Ah, the 1980s! A time when men’s fragrance was more than just a scent, but a bold statement. Take a trip with me to a truly defining era for cologne, with brands like Ralph Lauren and Davidoff setting the gold standard. Celebrities didn’t just wear them; they made them mainstream.
$104.99 ($30.88 / Fl Oz)
$60.00 ($24.00 / Fl Oz)
$27.30 ($7.38 / Fl Oz)
From the woody notes to the fresh scent bursts, let’s journey back and rediscover what made these fragrances so iconic.
What Was The Most Popular Men’s Perfume in the 80s?
Without a doubt, the crown for the most popular men’s perfume in the 80s was Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.
Its charming blend became the signature scent for many men and defined the decade’s fragrance landscape. While we’ll delve deeper into its allure later, it’s worth noting that its widespread popularity was also cemented by consumers naming the scent’s ads as the most memorable.
Top 8 Classic Men’s Colognes From the 1980s
1. Calvin Klein – Obsession for Men
Calvin Klein launched Obsession for Men in the mid-1980s, after which the fragrance quickly became the symbol of the decade’s passion and intensity, even though it wasn’t the first fragrance launched by Calvin Klein.
Its captivating blend resonated with both the everyday man and celebrities, making it a must-have in every fragrance collection. The scent, with its warm, spicy undertones, was perfect for both workdays and special evenings out.
Its popularity was further amplified with endorsements from iconic figures of the era like Kate Moss, ensuring its place as a timeless classic. The notes in Obsession likely served as inspiration for scents like Calvin Klein Eternity, which I’ve done an extensive review about.
|Top Notes:||Mandarin, Bergamot, Lavender, Myrrh, Nutmeg, and Sage|
|Middle Notes:||Clove, Nutmeg, and Spices|
|Base Notes:||Amber, Musk, Sandalwood, Vetiver, and Patchouli|
2. Davidoff – Cool Water
The introduction of Davidoff’s Cool Water in the late 1980s came as a breath of fresh air in the world of men’s cologne. It broke away from the intense, spicy scents of the decade, offering a refreshing aquatic aroma that perfectly captured the essence of the ocean.
Its invigorating blend became an instant hit, especially among the younger generation of men who wanted a fresh scent for everyday wear that was also super cheap – in comparison to most of the top scents released in the 80s.
Cool Water adverts regularly featured top models of the era which further elevated its status. Perfect for daytime activities or a casual evening out, this fragrance became synonymous with modern masculinity and still remains a firm favorite nowadays.
|Top Notes:||Sea Water, Mint, Green Notes, Lavender, Coriander, and Rosemary.|
|Middle Notes:||Sandalwood, Jasmine, Neroli, and Geranium.|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Oakmoss, Cedar, Tobacco, and Amber.|
A mature sandalwood cologne with an aquatic, clean and fresh feeling.
Touches of lavender and rosemary help round out the bitter, dry sandalwood for a well-balanced fragrance.
3. Guy Laroche – Drakkar Noir
Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche is another scent that did a good job of capturing the 1980s. It launched in 1982 and quickly became a staple for men seeking a bold yet sophisticated aroma, mainly because it radiated charisma and confidence.
Its name was inspired by Viking longships, perfectly summing up its adventurous spirit. The scent has rich woody undertones and a hint of sharp citrus which made it a favorite for both work and special occasions. Drakkar Noir wasn’t just a scent; it was a statement that did a good job of capturing the essence of the assertive and modern man of the 1980s.
|Top Notes:||Rosemary, Artemisia, Lavender, Basil, Lemon Verbena, Bergamot, and Lemon|
|Middle Notes:||Coriander, Carnation, Cinnamon, Juniper, and Jasmine|
|Base Notes:||Leather, Sandalwood, Fir, Amber, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Vetiver, and Cedar|
4. Ralph Lauren – Polo Green
- Price: $50 to $90 for 30ml
Although Polo Ralph Lauren was actually first introduced in 1978, it arguably had its greatest impact during the 80s. I’d say this scent captures what it means to be a classic American gentleman. It’s got a rich, woody aroma, which became a symbol of masculine elegance. Plus, the deep green bottle itself gives off an aura of luxury and sophistication.
What made this scent more iconic was that Ralph Lauren Polo was more than just a cologne; it was one of the top fashion houses and a representation of a lifestyle. It’s set apart by its dominant pine note, which was perfect for men wanting a mature, refined aroma for both business and leisure.
