When I was young enough to be somewhat self-sufficient as a child, my mother decided to become an Avon Lady. If I recall correctly, she didn’t become an Avon Lady until the 1970s, but I know that prior to this time she made purchases herself and her own Avon Lady used to come visit because I remember them sitting around the kitchen table having coffee and looking at the products. Being Depression era babies and very Midwestern, my parents were never big on luxury or glamour. But I do recall times being very young when my mother and father would go out for an event and there was a great deal of time getting ready with hair, makeup and dressing up. Of course, this meant applying perfume as well. Like many women, my mother had a mirrored tray on her dresser with these little jewels of perfumes. I was fascinated by these tiny bottles with the gold top and crystal bottoms that smelled so incredible from a very early age. I never knew what these little jeweled perfumes were until I stumbled across a listing on eBay for 5 1/8 oz. perfumes for sale…in the tiny jeweled bottles that I remember so well. And to boot…all were unused except for 1 and all for only $17. I have no idea which of these my mother had on her dresser, but here’s a short review of each. I guess it all makes sense now that these perfumes which I recalled would have been Avon. But for me and I’m sure many, Avon was never really associated with little gem perfumes, but more for their strange and befuddled decorative bottles. In any case, let’s see if these little jewels live up to my memories…
Sonnet: Sonnet opens with a rich oriental floral spice. It’s deep, maybe a bit powdery and incredibly dreamy. The perfume hits the back of my throat and fills it with its intoxication. As it dries down, the perfume becomes more woody and masculine. The perfume is blended so wonderfully that I can’t pick out any specific notes and I wasn’t able to find any information on the original notes, but did find that the perfume was created in 1972. Sonnet is romance and glamour all wrapped up in one perfume. After some time, the drydown on Sonnet starts to reveal a carnation note and it then becomes very spicy. I really love the opening, but wish it would remain a more rounded floral rather than a spiced floral. Sonnet gets a rating of 3 bones. It would have been higher, but the drydown get a bit too spicy and a bit soapy for my taste. Wait, it does calm down after a long time and the spice moves to more of a cream. Maybe I was too harsh at first…let’s give it 3.5 bones.
Moonwind: Moonwind opens with this rather masculine edge…could this be Avon’s answer to Miss Dior? It’s deep, woody and hay like florals are incredibly pretty…but not made solely for women, this can easily be worn by a man. Perfume Intelligence states that Moonwind was created in 1971 and is an aldehyde woody floral. I say it’s Miss Dior…or just call it Miss Avon. Unfortunately, unlike Miss Dior, Moonwind starts to fall a bit flat in its’ drydown…as if something good was being sucked out of it and instead a slight vanilla was added. Overall all though, a solid perfume at 3 bones.
Topaze: Topaze opens soft, powdery, slightly soapy and with a big projection of aldehydes. Where Sonnet and Moonwind were deep and mysterious, Topaze is floral on a trapeze, meaning it feels like the florals are strung out on a high wire or clothesline. They’re bright, yet mature and pretty. There is nothing young about Topaze, but wearing this would make an entrance a noticeable and big one. The florals are cool here and there is something a bit aloof about Topaze and a bit too much soap, but overall, it’s very classic and worthy of 3 bones.
Fragrantica actually had a posting for Topaze:
Topaze by Avon is a Floral Aldehyde fragrance for women. Topaze was launched in 1959. Top notes are aldehydes, coriander, peach, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are carnation, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, benzoin, civet and vetiver.
Occur!: Occur! is the dirty girl in the mix and my favorite of the bunch. There’s a preponderance of coriander that jumps up to greet you as you apply the perfume. This is a rich, opulent and grand perfume that reminds me of medieval heavy velvet and tapestried frocks. But as soon as I say that, the perfume begins to lighten and the rich oriental opening starts to break free to reveal a more radiant soul. Occur! is hard to describe except that this ambered beauty has a bit of beast because the civet is very noticeable in the drydown. To my surprise, I really like Occur!. 4 bones for Occur!
Created in 1962, Occur’s top notes include aledehydes, bergamot, cardamom coriander. Middle notes include muguet, francinsense, vetiver, myrrh, jasmin, patchouli, carnation. Based notes include amber, leather, honey, moss, musk castoreum, vanilla civet.
Bird of Paradise: From the sound of this perfume I was expecting a Tahitian treat of a South Seas perfume. Instead it is an over the top; big, big, big perfume that is all gag-worthy oriental. When I first received this, I tried to scrub the perfume off, but it’s so strong that it wouldn’t abide with my wish. So for purposes of this post, I have deemed to not put it on again. Needless to say, Bird of Paradise is 2 bones at best and that’s probably being generous. Created in 1969, I saw comments online that this was Avon’s answer to Cinnabar but that makes no sense because Cinnabar was created in 1978…but I could see the comparison.
Like many childhood memories, my recollection of these little crystal bottles were a bit exaggerated. What seems like a jewel then, really is just cut glass and a metal top. Like many Avon products, they are a facsimile of what they are trying to represent. But that doesn’t tarnish my memories and my recollection of that mirrored tray with those incredible jewels and the scents themselves are familiar to me and evoke warm memories of my childhood. For $17 this was a great eBay purchase and I am surprised and rather delighted that these perfumes actually have stood the test of time. Now, all of these perfumes above are the parfum extrait versions of the fragrance. I noticed that their were many cologne versions on eBay and I can’t speak to how those compare. But if you’re looking for something fun at the right price you may want to check out these Avon classics.
Happy Mother’s Day!