Scents That Changed The World: Ten Of The Fragrances That Impacted The Way We Buy & Enjoy Scent

SPONSORED FEATURE: In Partnership With Michael Bublé’s Debut Fine Fragrance, ‘By Invitation’

Whether we realise it or not at the time, certain scents can define an entire generation. It may be the signature note that had never been used before, the approach to the development process, the ambassador, advertising campaign or even the way in which the fragrance was intended to be worn – but over the last century many individual perfumes have had a huge impact on the way in which we buy and use scent. From the iconic scents that liberated women, to the launch of unisex fragrances and celebrity endorsements, the last 100 years has seen a huge amount of change and exciting innovation; together those moments have lead us to where we are today and have had an impact on our own relationships with scent. If you’re interested in looking back and understanding a little more about the history of fragrance, here are the ten perfumes I think have changed the world and why.

1. Chanel No5 – Chanel (1921)
Possibly the most iconic fragrance of all time, Chanel No5 made history in more ways than one. Up until this point, traditionally womens fragrances had adhered to two basic categories: respectable women favored the pure essence of a single garden flower, and courtesans were associated with the sexually provocative perfumes heavy with musk or jasmine. Coco Chanel felt the time was right for the debut of a scent that would combine the two and speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920s. Chanel No5 was the first of its kind and caused quite the stir. Rather interestingly, Coco Chanel was also the queen of marketing and embraced a new way of selling a product; over dinner she delighted guests by spraying them with her new scent, gave bottles to a select few of her high society friends and even infused her shop’s dressing rooms with the perfume. It was influencer marketing in it’s earliest form! The perfume continues to be one of the world’s best selling, even 95 years later.

2. Youth Dew – Estée Lauder (1952)
We know Estée Lauder as a powerhouse of beauty and fragrance, but that would never have been possible without the launch of Youth Dew back in the 1950’s. Created as a bath oil that could also be used as a perfume, the concept was clever and ensured the product remained affordable; according to history, the 1950’s woman didn’t buy perfume for herself (it was given as a gift by a lover) so the bath oil description allowed them to indulge. Although it could be splashed into water, it could also be applied direct to skin – a trend I’m starting to see resurface in 2016. Apparently, to get department stores to stock the scent she ‘accidentally’ dropped a bottle on the floor; women demanded to know where they could purchase it, so it was an opportunity too good for the store buyer to miss! 

3. Charlie – Revlon (1971)
With over twenty spin-offs that have spanned over forty years, the Charlie franchise is one of the most iconic of my childhood. Originally launched to compete with the Estée Lauder fragrances, this simple perfume was targeted at young women who wanted to spritz a little fun into their life. This wasn’t a serious fragrance; this was a lifestyle choice that saw women empowered and celebrated like they’d never been before. With their advertising campaigns featuring the first ever black woman to be seen in a cosmetics advert, the first ever trouser-wearing ambassadors and supermodels including Cindy Crawford, even Oprah Winfrey has said that the ads inspired her and that she wanted to be “confident and fabulous like the Charlie girls.” I’ll never forget spritzing Charlie Red like it was going out of fashion; even today it reminds me of my early teenage years.

4. Opium – Yves Saint Laurent (1977) 
Unsurprisingly, upon its launch Opium caused a stir with its controversial name and brought accusations that brand designer Yves Saint Laurent was condoning drug use. There were even committees formed in an attempt to bring about its withdrawal, which actually lead to an increased demand and it becoming the brand’s best ever selling scent! Nearly 25 years later it continued to court controversy with an ad campaign featuring the model Sophie Dahl lying on her back wearing only a pair of stiletto heels (seemingly in the throes of ecstasy with her legs spread apart.) The rich, deep, evokative and musky elements to the scent still ensure it has a dark reputation – but it continues to be worn by women who want to make a statement. Proof that a little bad publicity never hurt anybody.

5. Nutmeg & Ginger – Jo Malone London (1990) 
Starting off working as a florist in London, Jo Malone first created her Nutmeg & Ginger fragrance as a bath oil to say thank you to her loyal customers. Upon hearing how well it was received, and realising she was a talented perfumer as well as florist, Jo started her Jo Malone brand and championed the idea of fragrance layering. Her simple fragrances were a revolution amidst the complex natures of scent at the time, but also favoured creating unique combinations and ensuring the wearer had something signature to them. Jo Malone was the first brand to make fragrance layering part of its ethos, and in 2016 it still continues to be one of the pillars of the brand. 

