Cheap and Cheerful, By Request: 4711, Avon Moonwind and Yardley English Lavender

Well, Amazon for once drew a rabbit out of a hat and and actually got my little bottle of 4711 here 4 days earlier than promised. Now if they could only manage that with things I actually wanted immediately,,

One of the other things I decided to try from a comment or post that I read somewhere (Don’t remember where) was something called “Moonwind” from Avon. I know most people look at Avon as the cosmetic equivalent of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but if you didn’t live in a big city or have big money I would assume that having someone actually come to your home and let you try some of the latest of the “gooke du femme” (as Joe Keenan would write) is a godsend- even if the hard-sell tactics may have been harder than the fuller brush person. You could see whether that Tangerine Treacle blush or Purple Rose of Cincinnati lipstick was a winner or a zonk, all before “Match Game” and your 3PM sloe gin fizz.

So, Moonwind. It came out in 1971, and was offered in bottles both normal and ones shaped into “keepsakes” some of which are available on eBay (where I purchased my normal one for about $10) to this day. It’s supposed to be a floral aldehyde with green notes. First application reminds me of something from my mother’s dressing table: not Joy or Miss Dior, something more like Antilope (is that still around? Hmmm.) Something that would grab the lady of the house’s attention. Something that says “Paris.” Or perhaps “Paree.” It doesn’t stay that way, becoming a pleasant green little thing that to my nose has a surprising amount of presence to it: either this bottle never saw the light of day or Moonwind was a little more French Quarter than actual French. Which if you know me is in no way a bad thing..

The second trip down sense-memory lane was Yardley English Lavender. I had recently run out of hand soap and was looking to get something in bulk to refill the various pumps I have by the sinks. I didn’t feel necessarily like spending even Bigelow money on it (and really wanted a refill) and found two rather large Yardley’s for well under $10 on Amazon, so I thought what the heck. It’s soap. It’s lavender. How bad could it be?

If you were a kid in the 70’s when there were three networks, maybe two independents (if you were lucky) and PBS, it was almost impossible to miss certain commercials. Before you were 10 you knew that “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should” and that when you bought the world a Coke, people should be saying “gee, your hair smells terrific” or you might experience the heartbreak of psoriasis. But don’t worry, come summer you’d be off with the family to “See the USA in your Chevrolet”- no doubt the big Kingswood Estate with the magic disappearing tailgate, steel-belted radials, and custom roof rack in the special package. See your dealer!

You also could not avoid hearing about Yardley’s English Lavender. If it wasn’t Deborah Kerr telling us that she surrounds herself with it via herb gardens and soaps, it was Maud Adams telegraphing that we too could get away from our drab work-a-day lives, kids, husbands, and housework to become a Bond girl in a bathtub by a roaring fire, and unlike Roger Moore, the soap won’t start a shoot-out. 

The soap? It’s nice. It’s lavender, a bit of mint, and well, soap. I didn’t feel like a Bond Girl, but my hands were clean and the bathroom smelled nice after I used it. I don’t know that I necessarily need to try the cologne, but I like the hand soap.

And now onto our feature presentation:

4711 has been around forever- it’s one of the oldest colognes there is that’s still in production, dating back to 1792. (You can read about it in exhausting detail HERE) My personal acquaintance with it would have date from more like 1972, when it was kept in the icebox in some people’s houses in the summer months to be splashed on the back of the neck and the wrists on those beastly New England summer days when it would be 90 degrees and 100% humidity at midnight. Pretty much everybody since has come up with some sort of version of this, amping up the citrus or the petigrain or the herbs; you could even make an argument that whole classes of colognes owe it all to 4711 and you wouldn’t be far off. I think scents ranging from Dior Eau Sauvage to Hermes Orange Vert to Malle Outrageous! to about 500 others owe some sort of debt to 4711. This is certainly one of the least expensive: my 3.4oz bottle was about $15 delivered. If I run through it I’ll see about the gallon size..

So how does it smell? Pretty much as I remember it. It goes on flowery, citrusy, and then it’s kind of gone, leaving a vague smell of powdery clean-ness that I honestly cannot tell if it’s left-over notes or just the smell of skin that has had a recent dip in cleansing alcohol. Which is not a bad thing and indeed it the nature of the beast. It’s an initial cool-down. A refresher. A tonic (A potion, a little bit of magic in a world obsessed with science? Sorry different movie) Expecting it to last longer is like expecting a sudden summer squall to last- it’s nice while it’s happening but much longer and it’ll ruin the picnic. I do think you should buy as large a size as you can- You will find yourself on a hot day splashing it more than you would imagine. The fact that it will be gone in 15 minutes means that A) you can reapply or 2) that it won’t screw with what you’re wearing for the day. So I say take it, and enjoy it, for what it is. 

