Richard E Grant explores Süskind’s Perfume novel

Richard E. Grant explores the world of Süskind’s Perfume novel in episode 2 of his new BBC series, Write Around the World, and we think you’ll be captivated by his so-evocative scent journey…

‘I’ve been led by nose all my life,’ says Richard. ‘When I was 12 years old I tried to make a perfume with gardenia and rose petals – to impress a girl I was madly in love with, called Betty Clapp. It took me 56 years to create my own professional perfume brand here in Grasse.’ He’s there for part of his wonderful new BBC series, Write Around the World, traversing those places that have inspired iconic writers through history – Grasse being the perfume capital of the world and the setting for one of Richard’s favourite books: ‘Patrick Süskind’s Perfume novel… the best description of scent I’ve ever come across, and reading it is almost a physical experience.’

 

The BBC say: ‘Book and travel lover Richard E Grant journeys to southern France, visiting the Cévennes mountains, Marseille, Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera and Grasse in the hills north of Cannes, in the footsteps of writers inspired by the country, its culture and history.

Reading key passages from their books as he goes along, including works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Dumas, F Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth David and Patrick Süskind, Richard not only learns about the lives of these great authors, but also experiences many of the places immortalised in the literary classics they created.’

Richard’s own fragrant journey led him to the brilliant perfumer Alienor Massenet. She garlanded his original idea (and favourite flower) of gardenia with marijuana (a nod to his film, Withnail and I), mandarin, vetiver and a plethora of spices, with a sophisticated, cologne-like zing of lime up top, capturing all Richard’s favourite smells in an intensely personal ‘signature’ scent. That fragrance is now immortalised as Jack – the first of the synonymous collection, and a scent which succeeded in winning the Fragrance Foundation Award for Best Independent Fragrance in 2015.

 

In the episode Richard wanders through Grasse with obvious delight, his nose veritably twitching as he sees (and smells) the places described in the novel, even having a fragrance created for him at the historic house of Galimard, which he names for Grenouille, the novel’s protagonist. Little wonder, given his scent obsession, that Richard went on to add three other fragrances to his collection, which you can explore in our page dedicated to the house of Jack.

‘Our sense of smell is the shortest synaptic leap in the brain to our memory,’ says Richard, ‘and every one of these ingredients is like a sensory trigger. I’ve aspired to create a fragrance that is as lickably moreish as it’s addictive.’

For a fragrantly inspiring journey of your own, we suggest watching the episode, reading Patrick Süskind’s Perfume (if you’ve not already, you’re in for a treat!), and then truly indulging your sense of smell by exploring the full range of Jack fragrances

 By Suzy Nightingale

Retro fragrance ads – moustaches, pot plants & lasers: oh my!

Retro fragrance ads have a certain nostaligic charm – we might remember them from our childhood – or occasionally downright hilarious (let’s just say that some age better than others…)

While some houses or perfumes slip through the mists of time and become names we forget altogether or perhaps spot at vintage fairs, others remain firm favourites and become scents that stood the test of time. Here’s a list of some of our favourites you can sit back and chuckle at if you will, or be propelled back into vivid scent memories via the magic of perfume’s ability to whisk us through time and space.

Prepare yourselves for moustaches, pot plants & lasers: oh my!

 

#moustachegoals for miles as our hero is seen splashing on Blue Statos Cologne one minute, and hurling himself into a hang-glider the next. We hope he waxed that ‘tache or he could give himself whiplash. And who’d have thought it? It turns out hang-gliding is the perfect sport to take up if you want to make eye-contact with female drivers – not something we’d have thought Health & Safety regs would approve of, but still. She can get a whiff of his Cologne even as he whisks through the air above her car (like a fragrant falcon), and they immediately decide to live together in a glorified wooden shack. We love happy endings.

 

Spying someone gorgeous at a party, trying to subtly flirt across a crowded room, has always been 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, ‘Yes, Susan. There is such a thing as “too many cocktails” and you’ve had them. I’m calling us a taxi.’

