-of-the-valley scent, embodying the spirit of Dior in the 50s.
Miss Dior by Christian Dior: Originating in the late 1940s, Miss Dior with its chypre floral notes was a staple in the perfume wardrobes of many 1950s women.
Each of these scents contributed to the vibrant and diverse olfactory landscape of the fifties, from the luxury labels to the more accessible brands, making the decade a truly transformative time in the world of perfumery.
The enduring impact of perfumes from the 1950s
And the influence of the 1950s didn’t end with the close of the decade. Today’s perfume creators often turn to the past for inspiration, echoing the timeless charm of those vintage fragrances. The enduring popularity of these scents says it all: they’re more than just things that smell good — they’re bottles of nostalgia.
The allure of the 50s perfume continues to infuse modern fragrances, reminding us that this decade’s impact on the fragrance world is far from forgotten.
MORE PERFUMES BY DECADE: 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s
Joy perfume and powder – Jean Patou (1950)
Its opulent bouquet of roses and jasmine became a benchmark for all luxury floral perfumes, exuding an extravagant aura that was desired by many women in the 50s.
Perfume from the 1950s: Coty
In particular, L’Aimant, originally launched in the 1920s, was a popular choice in the 1950s. Its powdery, floral notes made it a beloved scent of the decade, offering an affordable luxury to women all over the country.
Coty perfume gift sets & bottle designs from 1950
Fragrances: L’Origan, L’Aimant, Emeraude, Paris, Muguet de Bois
Coty perfume atomizers set: Glass bottles with rubber spray bulbs (1950)
Coty Fragrances – Emeraude and L’Aimant (1954)
Friendship’s Gardens Liquid Petals cream perfume by Shulton (1952)
Muguet des Bois perfume from Coty (1950s)
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Bright Secret Perfume by Tussy Woman (1956)
Shulton fragrance and perfume gift sets for women (1957)
Aromas featured: Escapade, Friendship Garden, and Early American Old Spice (for women)
Perfume from the 1950s: Chanel No. 5
Thanks to the promotion by the Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe, who famously claimed to wear “just a few drops of No. 5” to bed, the fragrance became synonymous with allure and femininity.
Chanel No 5 perfume & other fragrances (1952)
Fragrances available in toilet water, eau de cologne, face powder, soap, bath powder and talc: Bois Des Iles, Gardenia, No 22, Russia Leather, No 5
Perfume from the 1950s: Prince Matchabelli
Prince Matchabelli made a mark with its uniquely designed crown-shaped perfume bottles and memorable fragrances. Wind Song, introduced in 1953, was one of their iconic releases that decade. It carried a spicy floral scent that was quite distinctive, becoming a favorite of many women throughout the decade.
Prince Matchabelli Wind Song perfume (1959)
1950s fragrance sets (1957)
Prince Matchabelli… He was a prince of royal blood, with a most unusual hobby, perfume! He created individual scents to dramatize the personalities of many notable women throughout the world. And, so well-known did these perfumes become, that he soon made his pleasure his business.
The royal crown bottle inspired by his family crest still symbolizes Prince Matchabelli’s royal family of fine fragrances… haunting Stradivari… adventurous Wind Song… romantic Beloved… exciting Added Attraction… and luxurious Abano.
Each year these exciting fragrances are presented in a new and festive collection of fine gifts for you to give… or receive. See them now… from $1 to $45. And remember… especially at Christmas… every woman deserves a crown!
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Perfume from the 1950s: Yardley
Classic Yardley English Lavender perfume (1955)
Yardley Bond Street perfume bottle from 1950
Bond Street, Lavender & April Violets fragrances by Yardley (1957)
Which of these lovely, lingering scents is for you? The vibrant sophistication of Bond Street? Delicately exotic Lotus? Perhaps it’s April Violets, rain-sweet and incurably romantic. Or is your one and only love the fresh, lighthearted gaiety of Lavender? Not an easy choice to make—but a delightful one. These toilet waters and colognes from $1.35 plus tax.
Yardley spray mist fragrances (1958)
Mists available: Flair, English Lavender, April Violets and Bond Street
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4711 eau de cologne from 1959/1960
Houbigant perfumes & gift sets from the 50s
Quelques Fleurs & La Parfum Ideal (1954)
Chantilly perfume & eau de toilette (1954)
Chantilly Liquid Skin Sachet perfume (1952)
Evening in Paris vintage fragrance (1956)
20 carats perfume by Dana in a glass bottle (1957)
Vintage Max Factor Electrique fragrance sets (1954)
Perfume from the 1950s: Avon
Avon was a name known for its accessibility and variety. The company’s direct-selling model, with Avon ladies going door-to-door, brought fragrances right to the homes of American women. Some of their popular offerings during the 50s included “To a Wild Rose”, “Here’s My Heart”, and “Somewhere”, each with their unique olfactory profiles to suit different personal tastes.
Vintage Avon colognes from 1952
Perfume from the 1950s: Here’s my Heart fragrance from Avon (1958)
Vintage Avon cologne bottles from 1957
Fragrance bottles shown: Forever Spring, Nearness cologne, Elegante, Bright Night, To a Wild Rose, Cotillion
Persian Wood fragrance family from Avon (1957)
I am your Avon Representative and I bring you fragrance news: Expect me with the new Persian Wood fragrance family… and a preview of Avon’s exciting Christmas Gifts.
Persian Wood Mist Spray Cologne has won so many devotees that Avon has added three other delightful ways to use this exciting fragrance. There’s news in Persian Wood Spray Perfume which gives a measured application! There’s news in Persian Wood Lotion Sachet, fragrance in cream lotion form! Persian Wood Beauty Dust in the refillable container!
Perfume from the 1950s: Lentheric
Toilet essence in Tweed and Repartee ((1951)
“A reminder that you were there… and may come back again”
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Tweed, Shanghai, Dark Brilliance, Miracle & Adam’s Rib (1959)
TWEED: Beloved for its woodland freshness… Tweed Bath Powder and Cologne Duo, $3 Tweed Toilet Water Mist, 3-oz. spray-flacon, $3 Tweed Perfurne, 1-oz., $14 Tweed Perfumagic, purse perfume atomizer, $5.50
SHANGHAI: Captures the mood of the Orient! Shanghai Perfume, 1/2 ounce, $10
DARK BRILLIANCE: Most truly, splendor set to fragrance … Dark Brilliance Perfume, 3/4-oz., $18.50 Dark Brilliance Duo-Bath Powder and Toilet Water, $4.50
MIRACLE: Scent ahead of its time … dazzling! Miracle Both Powder and Cologne Duo, $3 Miracle Perfume, 1/2-oz., $10
ADAM’S RIB: Perfect compliment to Christmas Eves. Adam’s Rib Perfume, 1-oz., $18.50 – Adam’s Rib Both Powder and Toilet Wster Duo., $4.50
Nostalgia perfume by Parfums Monteil (1959)
Perfume from the 1950s: Trapeze bottle from Corday (1959)
DON’T MISS THIS! Beautiful perfumes of the 1960s: 60+ classic fragrances you might remember