A Nostalgic List of the Perfumes We Loved as Teenagers

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From saccharine sweetness to the fragrance of a first kiss, we reminisce over the scents that defined our formative years

Scent is transportive. It only takes one waft of the fragrance you wore as a teenager and you’re immediately back at the local skate park sipping on orange Bacardi Breezers, watching your friend getting off with someone out of the corner of your adolescent eye.

A beauty-based benchmark of the transition between childhood and adulthood, the first ever perfumes we wear mingle with pheromones emitted by young bodies to define our memories of life’s formative years. Here we dissect nine of the fragrances that will induce nostalgia for a simpler time.

1. Rush by Gucci

A woody fragrance with notes of peach, jasmine and patchouli, Rush is the scent you would douse yourself with on the back of the bus in order to mask the smell of Marlboro Lights before heading home to your parents. As a result, one’s clothes would simply effuse the odour of a nightclub. The lacquered red box felt like the height of sophistication and it was also the perfect eau de toilette for a night out at the ice rink.

2. Curious by Britney Spears

Britney’s Curious smelled an awful lot like Calpol’s infant formula – but despite a juvenile medicinal odour, it was the best-selling fragrance of 2004. The perfume was contained in a pink and turquoise glass bottle complete with squeezy atomizer used to disperse the perfume onto sassy 14-year-old wrists and necks the world over.

3. Red Jeans by Versace

Versace Red Jeans came a red metal tin with trompe l'oeil denim trim and crystal studded edging. Smelling a lot like the fresh fizzy part of Coca Cola, no doubt it now simply reminds you of your first experience of mixing Malibu with the carbonated beverage. 

4. Romance by Ralph Lauren

Sweet and sugary, this was a scent for those who watched The OC on a regular basis and were absolutely desperate to stand under the chuppah and pledge their soul to Seth Cohen. The campaign features a girl in a champagne coloured gown eloping with the man of her dreams: a mid-00s princess fantasy come true.

5. Chance by Chanel

A more floral version of Coco Mademoiselle, Chance smells like getting your heart broken for the first time by that total asshole in your sixth form college who listened to Leonard Cohen and ‘read’ Marcel Proust.

6. CK One by Calvin Klein

CK One launched in 1994 as the all-American brand’s first unisex fragrance. The citrussy perfume peppered with notes of bergamot contained in a frosted screw top bottle scents awkward teenage sofa snogging to this day.

7. Daisy by Marc Jacobs

Taking pride of place on dressing tables of would-be manic pixie dream girls circa 2007, Daisy is described as an ‘eclectic vintage scent’. This certainly mirrors the wearers of the fragrance: many were polka-dot-dress clad devout fans of indie, who set Playground Love by Air as their MySpace profile song and had more fringe than face. 

8. La Parisienne by YSL

A woody rose, YSL’s tribute to the City of Love was the perfect scent for the exchange student, those taking up their first position as an au pair in the 16th arrondissement after A-levels, or groups of girlfriends interrailing around Europe in a cloud of powdery sweetness. Wearing this would definitely make you think you were the teen embodiment of Carrie Bradshaw eloping to France with Aleksandr Petrovsky.

9. Dolly Girl by Anna Sui

The must have fragrance of 2003, the metallic pink box containing a bottle in the shape of a doll’s head was widely coveted by fans of Hello Kitty and sparkly dog collars. With hints of cinnamon and sea breeze, this was the cute and quirky scent for girls who listened to Hole and Placebo on repeat.