 

Shopping for men while picking up their vegetables for the week, two women perform an improptu musical outside a greengrocer’s, discussing what, exactly, constitutes ‘something about an Aqua Velva man.’ I’m not sure we ever quite get to the bottom of it, only that they must be ‘manly’ and ‘last all day’. With packaging that at first glance might be mistaken for men’s hair dye – or a devastatingly attractive fake Moustache In a Box – we can only guess how ‘fresh’ and/or ‘provocative’ the duo of fragrances actually smelled. Or perhaps it’s of secondary importance to the freshness of the veg?

 

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…

 

Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise) if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?

In the mood for more retro fragrance vibes? Take a look at our feature in which we invited author Maggie Alderson to browse through the adverts of more recent years and see how men’s fragrance advertising has changed

By Suzy Nightingale

Perfume in popular culture

Perfume in popular culture used be represented as something of a frippery, a subject to sneer at. Then there’s those endless pieces proclaiming that £4.99 ‘dupe’ bottles of scent are ‘exactly the same’ as classic fine fragrances (yeah, okay). But more recently, this eye-rolling attitude appears to be changing for the better.

Certainly it seems to be (albeit slowly) if you cast a glance at some of the most-loved television shows we’ve all been streaming of late. We couldn’t help noticing the subject of fragrance – perfumery and bottles as an art form, and our sense of smell in general – is coming up more frequently.

Here’s three of the major scent mentions we spotted most recently, with direct links to watch online…

 

Blown Away: Series 2, Episode 6: Scents & Sensibility [Netflix]
In the same sort of stable as successful reality series like Bake Off, Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throwdown; ‘Blown Away’ proved a huge hit for Netflix a couple of years ago. The latest season once again showcases the artistry and immense skill in glass blowing, and of course we LOVED the focus on perfume bottles in this episode. We’ll even forgive the much-overused perfume pun title.

Katherine Gray, professor at the California State University and resident evaulator describes the challenge to the contestants, saying that: ‘Over the course of the last 5,000 years, perfume flacons have transformed from really simple containers to elaborate and ornate works of art.‘ In this episode, they must design and hand-blow their own glass bottles, while keeping in mind, as perfume designer and guest judge, Michel Germain says: ‘A successful perfume is more than just the scent. The bottle has to draw people in, spark interest and tell a story.’ And the results? They’ll definitely blow you away…

 

Grayson’s Art Club: Series 2, Episode 1: Family [Channel 4]
Rebelliously lovable artist Grayson Perry and Philippa (psychotherapist, author and his wife) invited members of the public to express their feelings in artworks for a physical exhibition to be held in Manchester Art Gallery. During the various stages of both major #lockdowns in the U.K. these programmes have been an absolute joy. Interestingly, the first episode of the latest season includes a significant scent-related piece. As Grayson scrolls through the submissions, he comes across a photograph of hand-labelled bottles. These turn out to be a collection of fragrances designed by the artist Suzanne Bull.

‘It’s a family collabroation,’ she explains to Grayson during a Zoom call. ‘I did a creative task to collect the smell of your favourite person. So I texted all my family, going “what’s your favourite smell? I’m doing an art thing.”‘ Grayson asks Suzanne ‘what really appeals to you about trying to evoke your family with smells?’ She replies that she’s not seen some of her family for more than a year, ‘…but it’s like they’re here with me in the room.’ Grayson seems struck by this concept and remarks ‘That’s such a brilliant idea because it brings home the physical experience, doesn’t it?’ Ironically, Suzanne can’t actually smell them at the moment as she had Covid, but it was clearly an important exercise for her – she still feels they evoke her family and loves keeping their smells nearby.

 

Antiques Roadshow: Christchurch Mansion 2 [BBC1]
Always a soothing warm bath of a show, our ears pricked up at mention of a special perfume bottle a member of the public wanted one of their resident antique experts, Judith Miller, to take a look at. A mother and daughter duo explain how they came to own this precious fragrant family heirloom. ‘I got it a couple of years ago from my mum and dad for Christmas,’  the daughter begins, recounting the history and how her dad went shopping ‘forty or fifty years ago’ to find the perfect present for his wife, when he came across the exqusite piece and ‘loved it so much that he bought it for my mum.’

