chanel no 5 - best classic women's perfumes

Are you are a fan of classic perfumery or someone just starting a perfume collection? Either way, you have come to the right place. Today, we will explore together the best classic women’s perfumes of all time.

It is not unusual to see young and mature ladies searching for perfumes their mothers or grandmothers wore 30 or 50 years ago. In the modern world of perfumery where everything can get a bit similar to each other, classic perfumes offer something more interesting.

As far as I have seen so far, many of the scents released more than 100 years still have a timeless charm and a sense of artistry that is rarely found today.

Most good ideas sparkle in simplicity, so much so that everyone wonders why no one ever did that before.

Estée Lauder

According to Scentiments latest data: “Women in the U.S. are 35 percent more likely than men to let their moods dictate the scent they will wear each day, encouraging a stronger emotional tie to fragrance than their male counterparts.”

Now, let me show you your new favorite classic perfumes in the latest Scent Grail article.

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Top 3 Scent Grail picks at a glance:

How I Picked Best Classic Women’s Perfumes

Scent Grail readers know that I am not a stranger to wearing and testing women marketed perfumes. You would be surprised to know that I have never so far received a comment from someone else telling me that I smell like a lady.

This is why I have challenged myself to create a whole list of the best classic women’s perfumes of all time even though I’m a man.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s always great to get an opinion of the opposite sex and presents a great challenge for me since it’s not every day I’ll wear something like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.

Why have I chosen only ten vintage perfumes? You know, no matter what anyone else tells you, it is up to you to choose which perfume suits your taste the best.

When I created this list, I had had this in my mind:

  1. I wanted to create a list of perfumes released up until the year 2000
  2. Each of these fragrances should be smelling great on you no matter if you are young or old
  3. I have only included the fragrances I have personally tested and worn and had feedback from my girlfriend
  4. The version that is still in production should resemble the vintage formulations close enough
  5. Fragrances with historical importance
  6. A man’s approach to women’s perfumery

Contrary to the men’s version of the best classic perfumes I created, ladies have an easier choice with one perfume brand dominating this list without trying to reinvent the “hot water”.

It would be a blasphemy to just include one perfume per fragrance brand since there are so many historical important ones released during the 20th century that cannot be excluded.

One thing’s for certain, no matter which one of these 10 you choose, you’ll smell great and out of this world.

The List

If you are as excited as I am to share with you what I believe is the best classic women’s perfumes I have worn and tested so far, let’s begin.

Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the article to share with the community what are your favorite classics you still wear today.

1. Chanel No. 5

Why have I picked No. 5: Starting with a legend. Chanel No. 5 is the most popular and best-selling perfume of all time. Some may also say it is the best smelling perfume as well. To me, the best-smelling one for ladies is the next perfume on this list, but No. 5 comes close enough.

No. 5 was composed and created by French-Russian perfumer Ernest Beaux. for Coco Chanel. The idea of what No. 5 should smell like was a creation of something new that would appeal to the liberated feminine spirit of the 1920s.

The perfume is bright, uplifting, and soapy with warm oriental touches at the base that is better felt than said. If you still haven’t tried out No. 5, you owe it to yourself.

It is a timeless classic of elegance in a bottle every serious perfume lover should have in their collection.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Ernest Beaux
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Aldehyde
  • Release Date: 1921
  • Most dominant notes: Aldehydes, Ylang-Ylang, Amber
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: White, Blue, Orange

2. Guerlain Shalimar

Why have I picked Shalimar: No serious list would be complete without it, and no woman should ever be without it. Shalimar is a tale of legends, art in the bottle, and one of my favorite perfumes of all time.

Shalimar was created by perfumer Jacques Guerlain in 1925, as a tribute to the love story between Emperor Shahjahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The fragrance opens up with zesty bergamot that announces the sensual floral heart. The scent development stage embraces you with a powdery bouquet of flowers, mainly iris and rose that overtake the fragrance.

The dry down is made from powdery vanilla, ambers, musks, and resins. This complex scent formula works differently on each skin. A masterful creation.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1925
  • Most dominant notes: Bergamot, Vanilla, and Incense
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Romantic
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 to 10 hours with decent projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Yellow, Green, Orange

3. Thierry Mugler Angel

Why have I picked Angel: One of the most recognizable perfume bottles and perfumes of all time Angel is something you will either love or hate.

Although I don’t see how someone cannot love Angel, in case you do please don’t overspray the fragrance. It is much stronger than you might think, and this is probably the case of the love/hate relationship people have with Angel.

Angel opens up fruity, red berry-like, and quickly transitions to its warm oriental heart. The base is made from chocolate, patchouli, amber, and vanilla which make this an unforgettable fragrance. Especially recommended to perfume lovers who like honey.