6. Angel – Thierry Mugler (1992) 
A groundbreaking perfume that created a whole new category based on the scent of gourmand, Angel is polarising in a ‘love it or hate it’ way. Thierry married together a sweet gourmand note of chocolate with a giant bomb of patchouli, which until this point was never deemed possible. Mugler’s designs were never as expected and far from boring, so it was only natural for him to carry this through to his scent. Once he had his vision (apparently a fortune teller had told Mugler that designing something in a star shape would make him a fortune!) he stuck with it for over two years until he had the scent he’d dreamt of – even making the bottle completely unique, and rather revolutionary, refillable. Angel is sexy, sweet, loud and infinitely wearable to women 18 to 80. It’s still a best selling fragrance (and my Nan’s personal fave.) 

7. CK One – Calvin Klein (1994) 
One of the first modern fragrances marketed to both men and women, Calvin Klein’s CK One is an absolute icon of the 90’s. Targeted towards 18-24 year olds, it was a huge success selling over $5million in the first fortnight alone. At the time the fresh notes of green tea where something revolutionary (as was the screw-cap bottle and simple design that helped convey the more masculine edge of the scent,) and appealed to the ‘ladettes’ of the period by removing any form of traditional femininity. Even though this now smells incredibly generic and underwhelming, at the time it was new and exciting; sometimes we have to look back at the fragrances that started the trend to see where our love and acceptance of certain ingredients comes from. CK One was groundbreaking in its time, even if it’s now often found in the bargain bin. 

8. Glow by J.Lo – Coty (1998)
The one that created the entire ‘celebrity fragrance’ market, Glow was the debut fragrance launched by singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. Having originally been part of a ‘lifestyle’ arm of her business that included fashion and accessories, nobody expected this celebrity edorsed fragrance to sell very well at all  – but sell very well it did. Not only did it become the second highest seller in the American market that year, but it spawned endless copycats and a whole line of J.Lo scents that continue to grow to this day. At the time, Jennifer commented: “I wanted Glow to be fresh and clean, but still sexy and sensual – something that feels like you just came out of the shower and are the sexiest person in the world.” Who knew that a singer from Brooklyn would change the landscape of the fragrance industry forever…

9. Daisy – Marc Jacobs (2007) 
Acknowledged as one of the most dynamic and exciting designers in the world, Marc Jacobs is also the creator of some of our best-loved perfumes. His signature fragrance became an instant classic and now he heads up an exciting collection of scents that are filled with elegance, personality, femininity and (most importantly) fun. Marc was able to create a brand that injected excitement back into the fragrance category for young consumers, understanding that buying a perfume has as much to do with the bottle as it does the juice inside. The use of oversized daisies and three-dimensional embossing ensured his perfumes were the focal point of any dressing table and worth showing off. For the first time ever, perfume became Instagrammable!  

10. By Invitation – Michael Bublé (2016) 
Known as one of the world’s most successful recording artists, this year Michael Bublé is putting his stamp on the fragrance world by launching his debut scent. Unlike the hundreds of celebrity-associated perfumes before him, By Invitation has been created with Michael’s involvement from beginning to end; this fine fragrance is elegant, timeless and beautifully displayed, proving that celebrity scents don’t have to scrimp on quality or performance. Stay tuned for more details…

Do any of these ten scents mean something to you personally? What memories of fragrance do you have that sum up a period in your life, experience or moment?

Find out more about the fragrance and buy it exclusively before anyone else via 

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#MichaelBublePerfume #ByInvitation

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Michael Buble Perfume; all opinions are my own.

