Charisma fragrance notes

  • Head

    • citrus, aldehydes, hyacinth, coriander
  • Heart

    • ylang ylang, peach, narcissus, iris
  • Base

    • civet, styrax, tonka bean, oakmoss, vanilla

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Latest Reviews of Charisma

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I am becoming more and more interested in vintage fragrances and Charisma is one that I really love. This fragrances reminds me of mid century modern architecture and fashion, very chic and stylish like the time in which it was born.
It doesn't smell smoky but it feels smoky to me and mysterious and like others have noted, like an expensive luxurious soap.
As is wears throughout the day it becomes a spicier more oriental fragrance. I can't really compare it to any other scents as I think it is so unique and stands on it's own.
Recently I was watching one of those home renovation programs that takes place in the Midwestern smallish city. They were hauling out boxes remaining from the previous owners and there was a red bottle that reminded me of a Charisma bottle. I thought, "ooo would I love to go fetch that baby and give it a sniff." Such is the adventurous perfumista's thought process in the collecting of old perfumes of the past!
Gladly there is plenty of Charisma out there in the world to be had on auction sites and antique stores. I haven't smelled the newer reproduction version but my old bottle smells glorious. I've discovered that layering this over a slightly sweet vanilla based lotion really amplifies the spicy accord of Charisma. I get longevity that lasts into the next morning. Your mileage may vary!
If you are into or interested in retro fragrances I think Charisma is a must try!
6th May 2019
Avon was reaching their creative and commercial zenith by 1970, had spread globally, and launched a successful men's division that was being carried by the popularity of Wild Country (1967) almost single-handedly. Meanwhile, their bread and butter staple women's perfumes had been transformed from humble, charming floral bouquets to ravishing spitfire in a bottle, no doubt inspired by racy French designs and the success of virile orientals in the US like Estée Lauder Youth Dew (1953). Naturally, Avon has always been good at innovating on current trends if not always able to make something new (which they often do by accident), so a string of animalic chypres and orientals started coming down the pipeline by the late 1950's. When Charisma (1970) showed up, Avon already had several feminine stunners under their belts, so while still animalic, Charisma was more of a purring cat than a snarling tiger. The original red 2.7oz bottles looked like larger versions of lipstick tubes, and the earliest ones had a very-breakable ornament on top. Inside these attractive tubes was a soapy, mossy semi-dry fougère that felt like a cleaner version of Jicky (1889) trimmed of all the spicy notes that just congealed to a nondescript brown blob in that otherwise seminal release. Knowing how successful Jicky has been with the guys, and how Charisma compares, I'd also say this is fairly unisex, at least in vintage versions before Avon began sweetening or rounding all their oldies in the 1990's with added benzoin, musks, or more amber. Charisma is one of the few perfumes from the time period to see periodic re-issue, so there's quite a lot of bottle variation after the initial batches.

Charisma opens rather softly, with aldehydes pushing a noticeable hyacinth note next to a slight neroli and bergamot. There's coriander here which gives it some similar spicy bite to several other feminine Avons of the period, but Charisma is rounder thanks to a dry peach ghost note floating around. I'm reminded of a more complex Calvin Klein cK Be (1995) with this one, but as the heart kicks in, things get darker. Ylang-ylang and narcissus join with both a slight iris and orris root, which create the bulk of the soap accord that when married to the civet in the base, gives me the same "Safeguard deodorant soap" whiffs of Moustache by Rochas (1949). Charisma does have some hedione and the Dove bar "phoney rose" Avon liked to use mid-century, but once the famous Avon amber comes in, it's soon forgotten. The kindest, friendliest civet glow I've ever seen completes the dry down, alongside styrax, tonka, oakmoss, and vanilla, which is where the Jicky comparison holds truest. Charisma in the "cologne spray" was another irregular nomenclature common for Avon, as it is eau de parfum strength to my nose and has the same tight but unwavering sillage as a standard EdP, with longevity that's on the upper side of an eau de toilette if not a true eau de parfum. This roughly translates to at least 8 hours of close but pleasant wearing. Animalic, soapy, and floral are words not often all congregating under the roof of one fougère, but here you have it. The dry hit of what could be sandalwood also comes in at skin level, but that might just be me.

