The first beauty products I ever met were perfumes. Indeed for a long while they were the only ones I knew about.

I was introduced to Bluegrass perfume not by its smell (I probably didn’t know what it smelled of until I was about 12) but by its function. The primary function of Bluegrass in my world was as a birthday present for my nana.

Bluegrass was one of the only acceptable gifts for a woman who would declare “don’t get me anything” repeatedly, until you got her something.

Photograph from

It was her favourite perfume and without fail she would get through a bottle every year. Not that you could smell much of it over the John Players cigarettes that were constantly in her hand. Hence, why it wasn’t until I bought a bottle for her without my mother’s help that I actually found out what it smelled like.

To young me it smelled soapy and manly; which made sense as my maternal grandmother was both to me. It certainly didn’t smell like something I’d want to wear. The fact that I found it in that section of Boots where all the really cheap unloved perfumes look be suggested I wasn’t alone in my feelings toward it.

Despite being relegated to the bottom shelves of Boots these days Bluegrass is one of the best known perfumes of the twentieth century. It might not have the cachet of Chanel No 5 or the the mystery of Mitsouko, but it was one of the defining scents of the 1930s.

Though the smell isn’t one I can conjure up in my mind the name instantly make me think of my Nana and her dressing table.

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