The Organic Fragrance That Brings Out My Inner Flapper

Inspired by 1920s fragrance recipes, Portland General Store’s Perfume is the bee’s knees.
Publish date:
May 6, 2015
perfumes, retro, flappers, 1930s, 1920s, bee perfume

I have a strange obsession with bees. They’re probably the busiest creatures of the insect world, which I can totally relate to; if I’m not doing anything for too long, I start to get restless. And they’re the ultimate symbol of female power, choosing a queen to rule the entire hive for her whole life. I’ve even thought of getting a bee tattoo. These winged creatures just get me.

I’ve been stung twice, once on my earlobe and once on my belly button. Weird, right? So, yeah, there’s also a little resentment there. Thankfully, I don’t have to get too close to evoke them. There’s a perfume for that: Portland General Store Bee Organic Perfume.

Why name a perfume after bees, you might ask? The answer can be found in the 1920s and '30s, when women often spritzed on a “bee” perfume that captured their new identities after the war: they could vote, they could work, and they sure as hell could stop wearing the froufrou, overly powdery fragrances of the old days.

Portland General Store’s updated version combines similar ingredients, with orange blossom and jasmine as heart notes enhanced by wildflowers, honeysuckle, and vanilla. Plus, today’s reincarnation is vegan, at least 85-percent organic, and made by hand in small batches for the highest-quality product possible.

My adoration for this fragrance stemmed from the inadequacies of other products. My favorite smell in the entire universe might just be that of Lush R&B Hair Moisturizer, which also combines orange blossom and jasmine. (Seriously, if you haven’t smelled this stuff, get a pot and stick your nose in it, ASAP.) But, alas, the company has yet to bottle the scent for spritzing on skin. I’m also a huge fan of Fresh Honeysuckle Eau De Parfum--also packed with jasmine and fruity florals--but have found that the aroma doesn’t linger on me for more than a half hour.

When I decided to look elsewhere to quell my addiction to this kind of scent, Portland General Store’s fragrance was one of the first to pop up. It’s definitely pricey--$110 for a 60ml bottle--but they offer a 3ml sample bottle for only $8, which I'm using here. Once I got a whiff, though, I knew the full-price bottle would be worth it.

I’m just going to put it out there: this stuff does smell a little more retro than its Fresh counterpart. It’s very sugary and still maintains a hint of that powdery odor, but it’s done in a more modern, sophisticated way. Best of all, I can still smell it on me hours after I spray it on. Basically, this fragrance is like if your grandma showed up at your house with a bright purple undercut. (Yeah, you’re welcome for that image.)

Added bonus: if you’re a beeophile like me (let’s just pretend that’s a word, yeah?), 10% of the proceeds from this perfume go to the Maine State Beekeepers Association.

Now you give me your fragrance lowdown:

  • Do you like retro scents?
  • What are your favorite fragrance notes?
  • Any other bee lovers out there?