Fragrances of the '90s
Back when body splash was synonymous with perfume, most of my favorite fragrances had top notes of Jolly Rancher and hints of Lip Smacker. I Scotch-taped perfume ads on my walls next to No Doubt posters and Jared Leto's face, and spent all my Napster money on anything Gap, Clinique, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Bath and Body Works had to offer. From plastic spray bottle mists to serious, grown-up perfumes, these were my favorites (which must have been everyone else's favorites, because really I was just buying what I thought everyone else was buying).
Naturally, my first perfume came from the Gap, which I'd fallen DEEP DEEP into in the '90s—in leggings, smiley face t-shirts and khaki cargo capris, which were the trifecta of cool. Their scents Dream and Heaven were just as awesome, although I have no recollection of what they smelled like and only remember the blue bottles with clouds on them (obviously to represent heavenly skies).
I was still pronouncing Ralph Lauren "Ralph Lo-WREN" like a total asswipe when I bought this, but whatever. I didn't need to know anything about the brand. In the ads,j girls wore prairie skirts and rode horses while gazing into the eyes of dudes with wavy brown hair, which was enough to convince me boys would kiss me at school dances if I wore it.
Some people were Warm Vanilla Sugar fans—as opposed to Cold Vanilla Sugar?—but I was Cucumber Melon. It had a manufactured sour smell that made my mouth water the same way it did when I saw Jolly Ranchers. My older brother gave me the entire range in a gift basket one Christmas (soap, splashes, hand lotion AND body lotion), and I instantly forgave him for all childhood evils without once considering the term "sensory overload." (Sadly, Cucumber Melon was discontinued!) But you can still get Warm Vanilla Sugar.
It came in a BOX, people. It was subversive and hip and modern. I assumed this was exactly what the Sex and the City girls wore in Manhattan nightclubs while sipping brightly colored cocktails with six-word names.
I'm not male, so I don't really know what colognes were big, but I do know I bought a Windex-shaped bottle of this Axe precursor in the '90s. It was for my guy friend as a joke– the black and white commercials with women cooing "I want your bod" at guys playing basketball in wifebeaters were just SO good.
I totally bought into the marketing. I liked that it said "Girl," not just for the reassurance that it wouldn't make me smell like my grandmother but also cause it had a "GuRLz OnLy KEEP OUT" feel about it.
Next to my Tiger Beat posters of Devon Sawa in sweater vests I taped Clinique Happy ads. Clinique was my first big girl brand—everyone killed for that yellow moisturizer—and I would've bought Happy regardless of what it smelled like. Which, again, I don't remember, though I think it was lightly floral and heavily generic.
These were always lurking on a table in Anthropologie, convincing girls on mall trips to collect them like Lip Smackers, both for the typical smelling-like-candy-is-cool scents (Angel Food, Birthday Cake) and for the weird ones like Grass and Gasoline (actually, seriously my favorite). The latter's disappeared since huffing became a thing, which is really such a shame.
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