12 Most Classic Perfumes Of All Time

As Tony Cane-Honeysett once said “Fashions may go out of style but style never goes out of fashion.” This is incredibly true in the world of fragrance. Many come and go, but the most classic perfumes of all time seem to have style built into their very DNA.

Let’s travel back in time and take a fresh look at 12 classic perfumes from the past that are still highly relevant and available today. We review everything from the bottle design, the scent, longevity, individual perfume notes and when best to wear.

Most Classic Perfumes Of All Time

Before we dive in, here is a quick overview of the most classic perfumes of all time that we review fully today. Each of these fragrances oozes style. All are worthy contenders for a place in your perfume collection, so perhaps consider owning at least one of these classic fragrances.

  1. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent
  2. Chanel No. 5
  3. Shalimar by Guerlain
  4. Miss Dior Originalle
  5. Coco Mademoiselle
  6. Hypnotic Poison by Dior
  7. Le Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier
  8. J’adore by Dior
  9. Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent
  10. Dune by Dior
  11. Obsession by Calvin Klein
  12. Joy Forever by Jean Patou
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12 Most Classic Perfumes Of All Time

To be deemed one of the the most classic perfumes of all time, a fragrance needs both style and a certain edginess about it. Some are classic due to their heritage, others because they simply took the world by storm when first introduced. The following 12 deserve your careful consideration.

1. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent Opium Eau de Parfum
Yves Saint Laurent Opium Eau de Parfum

Review

First up is the flagship scent from the house of Yves Saint Laurent. This intensely alluring perfume is responsible for establishing the brand as a pioneer of women’s fragrances. From grandmothers to granddaughters, Opium has always been viewed as one of the most elegant scents a woman can wear.

Striking, bold, intense, and alluring are just a sampling of the words that can be used to describe this most captivating of fragrances. As the name would imply, Yves Saint Laurent Opium Eau de Parfum is powerfully addicting and will have you hooked from the first moment you inhale its lovely aroma which counts myrrh and patchouli as just a few members of its complex blend of essential notes.

This is not just an evening fragrance, it is THE evening fragrance to end all other contenders. You can wear this robust perfume on any night that you wish to be revered by those who are lucky enough to be graced by your presence.

This powerful fragrance is extremely long-lasting and a little bit goes a long way.

The glass flacon that encapsulates Yves Saint Laurent Opium perfume was redesigned in 2009, yet it retains some elements of the famous original. An amber-tone bottle sculpted to resemble bamboo, a golden glass-etched label, and a beautifully rounded golden stopper work together to contain this masterpiece aroma.

Top Notes:

Mandarin orange, bergamot, and lily of the valley

Mid Notes:

Myrrh, jasmine, and carnation

Base Notes:

Opoponax, amber, patchouli, and vanilla

Price & Reviews

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2. Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5
Chanel No. 5

Review

I feel that over the years Chanel N°5 has become one of the most iconic fragrances that simply oozes style and sophistication.

In 1921 that the Russian-born French perfumer Ernest Beaux was commissioned by the fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel to create “a woman’s perfume with a woman’s scent”, rare and powerful.

The fifth sample was chosen and simply named N°5.

Worn most famously by Marilyn Monroe.

A combination of Rose and Jasmine and Vanilla give a powdery scent that’s timeless and unmistakably Chanel N°5.

The bottle itself is integral part of the N°5 overall experience with it’s sharp clean edges and minimalist design.

Top Notes:

Neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot, amalfi lemon and aldehydes

Mid Notes:

Iris, jasmine, orris root, rose and lily-of-the-valley

Base Notes:

Vetiver, musk, sandalwood, patchouli, oak moss, amber, vanilla

Price & Reviews

You can check the latest pricing, see customer reviews and shop online at one of these well known stores:

3. Shalimar by Guerlain

Shalimar by Guerlain
Shalimar by Guerlain

Review

Shalimar is warm and intoxicating and once smelled will never be forgotten, It is an intense and inspiring fragrance, which has held its popularity for many years so that it now seems traditionally synonymous with romance and love.

The lingering scents of iris and rose are introduced by a delicate and romantic bergamot fragrance which is instantly appealing and light, This sweet combination gives way to a striking base of vanilla and opoponax for an original signature scent.

Shalimar is irresistibly sensual and best worn in the evening for an indulgent and alluring scent that is at once disarming and sweet. Its hot warm notes make it powerful and sexy, ideal for a night out.

The oldest perfume on my list, Shalimar was designed by Guerlain almost one hundred years ago and is one of the first oriental perfumes to become widely popular. It was inspired by the stunning love story of the Indian Emperor Shah Jahan who dedicated the Taj Mahal to his loved one, and this perfume is almost as wondrous as The Taj Mahal itself.

Even the bottle won a prize at the Paris Decorative Arts exhibition on its launch in 1925, as its goblet shaped bottle is meant to represent the pools of the Shalimar Gardens and its splayed lid signifies the streams of water running into the pools. The rich gold colour of the liquid represents the indulgent decadence and wealth of the Emperor.

