We'd be lying if we said we never attempted to channel Marilyn Monroe on an anticipated first date or Grace Kelly on an important job interview. These iconic women, and many others, are the epitome of style and poise — and we'd kill for just a bit of their magic. But sometimes, it takes more than a red lip or big waves to do the trick. So we decided to get personal.
Since we can't afford their dresses and shoes at auction, we went for their signature scents. The concept is a bit outdated in 2017 — we fall in love with a new fragrance every month — but it's hard to deny the power of a signature anything. It becomes you. It makes people remember you. So, for one week, R29 staffers wore the go-to fragrances of some of the most famous women in Hollywood history — and things got interesting. Ahead, see what happened when we started smelling like stars — at the office, on the subway, and, yes, even in bed.
Photo: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Krigler Lovely Patchouli 55 Classic Perfume "I tend to feel older than my actual age and often, my beauty tastes reflect that. I take more inspiration from women in the '60s and '70s than celebrities today, so wearing Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' signature fragrance was a dream come true. "I've always wished someone would lean over the bar, get a whiff of my scent, and think, Wow! But I’m not entirely positive this perfume will be the one to do that for me. Amber, musk, patchouli, red fruits, and vanilla are powerful notes all on their own. Mixed together, you get a very dominating scent. Patchouli is certainly the strongest note here, and while the aroma is often an aphrodisiac for some, it wasn’t quite that for me. But, the scent is alluring in its own rite. While it might not be my personal cup of tea, it’s deep, sexy in a woodsy way, and wildly unique compared to most fragrances I recognize other women wearing. “This perfume wasn’t exactly collecting a bucket of compliments, but I’m certainly going to test it out on my next date. Why? I have a good feeling it will leave a lasting memory." — Samantha Sasso, beauty editorial assistant Krigler Lovely Patchouli 55 Classic Perfume, $355, available at Krigler.
Photo: The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images.
Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien "Tina Turner is an icon. Period, hands down, no questions asked. The idea of channeling her strength and ferocity felt like an easy way to add some extra pizzaz to my week. "My first spritz was quite the shocker — it was much heavier than the ones in my normal lineup. It consumed the senses and lingered on my skin and in the air for longer than I'm used to. That being said, it's also more demure than I'd expect from a stage presence as funky, sexy, and fierce as Tina Turner. As I wore it around the office and my apartment, I felt like I was getting a glimpse into her life off-stage and it made me consider her from a different place — more woman-to-woman than woman-to-superstar. "Its intensity made me feel in control and ready for the day, but the citrus flavors brought me back to a domestic vibe. The combination made me feel dynamic. "While Eau d'Hadrien won't be a fragrance I likely pick up as part of my day-to-day routine, I enjoyed imagining how this scent must make Tina feel and having the opportunity to channel femininity and control from this vantage point." — Brooke Hinton, community insights manager Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, $182, available at Annick Goutal.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images.
Guerlain Vol De Nuit "The signs indicate that I should love this Guerlain scent. All my favorite perfumes — Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge, Tom Ford Noir, and Atelier Bloem Half Moon — have one thing in common: jasmine at the heart. Vol de Nuit does, too, along with bergamot and amber — notes I always go for. It's got a good backstory, too: The name of the scent comes from a novel by Antoine de Saint Exupery about a woman waiting to hear that her husband, a pilot who lost control of his plane, is alive. Love, danger, suspense — so sexy! "Alas, it is not sexy. At least not my definition of it. The beauty team tried to pressure me into wearing it on a first date, which I couldn't bring myself to do...dating in NYC is hard enough without throwing weird little experiments into the mix. I dabbed it on four mornings, and while the scent actually grew on me as the day wore on (it's way too intense at first), I never quite felt like myself in it. For a strong, trouser-wearing woman like Katharine Hepburn, I can see how it would be a power perfume — there's a sophistication and glamour to it. But on me, a 20-something in ripped jeans, it just didn't feel right." — Alix Tunell, senior beauty editor Guerlain Vol De Nuit, $350, available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Photo: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.