Because one of those beastly summer days could cause even serene, saintly Deborah Kerr to think of burying the body under some of that lavender. Just as soon as it cools off…

Photos: my iPhone


  • Musette says:

    Snap! babycakes! A few days ago I unearthed Mighty Minutes – a paperback coffeetable book about the dawn of TV commercials – was immediately transported back to the late 60s. My favorite was the … Camay?… commercials where the women took the travel time to take a bath (best one was the sunken bathtub in the back of the limo).

    I am more Jean Nate’ than 4711 but only because .. dunno. It does the same thing, either one of them. Perfect for a hot summer’s day.

    Ooooh! all this reminds me also of Love’s Baby Soft! Do that one next, Tom!!!


    • Tom says:

      Ooohhh- I don’t think I have ever smelled that..

      • Tom says:

        Well as and I will do so. If eBay get it to me it’ll be a 60’s triple header: Love’s Baby Soft & Canoe by Dana, as well as Camay. I may have to keep the long hair for it..

  • Maya says:

    Fun post! My mother also loved 4711. I thought it was nice but rarely used it myself.

  • March says:

    I love your reviews, I giggle all the way through them. I remember Avon ladies! (Of course I do…) and back then it did seem like quite a treat. My mother didn’t drive, and they stopped by. In college, my roommate kept 4711 in the dorm fridge for a splash in sweltering midwest heat with no A/C, I thought it was so sophisticated! So for decades I’ve had a bigger bottle for generous dousing, kept in the fridge in warmer weather. If I have a heat/tension headache I splash some on a cool damp cloth and have a lie-down with the cloth over my eyes. Maybe the damp cloth would work on its own but 4711 always makes it nicer.

    • Tom says:

      Well, I think there’s some aromatherapy thing going on there too. It’s certainly nicer smelling than straight alcohol (which I got a container of during the pandemic when hand sanitizer reached the price of platinum) so that’s something.

      Thanks for the props (re writing)- coming from someone who writes like you that’s high praise!

  • Purefume says:

    Tom, I loved this post! That Yardley commercial is a hoot. 4711 had a commercial of waves splashing on the bottle if I remember correctly.

    • Tom says:

      It was actually between the Maud Adams one and one with Deborah Kerr. I went with Maud. There was also one for the Kingswood Estate that was total 70’s kitsch but off topic.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’ve got a bottle of 4711, and it’s great on humid summer days. I know I’ve smelled the Yardley English Lavender in the past at some point. Enjoyed your comments.

  • Alityke says:

    I do love a cheap thrill. Guess you can tell from my previous comments.
    Yep 4711 is just perfect for what it’s designed to do. Let’s face it There are a number of Tom Ford’s based on the cologne.
    Avon? School friends wore Eau Givre, Moonwind & others I’ve forgotten given to them for Christmas. The only scented thing I was given from Avon was the Lily of the Valley Kiddle Kologne. I was about 6, maybe 7 & she was not gateway drug into perfumery.
    Now I do wear Soft Musk, Far Away & flankers. The cheapest thrill is the Soft Musk 50ml for a fiver! Yes that’s just £5 for 50ml. It’s been around since the 70s & it’s a perfect fluffy, musky little cloud.
    Admit it, you’re enjoying this cheap thrills rabbit hole!

    • Tom says:


      You are leading me down the garden path and I am loving every inch..

      • Tom says:

        Just checked out Soft Musk and it’s sadly discontinued and going for $30 on eBay. Oh well..

        • Alityke says:

          Nooooo!!! It’s still in the UK line. Must be UK gals that keep up sales here.
          TTFN can’t chat, off to buy a back up bottle just in case

  • Neil Chapman says:


  • cinnamon says:

    Although I lived in various suburbias growing up never experienced Avon (I think my mother was just averse for some reason, though I think one of my aunts might have been an Avon Lady). The only thing remotely Avon I’ve ever had anything to do with is the Skin So Soft as a bug repellant. 4711 was one of my mother’s fragrances. Have absolutely no memory of it except the bottle on her dresser. It is a great bottle.

    • Tom says:

      Skin So Soft! OMG- I had completely forgotten about that! We didn’t have it (we had some foul-smelling vaguely eco-concoction from the local co-op) but I had always heard it was used for that. Did it actually work or did it just soften and plump you up for the mosquitos (another thing I soooooooooo do not miss living in LA)

  • Portia says:

    You are HILARIOUS Tom! Death Becomes Her is one of my guilty pleasures. I still laugh out loud at it.
    I too have a bottle of 4711. It didn’t get out of the cupboard this year because it’s spot in the fridge was taken by Paris Hilton Sirens.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      One of mine too- I still wish they’d release a directors cut with the original ending and the Tracey Ullman parts restored. Maybe as a special feature, since I think the released ending was the better one.