Top Notes:

Bergamot

Mid Notes:

Rose, jasmine, iris

Base Notes:

Rose, jasmine, iris

Price & Reviews

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4. Miss Dior Originalle

Miss Dior Original Eau De Toilette
Miss Dior Originale Eau De Toilette By Dior

Review

Being the first perfume created by Christian Dior’s fragrance house, Miss Dior Originale started their journey towards becoming a behemoth in the industry. Everyone from elite royalty to Hollywood starlets basked in its elegance and celebrated its existence. To this day, it is one of the best Dior perfumes that you can buy.

Miss Dior Originale Eau de Toilette is a surprisingly simple fragrance that offers only three aromatic notes, however, this classic combination has definitely withstood the test of time thanks to its bright, floral freshness.

Being a fresh and uncomplicated fragrance, Miss Dior Originale Eau de Toilette is perfect for daytime use during the spring season.

This perfume has a moderate to long-lasting longevity so you may require one or two additional applications throughout the day, depending on your preference.

Miss Dior Originale is beautifully presented in a classic glass bottle design with a simple white label and gold lettering.

Top Notes:

Galbanum

Mid Notes:

Jasmine sambac

Base Notes:

Patchouli

Price & Reviews

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5. Coco Mademoiselle

Coco Mademoiselle by CHANEL
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel

Review

Coco Mademoiselle is instantly attractive due to its light introductory fruity top notes. This intricate blend soon gives way to an intoxicating combination of warm orientals and musks that leave you wanting more.

It is seductive but also youthful and fresh with a sense of carefree fun and chic sophistication. Turkish rose gives it an exotic element that, combined with warm orange and rich opoponax, gives it a sensuous power.

A versatile fragrance, Coco Mademoiselle is suitable for both day and evening wear as its alluring vanilla and musk makes it powerful enough for an evening out while its refreshing orange fragrance makes it a romantic choice for a day perfume.

It is ideal for an event like a wedding where it will be equally suited to the day and night celebrations.

Designed by Polge, Coco Mademoiselle has rightfully earned its place as a stalwart in the Coco Chanel collection. The solid, rectangular bottle gives it an air of authority and its clean crisp lines reflect its fresh, bold character.

Top Notes:

Orange blossom, mandarin orange, bergamot, orange

Mid Notes:

Ylang ylang, Turkish rose, jasmine, mimosa

Base Notes:

Opoponax, vanilla, tonka bean, white musk, patchouli and vetiver

Price & Reviews

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6. Hypnotic Poison by Dior

Hypnotic Poison by DIOR
Hypnotic Poison by DIOR

Review

Hypnotic Poison Eau de Parfum is supposed to represent a more naughty aspect of the fragrance world and is another one of the creations by Francois Demachy.

The scent lures you in with an intoxicating sweetness before you begin to feel the mix of floral spiciness come through.

Hypnotic Poison is best suited for nighttime use during the cooler and darker autumn and winter seasons. This fragrance has a very long-lasting scent of 6+ hours.

Hypnotic Poison comes in a dark glass bottle with an apple shape, paying homage to the story of Snow White.

Top Notes:

Licorice, almond

Mid Notes:

Jasmine sambac, orange blossom

Base Notes:

Tonka bean, vanilla

Price & Reviews

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7. Le Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier

Le Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier
Le Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier

Review

Originally released in 1993, Le Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier was a groundbreaking evocative female fragrance at the time. This was (and still is) a nod to classic french perfumes of yesteryear.

Although a more top and mid note heavy fragrance consisting mainly of orange, rose and ylang-ylang, the vanilla base does remain once the fragrance dries down.

It is very long lasting, 5+ hours on skin and longer on clothes.

I felt this fragrance is more suited as a daytime spring/summer scent due to the citrus and floral top and mid notes.

The bottle was instantly iconic when released, and coupled with the initially aggressive marketing campaign swiftly elevated the status of this fragrance.

A powerful classic feminine fragrance.

Top Notes:

Bergamot, rose, pear, star anise, mandarin orange, orange blossom

Mid Notes:

Tuberose, ylang-ylang, orchid, plum, ginger, iris

Base Notes:

Sandalwood, vanilla, cinnamon, musk, amber

Price & Reviews

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8. J’adore by Dior

J'adore Eau De Parfum by Dior
J’adore Eau De Parfum by Dior

Review

The current queen of the Dior fragrance empire, J’adore is by far the most famous scent ever released by this storied luxury goods behemoth. An advertising campaign featuring Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson helped J’adore skyrocket towards the top of the list of the best-selling perfumes in history.

Introduced in 1999, perfumer Calice Becker’s aromatic masterpiece offers wearers, and those close to them, the chance to embark on an endless olfactory journey through a universe of essential aromatics. Jasmine, blackberry, and amaranth combine with a host of other notes to produce a near-perfect balance of sweetness, warmth, and sharpness.

J’adore is great for day and night, all-year-round, however, it truly shines in the spring.