Best use for this old gal is likely business casual or more formal romantic settings, as there isn't enough sweetness nor sharp edgy citrus to imply youth or mirth to me. Charisma indeed is what it is named to be, or can imbue its wearer with a more-stoic form of charisma in any case. The trail this juice leaves is a tad less-flirty and more prim than other Avon civet or oakmoss bombs of the period, hearkening back slightly to the bucolic grace of early Avon florals without actually becoming stodgy like them, and a delicious savon to the nose acting as a balance between the liberal and conservative aspects. Charisma was a women's generalist for its day in 20th century middle-America, as it covered all bases at reasonable cost in a one-size-fits-all approach, with a lot in it that would later find use in men's animalic floral powerhouses of the mid-to-late 1980's. I feel this latter aspect is where the older strait guys still in love with their Zino Davidoff (1986) or Cerruti 1881 Pour Homme (1990) would find interest in Charisma, while everyone else younger, regardless of gender, might see Charisma as a puzzling contradiction of dirty and soapy. Another slightly challenging but very rewarding Avon classic that to me, more than holds its own against the great designer fragrances of the period. As an aside, this is my mom's favorite Avon, and reuniting her with a vintage bottle was a real treat for me, plus her learning that I wear it too was of no great surprise. Thumbs up!!
8th November 2018

Charisma is a dry and elegant chypre. When I was a kid, our neighbor was an Avon lady. We would try her samples, and I remember loving Charisma and Moonwind. My old roller ball sample is almost gone, but what is left is still in perfect condition. Very high quality and still full of womanly sophistication.
23rd September 2015
I had a bottle of this in the shape of a silver and Red robin when I was little. The bottle was adorable, but I think the perfume had gone bad. All I smelled was pungent alcohol and a very strong, antiseptic, rosy smell. I would like to try smelling this one from a bottle I know isn't past its prime.
28th August 2012
I guilt-tripped a friend into going antique shopping with me. I had been sick. I needed some retail therapy, which was really vintage perfume hunting. She drove me to one of my favorite old musty stores and pretended she was not having a good time.

Then, she found the turtle. A very somber brown glass turtle.

With Charisma in it and an AVON sticker on the bottom. And she comes sashaying to me, find in hand, to taunt me with the irony of a brown turtle from AVON with some juice named Charisma in his shell. She dared me to try it, thinking, hey, I will make you smell AVON, and then can we please go get a cupcake and go home?

And we both loved the smell after we screwed off the odd little gold turtle head. Charisma does smell like Coco. And it dries down on me into a warm vanilla that is gorgeous. But still, why put something named Charisma in a brown glass turtle? I am so confused. But do appreciate the warm, spicy goodness. And we got cupcakes.
12th February 2012
Completely agree with distortech and his precise and accurate review of Charisma. I found this in a thrift store, which, by the way, is a great place to find vintage scents. Now I'm not too much of a perfume snob, but when I saw the Avon sticker on the bottom, I almost didn't bother to open the bottle. I have never really liked--let's say--actively disliked Avon's frags. The quality is okay at best and most of their stuff has this house note of powdery/amber that seems to suffuse everything and render all their stuff pretty much the same.
Which is why I was so shocked when I smelled Charisma. Not only was it good, it was an excellent facsimilie of Coco by Chanel. But wait, this came out in 1970...long before Coco. How can that be? Coincidence? Perhaps, but the similarities are so striking, I can't help but think that Jacques Polge smelled this and used it as his template for Coco. Of course, it's nowhere near the luxe level of the Chanel, but it makes you wonder.
8th February 2011
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