Vintage perfume posters (to purchase & swoon over…)

Vintage perfume posters are currently making us consider papering entire rooms with them, and these are particularly swoon-worthy versions…

In these uncertain times, sales of classic fragrances are, appparently soaring.

And no wonder. We’re crying out for a bit of soothing scented nostalgia to wallow in, and so although actual vintage versions of these fragrances would set you back a pretty penny (well-preserved bottles and rare examples can go for anything from a couple of hundred quid to several hundred thousand!) it’s rather tempting to purchase several of these gorgeous advertising poster prints, non?

 

Ahoy! Recognise the shape of the bottle this sailor’s snuggling up to in the Schiaparelli Perfumes1945 ‘Shocking Sailor’ image by artist Marcel Vertès?

 

The HP Prints website we came across has THOUSANDS to choose from when you type ‘perfume’ as a key-word search (which we spend most of the day doing online, tbh…)

But where to begin?!

 

Bourjois 1944 Mais Oui, Leonard. ‘Frankly flirtatious’? We’ll take the largest bottle you have, thank you.

 

Well, we’ve picked some favourites for you – each of which can be purchased as a print (if in stock) or, for a fee, downloaded as a high quality image file to use as you please, sans the watermarks of course.

 

Guerlain (Perfumes) 1959 J. Charnotet, Mitsouko. Would v much like a cutting from this tree, please.

 

We’re thinking ahead to (shhh!) Christmas, and birthday presents, or perhaps just to send to fragrance-loving friends we can’t meet up with right now. As well as, you know, papering every wall we can find…

 

Nina Ricci (Perfumes) 1971 L’Air du Temps (Version B). Such a classic – and a first scent love for so many.

 

Le Galion (Perfumes) 1959 Lily of the Valley, Lovers, Maurel. Stunning, and slightly sinister fairytale-esque: we approve.

 

Elizabeth Arden (Perfumes) 1941 It’s You. (We wish it was – say yes to that dress!)

 

By Suzy Nightingale

Givaudan create 1950s fragrance for new Makeup Museum

We’re delighted to see so many museums re-opening, and now anxiously await the launch of the new Makeup Museum in New York – a place we want to visit even more now we know that Givaudan have created a special 1950’s-inspired fragrance to scent the space…

Having signed up as an official sponsor, Givaudan were comissioned to make a fragrance to set the scene for the Makeup Museum’s debut exhibition, entitled ‘Pink Jungle: 1950s Makeup in America.’

Emily Bond, head of Fine Fragrance North America at Givaudan, explains the reason they’re making this a multi-sensory space is because, ‘Perfume has always been an integral part of beauty. It is important to showcase fragrance in this exhibit.’

‘We want people to know the story behind a fragrance,’ Bond continues, something that digs deeper than just a pretty bottle and shows ‘Who created it, how it’s developed, and how techniques have evolved over the years.’

It was Givaudan Perfumer Caroline Sabas who was tasked with creating the perfume, and she’s made an exclusive 1950s-inspired fragrance, suitably named ‘Pink Jungle’, which will be used to scent the exhibition space.

 

But what will the perfume smell like, we wonder? Well both Givaudan and The Makeup Museum aren’t revealing the notes as yet, so as not to spoil the scented surprise, but you can head to our fragrance history page for the 1950s to read about the types of fragrances popular then, which may well provide us with some clues.

Our next question is: will we be able to buy the fragrance to fully live our glamorous 1950s boudoir dreams? We’re certainly crossing our fingers and praying to the perfume gods!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Perfume Bottles Auction 2020: WOW! We love these (and you can now bid online to win!)

From Mae West’s signature scent stored in a cigarette packet, bejewelled bottles from the 1800’s to novelty perfumed powder puffs chaped like 1920’s flapper girls… the Perfume Bottles Auction will delight and tempt every fragrance fiend…

The annual Perfume Bottles Auction really is a date in the diary of serious scent collectors – with the most stunning examples of artistic and rare fragrance flaçons you wever will see (outside of a museum, anyway).

Since 1979, organiser and founder of The Perfume Bottles Auction, Ken Leach, has been working ‘to create public and corporate awareness of the artistry to be found in vintage perfume presentation.’ His antique shop’s show-stopping merchandise ‘has served as a source of inspiration for glass companies, package designers, and celebrity perfumers, before ultimately entering the collections of perfume bottle enthusiasts around the globe.’

This year, because of the on-going global pandemic, it has presented something of a challenge to the organisers, but happily the entire catalogue is now online for you to view (and gasp outloud at!) with the auction to take place via live stream on Sat, Jul 11, 2020 8:00 PM BST.

