Sunday, 4 May 2014

The "Old Lady Perfume" stereotype / category

The over used "Old Lady Perfume" label:
Picture by Sandy Powers

Lets admit it, we all have mentioned the phase or though about it in our heads . . . . Before I got into this hobby I was going around calling certain scents an old lady / old man scent as well. It took a long time for me to really appreciate all type of scents, the contributing materials and their histories., in a world where the perfume industry operates under strict regulations and 90% of popular best selling fragrances are either sugary, fruity, or aquatic, we are bound to be overwhelmed when sniffing the more classical scents. Perfumery used to have a lot more depth and individuality before the current restrictions on raw materials kicked in.
Elizabeth Taylor,An icon of Hollywood
When the general public smells a beautiful classic floral scent that actresses of old school Hollywood would wear, real women, with class and proper manners, they would most likely call it "old ladyish".
It seems to be all about what's in style at the moment, for example the aldehydes from the 1920's (i.e - Chanel No.5 and Guerlain Shalimar), the powerhouse male and female scents from the 1980's (i.e - Hermes Bel Ami, Guerlain Derby, and Chanel Antaeus).

Present day, people are so used to smelling fragrances like Viva La Juicy, Acqua Di Gio, and Britney Spears Fantasy, that we just lost our appreciation for fragrances from the past, which is now out of the norm.,.5,5,1&qlt=85&resmode=sharp2
Viva La Juicy, A top Seller
In my personal opinion and a lot of other fragrance enthusiasts I've met and talked to believed that it is not very fair to label certain type of scents an "old lady" scent. Just because it does not smell contemporary, generic, or follow current trends does not mean it's an "old lady" scent. Also some people actually get really offended, be careful not to piss off the old lady next to you! or you'll never hear the end of it.
Lanvin - Arpege (1927)
Unfortunately, now a days, unless you invest in pricey niche perfumes, everything smells almost identical, sugary, sweet, fruity , and candy-like...I am not a fan. It's quite sad that people are now branding classic style fragrances that have persisted for centuries like No.5, Arpege, and Diorissimo as an "Old Lady" scent.

Like it or not, style and class has no age, while beauty fades . . .I believe classical fragrances with depth, uniqueness, and quality will still continue to persist well into the future while sugary celebrity scents are already being sold discounted for $20 at the chemists. Just look at No.5 and Shalimar for example, both fragrances from the 1920's, yet still one of the best sellers, costs quite a lot, and rarely ever sold discounted.
Celebrity Perfumes - already being sold discounted
At the end of the day, I think we all have a right to wear whatever we want and enjoy, doesn't matter if it's marketed for women, men , old women, or old men, if you enjoy it and it smells good on you, the wear it! There are sugary perfumes which I love and there are also classical perfumes that I also love, I am not hating on modern day perfumes at all but I am simply stating the lack of individuality and depth in today's fragrance market. Also, of course you have to always consider the occasion and location when choosing what to wear. I will certainly not be wearing Arpege or L'Air De Temps out of the house, it's something that a 21 year old regular male like me can never pull off. On the contrary when I'm at home its a different story as both are scents I absolutely adore wearing to bed, dreaming of better days from the past.
Happiness, a carefree less populated and less polluted world, not dominated by technology.


  1. I agree with all you've said. Too many use the term because they are not articulate enough or experienced enough with perfumery. I cringe every time I see use of those two words because they encompass too much meaning, as you say, most if not all the classics of the world of fragrance. I find far too many reviews lack depth, insight and substance. This is why I enjoy your reviews very much, no offence but for your age you are wise beyond your years with regards to scents. Truly you are inspirational for all the budding and the inexperienced perfumistas! And even for more seasoned perfume enthusiasts like me�� Salut!

    1. Wow thank you Lily, you are too kind! :)
      I'm glad you also agree that the term "old lady" is too generalized and should not be used to describe a scent.....If an older lady wears Fantasy by Britney Spears, would that make Fantasy and old woman scent? ..And what if a 16 year old girl wears Chanel No.5, does that make No.5 a young and hip scent? There really is no answer :) and hence the term old lady really can't be used to accurately judge a scent.

      No offense taken at all, I am truly thankful to have receive such wonderful words from you, they are also inspiring to me. Knowing that someone out there appreciates my work really gives me lots of motivation :).