 

Miller reveals the stunning little scent bottle was probably made around 1760 and said it was possibly the work of famous engraver and porcelain decorator James Giles, who was ‘absolutely top of the tree.’ It is always interesting to look at the faces of the people when they’re told how much the piece is worth, and we’re wondering if it crossed the mother’s mind she might like to reclaim the perfume bottle gift she so generously passed on to her daughter… We won’t spoil the show by saying how much it could sell for, here, but suffice to say Father Christmas was VERY generous that year. The daughter, it turns out, has ‘a number of scent bottles’ on display in her home, and this one will be kept in the centre ‘as the pièce de résistance!’

And if you’re after even more fragrance talk filling the airwaves, have a look at some of the Perfume Themed Podcasts we rounded up recently. Perfume in popular culture: a fragrant renaissance, do we dare hope…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant Film Club – scent-themed movies, documentaries and series streaming now…

We’ve scoured the internet for this Fragrant Film Club – a curation of some of our favourite perfume-themed movies, documentaries and TV series to watch right now.

So, if you’re about done with Christmas and need a way to fill the weird hinterland between festive or new year celebrations and the return to (whatever will be) ‘normality’ – here’s a scented selection box of fragrant treasures…

 

Perfume: Story of a Murderer Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘With his incredible talent for discerning scents, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) is one of 18th-century France’s finest perfumers. He becomes obsessed with capturing an elusive aroma: the scent of young womanhood. His search takes a deadly turn, and when the bodies of 12 young females are found, panic breaks out, with families rushing to lock up their daughters.’

Based on the best-selling, and now infamous, novel by Patrick Süskind, this is one every fragrance-lover should watch. It’s remarkable not only for being filmed at all (many said the book could never be made in to a screen drama), but for changing the way fragrance was talked about in the media. Stunningly shot, utterly gripping, we of course urge you to read the book first, but do then see this and marvel.

If you’ve already seen the film, have a gander at the made for TV drama loosely based on the premis of the novel, but in a modern-day setting: Perfume (series) Netflix

 

Scent of a Woman Netflix

Telling the story of a preparatory school student who woefully takes a job as an assistant to an irritable, blind, medically retired Army officer, Frank, (magnificently played by Al Paccino) this is one of those films that helped highlight the importance of our sense of smell. In one memorable scene, Frank approaches the table where a woman sits alone, waiting for date. ‘You know, I detect a fragrance in the air,’ he says, ‘Don’t tell me what it is… Ogleby Sisters Soap?’ So, although not a movie about perfume per se, it’s a fantastic performance, and fun to look out for some well-known fragrance names he also detects along his adventures…

 

Perfumes (Les Parfums) Amazon Prime: rent for £4.49

We reviewed this charming film in full, here, but basically it’s the story of a reclusive, once-feared French perfumer and her new chauffeur. Though a gentle comedy, Les Parfums takes a serious (and very well presented) look at the life of a perfumer, and now this subtitled film has a wider release with Amazon, we hope many more of you will be able to see it. Certainly it’s a treat for the senses, and sadly such a rarity to see perfumery explored on screen in this manner. We particularly loved the scene in which Guillaume, the chauffeur, is discovering his newly-acquired appreciation for smell –  in the supermarket, sniffing various shower gels, under the watchful gaze of a bemused security guard. ‘Something quite mellow…’ he says, as the guard shuffles closer, clearly unused to such behaviour in Aisle 5. Delightful from start to finish.

 

Love Blossoms free with Amazon Prime

After a perfumer’s death, his daughter works to meet the production deadline for his company’s latest scent, which is complicated by the lack of an elusive ingredient.‘ Now we should really start by saying this a Hallmark movie, and as such has a certain look and feel to it that previous viewers of their oeuvre will recognise. That being said, this is the kind of whimsical film that one can happily curl up on the sofa with while eating your way through an entire tub of ice cream. Just don’t expect Süskind levels of olfactory detail, accept that everyone wears pastel and has perfect hair, and all will be fine.

