Feeling scentimental? Remembering retro fragrance ads

The importance of nostalgia in fragrance shouldn’t be ignored – so often our memories are linked with the scents we wore way-back-when, and we’ve surely all been stopped in our tracks by catching a whiff of something a loved one was loyal to.

Here at The Perfume Society, we also like to wallow in the warmth of perfume adverts past – they can be, by turns, charmingly evocative or utterly hilarious. We’ve gathered a selection for you to watch to cheer up your day, and we’ll let you decide best which category they fall under. How many of these do you recognise or remember wearing…?

There’s a rather wild claim within this 1981 ad, that ‘drop for drop, Jōvan Musk has brought more men and women together than any other fragrance in history…’ which, um, we’re absolutely sure they could have backed up with stats… Anyway, there’s no messing about, here, and we’re left with no doubts about the power of scent to drive women to rub their hair over men’s faces.

We associate fragrance advertising with impossible glamour and aspirational lifestyles, but sometimes the men’s fragrances used to downplay this in favour of the all-too-obtainable – like this Blue Stratos TV ad from 1988. During what looks to be the crummiest date ever, a couple drive to the world’s most boring pier, get soaked in the rain and, presumably because things can’t get much worse, decide to hurl themselves into the sea, fully clothed. And who can blame them?

This woman will quite happily throw a bunch of roses over a railing and spray perfume straight in your eyes, because she’s… having a complete breakdown? No, silly. Because she’s IMPULSIVE! and UNPREDICTABLE! Well, perhaps, but we still think she comes across as one of those friends, who you can never safely invite to a wedding, because she’ll be causing A Scene – ‘it should have been meeeeeee!’ – and swigging straight from a wine bottle within minutes of arriving.

Is it just us, or do you think there’s something mildly skeevy about the way the man in this Stetson Cologne ad rubs the crown of his hat? It suggests a familiarity with headgear that had not previously occured, but perhaps he’d splashed some of his Cologne on it and was powerless to resist. A peculiar half-spoken, half-sung narration by the woman, too. Peculiar all ’round.

Spying someone gorgeous at a party, trying to subtly flirt across a crowded room, is a situation fraught with danger. But it’s all going so well for this woman – she’s chic, fun and poised with dignity – until she applies Tigress, quick-changes into a catsuit, spends several minutes fighting her way through the potted plants and breathes on her ‘prey’ in a quite unpleasant and off-putting manner. And this is why we should all have that friend who says, ‘No, Susan. You’ve had too many cocktails.’

On what looks to be the set of a 1960s Hammer Horror film, and wearing a nightdress that only adds to the impression, we are given life advice by a really quite terrifying woman who declares in a breathy, faintly sinister way, that her men must wear ‘English Leather, or nothing at all.’ We’d be straight on the phone to the police, to be honest, advising them to check under her patio for those who refused either option…

By Suzy Nightingale

Eight & Bob’s Robert F. Kennedy edition reveals all

Ever wondered how the world’s most powerful (and glamorous) people actually smell? Well settle down for a tale that involves a president, his brother, a sarcastic socialite, a butler and a beautifully presented (we think very sharable) sensational scent…

The Story: ‘One night during the summer of 1937 in the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Albert Fouquet, a young socialite and perfume connoisseur, met an American student who was touring France: John F. Kennedy. Within minutes of being introduced, the vain JFK was captivated by the essence that Albert wore. John’s charm and congeniality persuaded Albert to leave him a sample of his cologne with a note at his hotel the following morning:

In this bottle, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.’

(The shade of it all! Rather daring to address one of the Kennedy’s in such a manner, but we guess if you were a particular kind of socialite, such cutting remarks were part of your stock in trade…)

Eight & Bob continue the story by describing how, on returning from vacation, ‘Albert received a letter from JFK thanking him for the fragrance and informing him of its success amongst his friends. He requested that Albert send him eight samples, “and if your production allows, another one for Bob”.

 

The order wasn’t fulfilled until Philippe, the family butler, found beautiful glass bottles in a Parisian pharmacy for the cologne to be housed in. Albert ordered several boxes with the same pattern as the pinstripe shirt that JFK was wearing when they met, and then labeled the bottles and boxes with John’s request: “EIGHT & BOB”.

A few months later, Albert began receiving letters from America with requests from various Hollywood directors, producers, and actors such as Cary Grant and James Stewart. Everyone wanted their very own piece of “EIGHT & BOB”.

In the spring of 1939, Albert died in a car accident near Biarritz (France). Philippe, the only person who could create and handle the orders, continued Albert’s legacy and in his final shipments hid the bottles inside books to prevent the Nazis from seizing the cologne.

