Charisma Cologne by Avon 1968

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Post by Ainslie Walker

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This afternoon, I feel like Miss Marple of the fragrance world.

The first fragrance I ever loved and owned as a child in the 80s was something contained in a little amber and pink, gingerbread house shaped bottle. I have just unearthed it from my mothers attic and opened it, expecting terrible things, when to mine and her surprise, on opening, out came a blast of something ‘Chanel number 5-esque’!!?? My mum actually had a stash of Chanel number 5 Eau De Cologne back then, and she exclaimed “Oh, you must’ve topped up from MY bottle!!”

It WAS quite feasible…. but I needed to clear my name…

Inspecting the underside of the bottle it read “AVON Charisma Cologne”. Intriguing. I went straight to the WWW and found the description listed as;

Floral, musky, aldehydic, powdery, animalic, balsamic

Charisma Cologne by Avon 1968

Charisma Cologne Avon #1

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, bergamot, peach, neroli, hyacinth, coriander
Heart: Iris root, carnation, jasmine, rose, narcissus, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley
Base: Sandalwood, amber, civets, musk, tonka bean, vanilla, styrax

WOW! To think I was enjoying green spicy florals even back then! It explains A LOT!! Not to mention that this fragrance was packaged in a gingerbread house for young girls –almost shocking!!

Avon’s Charisma was obviously heavily inspired by Chanel. For reference, Chanel number 5 Eu De Cologne, is listed as;

Woody, powdery, aldehydic, musky, white floral, amber, animalic

Chanel No 5 Eau de Cologne Chanel FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Boom! I run for my Chanel number 5– a 100ml bottle of the eau de cologne from the late 60’s/early 70s, (which indeed was mums) which smells much stronger, smoother and heavier on the anamalic and rosey-powder ingredients than the Charisma, but still overall very similar, and surprising, considering the obvious price and branding differences. I would like to think the No 5 I have is full of beautiful naturals, due to its manufacturing date, and this could be why it is more rounded and full smelling.

I read on, many people compare Charisma to Coco, but I have none here to compare, from memory, this sounds feasible, but did not come straight to my mind. Coco is also balsamic, so perhaps.

Coco was launched in 1984. HANG ON, that was 16 years after Avon’s Charisma, which came out in 1968…..would Jaques Polgue actually have ‘borrowed’ some ideas from AVON?!?!?!?!

Coco Chanel FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Either way we perfume lovers must realize, that what can come from a tacky brand or cheap novelty bottle, may in fact be almost identical ingredients as what some of the more “high end/exclusive” brands contain. Don’t judge a perfume by it’s package, price or branding, shut your eyes and smell- you and your bank balance may get a pleasant surprise!

Ainslie Walker X

14 comments on “Charisma Cologne by Avon 1968

  1. This is great post about Avon Charisma and brings up a point of view I have long held. Way back in the day, Avon perfumes were unbeatable and affordable. The Avon oldies could proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with even some decent niche scents these days, and would certainly knock spots off many High Street brands.

    However, and it’s a big however, Avon today may as well have a different brand name because the perfumes they launch all the time now are frankly poor to mediocre with an occasional affordable “not bad” bottle.

    They discontinued Timless (1974) over a year ago and it was a wonderful spicy chypre. These days it’s all the same fruity floral with a thin air freshener base note dressed up in different bottles.

    How I long for the old Avon perfumes in their gorgeous collectible bottles! I even Tweeted Avon recently to ask them to bring out a retro range. It would sell like hot cakes on a cold day. I bet they won’t or can’t though.

    Great review that took me down memory lane.

    best wishes
    Samantha
    IScentYouADay
    Samantha Scriven recently posted…Chanel No 5 EDP: Here’s What I ThinkMy Profile

    • poodle says:

      Samantha, I was at moms the other day and I saw Timeless in her Avon catalog for this month. They do bring back the retro stuff one in a while I think. I want them to bring back the bubble bath in the classic pink scent. They even had a body spray in it at one time and to my nose it smells a lot like Baiser Vole by Cartier.

