Back-to-school perfumes: fresh starts and fragrance memories

Back-to-school perfumes: fresh starts and fragrance memories

What scent did you wear in high school? With the first day of school almost here, we wax nostalgic for those fragrances we once wore.

We don’t always get to experience that First Day of School feeling once we’re in adulthood. I’m hoping to recapture that fresh-start vibe this month by looking at some notable back-to-school perfumes, which is why I asked some of beauty’s top insiders to let us know what scent they wore in high school or college. 

Heather Josey, Fragrance Buyer, Prestige Fragrances at Hudson’s Bay

“My university perfume was Coco by Chanel. For me, it solidified the direction of my career. My boyfriend at the time would carry a mini tube of the scented body cream in his denim jacket pocket so he had my scent close to him. I eventually married him, but my love of this scent outlasted my wedded bliss. That was more than 20 years ago, and my first love has always been perfume.”

Andrea Karr, Associate Editor Fashion and Beauty, Canadian Living

“I wore the Fruits & Passion Apple fragrance all through high school and my undergraduate degree. In university, I did a lot of acting and directing with The Black Hole Theatre at the University of Manitoba and I have this memory of a theatre friend giving me a hug when we were going to a play. He said, “Wow you smell so good. You always smell good.” And everyone around us agreed. I got the most compliments on that fragrance. More than anything I’ve worn since. I still take out the last bottle I have left (it was discontinued) and sniff it every once in awhile and it brings me back.”
See Andrea’s interview with The Whale & The Rose.

Jane Daly, Creator of

“The scent I remember most in high school was YSL Opium. I had the whole line—perfume, bath powder with puff, and soap. The soap was just divine! I had a beautiful red Hudson’s Bay wool parka, and the hood and fur trim always smelled like Opium. Even if I was walking through a blizzard (I’m sure there were many more when I was young) I could smell my beloved Opium. I would sprinkle the Opium bath powder on the Star Wars sheets I had on my waterbed. After high school, I started exploring the world of perfumes beyond Opium and my collection started growing, but to this day a whiff of Opium takes me back to walking to school and my childhood bedroom.”

Michelle Bilodeau, Digital and Special Projects Editor, The Kit

“I used to wear Exclamation by Coty when I was a teenager. I loved the graphic black and white bottle, and obviously the super-sweet floral scent. I think this one has been pulled from the shelves. I don’t have any specific memories of Exclamation, but I do remember having a really big crush on an older boy who wore Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche. I like to think that my scent sensibilities have matured over the last two decades. I am now loyal only to Elizabeth & James Nirvana White and Black.”

Deborah Fulsang, Director, The Whale & The Rose

“Highschool for me was a Ralph Lauren era. I wore Lauren. It was a spicy and rich perfume that I thought was a perfect pairing for my feathered hair and Frye boots. Not to mention that it was simpatico with the hyper-masculine Polo fragrance that my soccer-playing boyfriend wore. An ’80s moment in scent for sure.

When I went on to university, it was Le Must de Cartier that I splurged on with the money I made from my part-time job. That scent epitomized European elegance to me. It was refined and exotic, and very French. I loved everything about it, as well as the little beauty and aesthetics boutique where I bought it that was run by a sublimely chic and wise Eastern European woman.”

Let us know what you spritzed in high school on Twitter!

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This article was written by

Alexandra Donaldson is the editorial assistant at The Whale & The Rose and a freelance writer and content creator. Although she recently took up yoga in an effort to be a healthy adult, she still binge-watches cartoons on a regular basis and dreams of running away to a cottage in the woods. She has yet to nail down her favourite perfume, but knows that it smells green, earthy and maybe a little bit spicy, but definitely not sweet.