Any fragrance that’s been around for 50 years deserves our respect and Revlon Charlie EDT (also known as Charlie Original and Charlie Blue) warrants our approval without hesitation.
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Launched in 1973, it was very much an aldehydic-floral scent of its time, with pioneering advertising and marketing helping make it a huge commercial success.
Tapping into the spirit of female empowerment and career advancement of the decade, ads featured Shelley Hack (the first woman to wear pants in a fragrance commercial) striding out in a confident and liberated style. Later ads featured Sharon Stone and Cindy Crawford. Pop culture extra! In 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Hack on her talk show as an acknowledgment of the influence of the Charlie Revlon ads on her aspirations.
We look at the enduring appeal of Revlon Charlie EDT and other great cheapies. What a pity the American beauty brand isn’t doing more to celebrate its award-winning icon (in 1974, it bagged The Fragrance Foundation – Women’s Popular and Media Campaign of the Year awards). Perhaps its recent bankruptcy problems are a reason for this glaring oversight.
Scent Notes for Revlon Charlie EDT (According to the Brand)
Lemon blossom, hyacinth, peach (top); rose, orris root, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen, carnation (heart); vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, cedar (base).
The perfumer behind Revlon Charlie EDT, Francis Camail, is also the man responsible for other classics such as Estée Lauder Aliage EDT (1972), Pierre Balmain Ivoire de Balmain EDT (1979) and Goutal Eau d’Hadrien EDT (1980).
“Wear an original! If you are independent, easygoing, confident, and light-hearted, Charlie Original will bring out the bright and lively spirit within you! Crisp, lively, and clean – a breath of fresh air that will leave you feeling like you just received a bouquet of fresh flowers!” – brand info
Packaging & Presentation
A transparent glass bottle (with a plastic adhesive label and silver plastic cap) comes in a blue and silver cardboard box. Don’t let the no-frills approach put you off. Please.
The bright freshness of lemon blossom creates an immediate uplifting vibe, while a note of hyacinth brings greenery to the composition. There’s more fresh floralcy from notes of rose and lily-of-the-valley. The crisp and clean effect is enhanced by aldehydes.
Now’s a good time for Ingredients 101. Aldehydes feature in a veritable rollcall of all-time classics, including Chanel No 5 Parfum (1921), Carven Ma Griffe Parfum (1946), Rochas Madame Rochas EDT (1960), Hermès Calèche EDT (1961) and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche EDT (1971).
Depending on which one is used and how they are used, they can give compositions a clean, citric, soapy, laundry-fresh, waxy, between-the-sheets sensual, and even metallic vibe.
They are particularly useful in helping give top and floral notes extra sparkle and pop (as they do so well in Revlon Charlie EDT). After all that freshness, the fragrance goes deeper in the drydown with notes of sandalwood and oakmoss. While aldehydic, it’s not heavy when compared with many others in the genre.
Who Would Like It
Let’s get this question out of the way. Aren’t aldehydes old-fashioned? Don’t trigger us. While retro but not out-dated (there’s a difference), Revlon Charlie EDT maintains its youthful allure and will appeal to anyone who’s open-minded enough to appreciate the classics.
Where to Wear It
When you want a dose of fresh and versatile upliftment. It sparkles in warmer weather but as we’re not seasonal fascists, you can wear it in cooler weather too.
Where to Buy It
6 Other Cheap ’n Chic Aldehydic Fragrances
Keeping within the Revlon Charlie range, Revlon Charlie Gold EDT (1995) has a slight aldehydic feel at first and then it’s fruit (apricot, peach, plum) and spice (cinnamon, cloves) all the way to the musky drydown. The original has spawned 20+ flankers but we reckon this is one of the best.
Also from the American beauty company, Revlon Moon Drops EDC (1970) will give you floral notes of carnation, ylang-ylang, and rose in a spicy-woody style.
Going back a few decades, Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass EDP (1936) set the tone for the releases that followed from the American beauty brand: accessible and affordable appeal. Aldehydes give the opening floral notes (lavender, rose, jasmine) plenty of ping and pop. Okay, we’ll stop all this alliteration nonsense now. Notes of lily, clove and (the rarely used) laurel take it in a spicy direction, with woody depth from vetiver and sandalwood in the drydown. A great everyday choice with a touch of elegance.
Yardley Lace EDT
Before he became famous for producing perfumes such as Givenchy Amarige EDT, Mugler Alien EDP, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady EDP and Lancôme La Vie Est Belle EDP, Dominique Ropion created Yardley Lace EDT (1982) in the early stage of his illustrious career. It’s a simple but effective aldehyde-rose-moss combo.
Also launched in the same year, the debut scent from the American fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt EDT (1982) was created by none other than the great Sophia Grojsman (Lancôme Trésor EDP, Estée Lauder White Linen EDP, Frédéric Malle Outrageous EDP). Opening with aldehydes on high and a sliver of pineapple in the background, it’s then the turn of a floral bouquet that includes tuberose, ylang-ylang, jasmine and, in particular, carnation. The drydown is a creamy joy, with sandalwood, vanilla and cinnamon notes.
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds EDT
We can’t think of a better way to complete this list than with Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds EDT (1991). Inducted into The Fragrance Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 2009, the first celebrity fragrance to receive that recognition, this Carlos Benaïm creation opens with the distinctive soapiness of aldehydes followed by a complex bouquet of florals (jasmine, ylang-ylang, narcissus, tuberose) and a musk-sandalwood base. Gorgeously glamorous stuff that’s way more expensive smelling than its price suggests.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.