Perfume has been in existence since antiquity, but no one knows the name of Cleopatra’s scent or her perfumer. These days, things are quite different. Certain fragrances and perfumers are considered comparable to great works of art and artists. Here are a few of the most famous perfumes in history.

Chanel No. 5

This perfume is probably the best-selling scent in the history of fragrance. Created by Ernst Beaux for Coco Chanel in 1921, the perfume is a combination of ylang-ylang, jasmine, May rose, sandwood, vanilla and other scents.


Jacques Guerlain created this powdery vanilla fragrance in 1925. The perfume takes its name from the Garden of Shalimar, which was built by Emperor Shah Jehan for one of his wives. It was an immediate hit in 1925, and is still extremely popular today.


Joy is reputed for having been the most expensive perfume in the world at one point. It was created in 1930 by Henri Alméras for Jean Patou to lift the gloomy mood that had descended over the world after the 1929 stock market crash. The ultra-refined fragrance is based on jasmine and rose, and was a favorite of Jacqueline Onassis.

L’Air du Temps

Francis Farbon created Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps in 1948. The fragrance is known for its spicy carnation and gardenia scents as well as its exquisite crystal bottle (designed by Lalique) topped by intertwining doves.


Calvin Klein’s second perfume was created by Sophia Grojsman in 1988. Known for its light, flowery scent, the freesia and white lily-based perfume was inducted into the Fragrance Hall of Fame in 2003.


This wildly popular perfume was created in 1992 by Olivier Cresp for Thierry Mugler. The sweet scent is famous for its blend of honey, caramel, vanilla and sandalwood fragrances.