What’s more, in response to the global crisis, the LiveAuctioneers website is dontaing to COVID causes such as Meals on Wheels COVID Response Fund and global relief efforts, with over $50,000 already donated.

Here’s just some of what we’d be bidding on (and would be gracing the dressing table of our dreams…) in this year’s incredible collection of lots…

 

How completely wonderful is this novelty ‘cigarette packet’ style packaging for what was Mae West’s signature scent? Made in 1933, the box is covered in iconic quotes from the bombshell movie star, and the lot includes five ad cards and a counter display. A case of ‘come up and smell me sometime…?’
Estimated price: $2,000-3,000

 

In 1937, Pinaud trademarked the name ‘Scarlett’, releasing the ‘Flirt’ perfume in 1939, with a matching Clark Gable ‘Bittersweet’ scent when the film premiered that year. The bottles were available with a choice of scents, including Apple Blossom, Maghnolia and Honeysuckle, and came with an autographed photo.
Estimated price: $1,000-$2,000

 

Lalique were instrumental in revolutionising perfume bottle design and production, and we love their contemporary fragrances (and the way they incorporate their heritage into bottle production today), but this 1929 bottle for Lucien Lelong in frosted glass with enamelled swags and silvered metal case is just exquisite!
Estimated price: $7,000-8,000

 

Our co-founder, Jo Fairley, loves Schiaparelli Shocking perfume so much she wore it on her wedding day – and did you know the pink for the box was designed by Schiaparelli herself, and gave name to what we still call ‘shocking pink’ to this day? Dating from the 1930s, the auction includes 3 figural soaps, a 1938 ‘Shock in the Box’ perfume, a Salvador Dali-designed face powder and scented boy lotion bottle. Truly, our heart’s desire!
Estimated prices from $200-600 per item

 

Fragranced dusting powders were all the rage once, and we don’t think we’ve ever seen a more fabulous version than this 1920’s Goebel glazed porcelain powder dish. Imagine being a movie starlet or ballet dancer and reaching for this to dust away shine with puffs of perfumed powder – it’s enough to make us swoon with delight!
Estimated price: $600-$800

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Retro romance: perfume ads to raise a smile

If you’ve had it with all the mawkishness that can accompany V-day, we feel ya, and present instead a plethora of retro fragragrance adverts that instead of promising you a bevy of admirers and a hot dating tips, will at least make you chuckle…

Big hair don’t care? She certainly doesn’t when wearing Tigress! Watch in amazement as this ‘do gets bigger with every passing second of this advert from 1969, and do be sure to shuffle up to someone you want to catch the eye of in this manner. It will definitely get their attention.

Couples in perfume commercials just can’t keep still, can they? Perhaps this pair from 1967 ate some dodgy oysters, and are living up to the name of the scent as they madly dash through airports and dodge traffic on mopeds to prove how On the Wind they are? We hope they made it in time.

We women like nothing better than hanging around in windows while spraying ourselves with perfume, and here’s another 1969 gem that proves it’s a worthwhile occupation. How else to catch the eye of some random dude and then make him run up and down endless flights of stairs that’d make M.C. Escher dizzy? It’s how we stay Elusive, innit?

What to do when you’re Young ‘N Free? Well this 1970 advert ticks a lot of perfume tropes. Bingo cards at the ready, fragrance fans, as you spot a couple running in slow-motion, horse riding, laughing while peddling bicycles, twirling while holding hands, and running through fields in a while dress. Hang on a minute. Is that a WHEAT field? Could the young Theresa have been caught on camera…?

Ever wondered what advice Tinkerbell from Peter Pan would give you for meeting boys at parties? This 1967 ad for the excitingly named Body Mist Deodorant (shall we workshop this, marketing team?) reveals all. Breathlessly cheerful, Tink tells us her top tips while spraying cartoon snowflakes and stars from the bottle. Don’t drink the punch she’s been sipping.

By Suzy Nightingale

All that jazz: 1920s fragrances still available (and so wearable) today

2020 is a date that still feels weird to write down, no? It seems strangely sci-fi, while inevitably tempting writers [hello] to hark back to the ‘Roaring Twenties’ of the last century. Nostalgia abounds in fashion and fragrance, too – classic notes making a comeback, with violet and lavender looking to top the trends of the year, but before we get ahead of ourselves, I wanted to take this opportunity to look back to some iconic – and at the time even scandalous – fragrances first launched in the 1920s and still available (and so wearable) today.

