What Are Your Old Favourite Memory Fragrances?

Heya Posse, Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and today I’d like to take a wander down Memory Lane, Memory Fragrances Lane anyway. I have chosen five Memory Fragrances that are mostly changed a bit but they are all wonderful and give me a rush of memory from the time gone by when they were pivotal scents in my life. Like a Memory Fragrance soundtrack if you will. I have probably chatted about a couple before but they play so enormous a part in my fragrant life that I like to chat about them. We will bypass some of the most obvious ones like Shalimar and CHANEL No 5 because I feel like I go on about them incessantly, and should you want them they are still so easily available to spritz that you hardly need me yammering on about them.

Portia’s Old Favourite Memory Fragrances

Antaeus Chanel FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Anteaus Pour Homme by CHANEL: My first ever proper live with partner wore Anteaus Pour Homme. Just as life with him was a mixed blessing so too was his choice of fragrance. At the time the screamingly herbal and urinous opening was an assault to my nostrils and as it was the end of the 1980s/early 1990s Anteaus Pour Homme was applied in sufficient quantities to sear the paint off houses. Since those heady days Anteaus Pour Homme has calmed considerably, or maybe my nose has been permanently marred by its over application in my youth. Nowadays I can smell it with only the slightest hint of recognition of the fluorescent brightness from those days, but still as a Memory Fragrance it does take me back to the good times we had as very young adults.

Memory Fragrances Aromatics Elixir Clinique FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique: How has this lovely beauty been around since 1971? I remember it fondly from one of my Aunts and her hugs. Back then it didn’t smell so big and overpowering compared to what everyone else was wearing. Nowadays I have to be careful with my application or I end up like a wall of scent. Aromatics elixir is so decadently woodsy and spicy, an overload of everything fabulously perfume-y. When I smell someone wearing AE (more infrequent in the last few years) I always get a rush of nostalgia and am taken straight back to the front stoop of my Aunt’s place. For some reason AE is one of my most potent Memory Fragrances.

Memory Fragrances Byzance Rochas FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Byzance by Rochas: I’ve talked about my happy memories of Byzance before I think. My Dad bought Byzance for my sister at around age 16 and for a while she and Mum would wear it for special all the time. When we were getting ready to leave all of a sudden the whole house would smell so Oriental and fabulous. The big spicy opening, floral heart and woodsy vanilla dry down are etched forever on my nose and brain as good time scents. It was like a clarion call for a special night out.

L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Issey Miyake FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

L’Eau d’Issey Homme: One of my partners wore L’Eau d’Issey ONLY! Our apartment smelled of L’Eau d’Issey no matter what other stuff I would wear, clean or bathe with. I would open the door from being anywhere and be completely overwhelmed by this unearthly, spicy, metallic, watery scent. I could tell if he had walked into the dressing room at venues even because it was so totally his scent, and it smelled quite different on his Indian skin than anyone else who wore it. Sometimes while making love after a big night out I would feel as if the whole world had become this scent and that I was floating inside a huge fragrant bubble with just he and I. Sadly it smells like that on no-one else but if I spray L’Eau d’Issey onto some fabric and leave it overnight in a closed room it’s like I am back in that apartment again, young and crazy in love.

Memory Fragrances LouLou Cacharel Fragrantica

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Lou Lou by Cacharel: Ha! Even writing Lou Lou makes me smile with fond memories. What is so outrageous now is that this was considered a dainty fragrance at the time and especially for young girls as yet unready for the big guns of Opium, Shalimar and Giorgio. It is still a BIG Memory Fragrance, though much attenuated since those days. Very wearable in its current form too. I love a sneaky spritz to remind me of the girls I grew up with.

Memory Fragrances Maja Myrurgia FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Maja Soap by Myrurgia: I LOVE the soap of Maja. Even now it smells EXACTLY like I remember it smelling. Mum used to use Maja in her bathroom and the smell was always so beautiful. She also used to put spare Maja soaps in her clothes drawers, and there were always spares because a three pack of the soaps was an easy gift for us to give her and because the box was square sided it was also good to wrap. I recently purchased a three pack in the spirit of remembrance for my Mum’s birthday and scented my own drawers with them. That first day was so evocative that I found myself quite choked up.

