Vintages The Fresh Scents of the 1970s Part 6: Eau de Courreges (Vintages)

The Fresh Scents of the 1970s Part 6: Eau de Courreges (Vintages)

10/26/15 11:30:52 (6 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki

Amidst the fragrances explored in The Fresh Scents of the 1970s series here on Fragrantica, this current installment is rather more mysterious than usual. André Courrèges, although a huge designer in the 1960s, has been a rather well kept secret compared to the likes of Chanel,  Guerlain,  YSL and even Rochas or Sisley
Top: 1960's designs from Courrèges. Bottom: Audrey Hepburn in Courrèges
For a designer who cut through the space-age barrier with his futuristic designs alongside Paco Rabanne and Mary Quant (with whom he shares the accolades for the invention of the mini skirt), and especially with his 1964 collection appropriately named "Space Age", the geometric lines of his designs would fit perfectly with our more minimalist aesthetics right now. Indeed most of the perfume bottles of his line sport the characteristic "boule"/sphere cap in metallic hues of gold or silver and a simple cylinder shape for the body of the bottle. This simple juxtaposition of two basic 3D geometric shapes is both memorable and in accurate reflection of the design style of André Courrèges: boxy and uncluttered. Thus his first perfume to come out in 1970, Empreinte de Courrèges, inaugurated this concept. 
Eau de Courrèges came onto the market in 1977, a quite memorable year in perfumery, if only because of the thunderstorm launch of the resinous spicy oriental named Opium (another pioneering YSL after Eau Libre, arguably the first uninhibited unisex in the middle of the Sexual Revolution, and Rive Gauche  the confident metallic rose for women who unapologetically date themselves). Like Ivoire de Balmain this clean and rather chypre-shaded composition seems like a late-comer to the party and was soon to be eclipsed in the whirlwind of the 1980s which took on more carnal and sniper-like aiming perfumes with huge shoulder pads and a gigantic chip on their shoulder, too. 
Current editions of Empreinte and Eau de Courrèges
Exactly because Eau de Courrèges in its original version is a shaded citrus aromatic that aims to communicate a sense of beyond and of refreshing clarity, it wouldn't mesh with the 1980s and its yuppies apotheosizing culture of "citius altius fortius". The green note that cuts through the citrus might be due to galbanum and mint; although bruised, the remnants in an old bottle speak of a sticky green which smells like traipsing through verdant meadows. This oddly meshed well with both the naturalistic streak of the 1970s (much like we saw in Sisley's Eau de Campagne), although the Courreges aesthetic was nothing close to naturalistic, and the futuristic optimism that travel in space and discovering new worls had opened up. This is perhaps a testament to the pliability of the citrus scent with shadowy, woodier elements; it somehow "reads" new whatever the time because it's such a "fresh" idea, both literally and figuratively. Another good example would be Eau de Patou, a mossier, subtly more "animalic" & ambery take on the aromatic citrus. 
Possibly because the average consumer nowadays associates aromatic citruses with old men and their colognes, and despite the perfect wearability of vintages by perfumaniacs around the world, the Lorience company that snatched up the Courrèges brand in 2011 saw fit to re-issue Eau de Courrèges slightly re-orchestrated so as to shift the focus into a more vetiver-leaning drydown, comparable to what Chanel No.19 in eau de toilette has gone through. The addition of well perceived patchouli, cleaned up as per the modern aesthetic that goes beyond the funk of the hippie patchoulis of the 60s and 70s, ironically, is another contemporary touch. The clear light emerald hue of the juice is another modernisation; the straw-shaded yellow of the jus is another symptom of association with older gentlemen. The new color is more serene and dreamy. 
An older version of Eau de Courrèges
Lorience re-issued in fact two of the vintages, this one and also Empreinte de Courrèges and introduced a third one, Blanc de Courrèges (predictably a popular, classy, powdery floral). It's interesting to note that both LVMH and PPR showed an interest in acquiring the brand. Imagine what could have happened if either of these had snatched up Courrèges? 

If you missed them, the previous parts of this series can be found on these links:
The Fresh Scents of the 1970s

Elena Vosnaki

Elena Vosnaki is a historian and perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests.

Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she contributes to publications around the world.





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Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki


true but it might not be considered a good fit for this series. Maybe it will be part of a future series. ;-)

thanks for your kin praise.
I also like Empreinte very much. Like I said to mojtabaa I'm not including it because it is a bit beyond the specific focus of this series. Eau de Patou is next in line hopefully!

And thanks for the recommendation on trying the Bleu de Courreges; it has slipped off my reach till now. Encouraged to seek out a sample based on your enthusiasm.


I had Eau de Courreges in a version prior to the one in the photo here. It was in a white box with all the stylized golden AC all around.
It was more woody than citrus, it had a herbal (basil, sage, rosemary, thyme ...) undertone that lasted very very long.
It was marvellous, complex, unisex although in my opinion a bit more masculine than feminine.

Thanks Elena for your marvellous journey and for taking us back to a time when perfumery was an art and not just milking money.

Penny Urn'd
Penny Urn'd

Great article and accompanying pics. Somehow, I missed the others and have some catching up to do!


Elena, I love this post...thank you for doing this series!


Great article, Elena! This whole series is truly wonderful. Thank you for reintroducing us to so many classics!

I fell in love with Empreinte, which is strange as it is totally not my type of fragrance. But, there is something so smooth about it, and slightly addictive! I am also a HUGE fan of Bleu de Courrèges, I love the chamomile in that one and actually reviewed it as part of my Bargain Fragrance Column here. Eau is my least favorite of the three, but still a big love for me, as it reminds me a bit of my long lost Eau de Patou!


I think Empreinte is a more interesting scent that Eua de Courreges.


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