Zsa Zsa Gábor
Florence Gunnarson No. 67"I have to admit: I’m a bath connoisseur. So, naturally, when I heard that the Gabor sisters not only bathed in this fragrance, but literally swam in it, I was immediately drawn in. "I’m always looking for new pampering goodies to add to my spa routine. I tend to lean towards clean, fresh scents — think Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue or literally anything from Jo Malone. So, this crisp, lightly-fragranced bath oil was right up my alley. "In hindsight, I think I expected too much. I usually choose foaming bath soaks and fizzing bath bombs. This oil, on the other hand, is very mild and only adds a hint of fragrance. I didn’t even think it worked at first until I came out of the bathroom and my roommates told me I smelled amazing. In the following days, I tested the oil out in the shower, but it just didn’t deliver the same results. So, on the next spa day, I went back to this oil, and my feelings cemented: There’s no question why Zsa Zsa used this oil to scent her pool. The scent is clean, pure, and calming. All in all, even though this fragrance is not something I would use every day, I think it’s a definite go-to for indulgent nights." — Jennifer Anderson, editorial assistant Florence Gunnarson No. 67, $60, available at Florence Gunnarson.
Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images.
Givenchy L’Interdit"Images of Audrey Hepburn at her vanity in Breakfast At Tiffany's, her adorable baby bangs in Roman Holiday, and her cat eyes in How To Steal A Million are all seared into my mind after growing up watching her films. So, when I was told I would get to channel an iconic woman from history through scent, I knew Audrey was the one. "L'Interdit is Givenchy's first cult scent, and it's described by the brand as a 'combination of spicy pepper and clove, softened by rose, jasmine, and violet, and grounded with earthy vetiver and incense.' I'll be honest: This fragrance smells like straight-up powder when you first spray it on. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect a '50s fragrance to smell like, and it transported me back to rummaging through my grandmother's beauty stash. "Once it settled, though, the fragrance grew on me — and my boyfriend. He wasn't a fan of how I smelled when I left for work in the morning, but by the time I got home, he admitted it was nice. "I like fresh scents — and this is definitely not one — but the change of pace made me feel like I was channeling a sophisticated woman from a more glamorous time. Because of that, I reached for more faux fur coats and luxurious fabrics during the week I wore it." — Mi-Anne Chan, beauty writer
Sadly, L'Interdit is no longer available to the masses, but an eau de toilette version does exist today. You can sometimes find it here or here.
Photo: Baron/Getty Images.
Chanel No 5"After traveling to Grasse, France and seeing how much work goes into making and preserving the iconic Chanel No. 5, I have a deep, deep appreciation for the scent. That said, I would never describe it as sexy. It's feminine, classic, luxurious, rich — the kind of fragrance you'd wear to tea at the Plaza hotel, but not to hit the sheets upstairs. Sure, Marilyn swore by it — but, come on, it's Marilyn. (Even if she smelled like zit cream, I'm pretty sure she was still getting laid.) "Regardless, I spritz it on the first morning of this experiment and head out the door. Immediately, something feels off. My outfit does not match this scent, I think, maybe for the first time ever. (Is this why Marilyn wore it naked? It's all making sense now.) No one comments on my proverbial open fly, but I can't wait to get home and change. I hesitantly spray some on before bed and my boyfriend says absolutely nothing. This is weird. Is he silent because he hates it? Oh wait, no, he's just asleep. Okay then. "I wear it again the second day, this time opting for heels and a dress and I feel amazing and feminine and ready to take on the world. Ok, Marilyn, I am here for this. I load up on it that night, light a few candles, and this time my boyfriend is definitely NOT asleep. "Oh my god, you smell so sexy," he murmurs. Uh, what? "My takeaway: It's the woman that makes this fragrance — not the other way around. (It also helps if your S.O's grandma didn't wear it.) Spritz it on feeling like crap, and you're Norma Jean. Wear it with confidence and you're Marilyn — and I honestly think that's just the way Chanel intended." — Cat Quinn, beauty director Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum Spray, $132, available at Chanel.
