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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Product Review-Besame Decades of Fragrance-Part 1

As much as I love vintage clothing and hair, and to a lesser extent make up like a good red lip, there is one aspect of vintage style beauty I have never been keen on: perfume.

I was always confused by the dizzying array of perfume options, put off by the price, and most importantly I never much liked how they smelled.  In fact until recently I think the only time I wore perfume in the last 15 years was on my wedding day in 2001.  Still I liked the idea of perfume:

It certainly seemed an important part of vintage beauty rituals which is why I was intrigued when my favorite cosmetics company Besame (I've written about their lipsticks here, and here, and here) came up with their Decades of Fragrance Collection.

At last this was perfume I could understand, aimed at the vintage fanatic, each perfume is meant to capture the essence of a different decade.  As a vintage lover who likes to flit from one decade to the next this really appealed to me, I liked the idea of changing my perfume to match the decade of my outfit.  Also while the perfume is definitely not cheap, each rollerball costs $25.00, it is more economical then many department store perfumes I have seen.   I decided to take the perfume plunge and try fragrance representing my three favorite decades:  the  1920s, 1930s, and 1950s.

The 1920s perfume is described as having notes of mandarin, jasmine, and cocoa (as well as a bunch of other stuff).  I have no clue what notes are, but this one smelled quite good to me.   I did feel it smelled a bit cocoa-ey and fruity and I could see it in on the neck of a flapper in a jazzy speakeasy, which of course is the idea.  I definitely like wearing it with my few 20s outfits, even if no one else knows it is there, it seems to fade quickly on me, I do.

The 30s perfume is, to my nose at least, stronger smelling then the 1920s one.  It is described as embodying Marlene Dietrich, cigarettes and seduction, which even if it isn't my look has a definite appeal.

Some of the notes are mandarin, tobacco, and vanilla, and I do notice a subtley smokey aspect in this one.  It's a bit darker then the others, which is appropriate for a dark and troubled decade in history.   The 1930s are the decade that first got me into vintage and I have lots of 30s outfits and I do like wearing this fragrance with them, it's currently the lowest of my three vials which shows how much I wear it!  It adds the perfect touch to a 30s look and it seems to last on my a bit longer on me then the others.

The last fragrance I tried was the 1950s once. 

 The 50s are, tied with the 1930s, my favorite decade.   1950s, as well as 30s, looks make up the majority of my wardrobe, and I would say my day to day look is usually somewhat 1950s. 

The 1950s fragrance is described as evoking Billie Holliday

who I adore (after all what other Diva would let her dog chew on her shoes),
with a floweryy scent of gardenia and frescia.  I find this to be the prettiest smelling scent straight out of the bottle.  It smells powdery and like flowers and make up in a good way.  Picture the most glamorous make up table you can imagine:

Sadly it fades a little quickly on me, so I need to reapply it multiple times if I want the scent to last all day.  Still I wear it quite a lot, and its a bit of mystery to me why there seems to be more of this one then the 1930s one in the bottle because I really think I wear this one more.  It adds just the right sweet scent to my 1950s  style dresses and jeans.

Since each Besame fragrance retails for $25 dollars I was able to get three for about the price of one department store fragrance, and they all smell, at least to me, infinitely better then any of the better known perfumes I have sampled. 

My only complaint is they seem to fade quickly, but that may just be my body chemistry, perhaps I reject perfume?  I haven't read  any comments on the Besame website from anyone else saying the fragrances fade quickly.  It  is also somewhat mitigated by the fact that they come in a rollerball:

and thus are easy to carry with you and reapply.  Overall I am very happy I purchased these fragrances and I am calling this post Besame Decades of Fragrance part 1 because I hope to try the other scents 1910, 1940, and 1960 soon!


  1. I'm glad to know that you not only look vintage but smell the correct decade. :)

  2. Perfume isn't high on HER list either. Many, give HER headaches.

  3. I wear Joy by Jean Patou which was the most popular perfume of the 1930s. It costs the earth though so I have to be very sparing with it. Perhaps I should try the 1930s Besame one for everyday. It sounds like it conjures up the same kind feeling with its smell. xx

  4. Kate, this is Terri Gardner in case Google doesn't ID me because I am replying from my new blog home I was so happy to see a fragrance post. Fragrances have always been important to you. I have a site for you to check out. I like to experience fragrances from different decades and like you the high cost of each full bottle is a bit prohibitive to try as many as I want so I purchase my fragrances from I have my favorite Carons that I get but I love her decants study sets. I get her sampler sets to experiment with different scents. She does decade samplers, classic movie star samplers and I can't tell you how many she has or how many I have gotten. I just don't buy big bottles anymore only small decants. For some reason she can't ship Guerlaine to New York-that's a shame. Well, I hope this might help you in your exploration of fragrance. I am on her mailing list and always wait for a 20% sale before I get anything.

    January 13, 2017 at 8:19 AM

  5. It's such a pity, I can't wear perfume because it sets off my asthma.
    Lynne x

  6. That's actually a great idea, having a perfume for each decade. Great review and I loved seeing the photos of you in all those different vintage outfits. You do have an amazing wardrobe! Oh, and I adore Billie too! xxx

  7. The 20's one sounds lovely as Jasmine is my favourite scent, I love heady florals and I really like the smell of orange. The perfume I wear is Jasmin, rose and ylang ylang. I got given another, which is jasmine and vanilla but it's really odd. When I first put it on, I hate it, but it calms down and becomes quite nice but still, I far prefer my jasmine and rose one xxx

  8. What an interesting idea for perfume, to give it a vintage flair! Love the photo of the great Billie Holliday. This is a really great review. Wearing perfume is fun, I wear it often. My favorite is Chanel #5, the great classic. One drop is all you need so it's pricey but lasts and lasts, one little bottle will last two years for me. I also like First by Van Cleef and Arpel, but I have eau de cologne in that and I don't like it as much as perfume. You mention that your Besame wears off during the day, just a caution that we become nose blind to our own perfume and so it's a good idea to check with your hubby or a friend before re-applying until you know for sure how long it lasts :) I learned that the hard way!

  9. I have been so intrigued by these. I love perfume and have a number of classics in my collection, and I'm really intrigued to see how much the scents smell like ones actually from the decades, or whether they're simply inspired by the look of those decades. The 1930s is my favourite decade for perfume, though I like the 20s too. 40s and 50s aren't really my thing.

  10. Such a great review! You do a really good job describing the scents. I am intrigued! I want to try the 50's and see what the 40's would be like. That's such a fun idea to wear a scent that matches your wardrobe! <3 It is sad though that they seem to fade so quickly :(


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