Memory-laden Monday (by Ann)

 I’m having retro moments lately (notice I didn’t say “senior” moments), although I must confess to having had another birthday earlier this month which puts me that much closer to that designation. But I’m not going to complain, as it certainly beats the alternative.

 Anyway, I was getting ready for work one day last week, and slipped on a silky mockneck sweater in the most gorgeous shade of blue-violet, put on a great red lipstick and suddenly felt the urge to spray something a bit opulent to complete the effect.  So I turned to my bottle of one of the ’80s greatest  hits: Givenchy’s Ysatis.

 Yes, it’s big — shoulder-pad big, but still so beautiful and classy to me that I can forgive it for that. And it has a little fun built in, too, I think, with its wink of coconut, to keep it from being too serious and over-the-top. It was launched not long before I began my most glamorous job ever, doing fashion public relations. I had to dress to the nines every day for work there, and Ysatis was a frequent companion as I wrote press releases, helped organize shows, and handled parties and seminars for buyers who would come in several times a year for the various markets.

Ysatis never failed to make me feel elegant and well-heeled, even as it did last week. Mind you, I wore it sparingly, as one spritz is a gracious plenty (at least for me), but it was just enough to make my day.  Ah, to be that young, thin and carefree again …

  So please share with me: When you’re having a retro moment (or would like one), what do you wear and where does it take you?


  • Anne says:

    I’ve been taking an internet vacation until today but this thread called to me. In the late ’80s, I was the box office manager at The Second City in Chicago and there was a guy who manufactured perfume who would call me to get a “good table” and then bring me perfume in anonymous bottles. I had Ysatis, and Bijan and Jessica McLintock and more that I can’t remember now. Friends would give me vintage perfume bottles to decant them into.

  • FearsMice says:

    It’s wonderful to know that there are many Ysatis fans out there. I, too, wore it back in the 80’s — in Japan, of all places! I have to laugh when I read about “light” scents developed for the Asian market. I must have left friends in Japan reeling back in the day!

  • DJ says:

    I just had a Yastis moment! While travelling, I visited a flea market last week and saw some tiny perfume bottles, so I went to look and Ysatis was there, tiny and half-used but the real deal in perfume form. I bought it (it was half off, and I could not leave it there for all of $5) and wore it to a wedding. It is a BIG scent. So big that it had to be left behind as the bottle was ;0not secure at all.

    A young man I know gave me a hug and said he smelled it on his coat for 2 days.

    It was lovely to revisit that kind of scent (in the 80s I had Giorgio Red, because the coolest girl I knew wore it…now I know my mom was the coolest, because she wore Diorissimo, haha) after my recent forays into Serge and Le Labo (I am in love with Musc 25, the opposite of Ysatis, of course)


  • Bella says:

    Hi Ann,

    I loved your post. I , too, wore Ysastis in the 80’s. Along with Romeo Gigli,Chloe, Lauren,
    and of course, El’s white linen!
    I absolutely was not a fan of Poison, white diamonds, red, and any other loud 80’s fragrance.
    On another note, I miss I. Magnin and J. Magnin too!

  • Ann says:

    Hey, Barbara, thanks for sharing. I remember C of the R, though don’t think I ever wore it, but I did have some Oscar and Bijan, which really was nice. I’d forgotten all about that one — didn’t it have the sort of rubbery white donut-looking plastic top? Or am I thinking of something else … :)

  • Barbara says:

    The first fragrance I remember loving (and actually using full bottles of) was Charles of the Ritz. I would love to have some now that perfume is my passion to see what my teenage nose was like!
    Then in the 80’s I loved me some Oscar de la Renta, and the old version of Opium, but my favorite was the original Bijan, which men loved!
    Thanks for a great post!

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweetie, glad you enjoyed it. It is fun to go back and revisit some ’80s greats. I loved Coco and Poison also, so you’ve inspired me to go back and try ’em again.

  • March says:

    Oh, what a fun post! Dropping by very late to tell you you’ve made me want to try Ysatis again. I think the observation about the coconut makes total sense.

    When I want the kind of moment you describe, with happy past associations, it’s either Poison or Coco, both sparingly applied. Poison always made me feel so sophisticated, and Coco was in a different phase of my life where I needed a grown-up morale booster.

  • Illdone says:

    Imagine this : (well don’t, because it’s true)It’s the late seventies and I’m at my best friends house, her mother wears l’air du Temps. I just had a bath in Magie Noire and my best friend is wearing Tosca mixed with Mystere. It must have been awfull yet I only recall how wonderfull it was. Best friend and me were 16 then. Best times ever.
    Jeez, now I’m getting, not only nostalgic, but even a bit sad, so much has happened since then.

