If you were a pre-teen girl growing up in the late ’80s, early ’90s, you were probably a lot like me, saving your allowance/babysitting money to buy cheap makeup at the drug store (my go-to store back in the day was Genovese, a tri-state area chain that was later sold to the Florida-based chain Eckerd).
Now, the more expensive items in the beauty aisle were generally kept behind a sliding glass window, protected by one small circular lock/key that you had to ask the sales associate to come over and unlock (this never took less than 10 minutes to execute). This is where you would find your White Diamonds, Giorgio, Halston, CK’s Obsession, and other such designer fragrances. And that’s all nice and special, but what I would gravitate to (again, due to my lack of funds and lack of gentlemen callers at the age of 11) was the readily available, uncaged Designer Imposters Body Spray collection.
They cost THREE DOLLARS! But you knew that using the spray would make you smell like at least THIRTY DOLLARS worth of classy.
Often sitting on its own colorful store display perch, these fragrances came in aerosol cans (maybe about 3 or 4 oz, each), and each can declared that if you liked X-brand, then you’d LOVE their imposter version of that scent, which was often given a bizarro/slightly cheesier variant on the popular fragrance’s name.
“If you like Opium, you’ll love NINJA”
Well, that seems mildly racist, but maybe I WILL love Ninja!
To add to the duplicitous pageantry, check out one of the company’s classic 1980’s commercials, featuring the “Best Undressed Bodies of 1989” (ironically, all of the models in the ad are, in fact, dressed). Not only did I want to smell like these women, I wanted to own all of their cool ’80s clothing! The off-the-shoulder ruffled top, the mutli-tiered polka dot skirt, the zipper-centered bikini top. How could you wear such clothes, douse yourself in imposter spray, and NOT be the belle of the ball?
Sadly, my favorite imposter’s scent, Night Rhythms, is not featured in this ad.
The spray fragrances are distributed by Parfums de Coeur, which sounds as fancy as it gets, since it’s French—right? But lo and behold, the company is based out of Darien, CT! It still exists and operates as a fragrance company, still offering some of its favorite imposter scents from the ’80s like Primo!, Oscar, and A Little Sexy. However, it seems as though today, the scents that they are copying at a fraction of the cost aren’t even as high-end as they once were, and include versions of such already-affordable brands as Bath and Body Works, Juicy, Ed Hardy and Victoria’s Secret.
Come to think of it: if you were of the mind to want to smell like whatever Ed Hardy perfume smells like, you’d probably also take some pride in knowing you only paid $3.00 for the opportunity.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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