Perfume Baby Names: Names that make scents

Let’s all take a deep whiff as we join Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel as she explores the perfume counter to  find some fragrant name inspiration.

Perfume is nearly as old as civilization itself, a luxury found among many an ancient tribe.  It has evolved into a billion-dollar industry, with certain scents tied to famous figures or specific eras.

There’s a science of scent, with a complex system to characterize each perfume, a system that owes something to music (floral notes) and something to taxonomy (the aquatic family).

Little wonder that many fragrance names are simply botanicals or other names borrowed from the natural world.  Yet for every Bluebell, Iris, or Cool Water, there’s an intriguing name with a story to tell.

Giovanni Farina left Italy for Germany in the 1700s, where he would establish Europe’s first dedicated perfumery, and launched a revolutionary fragrance: Eau de Cologne, named after his new hometown.

Of course, no matter how much you love Poison, it isn’t an option for your child – though Yves or Laurent might be.  Britney and Paris have their signature scents, but their names don’t make you think of perfume.

Most of these are better suited for a daughter.  If you’re determined to find an unexpected option for a son, there’s always Creed.  Before he was a character on The Office and a rock band, Creed was – and still is – a storied perfume house established in London in the 1700s.

Here are some of the best choices from the world of fragrance:

Amaranthine – From Penhaligon’s, an English perfume house that once served Queen Victoria.

Ambra

Anaïs

Artemisia

Calandre

Calyx

Caron ­­– The French perfumer first opened shop in 1904 by Ernest Daltroff, with former dressmaker Felicie Vanpouille designing inventive bottles and packaging.  Few of their fragrance names would wear well, but the company name might.

Castile

Chantilly

CharlieRemember Shelley Hack as Charlie, the ultimate modern woman in Revlon’s campaigns from the 1970s?

Chiara

Chloé

CocoCoco Chanel is famous for fashion, and her No. 5 fragrance is equally iconic.  Her first and last names have graced perfume bottles, too.

DiorMiles of style, and a modern sound, too, but perhaps Dior is too much luxury brand to put on a child.

Estée – Her eponymous company has three fragrances inducted into the Fragrance Foundation’s Hall of Fame.  Ms. Lauder’s given name – a French spin on Esther – has graced a perfume bottle, too.

Fifi – Not a scent, but the fragrance industry’s equivalent of the Oscars.

 Imari

Ivoire – Said to be inspired by a woman wearing a white dress on the steps of the Paris Opera House, Pierre Balmain’s 1979 creation was worn by the legendary Audrey Hepburn.

Jicky – Either a nickname for Jacques Guerlain, or possibly the name of a girl who broke the heart of another Guerlain.  Launched in 1889, Jicky is one of the first unisex fragrances in the modern era, and remains in production a dozen decades later.

JoyJean Patou launched this expensive scent in 1929, as an antidote to the doldrums of the Great Depression.  Despite its hefty price tag, Joy remains a favorite indulgence today.

Liu – A 1920s scent from Guerlain, or a modern spin on Leah and Louise.

Lou Lou – Another repeating name from Cacharel, famous for Anaïs Anaïs

Nahema

Noa

Samsara – An exotic sound with the friendly nickname Sam, Guerlain named their 1989 fragrance after a Hindu and Buddhist term to describe the circle of life.

Septieme – Sonia Rykiel named one of her scents Septieme Sens – seventh sense.

Tabe – Half-Iranian, half-Finnish socialite Tabe Slioor had a signature fragrance named after her in the 1960s.

Terra

Violetta

VitaAs in Dior’s Dolce Vita.

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11 Responses to “Perfume Baby Names: Names that make scents”

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Roseate Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 7:54 am

*Mrs Lauder.

My favorite name in the fragrance department these days is Gioia, as in Acqua Di Gioia.

Lola Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 8:27 am

My Mother wore “Charlie” and I did think about using it for one of my boys very briefly. I just really dislike Charles, sounds too uptight to me.
I wear Hanae Mori’s “Butterfly” and it & Mariposa have been laughingly suggested for. Girl around here. Josie, who goes by Fifi at least half the time, wears “Pink Sugar”. I can hope that one doesn’t end up on a kid!
Amaranthine intrigues me to no end and Violetta is to die for! 🙂

bootsy Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 8:57 am

Anais has been one of my favorites! Such a lovely look and sound. Before I knew the perfume reference it seemed like a very fragrant name.

I also love Coco… and even Fifi, though that might be a bit fussy for a person.

bcbg11 Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 9:45 am

My best friend is Chantilly and her mom named her after the perfume back in the late 70s. My son calls her “Aunt Tilly” and I think Tilly is an adorable nickname for her. She prides herself on her unique name and I have to say I’ve never met another.

katybug Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 10:34 am

My mom wore Anais Anais in the 80s-90s. I always have loved the name Anais–it’s familiar but totally exotic. At least to me.

Chloe Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 10:50 am

I was named after the Chloe perfume. This list is a bit silly though- many of the names would sound ridiculous on a child. Dior? Jicky? Castile?

Nephele Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thanks for a great list! A lot of these perfumes make great stage names.

— Nephele

Leslie Owen Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Liu was named after the heroine in Puccini’s Turandot and it is a legitimate Chinese name. I don’t think I would appreciate being named after perfume, although maybe that’s because I’m allergic to scent(!).

Abby@AppMtn Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Leslie, thank you!

And Nephele, you’re quite right – stage names, yes, for certain.

Chloe, I almost deleted Jicky – but I’m fascinated by the idea that a person with a singular name inspired the fragrance.

bcbg11, glad to hear that Chantilly wears so well! I love Tilly.

Bootsy, I agree – my Clio would’ve been Coco, had not my husband kept saying “gorilla name” every time I suggested it. And Anais is gorgeous.

Lola, the Charlie jingle is lodged in my head now. 🙂

Roseate, Gioia is a great addition to the list!

Nook of Names Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Givenchy’s Amarige and Ysatis were two of my favorites for years and have the ‘name factor’, I think!

beccachan Says:

July 18th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Well, you could always take a round-about way approach to perfume names — in Japanese, the name suffix “ka” means a perfume or a scent. Paired with another character, they can have some quite beautiful meanings.

Examples:

Asaka (Scent of the morning)
Kaori (Perfume)
Momoka (Scent of the peach)
Haruka (The smell of springtime)

Etc.

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