    Ann, I understand the feelings you have about getting older but there’s little alternative indeed. Let’s just all agree with Coco Chanel : a woman that doesn’t wear perfume has no future. So I think we all have a lot of future to look forward to!

    • Ann says:

      What a neat scent memory; one that smelled great despite the odd mix because you were happy and enjoying yourself. Thanks for reminding me of the classic Chanel quote; it’s so true.

  • Ann says:

    Too funny, Tulip — I do that kind of thing all the time and have to do a whiplash double-take. How cool about your I. Magnin experience — what a thrill! P.S. Did you take photos?

  • Tulip says:

    Here’s my uh mature moment – read your post about slipping on your sweater as if you were actually slipping/ falling down and my heart skipped a beat . oh oh poor thing.
    Back to the 80’s – wore Opium, Magie Noir, the original Missoni, and my favorite Coriandre. Also, my husband and I were in the earring business in New Mexico making those big 80’s earrings and selling some to I Magnin. We were so excited to see them on a model in the window display at the IM in Seattle on a visit. Miss those times.

  • Millicent says:

    Hilarious — I just bought a bottle of Ysatis over the weekend, remembering it fondly from the 80’s! My grandmother gave me one of those miniature bottles from a set, along with a minis of Rive Gauche and Paris. Anyway, I was browsing in a funny little perfume shope and saw a discounted 30ml bottle, which I snatched right up. I don’t know how much I’ll actually wear it, but it’s fun to smell.

    And then what do I find on the Posse today? A lovely homage to the old days, plus a whole crowd of fans!

    • Ann says:

      Ah, Millicent, great minds (noses?) think alike, right? What a lovely coincidence! You’re a lucky, lucky girl for getting your hands on a bottle.

  • Ann says:

    Yeah, another Ysatis fan! Of the ones you mentioned, I’ve only smelled La Perla, but will definitely have to try the others. Thanks for the heads-up.

  • Dante's Bra says:

    Ysatis, how i love you (dabbed, lest we smoke everyone out!) The fat coconut and the lovely woody drydown is heaven.

    I don’t know if this qualifies as retro, but I’ve been getting into some low-profile chypres lately: Houbigant’s Apercu, La Perla, Histoire d’Amour by Aubusson. They make me stand up straight and ask for what I want. Elegance, tout de suite. There’s a great thread on Basenotes about Unsung Treasures, and I’ve gotten some jewels from it.

  • mother courreges says:

    I loved Ysatis too!
    Early ’80s, poodle butt perm, wearing my fave Norma Kamili purple shirtdress with huge shoulder pads, waist cinching wide black patent belt, and a skirt full enough to shelter a wedding party of 200!
    The icing on the cake: matching purple platforms with wide black ankle straps and more eye makeup than Donna Mills on Knot’s Landing…
    Also, dimly (remember, it WAS the eighties)recall huge black/purple mobile earrings to complete the statement.

    Yes, in the ’80s, more was MORE!

    • Ann says:

      Whoo-hoo, you were rockin’ that purple!! Thanks for reminding me; I almost forgot about those huge belts we used to wear. I had a big gold belt buckle that looked like a giant comma (or an off-kilter teardrop) and it had interchangeable leather straps 2 or 3 inches wide. That buckle was so heavy that I could’ve knocked somebody out with it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dante's Bra says:

      A vision. I can hear Bryan Ferry singing…

      • Ann says:

        Oh, man, you have good taste! I do love Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music — in fact, 1982’s “Avalon” is one of my top 5 albums.

      • March says:

        lol and I can see me dancing. I was doing the early Madonna thing — hair bow, pointy shoes, ripped tights and lace gloves. Man, I wish I had a photo.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Navy, Liz Claiborne (gack, and I layered it with the shower gel and lotion!!) Jacyln Smith’s Caifornia were some first loves in early high school in the very late 80’s. With my pegged jeans and very shiny lipgloss, I was all that and a bag of chips! ;-) Then I discovered my grandmother’s Emeraude and smelled Shalimar in Jordan Marsh ( which I miss – so much better than Macy’s) and they were big enduring loves.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Miss M, I know you were something else! :) I, too, miss the wonderful Jordan Marsh, my earliest experience with a classy department store.

  • Barbara M says:

    Halston/Z14,Opium screeches me back to days of disco-theme parties, dancing all night long…IMagnin…who can forget her, and her elegance(Private Collection,Givenchy 111)Chant de Aromes catapults me right back to Paris street markets,eating seafood cassoulet out of half shells…all alone….