 

The Perfume of The Lady in Black free with Amazon Prime

We must admit to not having watched this one yet, but it certainly sounds like an antidote to excessive Christmas schmaltz, if that’s what you’re looking for. ‘After her mother dies, a chemist begins to have strange visions of a mysterious woman in black applying perfume in a mirror, and of strangers who follow her everywhere.’ That’s the synopsis in brief, but further reviews reveal that it’s a surrealistic film, also described as an ‘incoherent and inconsistent slice of psychological horror.’ Nonetheless, it’s a plot that sounds intriguing enough to capture our interest, and we very much we get to find out what the mysterious woman in black’s perfume actually is!

 

The Women (1939) Amazon Prime: rent for £3.49

‘Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) can’t believe her husband’s having an affair with salesgirl Crystal (Joan Crawford). But when Sylvia (Rosalind Russell) and Edith (Phyllis Povah) deliver the gossip firsthand, Mary heads to Reno for a divorce. En route she meets Countess de Lave (Mary Boland) and Miriam (Paulette Goddard), who coincidentally is having an affair with Sylvia’s husband. Once in Reno, the Countess finds another beau, Sylvia shows up for a divorce and Mary plots to win back her man.’

Even though this really only has one perfume-related scene, we’re recommending this one mainly because it’s one of our favourite films EVER. And what a scent scene that is – set in the fragrance department of a classy department store, and featuring magnificently catty lines with Crawford as the predatory perfume counter gal. A stellar cast – made up entirely of women (practically unheard of even today, let alone in the 1930s!) – magnificent costumes and a gasp-inducing sudden switch to full-colour film during the fashion show sequence, make this more than worth your watching (on repeat).

 

Some years ago, the BBC made a fascinating doccumentary series about the perfume business, taking a deep dive into the creation of a fragrance, the revival of a perfume house (Grossmith) and interviewing perfume personalities such as Roja Dove and perfumers including Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser. Sadly the episiodes are no longer available on the BBC iPlayer website, though they are now available to watch on YouTube: Perfume (BBC Documentary series).

 

Emily in Paris (series) Netflix

Following a rather gauche… sorry. A ‘driven twenty-something American woman from Chicago, who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity.’ Emily in Paris has seen equal parts love and hate in the many reviews that followed its release earlier this year. Whichever camp you fall in, it’s a lovesong to Paris and HOW we yearn to get that back there as soon as we’re able. And you know what? It’s actually not a bad look at the creation and marketing of a perfume, as we follow Emily’s hapless adventures as she’s ‘tasked with bringing an American point of view to a venerable French marketing firm.’

 

Birth of a Perfume (British Pathé, 1967) YouTube

YouTube is a treasure trove for archival fragrance adverts and wonderful little gems like this Pathé documentary on how fragrance is made. We might chuckle at the Stiff Upper Lip ‘Received Pronunciation’ of the voiceover, but it makes for a still very interesting look at Grasse, French perfumery and the technical side of perfumery still not often shown in such detail to this day. Click above to watch it now!

 

The Legend of Fragrance free with Amazon Prime

Another still on our ‘to watch’ list, this series certainly sounds like it ticks many (perfume) boxes for us… ‘During the Republican era, a family empire famous for making the best fragrances and incense must guard against those who are out to steal their secret recipes. Ning Zhi Yuan is the sweet young master of his family’s fragrance empire. An Le Yan is a determined young woman who is out for revenge against the Ning family. Zhi Yuan falls in love with Le Yan, but she only wants to infiltrate Zhi Yuan’s family to steal a valuable perfume formula. Le Yan’s true heart is drawn toward An Yi Chen, an inspector. But Xiao Hui, the daughter of a Japanese imperialist, is determined to capture Yi Chen’s heart at all costs. Can Zhi Yuan protect his family’s livelihood and his own heart?

 

Tee & Mo BBC iPlayer

Something for the little ones – perhaps inspiring a new ‘nose’ in your family? – this cheeky little cartoon follows the story of  Mo, who is ‘…upset when Tee accidentally breaks her favourite perfume.’ And indeed she might might be upset! ‘Tee is now determined to cheer her up by making her some new perfume from ingredients found around the house. Lucky Mo!’ Hmm. Well we’re sure that’s all whimsically delightful, but if Tee tried whipping up a batch of vintage Mitsouko from stuff he found around our house, we’re very much afraid he’d be out on his ear (having replaced the bottle and cleaned the carpet, thank you very much!)

