Blast from the Past: 80s Perfume Set

vintage perfumes

So the other day I was scrolling through the WordPress Reader, checking out new posts on beauty and travel.  I happen to come across a post on a blog called girlinaland, in which the author purchased a vintage coat that still had the scent of a mystery vintage perfume.  She asked her mom, who immediately recognized the scent as Chantilly.

Cut to this afternoon.  I’m at the drug store buying Polysporin.  I’ve already paid, and as I walk towards the exit I notice a clearance rack of perfume sets.  One of the sets is straight out of 1989, and includes Chantilly!  I think the gods are trying to tell me something (wear Chantilly and I’ll meet my Russian oligarch?) so I take the $11.99 set to the register, where I find out it’s further marked down to $8.50.  When I get home I’m inspired to pull some of my old magazines off the shelf, and I managed to find an original 1985 advertisement for one of the included scents: Heaven Sent (see above).

The fun didn’t end there, however.  I took the opportunity to rifle through the rest of the magazine and found some great images that really evoked that era.

vintage perfumes

This is just another shot of the perfume bottles.  You can see the set includes Navy, Tabu, Toujours Moi, Chantilly and Heaven Sent (all links go to descriptions and reviews on Fragrantica).  Based on what I read on Fragrantica, a lot of these are going to smell like root beer.  While some were originally formulated by other perfume houses, they all seem to be owned by Dana (for whom I should thank for Love’s Baby Soft) today.   You can also see a pretty epic hair bow.

vintage perfumes

Here’s a shot of Cover Girl Renee Simonsen, who today runs a Danish website for divorced parents.

80s magazine

And here’s a close-up of a Bonne Belle advertisement that I recall finding bizarre even as a child.  Something about this model’s face always seemed a little… waxy… to me.  Twenty-eight years later I remain unconvinced that is a living, breathing human.

80s magazines

1985 also brought us some pretty awesome Fashion Model Poses.  I think that nearly every contestant on America’s Next Top Model must have been studying these vintage magazines before their auditions.

However, the 1980s weren’t just about big hair, shoulder pads, perms and streaky blush.  In fact, it was a dark decade for women.  Especially menstruating women.  Just look at some of the ads I saw in one magazine.

80s magazines

In the 1980s, women were still mystified by tampons.  Try as they may, they simply couldn’t understand how they worked, leaving Tampax to try to explain in soft pastels.

80s magazines

With most women mystified by tampons, many relied on menstrual pads.  And apparently if your pad didn’t look like three sweatbands tucked inside a plastic bag you were leaking all over your Jordache jeans.


The 1980s also brought a new kind of menstrual pain.  One that couldn’t be numbed with traditional remedies like Midol and Pamprin.  Fortunately there was Trendar to help your uterus chill out enough for you to Jazzercise.  (The woman in this ad was just about to take off her headband and wristbands and shove them into a perforated plastic bag to make a menstrual pad, by the way.)

While I was reading my 1980s magazines I found some unopened perfume samples (the kind folded behind a flap of paper), and I’m pleased to say that even twenty-five years after publication, opening up even one tiny little corner of a Giorgio Beverly Hills Red sample will make your entire, 1200-square-foot apartment stink.


4 responses to “Blast from the Past: 80s Perfume Set

  1. I love this! I remember I would “always feel perfect in Navy” and I sprayed through at least two bottles of Heaven Scent.

  2. I loved this post! So funny! I watched a video in a class in beauty school and it was this tutorial from the 80s! so funny! I will try and find it online, its a much watch!

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