What makes a fragrance feminist?

What makes a fragrance feminist?

In honour of International Women’s Day, we salute both feminist fragrances and fragrance-creating feminists

Feminist perfume can be interpreted in a few different ways—and indeed it is. A quick Google search about feminist fragrances led us to this forum on Fragrantica, where most users debated whether a feminist fragrance was a perfume made by women for women, or whether it was a fragrance that was strong and bold—bossy even.

We won’t venture to define the “feminist fragrance” in absolute terms, but we will say that perhaps a feminist fragrance is simply one that makes you feel amazing. Whether it’s that bold and in-your-face scent that signifies that you are the boss, or whether it’s something quieter that makes you feel truly yourself. After all, confidence is powerful.

So we take this International Women’s Day as an opportunity to draw attention to our own thoughts on feminists in the fragrance world: Women like the entrepreneurial and iconoclastic Gabrielle Coco Chanel who blazed trails when it came to setting trends, marketing a lifestyle and blurring gender lines. Or women like Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden who continue to inspire us posthumously with their vision and business acumen.

So come on, let’s talk feminism and fragrance.

Gabrielle Chanel

PHOTO: instagram.com/chanelofficial

The style, the nerve, the vision, the men! There are many reasons why this fashion-driven feminist continues to inspire us. The fact that Chanel’s fragrance innovations begat a present-day empire of perfumes that run form the No.5 original to all of the present-day Exclusifs that have come in its wake, only makes us appreciate her brilliance more.

Estée Lauder

We nod in respect also to another fragrance icon, the late Estee Lauder, who launched her own beauty company more than 70 years ago. The ambitious little girl from Queens, NY, created a beauty behemoth with a portfolio that today includes brands that run from Aramis to Donna Karan, Clinique to Tom Ford. For her drive, elegance, vision and chutzpah, we say thank you on this International Women’s Day.

Elizabeth Arden

PHOTO: Elizabeth Arden, elizabetharden.com

There is also the legendary Elizabeth Arden, nee Florence Nightingale Graham, the Canadian-born American business woman who most famously believed that “beauty is the birthright of every woman.” For her commitment to quality, to inner beauty, to beauty that starts with a healthy body, and to a kick-ass red lipstick, she wins our long-lasting devotion. Her company’s perfume contributions also secure her place in our fragrance-loving and feminist hearts—from Blue Grass and Red Door to all of the other spritzes from all of the myriad brands now owned by the company she built.

Thank you. To these three icons, but also to the innumerable feminists who continue to inspire us and the fragrance-loving world with their creations.

PHOTO: Dior SS17

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.