Vintages Rastro - The First Brazilian Perfume

Rastro - The First Brazilian Perfume

06/11/16 07:59:26 (3 comments)

by: Daniel Barros

In 1956, the designer Aparício Basílio da Silva opened his fine clothing boutique in Augusta Street, one of the finest addresses in São Paulo at the time. He decided to name it Rastro – “trail” in Portuguese. From the beginning, the bold and flamboyant artist, an openly gay member of high society, dreamed of developing a top quality fragrance for his brand. Aparício wanted a perfume that could meet the international standards. To this end, he established a partnership with his brother and chemist João Carlos. After much research, development and testing, the Rastro fragrance was launched in 1965.

Thanks to the charisma and prestige Aparício enjoyed among the emerging elite of São Paulo and due to a concentration similar to the French perfumes, Rastro became an instant best-seller. Perhaps today the fragrance would not cause much stir, but in those days, it was a great novelty. Although it was released a year before Eau Sauvage by Dior, i.e. a pre-hedione composition, Rastro was known to live up to its name and leave behind its delicious and refreshing scent of lavender, rose and jasmine, among other flowers, with traces of citrus and woody notes. Difficult to classify, the fragrance was a blend of the citrus, fougère and floral genres.

Image: Renata Ashcar / Espaço Perfume

Besides being the first 100% Brazilian fragrance, the importance of Rastro goes beyond, as the product changed the consumption habits of the time. Advertisements in newspapers and magazines explored the sex appeal and shocked the most puritan and conservative, accustomed to the idea of applying scented water for hygienic purposes. Due to its attractive packaging, women bought the perfume even though labeled masculine, which over time turned Rastro into a unisex perfume. Made of rounded, thick and heavy glass in apothecary style, its bottle was refillable. Many kept it to store cotton rolls, which were so fragrant that they could later be used to perfume bags and purses.

For nearly two decades, sales of Rastro increased consistently, as the fame of the perfume was widespread throughout the country. Its fate only turned in the mid-80s, when opulent perfumes, imported from Europe and the US, became fashionable and the public interest towards more aromatic compositions decreased. Another contributor to the decline of the brand was the brutal and homophobic-motivated murder of Aparício in 1992, as his personal character was directly associated with the product. Losing its glamor, the brand was sold to Monange and in 2007 transferred to Hypermarcas (a multi-brand retail holding company).

Aparício Basílio da Silva

Following a series of reformulations over the years, mainly due to handovers between brands and the consequent pressure to reduce costs, the formula of Rastro ended up disfigured and its current aroma has little to do with the original. The fragrance is now available as a generic cologne in pharmacies, having also gained soap and deodorant variants. 

What in the past was a symbol of exclusivity became a personal care item, with its glorious history unknown to the new generation. Few Brazilians have the luxury of keeping in their olfactory mind a "trail" of this legend of the national Brazilian perfumery.

Daniel Barros is the owner of Ego In Vitro – a consultancy firm that helps people find the ideal fragrance according to their style and personality. To this end, he developed a methodology for the testing of samples from his collection of more than 1,300 fragrances. He is also the author of the fragrance guides 202 Perfumes para Provar antes de Morrer – Edição Masculina and 303 Perfumes para Provar antes de Morrer – Edição Feminina. Recently he also started to create his own perfumes. Daniel currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil.


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I think there should be a heritage museum for vintage fragrances.

Perfumery has been there since a long time.

If we could save samples of today's fragrances for future generations, they could smell what it was like.


Only truths in this article. I feel so sorry I can´t find the original Rastro anymore. My grandpa (a perfume lover) used it. Every opportunity I had to ask him to let me use a little of that delicious scent, I used to ask him for. He always allowed me to use it. Such a pitty today Rastro is such an ordinary and common scent.

drugstore classics
drugstore classics


Excellent Article!


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