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Popular Women's Fragrances From the 1980s

  • Calvin Klein Obsession1980s4.jpg
  • Christian Dior Poison
  • Giorgio Beverly Hills
  • Estee Lauder Beautiful
  • Elizabeth Arden Red Door
  • Cacharel Anais Anais
  • Givenchy Ysatis
  • Guy Laroche Fidji
  • Revlon Charlie Red
  • Coty Exclamation
  • Love's Baby Soft (both 1970s and 1980s)
  • Revlon Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson

Popular Men’s Fragrances From the 1980s

  • Faberge Brut1980smichael.jpg
  • Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir
  • Ralph Lauren Polo
  • Davidoff Cool Water
  • Calvin Klein Obsession for Men
  • Giorgio Beverly Hills for Men
  • Bijan for Men
  • Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
  • Paco Rabanne Pour Homme
  • Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur
  • Aramis by Aramis
  • Antonio Puig Quorum
  • Jovan Oleg Cassini 


Fragrances in the 1980s

There was nothing understated about the 1980s and the fragrances showed that. They announced the wearer long before you could see her/him. The 1980s were a decade that demanded excess and people flaunted their newfound wealth. The decade was characterized by consumerism and the acquisition of wealth and possessions. Fashions were big and bold and fragrances were bigger and bolder with many of them so powerful they were impossible to ignore. The fragrance industry doubled it size during the 1980s. 462 new fragrances were launched in the 80s (281 women, 181 men) as compared to 197 in the 70s, 77 in the 60s and 36 in the 50s.

Designer scents were the thing in the 80s. Loud, powerful, and potent perfumes that were the kind of scents people imagined that the 80’s power bitches from Dallas, Falcon Crest, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest and The Colbys would have been wearing. Joan Collins was even the face of Revlon Scoundrel. It was also the decade that Giorgio was launched and became an immediate smash. A powerhouse floral so strong that some restaurants refused to seat customers wearing it, Giorgio was only the beginning of what would prove to be the last decade where big perfumes could stand in for personality or be something to hid behind. These “big” perfumes included Calvin Klein Obsession, YSL Opium and Dior Poison for women and Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, Calvin Klein Obsession for Him and Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur for men. Their names caused controversy and their ads were decadent - blatant, erotic advertising that made the fragrances even more popular.

Something interesting to note: When Andy Warhol died in 1987, his long-time friend, Paige Powell, tossed a bottle of Estee Lauder Beautiful into the hole. Andy liked to wear a fragrance for three months and then catalog them to remember certain periods in his life by the scent. 


What's Going on in the World in the 1980s

The 1980s were called the Reagan years. They were also called the Affluent Eighties as the economy was booming. Under Reagan's first term, the recession ended. Inflation was controlled and taxes were reduced. Americans felt hopeful that they could make money again. It was the decade of the Yuppie and the Me Generation - earning and spending more and more money.

Entertainment in the 1980s showed the interest society placed on financial success.  First there were the primetime soap operas full of rich people living in huge homes, wearing beautiful clothes and driving expensive vehicles. Also popular in the 1980s was the television talk show. People appeared on these shows mostly to talk about themselves - about everything and anything. They talked in public about things that were once considered private.

A big change in American life during the 1980s came as a result of the personal computer. Soon millions of Americans had their own and this technology along with a bright economy, filled Americans of the early and middle 1980s with hope. Many felt there were almost no limits on the good life they could lead.

Much of the popular music of the decade reflected all of this. The 1980s saw the emergence of dance music, electronic, new wave and pop-influenced country (presumably from the movie Urban Cowboy). Disco fell out of fashion in the early 1980s and rock music was more precisely defined and split up into subgenres that included Hard Rock, Heavy/Glam Metal, Alternative Rock and Soft Rock. In the late 1980s Glam Metal became the largest, most commercially successful brand of music in the U.S. and worldwide. Throughout the decade R & B, hip hop and rap became more successful and it was the decade that saw the reinvention of Michael Jackson, the superstardom of Prince, the emergence of Madonna, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson and the launch of MTV. Michael Jackson was the first African-American artist to have his music video aired on MTV and his album from 1982, Thriller, is cited as the best-selling album of all time with as many as 110 million copies sold worldwide. Madonna was the most successful female artist of the decade.