    • Ann says:

      Barbara, I loved Opium (in small doses, of course) and hooked several boyfriends on Z-14. A great men’s scent that I think is still around.

  • Vasily says:

    Why, I take out my Guerlain Derby miniature bottle, of course … one of the greatest men’s frags ever created … and yes, I often like to smell like an “old man” as the Basenotes kiddies say … have to find me a full bottle, one of these days …

    The other retro frag I like very much is Knize Ten … leather don’t get any better than that …

  • Meg says:

    Wasn’t around in the 80’s but recently sniffed Givenchy Amarige which I realized must have been my mother’s signature scent in the 90s, it triggered some crazy nostalgia. Even crazier, I kind of liked it when I tried it on. I am not sure if it is really beautiful or I just associate it with maternal comfort so acutely that it is beautiful to me. But jeez, it’s big.

    • Ann says:

      Yep, Meg, it was indeed outsize. No matter the reason, I’m glad that you’re enjoying it and it smells beautiful to you.

    • Darryl says:

      Aw, I associate Amarige with maternal comfort, too – it’s my mom’s fave, and I’ve smelled it on her since I was a tot. Later on she found Organza, and that’s how she smelled throughout most of my teens. Objectively I find Amarige awfully sweet and a bit shrill, but it somehow worked on her.

  • Joanna says:

    I adore Ysatis. It was my favorite acquisitions from Swapmania. I’ve found that on days when I can’t make up my mind about which scent to wear I automatically reach for Ysatis and it never fails to make me happy.
    Aviance Night Musk, Coty Wild Musk, Sand & Sable, and Aspen were my favorites back in jr. high, high school. Smelling them now makes me feel nostalgic and happy.
    One of my first, “Big Girl” perfume purchases was a bottle of Jill Sander No.4, while I was in college. I think it was the tarragon that grabbed me by the nose. In any case, it still holds a place of tenderness and respect in my heart and in my collection. I had a thing for Chloe and Anais Anais back in those days too along with the Aveda purefumes, (They had some really great frags back then. I always hated how they’d discontinue their scents after a year or two.)
    Shalimar held me up in those years after I got pregnant, (In college. I came home with a baby instead of a degree.)Something about wearing it made it impossible to hang my head or think of myself as less than a lady. When people talk about, “Liquid Courage” I always think about Shalimar instead of booze.
    Lagerfeld Cologne is a guilty pleasure still. It reminds me of the only man, (Boy) to ever break my heart. Once again this was during college. He was looking for a new cologne and he sampled Lagerfeld at my request. The result was like olfactory heroin for me, I couldn’t get enough. His brother convinced him it smelled like baby powder and talked him into wearing NAVY which I think was one of the most disgusting colognes ever. Anyway, he broke up with me and then a couple years later came out of the closet. We met up years later and he mentioned how his frist boyfriend made him stop wearing Navy because it stinks. LOL I wear Lagerfeld cologne still and can’t stop smelling myself when I do.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Joanna, glad to hear you’re a Ysatis lady too! Loved your stories and memories — thanks for sharing.

  • Musette says:

    The 80s! I went BIG! Claude Montana suits, Donna Summer hair, Maud Frizon stilettos with little wings….anybody remember blush sticks? Big slashes of cheek color, ala David Bowie….:-< I miss those greedy, grabby, great days! Paris! coked to the gills in that stuff. Ysatis! yep. me, too. Go Big Chloe. A LOT of it Anais Anais My Big Gun: Estee Lauder Private Collection. I was just too soignee for words, with my bad self 8-| ;)) xo >-)

    • DinaC says:

      I do remember blush sticks! I also remember wearing a deep purple-y blush that was way too dark for my pale skin by today’s standards. :-)

      My mom used to wear Chloe and Anais Anais. They were both really nice.

      • Musette says:

        Your mom? 😮


        well DUH and all that – I’m an abuela now so …yes, of course! OTHER PEOPLE HAVE GROWN CHILDREN! It’s weird to remember that sometimes …:-?

        xo >-)

      • Ann says:

        Wowza! Claude Montana — loved his designs! And Private Collection was a huge hit with me, too, so much so that I invested in the body lotion, soap AND powder and that’s saying a LOT for me!

  • mals86 says:

    (Yep, one spritz of Ysatis is a gracious plenty! …and I don’t know how many people are familiar with that southern expression, but it’s a good one.)

    For me, Chloe takes me right back to high school. Not sure that’s a positive retro moment, but still, there it is. Sand & Sable, too, though I didn’t wear it myself. I bought a bottle right after I got out of high school, and my mother made me take it back, saying it was too old for me – but a friend wore it, and smelling it now is pretty nostalgic.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Mals, that’s my Southern upbringing coming out (I have Northern roots/expressions as well, but will pull those out another time). Never smelled Sand & Sable, but Chloe has a special place in my heart as a college boyfriend gave me an elegant parfum bottle of it.

