Scents of the Seventies return as shoppers splash out on nostalgia

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First the music was rehabilitated, then the fashions and recently even the food.

Now 1970s perfumes and aftershaves are making a comeback, as a new generation discovers the somewhat questionable joys of Charlie, Brut and Old Spice.

Sales of so-called "heritage scents" are increasing, particularly among younger customers, according to market research by the high-street chain Superdrug.

Long-forgotten fragrances are being revived as teenagers embrace all things retro in an effort to smell like their parents did three decades ago.

Tim Hughes, fragrance expert at Superdrug, said: "Our customers are always ready to jump on a trend. On the one hand we are being asked for the very latest fragrances from celebrities and designers, and then we are also getting requests for the type of perfumes and aftershaves that our shoppers' mums and dads may have worn in the Seventies."

The lust for the smells of one of the most reviled decades, in fashion terms, has been triggered in part, according to trend-watchers, by film versions of popular programmes such as Starsky and Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie's Angels.

Among the best-selling Seventies scents on Superdrug's shelves is Brut aftershave, a product that was one of the first to use a celebrity endorsement to persuade men that grooming wasn't for sissies.

The heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper was the original "face" of Brut, urging men to "splash it all over" at a time when David Beckham hadn't even started to shave.

The women's perfume Charlie, launched by Revlon in 1973, is also making a comeback. It was a top-seller at the time, advertised with trouser-wearing models to reinforce the perfume's slogan that it was so "now!"

Original perfume products and their packaging from the era do a roaring trade on eBay as consumers buy into all things vintage.

Other fragrances that have withstood the test of time over the past three decades include Opium, launched by Yves St Laurent in 1977, L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci, and Anais Anais, which came in at the tail end of the decade.

Superdrug has drawn up a "hit list" of other Seventies scents it wants to revive, including Max Factor's Maxi, Aviance Night Musk and Hi Karate, an aftershave which at one point was synonymous with gold medallions and tight trousers.

Avon, the cosmetic and perfume giant that was also a Seventies institution, is also attempting a makeover of its image. One in three women in the UK buys products from Avon, and the company still sells more fragrance than any other in the world.

One retro-fragrance that Superdrug has decided not to stock, however, is Tabac - an aftershave that smelt of cigarettes and was particularly popular in an age before smoking bans had even been considered.

It is not just the scent of the Seventies that is being revived; according to The Grocer magazine, the tastes of the decade are also returning to our palates. Blue Nun and Mateus Rosé wine, the instant potato mix Smash, Nimble bread and Ringos snacks are enjoying new-found popularity on supermarket shelves.

Sonya Hook, of The Grocer, said: "Manufacturers have recognised that trends are cyclical and there is a gap in the market for old favourites."

Favourite fragrances of the past

OLD SPICE: With the slogan "The mark of a man", the aftershave was touted as a hit with the ladies, especially if accessorised with an open shirt and a bottle of Blue Nun. It now comes in Original, Sensitive and Whitewater varieties.

HI KARATE: For men in the Seventies, a generous splash of this aftershave was considered a sure-fire way to attract the ladies. Adverts showed a man using karate kicks to fight off a lustful woman who just couldn't get enough of the smell.

ANAIS ANAIS: The avant-garde novelist Anais Nin may have turned in her grave when the perfume company Cacharel decided to name its new scent after her in 1978, but it proved to be a hit, especially with schoolgirls. The floral scent might be cloying to some, but for others it invokes the spirit of the decade.

BRUT: Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan told men to "splash it all over" - and splash they did, as the aftershave quickly became a favourite in bathroom cabinets and Christmas stockings. It fell out of favour in the Eighties, not helped by its celebrity endorser Paul Gascoigne saying it gave him a rash, but is now making a comeback.

CHARLIE: Launched by Revlon in 1973, the scent was described as "floral and fresh" and quickly became a best-seller. The Charlie's Angels star Shelley Hack was among those who fronted the original advertising campaigns; in recent years the supermodel Claudia Schiffer has been the face of the perfume.