Some of the popular songs of the 1980s were: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Another Brick in the Wall, The Tide is High, 9 to 5, Bette Davis Eyes, Jack and Diane, Billie Jean, Eye of the Tiger, Footloose, Come on Eileen, When Doves Cry, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Like A Virgin, We Built This City, Rock Me Amadeus, Walk Like an Egyptian, Bad, Like a Prayer and We Didn't Start the Fire. Popular groups/individual artists were Queen, Michael Jackson, Blondie, Billy Joel, Prince, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Madonna, George Michael/Wham, Cyndi Lauper and Lionel Richie.

Television was transformed in the 1980s due to cable, the creation of a fourth network, Fox, the videocassette recorder and the remote control. It was the decade of CNN, The Weather Channel, Luke and Laura getting married on General Hospital, the prime-time soap opera, the animated sitcom, the mini-series and made-for-TV movies. Favorite shows included Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing, Cheers, Family Ties, Married With Children, The Simpsons, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, thirtysomething, Moonlighting, Geraldo Rivera and David Letterman.

1980 1980s8.jpg

  • Failed U.S. Rescue Attempt to Save Hostages in Tehran
  • John Lennon Assassinated
  • Pac-Man Video Game Released
  • Rubik's Cube Becomes Popular
  • Ted Turner Establishes CNN


  • Assassination Attempt on the Pope
  • Assassination Attempt on US President Reagon
  • First Woman Appointed to the US Supreme Court
  • Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana
  • New Plague Identified as AIDS
  • Personal Computers (PC) Introduced by IBM


  • E.T. Movie Released
  • Falkland Islands Invaded by Argentina
  • Michael Jackson's Album Thriller is Released
  • Reverend Sun Myung Moon Marries 2,075 Couples at Madison Square Garden
  • Vietnam War Memorial Opened in Washington, DC


  • Reagan Announces Defense Plan Called Star Wars
  • Sally Ride Becomes the First American Woman in Space
  • Soviets Shoot Down a Korean Airliner
  • US Embassy in Beirut Bombed


  • Poison Gas Leak in Bhopal, India
  • Indira Gandhi, India's Prime Minister, Killed by Two Bodyguards
  • PG-13 Movie Rating Created


  • Back to the Future Opens
  • Famine in Ethiopia
  • First Internet Domain Name Is Registered
  • Gorilla Specialist Dian Fossey is Murdered
  • Hole in the Ozone Layer Discovered
  • Mikhail Gorbachev Calls for Glasnost and Perestroika
  • Rock Hudson Dies of AIDS
  • Serial Killer Known as "The Night Stalker" Starts Killing Spree
  • Terrorists Hijack TWA Flight 847
  • Wreck of the Titanic Found


  • Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
  • Ferdinand Marcos Flees the Philippines
  • First PC Virus, Brain, Goes Viral
  • Halley's Comet Passes By
  • Iran-Contra Scandal Unfolds
  • USSR Launches Mir Space Station


  • DNA First Used to Convict Criminals
  • Klaus Barbie, the Nazi Butcher of Lyons, Sentenced to Life in Prison
  • New York Stock Exchange Suffers Huge Drop on "Black Monday"
  • West German Pilot Lands Unchallenged in Russia's Red Square


  • Pan Am Flight 103 is Bombed Over Lockerbie
  • U.S. Shoots Down Iranian Airliner


  • Berlin Wall Falls
  • Exxon Valdez Spills Millions of Gallons of Oil on Coastline
  • Romanian Leader Nicolae Ceausescu and His Wife Are Executed
  • Students Massacred in China's Tiananmen Square
  • World Wide Web Invented


Advertising in the 1980s

If there was a theme in 1980s fragrance advertising, it was that women and men were equals in the sexual pursuit rather than the woman being the sex object. Advertising portrayed career-minded women as "supermoms," and nothing showed this better than the commercial for Charles of the Ritz Enjoli perfume. It depicted a sexy but capable woman who could "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget you're a man."

