The Top 5 Classic Perfumes for Women

Reviews of Classic Fragrances Still Made Today

Perfumes may come and go with the seasons, but a few special fragrances never go out of style. Here I run down the 5 most classic fragrances in the past 100 years. You'll notice all of these launched in 2 specific decades: the roaring 20s and the 1940s when America was recovering from World War 2 and people began spending money again. 

These are the classic scents that launched to huge acclaim, and continue to be produced, worn and loved by women today.

In 1921, Coco Chanel asked perfumer Ernest Beaux to create something that "that smells like a woman, not a flower bed."

The resulting elixir would become the world's most iconic fragrance. An instant sales success when it was born, Chanel No. 5 remains the grande dame of perfume sales to this day, with a bottle sold worldwide every 30 seconds. Today, many hot celebrities, including Eva Mendes, Victoria Beckham, Jessica Alba and Celine Dion reportedly wear Chanel No. 5, no doubt attracted by the brand's sophistication and womanly glamor. 

See our full review of this iconic, classic perfume. 

L'Air du Temps was launched in 1948, in the aftermath of World War 2. To capture and celebrate the longed-for return to peace and optimism, the fashion house of Nina Ricci - known for its ethereal, flowing dresses, set out to develop an innovative new type of perfume for its female clients.

L'Air Du Temps ("the spirit of the times") was an instant sales success. The beautiful bottle, topped by intertwining doves, is still in production and decorating the vanity tables of elegant women around the world.

See our full review of this perfume. 

When times get tough, a new perfume can't fix your finances, but it can take your mind off them for a while. In 1929, Parisian perfumer Jean Patou created Joy Perfume for his wealthy American patrons whose fortunes had been ravaged by that year's Wall Street crash. Despite their financial losses and the high price of Patou's product, Joy was cheaper than couture and women flocked to purchase it.

Patou's well-timed gamble paid off, and an instant classic was born. More than 80 years after its debut, Joy remains a consistently best-selling fragrance. In historical sales, it is out-ranked only by the Chanel No. 5. 

See our full review of this perfume. 

With a name that literally means "temple of love" in Sanskrit, Shalimar is the amber-oriental perfume that spawned a host of successful imitators. Guerlain's fragrance takes its name from the Indian Gardens of Shalimar, where emperor Shah Jahan met the woman who inspired him to build the Taj Mahal. A runaway success since its birth in 1925, Shalimar's irresistible blend of fragrance notes has given it pride of place on the vanities of the world's most famous women from different generations including Rita Hayworth and Kate Moss. 

See our full review of this perfume. 

Miss Dior was the first perfume by Christian Dior, launched in 1947 shortly after the success of the designer's ground-breaking New Look collection, which revolutionized women's fashion and re-established Paris as the fashion capital of the world following World War 2.

"I created this perfume to clothe every woman in exquisite femininity, as though each of my gowns were emerging, one by one, from the bottle," said Dior.

Miss Dior has undergone a makeover in the years since it was created. The perfume now referred to as "Miss Dior" is actually not the original fragrance. The classic fragrance is now called "Miss Dior Classic" and "Miss Dior Original." 

It still gets rave reviews on the various review sites and remains a popular fragrance choice today.