10 Most Iconic Fragrances OF ALL TIME

Posted on October 05, 2017

These iconic fragrances have stood the test of time, becoming and remaining cult classics in the beauty world. Whether you remember marvelling at your mother’s collection or reminiscing about your own – these scents are both inspired and inspiring. Red Scout reveals the 10 most iconic fragrances of all time that are worth rediscovering. There’s something for everyone’s taste.

1. Chanel No.5 – Chanel

Bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume by Chanel.

Chanel No.5 is globally recognised as the most well known fragrance of all time. Released in 1921, No. 5 is the epitome of femininity. The scent features notes of a rare flower called Rose Centifolia, which is only grown in Grasse, France. In 1954, Marilyn Monroe famously said that she wore nothing to bed except, “a few drops of No.5.”

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Soft Floral.

2. Shalimar – Guerlain

Bottle of Shalimar by Guerlain Paris.

This iconic oriental fragrance is regarded as an enchanting dream. Shalimar has been a popular choice of perfume for women since 1924, and remains a timeless scent. Shalimar is the name of the place where the love between Indian Prince, Shah Jehan and Persian Princess Mumtaz was celebrated. After hearing about their love story, this inspired Jacques Guerlain to create this fragrance. Equally as iconic as the scent, the original bottle glorified the curves of the fountains that decorated the gardens of Indian palaces.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Oriental.

3. L’Air du Temps – Nina Ricci

Bottle of L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci.

Young post-war girls inspired Robert Ricci to create this fragrance in 1948, coming up with a scent that adapted to the personality of the person. L’Air du Temps is a light and floaty scent, a polar opposite to other fragrances of the time. Robert Ricci spoke to Francis Fabron who suggested adding benzyl salicylate to the composition. This synthetic molecule smoothed the bouquet of flowers, which included jasmine, rose, gardenia and spicy carnation.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Floral. 

4. L’Interdit – Givenchy

Bottle of L’Interdit perfume by Givenchy.

L’Interdit was the first fragrance to be released by designer label Givenchy. It was created in 1957 as a tribute from Hubert de Givenchy to Audrey Hepburn. It was released exclusively for Hepburn before releasing it to the public in the 1960’s. Hubert de Givenchy commissioned Francis Fabron to create this scent for Hepburn, as a result this scent could be considered the first celebrity fragrance of modern times. Containing notes of rose, jasmine, violet and a blend of woods and grasses, it has a delicate floral aroma.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Soft Floral.

5. Opium – Yves Saint Laurent

Bottle of original Opium perfume by Yves Saint Laurent.

The original and iconic Opium was launched in 1977. Since then however it has been reproduced with newer and amended versions yet the classic still remains superior. A base note of vanilla sweetly compliments Opium’s floral and spicy top notes. The name suggested that brand designer Yves Saint Laurent was condoning drug use and as a result the release of this fragrance became an extremely controversial topic. It even became illegal in some countries. These controversies made the perfume well publicized and it soon became a best selling scent.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Soft Oriental.

6. Red Door – Elizabeth Arden

Bottle of Red Door perfume by Elizabeth Arden.

Red Door is a classic, elegant and iconic fragrance that was created in 1989. This perfume is a symbol of glamour and luxury inspired by the famous Red Door Spa Centre. Since 1910, Elizabeth Arden’s red doors have been a landmark on Fifth Avenue where she began her company with only $6,000 borrowed from her brother. 107 years on, it is now a $1.3 billion global company. The heart of the scent contains ylang-ylang and red rose featuring other notes of orchid, jasmine, lily-of-the valley, orange blossom, wild violet and freesia. The base is composed of honey, sandalwood and vetiver.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Floral.

7. Angel – Thierry Mugler

Bottle of Angel by Thierry Mugler, the first ever gourmand perfume.

This perfume was a game-changer not just for the brand, but also for the fragrance industry. Angel by Thierry Mugler was released in 1992 and is famous for being the first ever gourmand fragrance; this means that this fragrance was made with a food ingredient – praline and chocolate. This scent is so bold and original that it took up to 608 trials before deciding on the final. Breaking all of the rules this scent is also formulated with no inclusion of floral notes.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Oriental – Gourmand.

8. CK One – Calvin Klein

Bottle of CK one by Calvin Klein, a revolutionary unisex fragrance.

Calvin Klein’s first unisex fragrance took the world by storm when launching in 1994. Being a gender-neutral scent, CK One was created to celebrate diversity and be void of stereotypes and free of conformity. This clean and contemporary scent is timeless, as it is still a favourite among both women and men today. It has been known to smell different on different people, but features notes of bergamot, cardamom, fresh pineapple, papaya, jasmine, violet, rose, nutmeg and musk.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Citrus.

9. J’Adore – Dior

Bottle of J'Adore by Dior.

J’Adore is a modern and glamorous fragrance that was created by Calice Becker for Dior in 1999. Since this launch, this scent has become a global bestseller and since then it has been developed in a number of different concentrations. Only 18 years old, this scent has an iconic status due to the fact that it is no longer available in its original formulation. Critics also detected this reformulation change and state that the original is superior. J’Adore presents a new concept of Dior femininity, a scent so modern and still so in line with original Dior style.   

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Floral.

10. La Femme – Prada

Bottle of La Femme perfume by Prada.

This classic Prada scent is staying clear of clichés and trends, redefining floral perfumes and femininity. According to Prada the making of this scent was designed to take the wearer on a voyage through place, memory and time. La Femme Prada is an invitation to emotion. Frangipani flower intertwined with iris and ylang-ylang is the base of the scent also featuring notes of spices such as vanilla, beeswax and tuberose. Since entering the fragrance world in 2003, this still remains one of Prada’s most iconic scents.

Fragrances of the World: Fragrance Classification – Floral.

To find out more information about identifying key fragrance groups, head to Red Scout Fragrance Courses where you can purchase the Fragrance Classification Module.

Fragrance Classification $ USD 25.00 - Module (20-30mins of learning) 

This module simplifies the task of choosing a fragrance by using Michael Edward's fragrance wheel as a guide.  

By Mikayla Tabone.

Enjoy a complimentary trial of our courses Sign up now

Red Scout


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest course information and special offers in your inbox.

Website by Walker Designs