Revlon's Charlie created a stir with a pat on the backside in 1987. Successful since its 1973 launch, Charlie's newest advertising showed the woman in the ad giving her male colleague a pat on his rear end. The New York Times actually refused to run the ads saying that they were sexist and in poor taste.

The influence of the AIDS epidemic influenced advertising during the 1980s.  There was a dampening of unabashed sexual interaction and a focus on obviously monogamous relationships. Coty Emeraude had an ad that read "I love only one man, I wear only one fragrance." English Leather changed from "All my men wear English Leather" to the singular man and a Paco Rabanne ad was changed to have the male model put on a wedding ring. Despite this dampening, the nudity in Calvin Klein fragrance ads set new boundaries. 

The biggest marketing advance of the 1980s was made in 1982 by Giorgio Beverly Hills. It was the first fragrance to be advertised with a scent sample in a magazine. They purchased an entire year of perfume advertising with the scent strips in Vogue. Their sales, after only five years on the market, rose to $100 million.

Also in the 1980s, marketers began to approach celebrities to lend their names to their own signature scents. One of the most successful was Parfums International and Elizabeth Taylor.

This 1981 commercial for Oleg Cassini fragrances sums up that 80’s lust for luxury with a few select images: polo, yachting, private planes, Rolls Royces and wine and then lets you know it’s by Jovan, so it “doesn’t have to cost you the world.”

Some of the slogans from 1980s fragrances:   

  • Calvin Klein Obsession - between love and madness lies Obsession
  • Max Factor Le Jardin - If you want romance to come on strong, you have to come on soft
  • Max Factor Epris - part of the art of being a woman is knowing when not to be too much of a lady
  • Christian Dior Poison - poison is my potion
  • Giorgio Beverly Hills - the best-selling fragrance in Beverly Hills
  • Estee Lauder Beautiful - this is your moment to be beautiful
  • Elizabeth Arden Red Door - make an entrance
  • Cacharel Anais Anais - share the secret
  • Coty Exclamation - make a statement without saying a word!
  • Love's Baby Soft - underneath it all, she's Baby Soft
  • Faberge Brut - make everyday his Brut day
  • Guy LaRoche Drakkar Noir - feel the power
  • Davidoff Cool Water - the power of cool
  • Paco Rabanne Pour Homme - what is remembered is up to you
  • Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur - today is too important to wear anything else
  • Aramis by Aramis - all a man is
  • Jovan Oleg Cassini - and now Cassini's world is brought to you by Jovan, so it doesn't have to cost you the world


jovaneveningeditionmusk.jpg lejardin.jpgmaxfactorepris.jpgchaz.jpg

Some of the famous faces from 1980s fragrance advertisements: 

  • Linda Evangelista (YSL Opium)
  • Kim Alexis (Houbigant Chantilly)
  • Sophia Loren (Coty Sophia)
  • Jaclyn Smith (Max Factor Epris)
  • Ted Danson (Aramis by Aramis)
  • Sharon Stone (Revlon Charlie)
  • Sean Young (Coty Nuance)
  • Jane Seymour (Max Factor Le Jardin)
  • Famke Janssen (Coty Exclamation)
  • Paulina Porizkova (Estee Lauder Beautiful)
  • Elizabeth Taylor (her own line of perfumes)
  • Kate Moss (Calvin Klein Obsession)
  • Morgan Freechild (Jovan Evening Edition Musk)
  • Joan Collins (Revlon Scoundrel)

1980s Retro Fragrances

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