How many of these classic RETRO perfumes do you remember?

How many of these classic RETRO perfumes do you remember?

This is an exclusive feature from the now sold-out Issue 3 of Yours Retro. For more nostalgia, check out the latest Retro at

There’s long been a connection between the world’s most glamorous ladies and luxurious scents. Here we look back at some of the most iconic perfumes and the celebrity wrists they graced.

Chanel No 5

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No 5 of course,” said blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, in an interview with Life magazine in 1952. What better publicity could the makers of this oh-so grown up perfume wish for?

No 5 was the first scent developed by Coco Chanel in the Twenties, and was designed to encapsulate the liberated spirit of flapper girls, right down to the simple bottle – a stark contrast to the ornate, fussy designs of the time.

Marilyn was a true Channel No 5 fan

Marilyn was a true Channel No 5 fan

It was also the first perfume to combine multiple scents instead of a single flower. As well as Marilyn (whose quote they used in a recent TV ad) Chanel have used various models and actresses to promote the scent, from Jean Shrimpton and Catherine Deneuve, to Nicole Kidman and even Brad Pitt!

The name came from the number of the fragrance formula that perfumer Ernest Beaux presented to Coco which she fell in love with – plus the designer always thought five was a lucky number.

Spring Flower, Creed

Fresh, flirty and feminine – this scent seems to embody the waif-like elegance of Audrey Hepburn (left) through and through, so it’s no wonder it’s believed to have been inspired by her when it was created in the Eighties.


The scent, in its vibrant pink bottle, wasn’t released until three years after her death, so we’ll never know if she would have been a fan, but with fruity top notes and a heart of rose and jasmine, it’s every bit as joyous as a night on the sofa watching My Fair Lady. Want to try it? Better start saving – it’s currently around £175 for 75ml!

Acqua di Parma, Colonia

This zesty Italian fragrance was wildly popular from the Thirties to the Fifties and beloved by both male and female screen stars including Ava Gardner (left), Lana Turner, Cary Grant and David Niven.

First made in Parma in 1916, its hints of lemon, rosemary and woodiness made it the perfect signature scent for both sexes, especially when contrasted to the heavier, stronger perfumes on the market in the Thirties.

The round container – with a hint of an ink bottle – and yellow packaging made it stand out on the shelves. It fell from fashion from the Sixties, but has recently been resurrected and found favour with movie stars Sandra Bullock and Sharon Stone.

Shalimar, Guerlain

Having the Taj Mahal and the Gardens of Shalimar built in your honour is hard to beat. It’s this romantic act – performed by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved Princess Mumtaz Mahal – which inspired Shalimar, the world’s first oriental fragrance, created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925.


Perfumer Ernest Beaux said: “When I use vanilla I get crème caramel. When Jacques uses vanilla he gets Shalimar.” It was also loved by Italian screen siren Gina Lollobrigida and ‘love goddess’ Rita Hayworth.

Joy, Jean Patou

In times of financial crisis, sales of small luxury items – from perfumes to lipstick – generally skyrocket, as women seek to console themselves with little treats.

This was certainly the case in the 1929 Great Depression, when Henri Alméras created Joy – a floral scent that was to save the Jean Patou fashion house after clothing sales plummeted. It was known as ‘the world’s most expensive perfume’ – in part due to the 28 dozen roses and 10,600 jasmine flowers that go into just one ounce of extract.


A mixture of ylang-ylang blossom, rose, pear, jasmine and other garden bouquets, blended with a sophisticated musk and sandalwood base, this combination of femininity and steel edge made it a natural choice for ladies such as Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II. Vivien Leigh (above) was said to have used it liberally as a deodorant, room spray and breath freshener!