Memory Fragrances Samsara Guerlain Fragrantica

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Samsara by Guerlain: You may know that Shalimar was one of my Mum and her girlfriend’s fragrances but there was a time when Shalimar was eclipsed by Samsara. Creamy Samsara, that deliciously fruity floral all underpinned by fabulous Sandalwood. The last few batches have been less than incredible but I put my trust in Thierry Wasser, he will bring Samsara back to its rightful place as the queen of sandalwood. I think it was me, or maybe Dad, who gave this to Mum and she wore it everywhere. It was around the time that I got my first job and used all the money to buy Christmas presents for the family and my friends. Mum smelled so beautiful in it that I thought she should have been a queen. Interestingly Samsara is a scent snippet because I can only remember there ever being the one bottle, I wonder why?

What Memory Fragrances instantly bring you back to a time, place or person? Please tell me, I love to read your stories.

Portia x



  • Nitasha says:

    Dune!!! My mum
    Loved that one and now I finally get it!

  • My Mother used to wear Opium for work..A Givenchy pure parfum for nights out and I always used to buy her Faberge Babe when I was a kid..As a young teen I wore Faberge Tigress Musk or Coty Wild Musk but only the oil..( I would sell a kidney for a bottle of the oil )..My Auntie used to wear Arpege and a really fashionable great Auntie loved Fracas..she gave me a few mini bottles once and I am horrified to report that I used it as shoe freshener LOL..For my first love I wore Samsara..ex hubby loved Must de Cartier..and now I am single I am just a scent ho..

    • Portia says:

      ha Ha ha! It’s nice to be able to wear what you want. I loved that Must de Cartier.
      You would rock the Tigress Musk Cassandra.
      Portia xx

  • Tom says:

    Scents I had when I was a young yoof? In my teens I had Eau Sauvage, Habit Rouge and Royal Bain de Champagne (back when it was still called that..)

    • Portia says:

      Hey Tom,
      I know the Royal Bain de Champagne lost a lot of its allure along with its name but I quite like the modern version too. If it was a fragrance released on its own merits there would be less scandal and outcry I think.
      Do you still wear the other two at all?
      Portia xx

  • Jackie b says:

    It seems that some of our strong scent memories are tied up with what our family wore…my mother had classics like Cabochard Gres and Ma Griffe. Father wore Old Spice, it used to sting his face and wake him up!
    Later on I got a job performing in a hotel in St Moritz and one of the guests went round in a cloud of Mystere by Rochas. She was the most exotic thing I had ever seen, and I went home and bought a bottle. I loved it for years but it never turned me into a Middle Eastern princess!

    • Portia says:

      That is an excellent set of Scent Memories JackieB. I bet other people thought you smelled like a Middle Eastern princess.
      Portia xx

  • My mom wore Oscar de la Renta when I was a kid in the ’80s, but I barely remember what it smelled like. I tried to revisit it at a Macy’s a few months ago, but either I tried the wrong concentration or it’s been drastically reformulated, because it wasn’t ringing any bells. I wore Exclamation! in junior high. I haven’t smelled it in years, so I’d be curious to know what it smells like now.

    Nowadays my mom favors white musks, so I tend to associate scents like that with her. I recently found a small bottle of Jovan Musk on the clearance shelf at Walgreen’s for next to nothing. I figured I had probably smelled it before but couldn’t remember. Since the box wasn’t sealed I snuck a spritz in the store, and immediately I felt like my mom was standing right there. It was kind of a weird feeling. I decided that was worth $2.50, so I got it.

