Iconic Perfume Trends of the 80s

Power, seduction, provocation — this was the essence of the 1980s. Not just in regards to fashion and socio-cultural trends, but also, unmistakably, in the world of perfumery.

Fragrances in the 80s were united by their signature boldness. Not made for wallflowers, the power perfumes that defined the decade were rich and opulent: like the scandalous and intoxicating Opium from Yves Saint Laurent. Introduced in 1977, the warm, spicy Opium carried with it a sense of mystery, provocation, and sensuality. It married the spice of cloves and coriander with myrrh, cedarwood, sandalwood, jasmine, and spicy carnation — a blend that can only be described as the embodiment of passion and intrigue.

Of course, the decade then blossomed into its signature trending scent: uber-potent florals. Heady and heavy flowery perfumes exploded in popularity, featuring blooms like tuberose, orange flower, jasmine, and other white flowers.

The rise of femme flower power fragrances

In 1981, one powerful fragrance became so well-known for its potency that it became an entire phenomenon. Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills, iconically born under the landmark yellow-and-white awnings on Rodeo Drive, was a white floral fragrance for women that became instantly memorable. 

This bombshell fragrance pushes the intensity of orange flower to the max, pairing it with the other typical white flowers of the 80s: tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, ylang ylang, orchid, and rose. Giorgio’s long-lasting and inescapable floral scent became synonymous with show-off luxury — while reaping mass-market business success — and it has even been banned from some restaurants due to its airborne intensity.

Another instantly-recognizable fragrance of the decade was Poison by Dior, which was released in 1985. Floral, fruity, and ambery, Poison was the forbidden fruit of the house of Dior — this fragrance gained legendary status for its dark, sultry, and intoxicating nature. The flagship raw material of this elixir is, of course, the rich tuberose, which meets a very 80s bouquet of ylang-ylang, jasmine, orange blossom, and amber, with a fruity sweetness that was avant-garde for the time.

Beautiful by Estée Lauder was another popular perfume created in 1985 that boasted an intensive floral heart. The fragrance showcased notes of rose, lily, ylang-ylang, and of course was accompanied by the iconic trio of the decade: orange flower, jasmine, and tuberose. Even if the concept of Beautiful was far from provocation, with a more romantic approach, the scent is totally in line with the olfactory trend of power and assertiveness of the period  

Masculine fragrance dares to be virile

In the world of men’s fragrance, scent compositions in the 80s became more daring and virile than ever before. Cologne became recognized as a real asset of seduction, and the popular men’s fragrances of the time showcased exactly that.

Launched at the end of the 70s, Azzaro Pour Homme by Azzaro is a classic example of how 80s colognes dared to play on the traditional fougère script with more animalic tones. Its scent was the epitome of class, balancing the usual lineup of lavender, bergamot, aromatic notes and patchouli, with a warm leathery base. The Kouros fragrance released in 1981 by Yves Saint Laurent pushed this same accord even further, combining the classic masculine fougère structure with highly intense leathery and animalic notes.

The global emergence of American perfumery

While the U.S. had produced major perfumes before the 1980s, it was the introduction of a new brand that strengthened and really solidified the presence of American perfumery on international markets: Calvin Klein.

Not afraid to play provocateur, Calvin Klein debuted their iconic Obsession perfume — for women in 1985 and for men in 1986 — that was marketed as overtly sensual and utterly irresistible. Its hyper-seductive allure was totally in line with the trends of the decade, and Obsession gained widespread acclaim. Both the women’s and men’s fragrances boast a strong ambery profile that’s warmed up by spices, deep vanilla, and animalic notes.

The 80s were undoubtedly an iconic decade — especially when it comes to fragrance. The trends centered around potent, high-profile scents like explosive florals and sensual ambery elixirs. Boldness, opulence, provocation, and seduction were the name of the game in 1980s perfumery, and the signature trends of this groovy decade are still frequently called upon in the modern fragrance landscape.00000000000


What do you think?