 

At the time of writing, the new BBC drama series of The Black Narcissus have not yet aired, but you can watch them here when they do (starting Sunday, 27th December in the U.K. at 9pm, with the following two episodes airing in the same slot over the next two nights – Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th December 2020). Based on the aponymous Powell and Pressburger classic 1947 film, Black Narcissus, named after the iconic Caron fragrance and following the intense sensual awakening of a nun who dabbles with such vices as perfume and lipstick; this 2020 version stars the late Diana Rigg (in her last role) among an incredible cast; and promises to be an absolute must-watch.

Fancy even more fragrant viewing? A little while ago, I took a look at some vintage perfume adverts, in which a surprising number of movie stars made their televisual debuts. Or, for those seeking some scented chuckles, why not gawk at these hilarious retro men’s fragrance ads – featuring chaps being spoon-fed in restaurants, a hang-gliding man in danger of being whipped by his own moustache and an impromptu musical set outside a greengrocer’s. Ah, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

We hope this Fragrant Film Club list provides a fragrant escape for those of you desperately searching for something new to watch – and a chance to re-watch some old faves for those of you who’ve already seen them. Whichever you choose, we suggest snuggling up, staying safe and perhaps locking the door for some blessed moments of me-time…

By Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Happy hump day! Laugh along with these vintage fragrance ads

January may feel like a month of Mondays, especially with this awful weather, but we’ve made it to another hump day, fragrant friends! We’re celebrating with a look back at some of the most hilarious scent ads of yore.

Now that we’re in the 20s, we are feeling distinctly nostalgic for all things vintage – but it’s easy to forget how drastically advertising styles change over the years. What once was ultra cool can turn to cringe in the blink of an eye. YouTube is the gift that keeps on giving, as far as viewing vintage adverts is concerned, and there’s a whole host of fragrance ads that range from the unintentionally hilarious to the downright dodgy. We’ve rounded up some more of our favourites to keep you smiling for the rest of the week…

There’s a distinctly Monty Python-esque feeling to this advert from 1969. At any moment, one expects a character to ask, ‘Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?’ To which, according to this advert, we can now add: Bacchus Cologne. He’s not the messiah, he’s a very smelly boy!

Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise)  if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?

We can imagine the storyboard the advertising team created before filming this advert for Hawk Cologne in 1981, showing a ‘man who reaches higher’ – embodying all the freedom and graceful power of a bird of prey as he effortlessly conquers the rock he’s climbing. Unfortunately, the images somehow don’t match the voiceover, because what we see is a rather gormless chap with a bowl haircut looking for all the world like he’d need nanny’s instructions to climb the stairs to bed. Ah well, it probably looked good on paper.

This woman is not on the verge of a complete breakdown, she’s just ‘a little bit Kiku.’ That’s all. It’s 1969 and she’s fine, okay? She’s just changing her mood every two seconds and wearing a salad bowl on her head. She’s NEVER BEEN BETTER, thank you. In fact, aren’t all women, ‘a little bit Kiku?’ Well perhaps, but in public we try to hide it. Now take that off your head, Sandra, and come with us. We’ve all been rather concerned about you…

It’s not merely the yellowish hue that makes this 1976 advert look like a cheese dream: we think the people behind this campaign had been at the last of the Camenbert. In an unfathomably long sequence, we see Charles Bronson gawping weirdly at a piano player, then burst through the doors of his own appartment and begin stripping as though he’s joined the Chippendales, all while smoking a pipe. The name of the fragrance? Mandom. Of course it is. Pass the Brie.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Retro men’s fragrance ads to make you smile

In our semi-regular series looking back fondly to fragrance ads of yore, we’re concentrating today on a batch that are even more (mostly unintentially) hilarious than previous selections. With a fascinating look at what men should smell like, and how they should behave, we feel these serve as public information films, and should possibly be studied in history lessons while a teacher writes ‘What WERE they Thinking?!’ on a white board…

 

There’s something rather ironic about the voiceover saying ‘…for men who aren’t kids anymore’ just as a woman is shown spoon-feeding her man-child partner in a restaurant, don’t you think? Immediately after asserting how grown up and un-kid-like the man who wears this fragrance definitely is, they ask ‘Would Canoe suit you? Ask a woman…’ while she’s now shown cutting his hair. We don’t get to see her rock him to sleep or read him a bedtime story or even talc his bottom with matching powder, but the inference is surely there. The people who made this Dana Canoe advert in the 60s HAD to be trolling the chaps, right? We’re down for it.