    My dad has worn Brut basically my whole life, so anything fougere-ish (even if it doesn’t smell like Brut, just in the same general family) I tend to associate with him. I like some men’s scents for myself, but that whole category ends up being kind of off-limits because I just feel like I raided my dad’s medicine cabinet and don’t feel comfortable wearing it.

    • Portia says:

      Nice to see you Jennifer Counts.
      Back in the late 1980s Oscar de la Renta was on my part of the frag counter. We had Oscar, Guerlain, Nina Ricci and Worth in my section and yes Oscar has been DRASTICALLY reformulated.
      Hilarious about wearing fougere and feeling like you’d raided Dad’s wardrobe. I wear Tabac for EXACTLY that reason. I feel like Dad is with me. The best parts of him are summoned with one spritz.
      Portia xx

  • Mary K says:

    There are quite a few I remember from long ago: Je Reviens, Youth Dew, Jungle Gardenia, Maja, Ambush, and Emeraude, to name a few. All of them bring back happy memories of wearing them or of other people who liked them, like my mom or maybe a best friend.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there MaryK,
      Isn’t it amazing how potent those memories can be, even 20 or 50 years on. I am constantly surprised as I delve deeper into vintage fragrance by the sheer weight of scent memory I carry.
      Portia xx

  • Lisa D says:

    I remember the bottles with greater clarity than I do the scents of my younger days, perhaps because I don’t now have any perfumes from that time. I loved the Anais Anais bottle, Shiseido’s Zen, Pavlova, and Opium – I remember the shapes, colors and adornments with a great deal of affectionate nostalgia. They seemed to be objects of such concentrated loveliness! I still feel that way about perfume bottles; they’re objets d’art, rather than containers.

    • Portia says:

      Hi LisaD,
      Some of the bottles really are pieces of art in their own right. I always think of the Baccarat L’Air du Temps or some of the Lalique beauties when we talk magic bottles.There are still some amazing bottles produced I suppose like theL’Artisans, Lutens bell jars, Cacharel’s Liberte is fab and I always loved the Goutal girls bottles in their lovely jewel colours.
      MMM You have me thinking.
      Portia xx

  • Ann says:

    Great post, Portia! And so glad you listed Byzance — I used to love that back in the day, and it’s rounded blue bottle. In fact, if I’m remembering correctly, it was a cousin to Ysatis. Now I’ve gotta go round up a dab o’ that to wear again 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Ann,
      The bottle was lovely wasn’t it. You can still get 4ml EdP minis online for a good price and they are time portal machines. I have some of the EdT and a very small amount of EdP. The EdT is only a quarter the creature that the EdP is and I have a remembrance that there was a parfum too but I can’t find it to buy.
      I think you have my email?
      Portia xx

      • Tara says:

        I have been wearing Byzance since 1987, when I was 21 years old. I have a jealously hoarded stash of edp, edt and pure parfum. When I wear it now it brings tears to my eyes, remembering myself as a young woman.

  • einsof says:

    ahhhh the limbic system. such a powerful thing, isn’t it?

    Biggest scent memories: my grandmother’s Youth Dew, my first love’s Cool Water, the biggest olfactory event in my life: my first dram of REAL jasmine sambac absolute, early production Aveda products (1980’s) and that year i spent ONLY wearing rose absolute, water- anything rose, as long as it was real.

    probably for every event, moment, history in my life i can associate and assign a scent… but then again, scent is my world. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Einsof,
      Your life is FILLED with scent memory. What an excellent way to live. Collecting scent memories is free too, finding their route can be expensive though.
      I have a mate in LA who was on the creation team for a whole bunch of the AVEDA products, he even gave me some of those early fragrances. Beautiful, natural smelling and what I now associate with spas because they’ve been copied so much. Back in those days my memory was of Thalgo products, I don’t know if you remember them?
      Portia xx

      • einsof says:

        i know Thalgo from work, not from back in the day… and yes, i do believe your mate is my mate who i went to school with and also worked with in very similar capacities. 😉

        • Portia says:

          WOW!! Smallest world EVER.
          I’ll be in LA in November and hopefully catching up with him. Will you be around?
          Portia xx

  • Jen says:

    Grade 11 spring formal (would be similar to junior prom) getting ready before my date picked me up, i was so nervous that i spilled a quarter bottle of Opium down the front of my dress. Dad took me out in the car with the windows down to air me out. . . That scent always takes me back to that date with my first love. Another memory was during a meeting early in my career with a boss i hated. He was an aweful man but i found myself attracted to him because of his scent! Polo from Ralph Lauren took me back to early highscool crushes. Then ysatis for years was my perfume for going out to something special, so one whiff makes me feel like its a special occasion to go out! Now i make my own essential oil perfumes and usually play to moods. I loved your article and love scent memories.

    • Portia says:

      Hi Jen,
      WOW! Opium for your junior prom is HARDCORE. I love that story.
      Polo was one of my favourite frags for years.. I loved the bottle and the fragrsance, it always smelled so rich to me then.
      Interesting that you’ve gone on to make your own fragrances. Do you sell them?
      Portia xx

  • Teri says:

    I’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating. Scent memory is resident so deep in our primal brain that it represents some of our strongest and earliest memories and is one of the last memories to fade in people afflicted with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

    One of my earliest memories of my grandmother is the scent of violets. It took a while for my mother and I to place where I got it as my grandmother didn’t ordinarily wear a violet scent. But eventually it came to us….Gram always kept a handkerchief in her apron pocket and she always spritzed it with violet toilette water. When I was learning to walk as a toddler, my Gram’s apron was just the right length to grab to pull myself up onto my feet, and when standing at my full height at that time, my face would have been at the same level as her apron pocket. Now that’s an old memory!

    A longtime friend who is a hospice nurse has told me on several occasions that terminally ill people who haven’t been compos mentis in quite some time will suddenly engage in meaningful conversations when a person enters the room wearing a scent that stimulates a memory. Although most health care professionals don’t wear scent at all, she has taken to wearing a different scent every day in hopes of triggering a response from her patients.

    As the daughter and granddaughter of perfumistas, I’ve got a very lengthy litany of scents that carry a great deal of meaning for me.

    I spent almost a year a while back scouring Ebay to collect scents from my past that had special meaning for me. Some I wear, others I just bring out just to sniff when I want to bring the memory of the person who wore it close to my heart. I am so incredibly glad I took the time and spent the money to do this project. Since so many of my family and friends have passed now, I find it incredibly comforting to bring out their favorite scent. Scent really does elicit such clear and distinct memories.

    • Portia says:

      Wonderful story Teri. How excellent that you could work out your scent memory for Gran, and that you are actively helping people reconnect with memories from what must feel to them like outer space.
      Doers that mean you wear a lot of vintage and do you wear the mens stuff as well?
      Portia xx

  • Mine would be Koto by Shiseido. My grandma & aunt wore it for special occasions. It’s been such a long time and I can’t recall the smell that well now but if I have a sniff again, some buried memories might pop up. 🙂 I remember that I thought the bottle looked a bit boring, unlike my mum’s Coco Chanel.
    Scent and memory. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hi ThinkingMagpie,
      I never smelled Koto but I love COCO!
      One of my BFFs wears it and I regularly grab her vintage bottles to splash herself with.
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    My earliest memory was my mother wearing Chanel’s Pour Monsieur but smelling it again, I say that it’s been reformulated and smells like a very poor imitation. She only wore it for good occasions. My high school years were awash in Happy and BBW Cucumber Melon and maybe Pleasures for women. I seemed to be a little bit of a rebel and wore CK’s Obsession but even then I knew that the tiniest dab went a long way. I still have my half full bottle from the mid to late ’90’s (was in high school in the late ’90’s) to smell from time to time.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Eldarwen22,
      I used to love the YSL Pour Monsieur, it came in a burgundy plastic and clear glass bottle. Could you have them confused? I only ask because I made the same mistake and bought the CHANEL but had zero memory, then I smelt it on a buddy and he set me straight.
      BBW still makes a wonderful cucumber bubble bath that I’ve been known to soak myself in, lovely.
      Portia xx

  • Alison says:

    Oh, Calandre! Started wearing it at 15 and it was almost my exclusive until a Big Breakup when I was 33 years old when I couldn’t stomach smelling it for a long time because the memories were too sharp. Now I have it again, and it doesn’t smell quite the same so I can wear it. In fact, I cornered the market on eBay a couple of years ago when it was discontinued so I’d never run out!