  • Catherine says:

    Ysatis was one of my FAVORITE fragrances in my early twenties. I got it on the Champs Élysées with my then-fiancé around Christmas time and wore it forever. I love that era of perfumery–when big was the norm.

  • pam says:

    For years, White Linen was my signature scent. I was working in a lab, and the lovely smell counteracted all the chemical smells without making my coworkers complain. While you were dressing up, Ann, I was wearing jeans and plaid shirts covered by a lab coat. I still have a little WL which I bring out from time to time to remember the old days.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Pam. Love the lab coat over jeans and a plaid shirt, topped off by White Linen. You were a woman of wonderful contrasts and smelled great, too!

  • DinaC says:

    In the early 80s, (high school for me) I wore Lauren by RL and Revlon’s Jontue. I think I kept wearing those two plus Flora Danica and Emeraude as the years went by in college. In ’85, when I turned 21, my mom gave me my first bottle of Arpege, and that became my signature scent for several years. I associate the late 80s with my Working Girl years: wearing business suits and sneakers, commuting on public transporation to a crummy job downtown, and being single. Hey, at least I smelled good! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Mmmmm, the original Lauren was a fave of mine, too. I remember getting as a gift the square glass bottle of 1/4 ounce of parfum and being thrilled to pieces with the elegant simplicity of it. Sure wish I still had it. And love the “Working Girl” memory — I was right there with you with Reeboks on my feet and my high heels tucked in a tote bag over my shoulder …

  • Francesca says:

    Great post!

    I didn’t realize this til fairly recently, but I was a real perfumista back in the seventies. And now I’ve been able to collect some vintage decants of what I wore back then. So for very special occasions, I’ve got some of the good stuff: Calèche, Vent Vert, Ma Griffe… If I knew then what I know now, I’d have stockpiled.

  • mary says:

    En Avion is my retro moment– in a couple of ways. First–it takes me back to the early 80’s, when I smelled it for the first time at the dearly departed Caron boutique in the old I. Magnin store in SF– (You can still find some of the beautiful old elements of that boutique in what is now Macy’s– at least they didn’t throw it all out.)And, it always summons for me the Paris of Jean Rhys novels–

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Mary, a Caron boutique, ooh la la!
      And thanks for the beautiful reminder of I. Magnin. I loved that store, in spirit anyway, as I frequently drooled over their divine catalogs. Alas, by the time I got to San Francisco, that glorious store was already gone from Union Square. Thinking fondly of all the wonderful retail stores now gone …

      • Musette says:

        I loved SF’s I. Magnin and its Chicago sister. I bought my first Donna Karan (back when she was doing those wrap skirts and bodysuits)….I remember getting stuck in a bodysuit in the dressing room and cursing her – she is not the smallest gal in the world and still! she had those things cut two sizes small. Grrr :-w I Magnin gave way to Bendel, which was just as elegant and glamorous….then Borders….8-|

        :-< xo >-)

        • Marle says:

          Oh memories. SF I. Magnin. The ne plus ultra of my shopping experiences trying to escape my Eddie Bauer phase.

          I remember that mirroed fragrance section. It was so hallowed, so elegant, so refined that I couldm’t imagine shopping there.

          But I do remember the I. Magnin restrooms upstairs were the most private, elegant, and undiscovered places in SF to rest your heels during shopping.

          Oh how I miss I Magnin.

      • ggperfume says:

        I. Magnin was incomparable. From about the 30’s through the 50’s (before my time, so I’m not speaking from personal experience here) they showed the latest haute couture every season, just after the Paris shows. My mother got her best clothes there, including her wedding suit, and often her perfumes as well. I can remember the best fragrance counters I’ve ever seen. . . oh well. I still have a hat of hers, a sporty little crochet beanie, with the I. Magnin label.

  • Tara says:

    Ann..what a great post! I was (still am) an Opium girl in the 80s. Somehow I missed Ysatis back then, but luckily I have discovered it and it is amazing! I might not be young, carefree or thin anymore, but sniffing the big shoulder-pad scents of the 80s is so fun and joyous. They allow me to feel like that girl I used to be. I don’t want to go back, but nostalgia is fun.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Tara! I couldn’t agree with you more; the ’80s scents represent some wonderful memories. I, too, wore Opium (dabbed very sparingly), but more often opted for the thick, rich body cream. As I recall it came in a beautiful frosted glass jar.