Angel might become your first and only gourmand love for all times.

  • Perfumer: Olivier Cresp and Yves de Chirin
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental Woody
  • Release Date: 1992
  • Most dominant notes: Chocolate, Patchouli, and Honey
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with strong projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Brown, Green, Pink

4. Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison

Why have I picked Hypnotic Poison: Hypnotic Poison smells like the free teen spirit from the 80s and 90s still relevant today, and it remains one of the most popular women’s choices around the world, and for good reason.

It’s sweet, warm, and has a timeless scent profile. The notes are really well blended with powdery vanilla and almond delight acting as the main player.

When I smell Hypnotic Poison, I also get hints of smelling the French Bakery in the early winter morning with sweet and timid scents of almond paste gently pleasing your scent senses. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll like Hypnotic Poison.

  • Perfumer: Annick Menardo
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1998
  • Most dominant notes: Vanilla, Coconut, and Almonds
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with very very good projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Red, White, Pink

5. Yves Saint Laurent Opium

Why have I picked Opium: Let me just say that there is no need for you to hunt the slim and tall older formulations of Opium. They are very close to each other since the perfumer did a great job of keeping what was great about the original.

The fragrance top notes open up with tart citrus accord instead of a strong spicy blend found in the old version. Bergamot and mandarin orange are the most prominent notes from the start which slowly transitions to the warm heart.

As the opening settles down, notes such as carnation, orchid, and jasmine balance the zesty opening and mellow the fragrance down.

When the dry down comes in, it is warm, full, and addictive. A superb resinous oriental finish. that takes an exquisite aromatic turn that lasts for a couple of hours as a strong skin fragrance.

  • Perfumer: Jean Amic, Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Raymond Chaillan (n/a new re-release)
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental
  • Release Date: 1977 (2009 modern version)
  • Most dominant notes: Myrrh, Carnation, and Incense
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Romantic
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with strong projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Orange, Red, Pink

6. Guerlain Mitsouko

Why have I picked Mitsouko: Another Jacques Guerlain master creation makes the best classic women’s perfumes list, and rightfully so.

Jacques Guerlain named his creation “Mitsouko” after the name of the heroine in the bestselling novel of that time called La Bataille. Mitsouko, a beautiful married Japanese woman, secretly loves a British officer. In 1905, the Russo-Japanese war breaks out. Mitsouko awaits with dignity the outcome of the battle, nobly dominating her feelings.”

What I love about Mitsouko is the perfumer’s brilliance of combining a chypre composition(oakmoss) with a peach note that even after more than 100 hundred years since the perfume launch, still retains certain modernity.

Sometimes, the most beautiful things don’t need words to explain them – just like Mitosuko.

  • Perfumer: Jacques Guerlain
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Chypre 
  • Release Date: 1919
  • Most dominant notes: Oakmoss, Peach, and Cinnamon
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with good projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Green, Dark Brown, Bright Red

7. Robert Piguet Fracas 

Why have I picked Fracas: Glamorous, provocative, and comforting at the same time – Robert Piguet’s Fracas is an object of desire for women all around the world, and the only true niche fragrance on this list.

So, what’s all the fuss around Fracas? Why girls still adore it when it’s the most vintage grandma-style white floral of them all? It is a superb blend, of course. A combination of slight sunscreen lotion/bubblegum combination coming from tuberose enveloped in strong musk and other floral notes that sit in the bed of green oakmoss give Fracas something that modern perfume just don’t have – a strong character.

It does start out a bit sharp with green notes but does not scrub it off since the dry down is to die for. Pretty and feminine, especially in the springtime when the flowers are starting to bloom. What else could it be said about one of the best perfumes of all time?

  • Perfumer: Germaine Cellier
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Musk
  • Release Date: 1948
  • Most dominant notes: Tuberose, Jasmine, and Musk
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Spring, Fall, and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with great projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: White, Purple, Green

8. Guerlain Samsara

Why have I picked Samsara: Often called the last great Guerlain for ladies, Samsara is a journey like none the other. Sensual, and sophisticated – this warm woody and the soapy fragrance is great for that times when you want to feel relaxed. The modern reinterpretation still retains the sandalwood qualities found in the vintage formula.

Samsara is a process on an olfactive experience, each of us experiences differently. It is a piece of art, and whether ingredients are natural or synthetic, the melodic journey is true to its name.

It reminds me of expensive soaps found in lush Asian hotels, heavy on powdery accords and sharp sandalwood with the slight vanilla accord. Many ladies have mentioned that Samsara is like a memory of the best times from childhood.

  • Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Woody
  • Release Date: 1989
  • Most dominant notes: Ylang-Ylang, Sandalwood, and Iris
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with great projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Pink, Brown, Yellow

9. Chaneⅼ Coco

Why have I picked Coco: Coco is a rich and sensual perfume with fruity spicy opening coming mostly from cloves, oranges, and a drop of addictive rose oil.

The scent projection is quite strong, and it takes some time to reach the floral/powdery aroma and tranquility of ambery dry down. Coco is a fragrance to make a statement. Once you try it, you feel like the most confident woman about you to achieve anything you want.

A well-blended and powerful perfume that grabs attention. Some go as far as saying it is the best Chanel perfume of all time. As for me, this is the pinnacle of what I consider true perfume to be.

  • Perfumer: Jacques Polge
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Spicy Oriental
  • Release Date: 1984
  • Most dominant notes: Amber, Cloves, and Rose
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 12 hours with great projection
  • Uniqueness: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Orange, Red, Light Brown

10. Lolita Lempicka For Women

Why have I picked Lolita Lempicka: The final spot on this list could have gone to many other great perfumes such as Jean Patou Joy or Diorissimo and you would be right, but I picked Lolita for two simple reasons. First, either I had little or no experience with other perfumes, and secondly, Lolita smells heavenly.

The opening is warm and spicy with anise taking the center stage straight away. If you are a fan of violet, that is another plus since you’ll sense it straight away along with syrupy cherry accord. The floral notes get bigger as the fragrance transitions to middle notes with gentle vanilla and pralines announcing the major note of this perfume – licorice.

Thankfully, the scent doesn’t go full sweet since the woods and musks found in the dry down finely balances the composition out. A fantastic gourmand creation.

  • Perfumer: Annick Menardo
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Gourmand
  • Release Date: 1997
  • Most dominant notes: Licorice, Violet, and Star Anise
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Spring, Fall, and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 12 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Red, Pink, and Light Brown

Frequently Asked Questions About Classic Perfume For Women

Here are some answers to the most popular questions asked about perfumes for ladies.

What is the most popular women’s perfume?

The most popular women’s perfume of all time is none the other than Chanel No. 5. released in 1921. The most dominant notes are aldehydes, ylang-ylang, amber, and the lasting power is 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection.

Which is the best female perfume?

The best ladies perfume of all time is Guerlain Shalimar released in 1925. The most dominant notes are bergamot, vanilla, and incense, and the lasting power is 8 to 10 hours with decent projection.

What is the number 1 selling perfume?

The best-selling women’s perfume is Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum released in 2001. The most dominant notes are patchouli, orange, and rose. The lasting power is 12 hours with great projection.

What are the top 10 women’s fragrances?

These are the top 10 women’s fragrances:
1. Guerlain Shalimar
2. Chanel No. 5
3. Tom Ford Black Orchid
4. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
5. Dior Hypnotic Poison
6. Mugler Alien
7. Guerlain Mon Guerlain
8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
9. Guerlain Samsara
10. Dior Addict

What is the best smelling perfume in the world?

The best-smelling women’s perfume of all time is Guerlain Shalimar. Created by perfumer Jacques Guerlain in 1925, as a tribute to the love story between Emperor Shahjahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

What is the best smelling perfume of all time?

The best-smelling perfume of all time is Chanel No 5. approved by millions of ladies throughout its 100-year history. It is an ideal all-year-round perfume for confident ladies that want to smell rich and exclusive.

What is the best perfume for 2021?

The best perfume for 2021 Guerlain Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum Intense released in 2019. The notes of vanilla, lavender, and tonka beans give the perfume a modern and ecstatic scent trail.

Conclusion

dior perfume - best classic women's perfumes

I hope you have enjoyed my best classic women’s perfumes list and found something new for yourself or your loved ones.

There are many great classic perfumes from the 20th century that would easily have made this list, and they may in the future.

What is your favorite best-smelling perfume? Let me know in the comment section below and let’s start a conversation.

In case you are in wonder whether you should consider buying any of the perfumes on this list, it’s always good to take a look at Scent Grail’s S.P.A. Signature Factor Guide.

It is easy to use and the most relevant perfume buying guide on the web. This way, you can check out if a particular fragrance is worth checking out, and potentially find your signature perfume.

If you have enjoyed this post, find out more Scent Grail articles about perfumery, check out top lists, and other helpful reviews via links below:

REVIEWS

TOP LISTS

SCENT GRAIL LEARNING CENTER

Until next time, have a great time and keep smelling like a million bucks!

Best, Marin!
#scentgrail #scentgrailtribe

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