Perfume Directory

Topaze (1959)
by Avon


Topaze information

Year of Launch1959
Average Rating
(based on 26 votes)

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About Topaze

Topaze is a feminine perfume by Avon. The scent was launched in 1959

Topaze fragrance notes

Reviews of Topaze

Avon may be considered all but a direct-to-door version of Coty these days, but back in the mid 20th century, they put their money where their mouth was with their perfume craft as well. Sadly, the things Avon used to be good at are all but restricted out of existence: the aldehyde floral, the aromatic chypre, the floriental, and the barbershop fougère if we're talking guy's stuff. Most of those genres have weathered a lack of oakmoss or animalics over the years, or the replacement of this kind of synthetic musk for that, but while fougères and orientals can make do without their starring base notes, aldehyde florals or chypres in particular have had to transform considerably, and those are the two biggest genres to which Avon contributed in its heyday. Topaze (1959) is a beautiful example of prime Avon perfumery the likes of which Avon naysayers will never know, and fans of vintage Avon will never see again in the same form they once knew. The composition of Topaze was "a pinch of this, a dab of that" from the most popular French designer perfumes of the era, remixed and rearranged the way a talented DJ does with music, into something familiar, a tad derivative but strikingly its own beast. According to perfumistas who I've read were there when it came out, Topaze borrows most notably from the lush yellow florals of Chanel No. 5 (1921), and to some folks, the more animalic aspects of vintage Lanvin Arpège (1927), but with far less aldehydes than either and a gritty, dry green chypre base similar to Carven Ma Griffe (1947). Personally, I see very little of any in my experience with Topaze, except maybe a touch of the Chanel in the opening. Topaze is almost brutally bone-dry for a feminine, while all those perfumes are fuller with aldehydes, or at least have more amber to them in their finish, which is for once in small doses with this Avon classic.

Topaze opens with bergamot, lemon, and coriander on a thin layer of aldehydes that give no sparkle like the Chanel to which Topaze is often compared, but instead offer a gold-toned citric spice that sets up the yellow floral heart. Ylang-ylang, jasmine, and muguet meet with Avon's 1950's phoney-baloney synthetic rose, which doesn't smell a damn bit more like rose than the average rose soap, and I'm glad they dispensed of it by the 1970's for an actual rose note. In short, the fake "rose" accord Avon used is powdery, reminiscent of heliotrope more than anything, and reminds me of the pink Dove bar dropped into suds created by Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo. If you want more focus on that "implied rose", see the Avon perfume To a Wild Rose (1950), which was actually based around the note. Luckily, this piquant rose facsimile does little more than add a slight rubbery tone to the otherwise-dusty floral bouquet middle, which is eventually joined by carnation and a dab of soapy iris near the end, helping to emulsify the dry aspects of the top and middle into the aromatic base without burning out your nose. The sheer austerity of the perfume is not softened by the expected Avon amber, which is in short supply with Topaze, since it leans more heavily on a parched leathery note, a sharp vetiver, copious oakmoss, civet, and sandalwood. I get little shades of cistus labdanum too, and maybe a bit of musk right at the end, but we're talking skin scent level by that point. Topaze remains thoroughly serious for the entire wear, and has a no-nonsense bitterness about it that presages the terse green chypres of the 1970's by a good number of years, yet doesn't smell "green" since it has such a floral middle after all the shrieking citrus subsides, and no galbanum nor any sort of sage or other herbs common in the 70's chypres. The bergamot and aldehydes fade to dry florals, which then in turn mull into aromatic woods, civet, and chewy oakmoss.

My bottle is an original 1959 "cologne mist" in the tall opaque column bottle with a cap adorned with a plastic topaz, and I don't know what strength this "cologne mist" follows (since Avon always irregularly named their concentrations right up into the 2000's), but it's very "perfumey" to me and gets tons and tons of sillage with just one spray. Keep in mind these early sprays were pressurized too, so you get a measured amount of juice you can't reduce with "half-spraying", and for a full second, you are enveloped in the fragrance until the valve mechanism closes. For this reason, you can't easily place on wrists or elsewhere, and just get strait shots to the chest or back. I put on two full sprays, and got hours of longevity, with the sillage calming down to Eau de Parfum levels after maybe 20 minutes of "holy shit" nose terror. Topaze was later made in true cologne splashes, perfume, perfume oil, perfume creme, conventional spring-fed natural spray cologne, but after the 1970's, benzoin and coumarin began sneaking their way into reformulations to make the Topaze of the 1980's and beyond smell sweeter and prettier. Modern re-issues have no moss, and probably no civet anymore, since smelling like starched animal regions isn't considered attractive to the mainstream nowadays. Still, if you want a golden floral chypre that snaps the nose like the crack of a nun's ruler across knuckles, and redresses the silhouette of Chanel No. 5 in a more svelte, athletic, slightly-powdery form, Topaze is your calling. Daring men unafraid to play with women's scents can pull this off if they like dry floral chypres, as the aldehydes are slight, but vintage Topaze on a woman in 2018 is like reading the prologue of a new "Fifty Shades" book, so try the softer reformulation first if you're unsure. Otherwise, this is pretty unisex-friendly. Thumbs up!
08th November, 2018
An initial blast of yellow florals and and ylang ylang leads to a warm, amber dry down.
I wish I could find more of these vintage Avons, I dont get on with the modern ones at all.
27th August, 2016
Great, Simple, Elegant, Classy, and good on a man aswell. It is smooth, rich, and reminds me of a boat ride in the canals of Italy, truly a exotic, and romantic aroma.............
28th March, 2006
My hubby loves this on me and I like it too. Timeless Avon classic. In a yellow bottle with a fake Topaz on the top. Avon used to bring this along with some of their other classic fragrances once in awhile. Too bad they haven't brought it back because I'd like to get some more. Smells best after 15 minutes one spray will do it!
24th November, 2005

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Avon - Betsy Ross - Topaze cologne 4 fl oz

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