What Famous Perfumes REALLY Smell Like

by Erin Mayer

Ah, perfume. The right scent can transport you just about anywhere. Isn't that why we spritz Chanel No. 5 on our wrists before we hop on the school bus or commute to the office? Okay, maybe we just dream about Chanel No. 5. But many of us have a personal scent that takes us on a journey beyond our hum-drum daily lives. Perhaps your new personal scent is B Balenciaga, Alexander Wang's first perfume for the storied fashion house.

Set to launch in October, B Balenciaga was inspired by a walk through Paris. According to Wang, "I’ve always been attracted to scents with strong green notes, and we also added a darker woody flair to it.” The scent has top notes of lily of the valley, hence the Parisian walks as inspiration. Now doesn't that sound nicer than the dry eraser smell of homeroom?

A good perfume is evocative of an experience. B Balenciaga is certainly not the first scent designed to conjure up real-life memories. That's basically the entire point of fragrance! But the unique inspiration got me thinking about which perfumes capture the odor of daily life, and exactly what they make us remember. Without further ado, here's a list of your favorite perfumes and the memories they smell like. We know you agree.

Smells like... watching your grandmother "put her face on"

Doesn't every woman have a memory of her grandmother performing an elaborate makeup routine before heading out to the grocery store or a black tie event? Mine referred to it as "putting her face on" and it usually involved Shalimar.

Smells like... back-to-school shopping at the mall

A mall trip is never complete without the overpowering waft of the Abercrombie & Fitch store. The "8" scent is basically Axe for wealthy teenage girls from Long Island.

Smells like... window shopping on 5th avenue at Christmas

Somehow, the scent of Chanel No. 5 permeates every nook and cranny of the designer shopping emporium that is 5th avenue. I dare you not to be reminded of the light-up snowflakes that adorn the front of Saks in December when you open up this bottle.

Smells like... sneaking in to your perfect older sister's bedroom to try on her clothes

Miss Dior is like Chanel No. 5 for 16 year olds. That's why it smells like the bedroom of your gorgeous older sister who was captain of the cheerleading squad and got straight A's. You still don't know how she did it, but maybe Miss Dior was the secret.

Smells like... your first date with a boy with frosted tips.

We all had crushes on boys who styled their hair like members of the Backstreet Boys in the early 2000s. GAP Dream captures that hopeful, nervous feeling you got in your stomach when Chad with blonde highlights asked you to get fries at the local diner after school.

Smells like... the first night in a fancy hotel

Why do all hotels and B&Bs have that universal scent of clean linen and light floral undertones? Perhaps they douse the pillowcases in Living Grace by Philosophy.

Smells like... drinks at a dive bar with your rebellious best friend from college

The name says it all: She's racy and seductive and can transform a hole-in-the-wall-bar with dart boards and sticky floors into a palace of adventure. Naturally, you feel a bit seductive and dangerous yourself when you hang out with her. Poison by Dior might make you a bit lightheaded, but boy is that intoxicating.