This fragrance is moderate to long-lasting.

One of the most visually captivating presentations ever created for a fragrance, J’adore is encapsulated in what looks like an oversized golden droplet.

Top Notes:

Magnolia, peach, melon, pear, Mandarin orange, and bergamot

Mid Notes:

Tuberose, lily of the valley, jasmine, plum, violet, rose, orchid, and freesia

Base Notes:

Musk, vanilla, cedar, and blackberry

Price & Reviews

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9. Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent

Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent
Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent

Review

Launched back in 1971, Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent was aimed at the free thinking independent woman of the time.

A comforting scent that reminds me of my mother getting ready to go out for the evening when I was a child.

Rive Gauche has and excellent spread of notes and considerable depth. It is mainly floral, but more of a cool floral than a bouquet thanks to the top notes of bergamot and lemon. Settles down nicely with sandalwood, musk and amber base. Also has a touch of metallic due to the Aldehydic’s.

Fairly long lasting 4+ hours. I feel this is an autumn/winter fragrance that perfect for day or night wear.

If you enjoy retro perfumes and are searching for a classic feminine fragrance that generates lots of interest, look no further.

Top Notes:

Peach, Galbanum, Bergamot, Lemon, Aldehydic

Mid Notes:

Rose, Jasmine, Lily of the valley, Geranium, Orris, Ylang ylang

Base Notes:

Vetiver, Sandalwood, Tonka, Oakmoss, Musk, & Amber

Price & Reviews

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10. Dune by Dior

Dune Eau De Toilette by Dior
Dune Eau De Toilette by Dior

Review

Introduced in 1991, Dune Eau de Toilette was inspired by the idea of escaping to a private island to enjoy the feelings of peace and serenity that we all deserve to feel from time to time.

The aromatic combinations found in this fragrance create an incredibly complex mosaic of woody, warm and spicy notes that will send you on an olfactory journey into oblivion.

Favored as a daytime fragrance, this perfume also works well in the evening. It is best suited to be worn in the summer and autumn months.

The longevity of this scent has been ranked as long-lasting.

Presented in a curvy, blush-colored glass bottle with a rounded rose gold topper.

Top Notes:

Brazilian Rosewood, bergamot, Mandarin orange, peony, and aldehydes

Mid Notes:

Wallflower, rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and lily

Base Notes:

Oakmoss, vanilla, benzoin, musk, patchouli, amber, and sandalwood

Price & Reviews

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11. Obsession by Calvin Klein

Obsession by Calvin Klein
Obsession by Calvin Klein

Review

Launched back in 1985, Obsession by Calvin Klein was the modern perfume that shouts strong femininity from the rooftops.

Obsession is a heady and sensual spicy vanilla scent that leans more towards unisex. This was deemed a strong and more masculine fragrance at the time, however tastes have now changed as male and female scents begin to merge.

Very long lasting 6+ hours. I feel this is an autumn/winter fragrance that perfectly suited for night-time.

A complex and sensual female fragrance that is still as relevant now as it was in the 80s/90s.

Top Notes:

Orange, vanilla, peach, basil, bergamot & lemon

Mid Notes:

coriander, sandalwood, orange blossom, jasmine, oakmoss, rose & cedar

Base Notes:

Amber, musk, civet, vanilla, vetiver & incense

Price & Reviews

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12. Joy Forever by Jean Patou

Joy Forever Eau de Parfum
Joy Forever by Jean Patou Eau de Parfum

Review

This revised scent by Jean Patou that introduces you to the charm of the classic original Joy fragrance. It gives me chills!

A single ounce of the original perfume when released at the height of the 1929 Great Depression contained over 10,000 jasmine flowers and 28 dozen roses.

It was awarded ‘Scent of the Century’ beating Chanel No 5 source

A luxurious and sophisticated floral fragrance presenting you with layer upon layer of jasmine, roses and orris that lasts a whole evening.

The striking bottle with its exquisite Art Deco design adds so much more to the overall experience of Joy Forever. Truly beautiful.

Top Notes:

Bergamot, mandarin orange and galbanum

Mid Notes:

Marigold, jasmine, rose, orris, orange blossom & peach

Base Notes:

Cedar, sandalwood, white musk & amber.

Price & Reviews

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Conclusion

Well that wraps up our review of the most classic perfumes of all time. Just because you may have seen these fragrances time and again sat waiting patiently in your local perfume store, does not mean they should be ignored.

It is also worth mentioning that any classic perfume can be further revived by layering it with a more modern fragrance. Try Miss Dior Originalle paired with Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille for an excellent combination. The scent possibilities offered by perfume layering are unique, exciting and endless. You can read more about layering in our article below.

Related: How To Layer Perfume Like a Pro

Before you go, I have put together a review of the most elegant perfumes ranging from timeless classics to modern day sophistication that I think you will also enjoy. You can check it out below.

Signature-Ingrid

Discover Your Perfect Fragrance

Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of exquisite perfumes.

There may just be the perfect fragrance waiting there for you!

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