We loved designer fragrances in the 1980’s! Remember, this was before
every starlet and pop singer put her name on her own special concoction;
we left it to designers to work their magic and celebrities to sell it.
One little whiff would let us know if you were team Gloria or team
Giorgio, or even a brazen Enjoli girl.
Check out these great vintage perfume commercials of the 80’s. All sell a
slightly different version of fabulous feminine glamour that is pure
eighties, through and through.
This 1980 commercial for Charles of the Ritz’s Enjoli is so perfect for
the 80’s career woman. I love how it tries to make working really hard,
ALL THE TIME, sound like good sexy fun. Come on, you know all the words:
“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let you
forget you’re a man!”
Sean Young was two years away from “Bladerunner” fame when she hawked
Nuance perfume in this 1980 commercial. As the name suggests, Nuance was
subtle. Haunting. Whispery!
Gloria Vanderbilt = THE SWAN. What woman doesn’t want to be graceful,
elegant, coolly beautiful, right? Vanderbilt perfume promised to release
the splendor of YOU. And, quite possibly, give you the gift of flight:
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, wine! The clincher is how they let you know it’s by Jovan,
so it “doesn’t have to cost you the world.” Bonus!
I actually don’t remember Epris, but include this 1981 commercial
because Jaclyn Smith is awesome in every way. Epris by Max Factor
claimed to understand that there’s more to being a woman than minding
your manners. Perhaps Epris didn’t stand the test of time, but it sure
wasn’t Jaclyn’s fault:
I love this 1983 commercial for Charlie, featuring a young and lovely
Sharon Stone. “The more you tease, the more you please... The fragrance
for the fast lane!” Naughty! And totally non-PC:
Wowzer, you must watch this 1984 ad for Cachet, for the hairdos and
outfits if nothing else, although the choreography is pretty choice. The
girl reminds me a LOT of a young Belinda Carlyle:
This Jontue by Revlon commercial from 1983 had that dreamy
Legend thing going on.
Mist, horses, hints of
“Sensual, but not too
far from innocence.”
Christian Dior’s Poison perfume had that dangerous-sexy vibe going on in
this 1984 commercial. Hissing black panthers! Black flowers! Tribal-esque
For that rich Beverley Hills kid panache, it had to be Giorgio. Duh.
This brand was so well marketed that all it took was bold yellow and
white stripes to evoke it:
Calvin Klein hit the whole creepy-obsessive love thing spot-on with
Obsession. “She abandoned me to the wreckage of myself... and smiled.”
But, whatever. It sure worked, right? Obsession is STILL super popular.
And erm, here’s another that’s a little on the icky side for my taste:
The always fabulous Linda Evangelista is selling Yves Saint Laurent’s
Opium in this 1986 clip. Is it just me, or does that musical phrase
sound an awful lot like George Michael’s 1988 hit “Father Figure?” Was George an
And, oh, Jane Seymour selling Le Jardin de Max Factor. She was the
living embodiment of a Harlequin novel heroine, no? In her impeccable
accent: “They say romance is back in style. I say it never went out.” So
Whew, Jean Nate! Sassy stuff! This commercial brings it all back: that
frenetic Jean-Nate-Jean-Nate chanting and the helpful, albeit
wasteful, “splash” technique the model demonstrated. I vaguely remember
getting caught by my mom doing some perfume “splashing” and referencing
the commercial (“but that’s how you’re SUPPOSED to do it, Mom!”). GENIUS
Dynasty cashed in on its enormous success with Crystal and Carrington
perfumes in 1987. Now, I was a Dallas girl, so I suppose I’m biased, but
wasn’t Blake kind of, you know, OLD for girls to get crushes on and for
dudes to hope to smell like? Give me Bobby Ewing any day.
Remember Exclamation perfume? None other than Famke Janssen of
featured in this 1988 commercial. Another great snippet of bold eighties
I actually loved Anais Anais, but I probably never watched this 1988
commercial, or would have steered clear. I mean, opera? Fer real?
I am very glad to learn how to pronounce it, though. Until today I
thought it was “Anay Anay”:
Let’s close with Beautiful by Estee Lauder. They wisely used gorgeous
Paulina Porizkova in a dreamy wedding ensemble for this 1988 commercial.
Love the pouffy sleeves combined with the edgy short skirt:
Because we ALL wanted to be beautiful, right? And also romantic,
powerful, shocking, innocent, and, of course, desperately sought-after.
These evocative fragrance commercials hit on every facet of the 1980’s
woman we yearned to be. Aaaah, the alluring smell of total fabulousness,