Perfume is arguably the most personal and intimate of beauty products, and the choice of a scent reveals volumes about its wearer — orientals are sexy and exotic, aldehydes bold and daring, florals romantic. Marilyn Monroe famously told interviewers that she wore Chanel No 5 to bed (and nothing else), but it wasn’t her only favourite.
Audrey Hepburn: Givenchy L’Interdit
Created specially for Audrey Hepburn by Hubert de Givenchy, L’Interdit – which means “forbidden” in French – was created in 1957. Rumours spread that Audrey didn’t want Givenchy to release the scent, but it was ultimately made available for wider purchase in the 1960s. A floral aldehyde, L’Interdit’s notes include bergamot, rose, jasmine, iris, violet, narcissus and sandalwood. In later years, Audrey wore Creed Spring Flower, another scent created just for her.
Ava Gardner: Creed Fleurs de the Rose Bulgare
Ava Gardner was reportedly partial to Creed Fleurs de the Rose Bulgare, a rose scent that contains bergamot and green-tea notes. Other scents favoured by the Best Actress nominee included Guerlain Mitsouko and the bergamot, mandarin and lilac-infused Fracas by Robert Piguet. While she was married to Frank Sinatra, stories circulated that she would signal an end to one of their regular, titanic fights by spritzing the stairway with perfume as an invitation.
Elizabeth Taylor: Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles
Nowadays, every famous name has their own fragrance line – but Elizabeth Taylor was a pioneer when she launched her revolutionary perfume empire, spanning blockbuster scents like White Diamonds, Forever and Passion. To this day, White Diamonds remains the bestselling celebrity fragrance of all time. In earlier times, however, Liz wore Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles, an Oriental scent with notes of rosemary, orange blossom, sandalwood and vanilla created in 1962. Taylor wore it on the set of Cleopatra, and also gave the scent as a gift to Michael Jackson, who wore it for the rest of his life.
Grace Kelly: Creed Fleurissimo
When Grace Kelly became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956, walking down the aisle of Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée in front of guests including Cary Grant and Ava Gardner, she did so wearing Creed Fleurissimo. The fragrance, from the esteemed family-owned fragrance house, was commissioned specially by Prince Rainier for his bride to compliment her wedding bouquet and contains notes of bergamot, tuberose, Florentine iris and Bulgarian rose.
Josephine Baker: Guerlain Sous Le Vent
A world-famous American in Paris – as well-known for what she was wearing (a skirt made from bananas) as what she wasn’t(clothing) – Josephine Baker liked to spritz herself in Guerlain Sous Le Vent. Created specially for her in 1934 by Jacques Guerlain, the scent fit the era’s chypre trend, including oakmoss, dried tobacco leaves, basil, tarragon and galbanum resin.
Katharine Hepburn: Guerlain Vol de Nuit
Aviation enthusiast Katharine Hepburn was a fan of Jacques Guerlain’s 1933 scent Vol de Nuit, which was created in homage to the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book Night Flight. (The same author wrote the children’s classic The Little Prince.) A woody and spicy floral, its notes include bergamot, jasmine and vanilla, and the bottle displays a relief of a moving aeroplane propeller.
Lauren Bacall: Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau
The sultry half of one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories was a fan of French luxury perfume house Diptyque. She wore its blackcurrant and Bulgarian rose-scented L’Ombre Dans L’Eau and Opone (a woody chypre featuring saffron, cumin, leather and smoke).
Marilyn Monroe: Floris Rose Geranium
Like millions of other women, Monroe was a fan of Chanel No 5. However, in 2002, it was revealed that she also had a secret penchant for Floris Rose Geranium. The eau de toilette was delivered in bulk to her at the Beverly Hills Hotel under a cloak and dagger alias while she filmed Some Like It Hot. Featuring notes of rose, geranium, citronella and sandalwood, the British eau de toilette has been discontinued and its scent is now only available as a bath essence.
Princess Diana: Quelques Fleurs
A more modern but no less indelible icon, Princess Diana walked down the aisle at Saint Paul’s Cathedral bathed in Quelques Fleurs, a floral scent featuring notes of tuberose, rose and jasmine. Rumours abound that she accidentally spilled the perfume on her wedding dress while trying to top up just before getting out of the carriage. Later in life, Princess Diana was a fan of 24 Faubourg by Hermès, created in 1995 by perfumer Maurice Roucel and named for the address of the Hermès flagship store in Paris. A sunny scent, it contains notes of orange blossom, peach, gardenia and amber.
Rita Hayworth: Guerlain Shalimar
Often photographed spritzing on perfume, Rita Hayworth was a fan the blockbuster 1925 oriental fragrance Guerlain Shalimar – which was rumoured to have been created when Jacques Guerlain dumped vanilla into a bottle of the celebrated fougère scent Jicky as an experiment – as well as Lanvin Arpege, a sensual aldehydic floral.
Vivien Leigh: Joy by Jean Patou
When the real-life Scarlett O’Hara first met Clark Gable before filming Gone With the Wind, he is said to have noticed that she smelled like violets. However, like many starlets of the era, including Olivia de Haviland, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson, the British actress was a well-documented devotee of Joy by Jean Patou.
From Harper’s Bazaar UK