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  



  1. Disa Chantel
    August 26, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    I knew Chanel No5 was going to be first on the list. And mannnn, does Glo by JLo bring back high school memories. Loved that scent! I used to borrow my friend's all the time and soak up any tiny bit of spritz I could. Also, I had no clue Jo Malone was a WOMAN! I've loved the Jasmine and White Mint for quite some time. May need to stop by a makeup counter and test Nutmeg and Ginger. Great post!Xx

  2. Abigail Alice x
    August 26, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    I'm not sure if Michael or even J'Lo's scent can ever stand alongside Chanel No.5 or Jo Malone but they are my absolutely favourite's so maybe I'm biased!Abigail Alice x

  3. Andrea
    August 27, 2016 / 8:44 am

    There are a few ground breaking perfumes mentioned but I'm pretty sure that Michael buble won't become one of them. Perhaps this is why they choose a beauty blogger to sponsor the post with rather than a perfume blogger.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 27, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      I think that's an incredibly unfair comment to make – especially as I chose the topics of the post and their content. This fragrance is creating a whole new category, so in years to come it will be seen as a scent that made a big impact; if you're a perfume snob, then this is not the destination for you – I suggest you find an alternative site that meets your requirements.

    • Andrea
      August 31, 2016 / 8:03 am

      Ok so maybe it was a little unfair but as a reader sometimes it is a little hard to believe that this is your true opinion when the post is sponsored. From my point of view it is a little unfair to say I'm a perfume snob, yes I have a large collection, yes I have spent a lot of years collecting and gathering information on perfumes, does that make me a snob? I have as many cheap and mainstream perfumes in my collection as I do niche. They say you should never judge a book by its cover so I should not have jumped to the conclusion that this fragrance would be rubbish but the perfume market is inundated with 'celebrity perfumes' that in general are rubbish (Sarah Jessica Parker lovely, j-lo glowing, Tilda Swinton like this and Elizabeth Taylor white diamonds are a few that broke the mould)Lastly I do enjoy your blogs, your knowledge on products and the beauty industry is second to none.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 31, 2016 / 10:38 am

      Thank you Andrea. For future clarification, I never work with a brand or endorse a product I wouldn't do anyway – sponsorship is a way of guaranteeing coverage and enabling brands to work with a blogger to create content that works for both parties. I've been working on this project for many months and love the scent (and everything it stands for.) The content that has been developed is entirely my own – the only involvement the perfume brand has had is to input on the info/disclaimer and banner at the end. As I've said above, and will clarify in a future post – this is not just another 'celeb scent'. I personally don't like celeb scents as they're usually too sweet for my tastes, but this is totally different. I've been wearing it non-stop, as have the other girls that came to the launch in NYC with me. Hope that helps to settle your concerns.

  4. Sophie Bird
    August 27, 2016 / 11:57 am

    I would argue that Elizabeth Taylor created the celebrity perfume market in 1991 with White Diamonds and all her follow up scents. Although, I remember celebrity scents being popular in the '80s. Joan Collins had Scoundrel and there was the Forever Krystle and Carrington scents which were Dynasty tie-ins. ( My Mum had Forever Krystle) Personally, I find celebrity scents a little tacky. I would rather go for an established perfume house like Diptyque or Frederick Malle.

    • Hayley Carr
      August 27, 2016 / 1:04 pm

      That's a good shout – I completely forgot about the Liz Taylor scents! I'm not normally a fan of celeb scents either, as they're usually targeted at a much younger demographic so tend to be sweeter. I have to say that the Buble scent is totally different though and I've honestly been wearing it non-stop. Considering Michael told me he wears Diptyque himself, I can see where he got the inspiration from and why it's different than you may expect.

    • Sophie Bird
      August 27, 2016 / 3:48 pm

      Thanks for replying Hayley. Yes I've read that he wears Tam Dao. – so do I.

    August 27, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    I literally love all of these scents, except I havent tried the Jo Malone one!

    • Hayley Carr
      August 31, 2016 / 10:39 am

      I personally prefer it as a bath oil or candle, but it's a beautiful scent!

  6. Larissa
    August 28, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Lovely post, it's always great to remind ourselves of iconic fragrances such as CK One, Charlie, etc. Just one small thing, Jennifer Lopez is from the Bronx not Brooklyn.

  7. beautyqueenuk
    August 31, 2016 / 7:07 am

    Oddly I can't stand the smell of a single one of those listed, except the new Buble which I haven't smelt as yet. Angel by Thierry Mugler I disliked instantly, something about the scent which makes me gag. Fab post and many memories x

    • Hayley Carr
      August 31, 2016 / 10:39 am

      Haha I think that's probably because our tastes evolve over time and scents can often feel very old fashioned or 'overdone' upon reflection.

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