The Fragrance: Decades later, thanks to the family of Philippe, the formula for “EIGHT & BOB” has been completely recovered, along with its carefully crafted production process. Once again, it has become one of the most exclusive colognes, worn and desired by the world’s most elegant men and women…’

Top notes: pink pepper, cardamom, lemon

Heart notes: violet leaf, labdanum, dry woods

Base notes: sandalwood, amber, vetiver

The Review: A warm tingle of pink pepper ripples through breezy lemon infused with the cool, aromatic cardamom. A whisper of green violet leaf cuts through the resinous sensuality of the heart, leading to a musky, woody trail that’s devastatingly suave. Think sneakers worn with an impeccable suit, tanned skin and crisp white shirts worn with minimal accessories and a dazzling, heartbreaking smile.

The Special Edition: To mark the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s death, Eight & Bob have partnered with the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, ‘a prestigious and internationally recognised organisation managed by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK.’ What’s more, they will donate a percentage of the revenue received from this special edition fragrance to the foundation, ‘as a tribute to RFK’s dream of a more fair and peaceful world.’

Eight & Bob RFK Special Edition £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harveynichols.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Missoni Parfum pour Homme (you'll want to cuddle up…)

Missoni Parfum por Homme is the first foray into male fragrance for the Maison in some years, and having had a sneaky sniff before it launched – although Missoni describe the scent as being ‘…unquestionably masculine’ – we think many ladies might feel the same as us, and not only want to cuddle up to this, but permanently ‘borrow’ it…
Missoni say: ‘The captivating freshness of the Missoni Parfum pour Homme is inspired by the Mediterranean landscape warmed by the sun. A woody frgrance both fresh and luminous, full of contrasts.’
Top notes: green lemon leaves & pulp, pink pomelo, lavender aspic
Heart notes: Mediterranean Maquis herbs, ginger, pomarose, jasmine
Base notes: patchouli, sandalwood, oakwood, birch, musk
So how does it smell? Imagine a walk through the lemon groves at dawn, dew-speckled leaves swirled with an early morning mist that precedes a scorching day to come… The unexpected mix of freshly cut ginger and aromatic lavender proves opposites definitely can attract – zingy spice meeting soothing wafts in a snuggle we want to last forever. Talking of snuggling (and we very often do), there’s a particularly cuddle-some quality to this fragrance, and a deliberate one, at that…
We note from the press release that the dry-down – smooth sandalwood melting into the musky woodieness of the base – was composed to be ‘as enveloping as a precious Missoni cardigan.’ We’re never quite sure how perfumers can translate fragrant ingredients to smell exactly like certain materials feel [shhh! See the Fashion & Fragrance edition of our Scented Letter magazine for more on this olfactory alchemy, next month!] but that’s exactly what’s happened, here. All the cosiness of borrowing your other-half’s best sweater and delighting in the comfort of the soft texture while breathing in their scent.
With the juiciness of the fruity top notes working well in the heat and the soft muskiness of the base just perfect for cooler temperatures, it’s almost enough to have us wishing for snow, so we can get super snuggly in a lavishly scented way…

Missoni Parfum pour Homme £33 for 50ml eau de parfum
Exclusive to Harrods from 7th August (nationwide, October 2017)
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 

Zadig & Voltaire's fashion-forward fragrances have just one rule: be yourself, completely…

Parisians do that chic-but-edgy rock ‘n roll thing so insouciantly it must be in their very DNA, and the Paris-based fashion house of uber cool Zadig & Voltaire embody the concept of easy luxury every single day. And now you can, too, with the brand’s This is Her! and This is Him! fragrances enticing you to embrace modernity and break the mould – and if all that sounds like a lot of hard work, then we say simply relax while smelling distinctively sublime…
French designer Thierry Gillier was inspired by the iconic revolutionary philosopher of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, and his protagonist hero Zadig, to create his grunge-chic label, and being a scent obsessive it seemed only natural to have that ethos embodied in fragrant form. Explains Gillier:
‘I can’t imagine a life without fragrance. I like when it leaves a trail, asserts a personality. It’s an alchemy between you and someone else…’
Watch the ad campaign right here – read our review (below) and then run to sniff for yourselves. You can thank us later…

With arty looking bottles seemingly hewn from granite, the ‘jagged’ edges actually fit together in perfect harmony. And the scents? This is Her! imagines a free-spirited punk princess dressed in sensuous silk and cashmere, the woody-gourmand notes of chestnut and sandalwood buoyed by a burst of pink pepper in the top notes and sweet jasmine sighing softly at the heart.
We must admit that we swooned quite a bit over This is Him! While perhaps not being the target market of “…a powerful gentleman of rock, complete with a leather look”, we urge other women to try this on their skin, too, as the pepper and grapefruit zip almost immediately into an irresistible swirl of soft incense and salty vanilla – a definite wrist-sniffer, and the boys can go sulk because we’re not sharing this one, either.
zadig-voltaire
Zadig & Voltaire This is Her! from £38 for 30ml eau de parfum
Zadig & Voltaire This is Him! from £36 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy them at Debenhams
Written by Suzy Nightingale