Photo: Harry Langdon/Getty Images.
Thierry Mugler Angel"In my world, Diana Ross has been Queen ever since I watched — and subsequently became obsessed with — the 1975 film Mahogany in college. However, our styles aren't exactly identical. Whenever I have a fancy night out (honestly, this most likely includes a winged liner and my Creepers), I try my best to channel my inner Diana. That means big hair, my most convincing smize, and all the sex appeal I can muster. "What I didn't know is that there was one element missing — a glamorous signature scent. Ross was long associated as a longtime fan of Thierry Mugler's fragrance Angel (and even walked in the designer's "Butterfly" show in Paris in the early '90s), so it seemed like the perfect fit. For a gig hosting a pre-show at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards in Los Angeles last weekend, I knew I wanted a scent that would finish off my look and leave me feeling like a badass woman. "Angel did the trick. During the pre-show, where I got to interview the likes of Viola Davis and the Game of Thrones cast, I felt on top of my game. Every time I got a whiff of that scent, I was reminded to stand tall and smile, to emanate a little bit of Diana glam. My colleague and co-star Emily Curly commented a few times on how great I smelled, so I kept wearing the fragrance even after I returned to New York and went back to my regular dress-and-sneakers-look; a few more compliments from co-workers and an extra dash of imaginary sparkle have since convinced me that perhaps Angel can be my new signature. I don't have to let go of the other designer bottles on my bathroom shelf, and I don't have to wear it every day, but when I need a reminder that I'm just as flawless as Diana Ross? I'm getting a spritz or two of this." — Arianna Davis, features writer Thierry Mugler Angel, $82, available at Sephora.
Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images.
Creed Fleurissimo "I’m a full-blown fragrance-phobe. I just haven’t found a scent that really fits me — at least, not in the way Chanel Mademoiselle does for my mom and Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio for my dad. Though I would never spritz either of those myself, any time I get a whiff of one nearby, it takes me straight back to my hometown in Kansas. And when the beauty team asked me how I felt wearing Creed Fleurissimo (Grace Kelly’s go-to back in the '50s), I couldn’t give them one. All I could say is that it reminds me of how my nana smells. "But it’s not the kind of powdery perfume you think when you hear 'grandma.' Instead, its blend of light and airy florals — which include tuberose, violet, and iris — feel quite fitting for a poised, elegant woman like Kelly (and my nana). But not me. I would wait to mist on the scent until the end of the day, so I wouldn’t have to let it linger all afternoon. But there was an upside: I got a slight satisfaction in knowing I could go home and reminisce on those days spent at my grandparents' house — where playing princess was a lot more acceptable." — Kelsey Castañon, beauty news editor Creed Fleurissimo, $325, available at Creed.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images.
White Diamonds"It's funny, because I've kind of developed a perfume library that one might describe as 'old lady-ish.' I'm into musky florals instead of sweet gourmand scents. The perfumes I tend to use the most are Masion Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning (which I wear every day and everyone tells me smells like me) and Kabarett Krigler 216 (which is my date night or special occasion fragrance). "I wouldn’t expect to see celebrities we’re familiar with in 2017 to necessarily have signature fragrances like this today. But in the past? Absolutely. My grandmother reminds me of an old Hollywood movie star and I could absolutely imagine her wearing this perfume. It smells like an old Hollywood grand dame. Like, I imagined the 1945 Oscars smelled like this. "And boy, does it stick. I would spritz it in the morning post-shower and would still smell it as I was nodding off to sleep. This was a surprise to me, since Lazy Sunday Morning tends to fade throughout the day. Had it been a fragrance I really loved, I probably would have enjoyed this aspect, but for an entire week, I felt like an aged Hollywood movie star wearing her diamonds in her bathrobe and polishing her numerous award trophies." — Maria Del Russo, features writer White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, $69, available at Macy's.
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