Aug 21, 2023 | 4 min Read

8 Popular 80s Perfumes and Colognes You Should Know

When you think about the 1980s, you probably think big: big hair! Big shoulder pads! The ’80s were all about excess and maximalism, and that definitely applies to the most popular fragrances of the decade too. The ’70s were all about musky, earthy and spicy scents of the ’70s, while the ’90s were sleek and minimal. But the ’80s fragrance philosophy was more, more, more!

Below, learn more about some of the biggest, most influential scents of the ’80s. Have you worn them? Would you wear them again? Or are you ready to experience the most bombastic decade in perfumery for the first time? Grab your Aqua Net, your Members Only jacket and your favorite pair of acid washed jeans and let’s travel back in (olfactory) time to the 1980s.

1. Poison by Christian Dior

Dior Poison perfume

Buy Dior Poison

 

As its name would suggest, Poison is no shrinking violet. Launched in 1985, Poison is a voluptuous bombshell of a scent thanks to rich, syrupy plum and berry notes atop a sweet jasmine and honey incense heart. Poison is lush and loud with a sillage that lasts for days — perfect for the heroines of Dynasty!

Key scent notes: Plum, jasmine, honey incense

2. Obsession by Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Obsession perfume

Buy Calvin Klein Obsession

 

Warm, spicy and a little bit dangerous, Obsession was Calvin Klein’s ’80s blockbuster scent. Citrusy top notes lure you in, and animalic civet and musk at the base add a velvety sex appeal to this alluring, over-the-top, glamorous icon.

Key scent notes: Vanilla, amber, civet, musk

3. Beautiful by Estée Lauder

Beautiful by Estee Lauder

Buy Estee Lauder Beautiful

 

The year 1985 was a great one for fragrances; not only did Poison and Obsession hit the shelves, but so did this symphonic floral masterpiece from Estée Lauder. Beautiful, much like its name, is a stunningly classic floral bouquet of rose, jasmine, amber and sandalwood. Though campaigns for the fragrance often featured models dressed up as brides, Beautiful is the kind of scent that works for every occasion — forever.

Key scent notes: Rose, lily, jasmine

4. Polo by Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren cologne

Buy Polo Ralph Lauren

 

The go-to scent for the preppy set, Polo is a fresh and spicy cologne with an earthy, grassy opening atop a peppery herbal heart and a woody, classically masculine base. Pair it with — what else — a polo shirt and your favorite pair of Top-Siders.

Key scent notes: Juniper, carnation, woods

5. Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir Cologne

Buy Drakkar Noir

 

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the mark that Drakkar Noir left on the ’80s — and its impact is still felt today. (Rapper Drake has a tattoo of the cologne!) This 1982 release is a richly aromatic fougere that lasts and lasts and lasts some more, just like a true icon of the ’80s.

Key scent notes: Bergamot, cinnamon, woods, leather

6. Ysatis by Givenchy

Ysatis by Givenchy

Buy Givenchy Ysatis

 

You know those swooning heroines on the covers of ’80s romance novels? They’re probably wearing Ysatis, a lushly romantic white floral. White flowers, coconut and aldehyde top notes enchant your senses, while a rich jasmine, rose and carnation heart grabs your collar and demands a kiss. An intoxicating base of oakmoss, vanilla and musk set the tone for a night of seduction. Today, Ysatis feels very of its time, but its importance can’t be ignored; it was formulated by the legendary Dominique Ropion and redefined the white floral.

Key scent notes: Aldehydes, jasmine, rose, oakmoss

7. Cool Water by Davidoff

Davidoff Cool Water

Buy Davidoff Cool Water

 

Cool Water debuted at the tail end of the ’80s — 1988 to be exact — and the instantly recognizable cologne in the blue bottle has been incredibly popular ever since. The top notes are all fresh, crisp aquatics and herbs, but cedarwood, musk, amber and tobacco base notes keep Cool Water from floating away entirely. You’ve definitely smelled Cool Water many, many times before — for a reason!

Key scent notes: Seawater, mint, geranium, cedarwood

8. Designer Imposters Primo! 

Primo Spray Cologne

Buy Designer Imposters PRIMO!

 

We could mention Giorgio Beverly Hills, which was a super popular scent of the time, but no list of ’80s scents would be complete without the ubiquitous Designer Imposters line of “inspired by” scents. Primo!, which was inspired by the bold white floral Giorgio, is still around today. It’s basically a double whammy of ’80s fragrance in a bottle!

Key scent notes: Peach, white florals, vanilla, patchouli


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image of Kara Nesvig
Kara Nesvig

Kara Nesvig is a freelance writer based in St. Paul, MN. She’s been obsessed with fragrance since she was four years old and has a (constantly growing) collection of more than 75 scents. Kara writes for a variety of brands and publications including Allure, Teen Vogue, Byrdie and People.

More Articles from this Author
image of Kara Nesvig
Kara Nesvig

Kara Nesvig is a freelance writer based in St. Paul, MN. She’s been obsessed with fragrance since she was four years old and has a (constantly growing) collection of more than 75 scents. Kara writes for a variety of brands and publications including Allure, Teen Vogue, Byrdie and People.

More Articles from this Author

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