 

‘He believes in the same things his father believes in’ – wearing all white outfits while gazing wistfully from windows in all white rooms, apparently. Then, because he’s ‘strong and dependable’ he pops down to the beach to help two fishermen haul a boat out to sea (NB: they were doing perfectly well before he stepped in, but we’re sure they praised his name to the sky). Actually, we’re big fans of the Old Spice fragrance, here at The Perfume Society. It’s a proper masculine classic, and if you haven’t smelled it for a while, quit your sniggering and have a sniff. But do feel free to snigger at the old adverts, all the same.

 

#moustachegoals for miles as our hero is seen splashing on Blue Statos Cologne one minute, and hurling himself into a hang-glider the next. We hope he waxed that ‘tache or he could give himself whiplash. And who’d have thought it? It turns out hang-gliding is the perfect sport to take up if you want to make eye-contact with female drivers – not something we’d have thought Health & Safety regs would approve of, but still. She can get a whiff of his Cologne even as he whisks through the air above her car (like a fragrant falcon), and they immediately decide to live together in a glorified wooden shack. We love happy endings.

 

The Hai Karate adverts were always firmly tongue-in-cheek – ready to take the proverbial out of themselves, and presented in the manner of camp Carry On style films of the era. There’s something a bit weird about watching them now, though – a genuine sense of unsettling danger of women uleashed from their senses by getting a mere sniff of the Cologne. Here, a female nurse adds injury to injury by ruthlessly persuing a patient across a hospital ward. Apparently the brand put ‘instruction for self defence with every bottle’ because it smelled so good, men who wore it were in constant danger. Or something.

 

Shopping for men while picking up their vegetables for the week, two women perform an improptu musical outside a greengrocer’s, discussing what, exactly, constitutes ‘something about an Aqua Velva man.’ I’m not sure we ever quite get to the bottom of it, only that they must be ‘manly’ and ‘last all day’. With packaging that at first glance might be mistaken for men’s hair dye – or a devastatingly attractive fake Moustache In a Box – we can only guess how ‘fresh’ and/or ‘provocative’ the duo of fragrances actually smelled. Or perhaps it’s of secondary importance to the freshness of the veg?

By Suzy Nightingale

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

Hump-day blues? Watch these 80s scent ads and smile

The 1980s were an absolute heyday for hyperbolic fragrance adverts, with many of the most memorable TV commercials having been made during the era. Featuring an array of film stars cutting their dramatic teeth while wafting the distinct aroma of ham, against a background of blaring pop tunes and symphonic orchestral mood music, they truly are a treasure trove to explore.

Here you we invite you to ignore the weather, make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and smile at these gems…

Did you know that Sharon Stone once starred in a Revlon Charlie advert? The roots of the fragrance are firmly in the first fragrant girl-power up-rising of the 1970s, but were still going strong in the 80s. Big hair? Tick. Dubious fashion? Puffed sleeves for days! When contemporary fashion designers reference the 80s for inspo, we don’t think they mean this look, but stil –  it’s a great fragrance and this makes us somewhat nostalgic.

We happen to catch British actress Jane Seymour as she nonchalantly picks flowers in her garden one afternoon, while wearing a prom gown (as one does). Sitting at her dressing table, she gives us her Ted Talk on why romance isn’t dead after all, in a breathlessly husky voice suggesting hayfever. A gloriously whimsical ad for Le Jardin de Max Factor.

In direct contrast to fluffy femininity exuding from the above, may we present an advert for Faberge Turbo Cologne so resolutely ‘Masc’ that the mere act of watching it may make you grow a moustache. Everything you could possibly want is present and correct: impossibly gravelly ‘movie trailer’ type male voiceover, futuristic graphics, a random image of a pouting woman. Simply amazing, catch us as we swoon!

