The History of Charlie Perfume

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

"There's a fragrance that's here to stay and they call it...Charlie!"

It's now been 50 years since Charlie perfume was introduced and we first heard that jingle, and watched as a glamorous young woman—the Charlie Girl—pulled up to a restaurant in her Rolls Royce and Ralph Lauren pantsuit and twirled carefree in the arms of her date. 

A half-century later, the lyrics ring true. Revlon is still producing Charlie perfume which has branched out into several Charlie fragrances including Charlie Gold, Charlie Red, Charlie Blue, Charlie White, Charlie Silver, Charlie Pink (which is actually a body spray) and of course, the original Charlie. But what is the Charlie perfume history, and why is it so relevant to the 20th century?

Who Was Charlie Perfume Named After?

Revlon introduced Charlie perfume in 1973, naming it not after a woman but Charles Revson, the company's founder. It was the early '70s, and women were entering the workforce in droves. Up until Charlie was introduced, fragrances were marketed as making a woman look or feel more beautiful or become more alluring to men.

But Charlie was different in that it represented the liberated women of the era. Independent women that were comfortable being single, employed, self-sufficient, and happy whether matched up or single. No surprise, it's been referred to as the feminist's fragrance.

The Charlie Girl Through the Years

The first Charlie girl as portrayed in that unforgettable commercial was Shelley Hack. She was the face of the perfume from its introduction through the early '80s—talk about a lucrative gig.  Ironically, she also appeared on the fourth season of television's original Charlie's Angels series playing Tiffany Welles. Reflecting back on her job as the face of the fragrance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Hack said, "It was a time when women were changing. Women looked at (the ad) and said 'I want to be like that.'"

That first commercial also featured cabaret singer and pianist Bobby Short. Later, Mel Torme and Little Richard would take over singing while the Charlie girl in the television ads would be played by a string of models and actresses that included Charly Stemper, Lauren Hutton, Sharon Stone, and Cindy Crawford. One notable Charlie girl was Naomi Sims, who became the first African American model to be featured in a major television advertising campaign.

Charlie Perfume Controversy

There was one memorable Charlie perfume advertisement that caused a bit of controversy. It showed a businesswoman patting a man's buttocks alongside the copy "She's very Charlie." It was meant to be playful but some consumers considered thought it pushed the envelope too much and considered it poor taste.

What is Charlie Perfume Made Of?

Charlie became the world's top selling perfume within three years. Charlie fragrances are classified as a floral-aldehyde fragrance. Its composition includes citrus oils, vanilla, peach, sandalwood oakmoss, rose, lemon blossom, lily of the valley, and jasmine with notes of cedar base. Needless to say, this is a lot for the nasal passages to take in which is why this super affordable perfume is often criticized today as smelling cheap.

For me personally, that commercial will always bring back happy memories of a different time. Here's a collection of Charlie perfume commercials through the years starting with a series of Shelley Hack ones including that classic, catchy original that launched the product.

1 comment:

  1. Many years ago my dear Aunt Sandy surprised me with a gift of original Charlie. I remember how nice it smelled on me. I prefer original commercial. (salemslot9)


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