This summer has seen Kate Bush topping the charts, Stranger Things was the must-see TV show, and Barbie mania is everywhere ahead of its film release next year. And now, 80s fragrances are making a big comeback. Made with rich, opulent ingredients like incense, musk and sandalwood, these power perfumes were not scents for wallflowers, whether you were spritzing yourself in Chanel’s spicy Coco, Shalimar’s sensual Shalimar or Dior’s heady Poison. Here, we’ve rounded up the most iconic 80s fragrances to take a scented stroll down memory lane.
First released in 1985, this fruity floral fragrance encapsulates the 80s era’s love of powerful amber scents. Sultry and sensual, rich plum and floral notes of tuberose, ylang ylang and jasmine combine with base notes of incense, amber and musk to create an intoxicating and instantly recognisable aroma. It’s got plenty of famous fans, including Adele, who is a longtime devotee of Hypnotic Poison, which joined the Poison family in the late 90s. A couple of spritzes go a long way – this is one of those fragrances that announces itself as soon as it enters a room, and it’s guaranteed to get you noticed.
Eau de Toilette 50ml
Despite being launched in 1984, Coco remains one of Chanel’s best-loved and most iconic scents. Designed to express the intensity of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s personality and her love of all things baroque, it takes the heavy oriental spice so popular throughout the 80s and lightens it with the freshness of mandarin, jasmine and orange blossom. Warmth and spice is added with notes of amber, sandalwood, cloves and coriander – the result is a seductive scent that lingers long into the night.
Eau de Parfum 50ml
If you wanted to find the root of the 80s’ obsession with amber fragrances, look no further than Shalimar. Inspired by the epic love story of Emperor Shah Jahan (who had the Garden of Shalimar built for Princess Mumtaz Mahal over four centuries ago), Jacques Guerlain first created this fragrance back in 1921, and the heady scent was popularised by the Flappers throughout the 20s. This version of the eau de parfum was released towards the tail end of the 80s and is made with a heart of iris and jasmine, built on a base of leather, sandalwood and vanilla and topped with notes of bergamot and lemon.
Eau de Parfum 50ml
Yves Saint Laurent
Perhaps the most scandalous of all the 80s fragrances, Opium shot to fame with Jerry Hall as its poster girl and a Studio 54-esque launch party in New York that was held on a ship captained by Truman Capote. When it was first released at the end of the 70s there were campaigns to ban the perfume altogether, claiming it glamourised drug use, which of course only served to make it even more popular. As for the scent itself, it’s an audacious blend of myrrh, patchouli and bergamot with a heart of jasmine and spicy carnation.
Eau de Parfum 50ml
Released the same year as Poison, Obsession by Calvin Klein was a fragrance that soon became synonymous with the decade’s embrace of commercial eroticism, thanks to a provocative advert shot by Bruce Weber that depicted a tangle of naked bodies. Aiming to envelop the senses with a mix of intoxicating flowers and exotic spice, the fragrance’s strapline reads: “Who hasn’t felt passion beyond reason?” With its blend of smoky incense and musk lifted by sweet vanilla and mandarin, this is an attention-seeking 80s classic that perfectly captures the decade’s glamorous excess.
Eau de Parfum 100ml
Estée Lauder’s Beautiful stood out from the crowd when it was first released in 1985, offering up a gentler floral alternative to the decade’s more potent scents. Described as “the fragrance of a thousand flowers”, the romantic fragrance blends rose, lily, tuberose and orange flower to create a warm aroma that went on to become a firm favourite with brides on their big day. Perhaps its most notable fan was Andy Warhol, though, who used to spray it around at parties so that “people can say you smell Beautiful.”