What Would Daisy and Gatsby Wear? The Scent of Money, or Vintage Perfumes of The Great Gatsby Era

Film Review The Great Gatsby

What’s the scent of money? What perfume would a stylish young woman wear in posh 1920s New York? If you’re Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 book, The Great Gatsby, it had better be exclusive…and expensive.

Actress Carey Mulligan does a superb job in capturing the effervescent nature of a gilded flapper girl, while Leonardo DiCaprio, as the mysterious Jay Gatsby, certainly knows how to put on the Ritz. As for Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway, Tobey Maguire is a hail-fellow-well-met, if a little naive in the ways of the glitzy jazz world. As I sat in a darkened theatre with my stylish 3D glasses, I couldn’t help but wonder…what fragrances might these literary characters have chosen? In fact, as I was doing research for a book of perfume, I compiled a list of some of the best classic perfumes.

If you’re throwing a Great Gatsby party, or watching The Great Gatsby on DVD, these vintage scents can help set the mood:

Jicky and Shalimar vintage adsDaisy Buchanan – Rich, spoiled, extravagant, Daisy is always the center of attention. But she also holds a secret…

  • Shalimar (1925) – Created in the year that The Great Gatsby was published, Guerlain’s Shalimar is lush, evocative, sensual, a fragrance for women who demand center stage.
  • Tabac Blond (1919) – A daring perfume from Caron perfumer extraordinaire Ernest Daltroff, Tabac Blond has a slightly smokey note of vetiver, and was inspired by women who dared to smoke in public. Reformulated, yes, but Tabac Blond is still rich in history.
  • Chanel No. 5 (1921) – Gabrielle Chanel, nicknamed, Coco, designed clothes for the new modern woman, who dared to bob her hair, smoke, and drink. Real life party girl Zelda Fitzgerald once wrote to her husband, Scott, saying ‘I wish I had done everything on Earth with you’ – the statement also captures the voracious appetite of Gatsby’s Daisy. Chanel No. 5 is, very simply, the scent of sophistication.

Jay Gatsby

For Men:

Jay Gatsby – International man of mystery? Indeed. A man who’s been there, done that, and wants it all, including the woman he loves.

  • Jicky (1889) – At introduction, Guerlain’s Jicky was considered a scandalous fragrance. Jicky has a certain careless elegance woven of civet and leather that would have captured Jay Gatsby’s imagination. It’s a unisex scent – for men or women.
  • Mouchoir de Monsieur (1904) – A spicy ‘Oriental’ fragrance from Guerlain, Mouchoir de Monsieur might have been Jay Gatsby’s choice: a fragrance of impeccable pedigree with a dash of mystery rendered through a blend of patchouli, vanilla, and cinnamon. Another Ernest Daltroff creation.

Just as Fitzgerald’s novel was adapted to the screen, some of these fragrances have also been adapted – reformulated to meet current ingredient regulations. (For a real treat, try to get your hands on the originals.)

Want to discover more great vintage perfumes? Here’s the list of some of the best vintage perfumes I created when I was doing research for a book on perfume.

Why not share your favorite vintage scents, or favorite passages from The Great Gatsby in the comments – love to hear them!

9 thoughts on “What Would Daisy and Gatsby Wear? The Scent of Money, or Vintage Perfumes of The Great Gatsby Era

  1. I love this! I have always loved Arpege though it came out in 1927, a bit after Gatsby. Any idea which scents Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald used in real life for themselves?

  2. My favorite vintage perfumes are No. 5, Cuir de Russie, Shalimar, Chanel Pour Monsieur (1952), Eucris br Geo. F. Trumper and Mitsouko. I have also just discovered the newly re-launched Atkinsons line. A British house founded in 1799! The line is brilliantly done and enchanting.
    And on top of that I have just discovered you! I love your blog, and you style.

    • Hello Lanier, we share many of the same faves. The Atkinson line is well done, too. A friend of mine from Paris has just launched a unique concept called Fragrance Republic. I’ll have on the blog soon, but his company is doing first class work by giving perfumers free reign. With your appreciation of this set, you might want to check it out.
      Best, Jan

      • You are so kind to share with me about Fragrance Republic. Francois tweeted me an invitation to join in and I did! It is very exciting. I also belong to Olfactif. Have you heard of it?

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