In her wonderfully evocative book, Flappers, author Judith Mackrell explains the explosion of beauty and fashion items suddenly marketed at women to buy for themselves. ‘Within the competetive climate of post-war capitalism the new fun-seeking flapper with her dyed hair, bee-stung lips and Charleston frocks was proving to be a wonderful opportunity for business.’ The number of women independently earning money had risen by an incredible 500% and these women, hungry for newness, ‘were opening up a lucrative market for the beauty and fashion industries.’

 

 

So it’s no wonder many of the fragrances we now regard as ‘classics’ were born in this era of unrestrained excitement and optimism. Mackrell recounts one story of a fourteen year old girl in Chicago who tried to gas herself, because ‘other girls in her class rolled their stockings, had their hair bobbed and called themselves flappers, and she alone was refused permission by her parents.’ Such was the allure of this newly self-expressed freedom – working women had developed a new self-confidence, and many women were grabbing every opportunity to shock social conventions, through raising their hemlines, plunging necklines, chopping off their hair, flagrantly smoking cigarettes in public and dousing themselves in heady scents that wafted the spirit of audacity.

While many vintage fragrances smell distinctly of their time, the ones from the 1920s somehow seem ahead of their era, and so we can still wear and enjoy them without feeling as though we’re off to a fancy dress party. I cannot urge you enough to seek these five out and give them a try – or to revisit if you once wore and loved them, but have been a thoroughly modern Millie ever since. C’mon, let’s ‘rouge our knees and roll our stockings down. And all that jazz’…

Chanel No.5 – launched 1921
Coco Chanel wanted to launch a scent for the new, modern woman she embodied. She loved the scent of soap and freshly-scrubbed skin; Chanel’s mother was a laundrywoman and market stall-holder, though when she died, the young Gabrielle was sent to live with Cistercian nuns at Aubazine. When it came to creating her signature scent, though, freshness was all-important. While holidaying with her lover, Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, she heard tell of a Grasse-based perfumer called Ernest Beaux, who’d been the perfumer darling of the Russian royal family. Over several months, he produced a series of 10 samples to show to ‘Mademoiselle’. They were numbered one to five, and 20 to 24. She picked No. 5 – and yes, the rest is history.

Why it’s still wearable:
After that infamous Champagne-like aldehydic rush, notes of jasmine, rose, vanilla and sandalwood calm the froth, but it still smells incredibly ‘abstract’ with no dominant note the wearer can really make out. It’s timeless, clean but sexy in a so-French way. Perhaps this will be the year you succumb to its charms?

 

Chanel No.5 from £57 for 35ml eau de parfum, chanel.com

Molinard Habanita – launched 1921
Molinard say that Habanita was the first women’s fragrance to strongly feature vetiver as an ingredient – something hitherto reserved for men, commenting that ‘Habanita’s innovative style was eagerly embraced by the garçonnes – France’s flappers – and soon became Molinard’s runaway success and an icon in the history of French perfume.’ Originaly conceived as a scent for cigarettes – inserted via glass rods or to sprinkle from a sachet – women had begun sprinkling themselves with it instead, and Molinard eventually released it as a personal fragrance.

Why it’s still wearable:
Honeyed tobacco notes and the aforementioned vetiver along with a supremely supple leather manage to distinctly butch up the orange blossom and fruits of the opening, with a floral heart that further ruffles the feathers of gender stereotypes – jasmine and heliotrope saucily winking atop a softly powdered amber base. Truly delightful and thrillingly illicit, it’s a crime not to have tried this at least once in your life, no matter your gender.

 

Molinard Habanita £48 for 30ml eau de parfum cologneandcotton.com

Lanvin Arpège – launched 1924
Jeanne Lanvin was a contemporary of Chanel’s, and – like her – began as a milliner and seamstress, founding her own millinery fashion house at Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. Lanvin’s daughter was her inspiration for the fragrance Arpège.It was conceived for the 30th birthday of her daughter Marie-Blanche, and took its musical reference name from a comment Marie-Blanche made on being shown the first sample, created by perfumers André Fraysse and Paul Vacher: ‘It smells like an arpeggio would’. The spherical black-and-gold bottle was a nod to their love, too, with its silhouette of a mother dressing her daughter (designed by Paul Iribe) is still so recognisable – and covetable – today.

Why it’s still wearable:
A melody of florals – rose, iris, lily, lily of the valley, jasmine, ylang ylang , camellia and geranium – the lasting impression is of being wrapped in warm, white, fluffy towels, a veritable hug in a bottle. As blogger The Candy Perfume Boy observes: The truth is that Arpège has aged rather well and its supple aldehydic floral tones feel strikingly genderless today, making for a throwback floral that would feel perfectly comfortable on any perfume lover (male or female) who may be looking for something with a bit of a vintage edge.’

