Perfumes of the 1970s

Updated April 17, 2017

America in the 1970s saw a number of social changes, including advancements in the women's movement. Women's stereotypes and positions in society had changed since the 1960s. Femininity and feminist beliefs remained intertwined, but women's perfumes did not always uphold this. Perfume advertising often made unjustifiable distinctions, so while Opium and Charlie perfumes were aimed at sexually liberated, powerful working women, the Anais Anais and Maxi perfumes were aimed at more adolescent, innocent and traditionally feminine women.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

Opium was introduced to the perfume market in 1977 by Yves Saint Laurent. The scent is a mix of sweet oriental woods, incense, spices and fruits, such as mandarin orange, plum and peach. Named after an illegal drug, Opium caused controversy when it was launched. Such controversies were overshadowed by its popularity, and it was worn by many sexually liberated women on passionate, sultry occasions.

Anais Anais by Cacharel

Introduced in 1978, Anais Anais and was the first fragrance launched by Cacharel. Anais Anais was marketed as a perfume for the youth market. Advertisements centred on feminine innocence and attempted to quash the perception of young people that imagery in beauty advertising was old fashioned and bourgeois. Anais Anais' scent is mainly floral, with fruit notes completing the composition. It centres around Madonna Lilly, hyacinth, jasmine and rose alongside blackcurrant, citrus and orange blossom.

Charlie by Revlon

Charlie was launched in 1973 and was designed to appeal to young working women. Marketing campaigns tried to stay in tune with women's feminist movements in the 1970s. It was aimed at women in positions of power, women striving for real equality and women at ease with the new balance of work, family and play. Because of such feminist undertones, Charlie was seen as the antithesis to Anais Anais. Its scent was a mix of rose, sandalwood and grass.

Maxi by Max Factor

Maxi was a range of beauty products introduced by Max Factor. Products in the range included lip gloss, lipsticks and perfume. Maxi perfume was launched in 1976 and officially named Just Call Me Maxi. The Maxi collection was aimed at the adolescent tastes of young, culturally savvy women in the 1970s and was in direct competition with ranges from the cosmetics companies Bonne Bell and CoverGirl. Just Call Me Maxi had a predominantly floral scent mixed with a moss-tinted aldehyde.

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About the Author

Christopher Tebbutt started writing professionally in 2004. He's had content published on both the "Guardian" and "TimeOut" magazine's websites, amongst others. He has written for internationally renowned brands such as Burberry, Boots and Party Gaming. He has also worked for journalists within the BBC, Reuters and BSkyB as a researcher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and history from Nottingham Trent University.