Post by Ainslie Walker
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
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
Photo 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?!?!?!?!
Photo 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