We devoured the weekly dose of shoulder-pad and rhinestone-infused drama, but perhaps some of us missed out on the opportunity to spritz ourselves with the scent of Dynasty tie-in scents? No matter, let’s eavesdrop on Krystle and Carrington as they just happen to have bespokes fragrances made for each other, to keep the love alive…

There has surely never been such an array of pastel in one room as this Prince Matchabelli Cachet perfume ad, as the coiffured singer twirls amidst a whirl of ice-cream colours, leg-warmers and madly enthused dancers, declaring ‘I’m ready now!’ Not ready to light a cigarette any time soon with all that hairspray, we hope. P.S: Vintage bottles of this are apparently going for £195+ on eBay, so perhaps have a rifle around the legwarmer drawer to see if you have some?

By Suzy Nightingale

Love to Smell… love us, too! Have you watched the fragrant friends?

Imagine having incredibly knowledgable, engagingly funny and totally un-snobby friends who like nothing more than inviting you ’round their house (or meeting up at a local coffee-shop) and gassing about the latest “OMG, you have to smell this” fragrant find… Well, some of us are lucky enough to have those friends (or hey, even be those friends!) but not everyone is so fortunate. We know this from meeting so many of our subscribers at events, or having them run up to us and say, ‘Oh thank god, people who understand me!’

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Two of our favourite ‘fume-heads  – fragrance expert Nick Gilbert [formerly Ambassador for Penhaligon’s and now freelance consultant] and Pia Long [perfumer, fragrance marketer and now freelance writer with monthly column in Perfume & Flavorist magazine] teased us a little while ago with the trailer for their new show – all about sharinf the things they have most enjoyed sniffing, lately. Now the YouTube channel Love to Smell has officially launched, viewers have access to those kind of friendly people talking about perfume in an informative but completely fun way – and were thrilled to find out they explored our Introductory VIP Discovery Box in their first full episode. It turns out, they love what we do, too…

PS: [HINT] Perhaps if you sniff around a little, you’ll find a brand new, just-launched to VIPs box to discover…? [END HINT]

In their Show Notes section of the accompanying blog, Nick and Pia talk a little more about what drew them to The Perfume Society, before discussing some other ‘try-me’ sizes of frgrances:

‘So we really love what The Perfume Society is up to – as you may have noticed, we love to smell… and love perfumes and talking about them. And The Perfume Society is more or less a club for people to get excited about smells. One of the best things about getting more into fragrances is the social aspect – talking to others, training your nose to be better at smelling; comparing notes and attending fragrant events. You will learn so much about fragrances, perfume history and the ingredients, too…’

With four episodes already out there – the next ones concentrating on subjects as diverse as Foam Burst shower gels and new perfume house Amouroud – we urge you to grab a cuppa and make time for Love to Smell – a fun, fragrant show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and makes you want to share the scents you love, too!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Love to Smell? Nick & Pia launch new YouTube perfume channel, watch their teaser episode here…

Two of our favourite perfume people – fragrance expert Nick Gilbert [formerly Ambassador for Penhaligon’s and now freelance consultant] and Pia Long [perfumer, fragrance marketer and now freelance writer with monthly column in Perfume & Flavorist magazine] – are launching a brand new YouTube channel dedicated to all things fragrant, and have released a teaser-trailer to give a us a sniff of what’s in store.

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Appropriately enough, the channel is named Love to Smell, and the weekly show will encompass a plethora of perfume-related news, reviews, tips and tricks of the trade. Laid-back and totally approachable, their chatty style is immediately recognisable to anyone who’s met them before – and we love the fact they will only focusing on things they (again, so appropriately) love to smell. Have a peek of the show, below…

You can read a bit more about Love to Smell and why these two scent-obsessed friends have set it up: A knowledgable but friendly way to find out about new things to try – or remind you of favourites that have long been neglected – we loved this sample-sized trailer of what’s to come, and can’t wait to see the first full episode when it launches!

Written by Suzy Nightingale