  2. Mark Evans says:

    Hi Ainslie,

    I have quite a collection of vintage Avons for the reasons you mention – I love their richness and the high level of natural ingredients. They didn’t skimp on the oakmoss and real jasmine and rose etc. Unfortunately many of those novelty bottles were only identified with little labels stuck on the bottom and these have often gone missing. The glue didn’t last as long as the perfume, so identifying them can be tricky.

  3. Jackie b says:

    I have never smelled an Avon perfume but believe there was a huge range. At the trash and treasure markets recently there was a stall specialising in those amazing bottles…mostly very kitsch.
    Maybe the perfumes were better than the packaging?

  4. Azar says:

    This is a great post, Ainslie!

    I have found that the “high end/exclusive” brands can be just as disappointing as what comes from the drugstore or via direct mail (and possibly more so because of the extra money spent). As you point out the ingredients are often the same and just as often the perfumer’s art behind the fragrance isn’t much different either.

    For many people, though, scent is not so much about scent as it is about feeling “high end” and “exclusive”. If that’s what they need to feel good that’s OK and the money spent is worth it to them. That being said, I have smelled 50 cent per ml fragrances that are just as good (and sometimes better) than fragrances of the same type, made with the same materials for literally 100x the price. I can’t help but find that obscene.

    I have a couple of older Avons around here somewhere. I think I will wear one today. Thank you for the reminder!

    Azar xx

  5. Maya says:

    Good post. I realized a long time ago that expensive and brand names did not mean great or even good (not just for perfumes) and that I love some that are not as well known and are relatively inexpensive, but I really enjoy them and that’s all that matters to me!

  6. Nemo says:

    I saw the same oddly shaped bottle at an antique shop a few months ago and made a mental note of the name, only to forget it once I got home. I didn’t have much luck googling “cabin shaped perfume bottle,” either. Thank you for the timely review! I wish I had bought it when I saw it in the store, but I will definitely keep my eyes peeled…

  7. poodle says:

    Great post. I love the old Avon perfumes. They could definitely stand their ground against some of the pricier competition.

  8. Carolyn says:

    I loved all of the fun shaped bottles they used to have. Looking through the catalogs was always fun, trying to see what I could get with my hard earned babysitting money 🙂

  9. anna says:

    Very good of you to remember the scent, and wouldn’t it be funny if Mr Pogues was influenced by Avon, enjoyed this post.

  10. Christine W says:

    This post is a great reminder that I should quit being such a snob and collect more vintage Avons! A while back a friend gifted me an old Avon “Baby Bassett” bottle of Occur! EDC, because I love dogs. She thought the perfume inside would be terrible, but the contents are actually amazing – one of the best retro animalic chypres in my collection. I will now have to keep an eye out for Charisma. Thanks, Ainslie 🙂

  11. Sally M says:

    Amen! I have several vintage Avons and they are certainly superior quality ingredients – Timeless, Candid, Unforgettable, Charisma, Moonwind, Topaz – great little gems. Thanks for the reminder – I haven’t worn any of them in a long while so time to give them a whirl 🙂

  12. Sister Mary says:

    Ainslie! Gorgeous!

    My aunt was an Avon lady and I recall being entranced by such things she had that were unlike anything in my everyday world. My memories of the scents were of very sophisticated grown-up lady aromas, what now I might call a chypre. How mysterious that those little toy figures should conceal such womanly fragrances.

  13. Martin says:

    Very beautiful review and reminder for me. I grew up in my dad’s cosmetics business and much of our sales were Avon products. Charisma stood out as the top seller. Timeless was next. There were even a smaller size lotions called Avon sachet. The scents of those could last for a month but they were very expensive that only the rich women could afford it. I miss those days. Now I have a business and have included Avon sales and it’s reminiscent of those original Avon days. Thanks again for the reminder!

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