    My other great scent memory love was the original Magie Noire which accompanied me through my full-on bachelorette days in my early 20’s – I think my head would explode if I smelled it again!

    I have recently started wearing Hindu Grass by Nasamatto, which in a strange way combines both the green grassiness of Calandre on me and the smoking, sultry current of MN. I am hooked and making new memories with it albeit as a settled, married woman who still remembers her wild younger days – .

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Alison.
      I recently bought an ounce of original Calandre Parfum. It’s still in its cellophane. Part of me wants to open it and the rest just likes to look at the box and dream.
      Also somewhere is a not too vintage Magie Noire that I grabbed somewhere for a good price. Still using my very vintage decant up before I open the new one.
      Portia xx

  • CheninBlanc says:

    My strongest fragrance memory association is of Hanae Mori. I spent a semester in France about 15 years ago and would pop into a perfume shop about once a day for a spritz. Any time I smell it now, I’m instantly 20 years old, craving a baguette sandwich and an almond croissant (or apricot tart), and in awe of the world. I can suddenly remember the feel of the silly scarves I tied around my neck, the shoes I wore out, the art I tried to sketch… It all makes me happy to remember. Perfume can be such a great way to burn memories of certain places and experiences into your brain.

    • Portia says:

      Hanae Mori, CheninBlanc you are not the first to mention this fragrance to me lately as one caught in the ripples of time and memory. It’s so interesting that our noses can lead us back to places long gone.
      Portia xx

  • sweetharmony8 says:

    I have not had a long scent history, unfortunately, having just fell down the rabbit hole less than a year ago. But even so, I do have a few scent memories to share. In high school, or at least my high school, it was a thing for girls to take their crushes sweatshirts and spray some perfume on it and put it back in their locker. I really liked this boy, so I emptied about 50 mls of Curve Crush on this poor guy’s shirt and stuck it in his locker. The hallway smelled for days and his locker always had a hint of it after that. I bought a mini bottle just to take out and sniff.

    • Portia says:

      HA HA HA HA HA!! That is an excellent story SweetHarmony8.
      Did you get the guy? Is it a wonderful memory or painful? Did he think you were for real or having a go at him?
      Curve Crush? A Liz Clairborn?
      Portia xx

      • sweetharmony8 says:

        I did not get the guy, or well, at the time. It took a few years but apparently my perfume was unforgettable. It’s a pretty happy memory, it always makes me laugh, though I cringe a little inside on how overpowering it was. He was a pretty good sport about it, he knew I liked him. It is by Liz Clairborn.

  • deb says:

    There was something in a little flat, round clear glass bottle, an oil of some kind, that called itself “Ambergris”. As it came from the drugstore I’m fairly sure there was nothing like Ambergris in the bottle but it’s warm, sexiness was entirely inappropriate for teenagers so I loved it. My first slow dance was conducted inside a cloud of Jade East. He could have had it all right on the spot. My mother also slipped bars of Maja into dresser drawers. For the longest time I didn’t know they were soaps. Lest you think I was a complete fragrance heathen, I had a tiny, treasured bottle of Je Reviens that got doled out one dot at a time..for years.

    • Portia says:

      Great memories Deb! Jade East. Did you know it’s still in production? Yes 2014 is it’s 50th Anniversary. Isn’t that something special. Did he not ask for everything on the spot?
      Those little Je Reviens bottles were, are they still around, So cute.
      Portia xx