While many fragrances came and went during the 80s, Polo’s distinct blend ensured its place as a mainstay in many men’s collections.
|Top Notes:||Pine, Lavender, Juniper, Artemisia, Bergamot, and Cumin.|
|Middle Notes:||Coriander, Marjoram, Jasmine, Carnation, Geranium, and Thyme.|
|Base Notes:||Oakmoss, Patchouli, Leather, Cedar, Amber, Musk, and Frankincense.|
5. Dior – Fahrenheit
Dior’s Fahrenheit was another scent launched in the late 80s, but it was still nothing short of revolutionary in the world of men’s fragrances. Its unique blend, characterized by a subtle hint of petroleum, set it apart from the rest of the scents of the 1980s.
So, Dior Fahrenheit was kind of daring but it resulted in a harmonious dance of floral and woody notes, making it a real head-turner.
The fiery name and the bold design of the bottle also made this classic scent feel like something special. Fahrenheit is a real sensory journey that symbolizes the spirit of innovation and change in the late 80s.
|Top Notes:||Lavender, Mandarin Orange, Hawthorn, Nutmeg Flower, Cedar, Bergamot, Chamomile, and Lemon.|
|Middle Notes:||Nutmeg, Honeysuckle, Carnation, Sandalwood, Violet Leaf, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley, and Cedar.|
|Base Notes:||Leather, Tonka Bean, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, and Vetiver.|
A musky base of leather and amber lends Fahrenheit unique retro masculinity.
I love the beautifully seductive violet note. A great example of subtle masculine florals.
6. Yves Saint Laurent – Kouros
It’s no surprise that Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros, which was unveiled in 1981, is still mentioned among the top colognes these days. It was made as a tribute to the gods of ancient Greece, capturing strength and masculinity in a range of carefully selected fragrance notes. Korous gets its name from the Greek word for a young male statue, which perfectly sums up its bold and “statuesque” aroma.
Yves Saint Laurent made it stand out from your typical 1980s scents, offering a powerful blend of spicy and floral notes. Plus, its distinct aroma made it a go-to for those seeking a scent that exuded confidence and masculinity, perfect for date night or to attract a lady at the jazz club.
The white bottle, which is comparable with marble statues, was the cherry on top as it further emphasized its classical inspiration.
|Top Notes:||Aldehydes, Artemisia, Coriander, Clary Sage, and Bergamot.|
|Middle Notes:||Carnation, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Orris Root, Jasmine, Vetiver, and Geranium.|
|Base Notes:||Honey, Leather, Amber, Musk, Civet, Oakmoss, and Vanilla.|
7. Giorgio – Beverly Hills
Giorgio Beverly Hills represents the glamour and opulence of the iconic California city. This fragrance simply spoke luxury, with its rich, floral notes making waves in the 1980s fragrance scene. Its unmistakable yellow-striped packaging became a symbol of high-end fashion and the Hollywood elite.
The scent itself is a well-put-together blend of floral, woody, and citrus notes, which was perfect for adding a touch of extravagance to your everyday wardrobe.
|Top Notes:||Orange Blossom, Bergamot, and Green Notes.|
|Middle Notes:||Tuberose, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, and Gardenia.|
|Base Notes:||Moss, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, and Vanilla.|
8. Aramis – Aramis
Aramis cologne is just pure masculinity. This particular scent was first introduced in the late 1960s and continued to dominate the 1980s with its rich, leather-infused aroma. Aramis was named after a character in Alexandre Dumas’ classic “The Three Musketeers,” and was designed for the mature, confident man.
Its got deep, woody undertones which are complemented by a handful of other spices, making it a staple for those looking for a scent that radiates both sophistication and manliness. The 1980s saw Aramis being celebrated for its truly timeless appeal, becoming a favorite of many for both day-to-day wear and special occasions.
|Top Notes:||Artemisia, Bergamot, Cinnamon, and Gardenia.|
|Middle Notes:||Pelargonium, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Sandalwood.|
|Base Notes:||Leather, Oakmoss, and Amber.|
Were any of these colognes endorsed by celebrities?
Absolutely! In the 80s, stars like Clint Eastwood and Joe Namath were among the celebrities who promoted certain fragrances. Their endorsements not only boosted sales but also positioned these colognes as iconic symbols of the era.
Have any of these colognes been reformulated since the 1980s?
Yes, some have. Over time, brands often tweak fragrances due to obstacles like ingredient changes, regulations, or simply to create a more modern version. It’s always good to check if you’re after the original blend.
How should I store a vintage 1980s cologne to maintain its original scent?
You can pretty much store vintage colognes the same way you would any cologne. Keep it in cool, dark places, away from direct sunlight. This will help preserve the scent’s essence. Bathrooms can have fluctuating temperatures, so they aren’t the most ideal place for storage.
Were any of the 1980s colognes popularly worn by women, even if they were marketed for men?
Definitely! The bold scents of the 80s didn’t just appeal to men. Many women, who wanted to depart from traditionally floral perfumes, embraced these strong colognes, making them truly unisex. Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche is a good example of a vintage men’s cologne that’s frequently worn by women.