 

Lanvin Arpège £29.99 for 100ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

Guerlain Shalimar  – first launched 1921, re-launched 1925
The Champs-Élysées-based perfume house had continued their tradition of launching rich, sumptous fragrances with this now legendary perfume from Jacques Guerlain, complete with lashings of the newly-popular synthetic vanillin. (It prompted Ernest Beaux himself to comment: ‘When I do vanilla, I get crème Anglaise; when Guerlain does it, he gets Shalimar!’) Said to be inspired by the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar, part of which was laid out by the lovesick Emperor Shah Jehan, in 1619, for the delight of his wife Mumtaz Mahal (meaning ‘Jewel of the Palace’). When she died in childbirth, three years after Shah Jehan took the throne, he build the Taj Mahal in her honour, in Agra. Re-launched in 1925 at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, it harkened to a growing passion for romanticised exoticism in fashion, home decor and fragrance.

Why it’s still wearable:
Oodles of uplifting lemon and bergamot are swirled with night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine and iris over other famously velvety base notes, including patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. Jacques passed that love on to his great-grandson Jean-Paul Guerlain, who’s said:  ‘He taught me how to love vanilla, as it adds something wonderfully erotic to a perfume. It turned Shalimar into an evening gown with an outrageously plunging neckline.’ To wear it, at any time, is to add some serious va-va-voom to your presence.

 

Guerlain Shalimar £79 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Coty L’aimant – launched 1927
First created by Master Perfumer François Coty in 1927, apparently inspired by the love of his life, Coty L’Aimant (meaning ‘magnet’ in French) has remained popular through the decades for its distinctive, timeless and delicate fragrance combining rose, orchid and golden jasmin softly embraced with sandalwood and vanilla. Fragrance Blogger Sam from I Scent You a Day describes L’aimant as ‘peachy and soapy, with the neroli providing a hint of heady white flowers,’ with ‘a creamy and warm finish and a flourish of powder puff.’

Why it’s still wearable:
It definitely smells delightfully retro, but somehow those aldehydes just keep on fizzing through the ages and refuse to become fusty. As Sam comments, ‘What never ceases to amaze me is that a long lasting perfume of this calibre can still be had for a song,’ while lamenting that ‘It’s a perfume that I would love to smell more people wearing.’ And for that price, you cannot go wrong. Let’s say it’s not quite you… simply spray all your writing paper (or the boudoir curtains) with it – fabulous, dah-ling!

 

Coty L’aimant £7.09 for 15ml parfum de toilette boots.com

At the time of writing, half the world seems to be on fire or flooding, and the political climate remains turbulent, so it’s hardly surprising increasing numbers of fragrance lovers are turning toward retro smells with misty eyes. But they don’t all have to be whimsical museum pieces, as these definitely wearable scents certainly prove. We’d love to see more men exploring what used to be considered ‘female’ fragrances, too – fragrant ingredients do not have a gender, and these should be worn by bright young (or older) things again, as we head into the 2020s, stockings rolled down or otherwise…

Written 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

Fragrant Reads: Scent and Subversion

Did you know we have an ever-expanding bookshelf of Fragrant Reads here at The Perfume Society? Combining two of our favourite things (perfume and books), we’re always on the lookout for great reads to recommend you – from just-published new novels and scholarly scent explorations through to more historically inclined tomes – all with a central scented theme.

We know we’re not alone in getting ever more geeky about fragrance – our feedback from you overwhelmingly shows we’re seeking more information about the fragrances we wear – and the people who make them. Throw in some scientific facts or fascinating glimpses behind-the-scenes of ingredients, or take us by the hand to explore the faces and inspirations behind some of our favourites and we’re happy as pigs in… er, petals!

Today we’re sticking our noses into a book that lovingly recounts scents once regarded as ‘forbidden’ or even dangerous, and the incredibly glamorous people who flouted such milksop opinions and wore them anyway. We rather think you’ll fall in love with this one, just as we did…

 

Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Subversive Perfume, by Barbara Herman

Far more than merely a way to smell pleasant, those of us obsessed by fragrance know well that perfume has historically been seen as subversive – and still can be used to break the rules and unsettle cultural conventions. Highlighting the use of perfume to play with society’s gender conventions, Barbara Herman analyses vintage perfumes and perfume advertising – a theme that she began on her popular blog, Yesterday’s Perfume.

Lavishly illustrated, and lovingly detailed descriptions of vintage fragrances through the ages – and the femme fatales and mysterious stars associated with wearing them; Herman includes essays on scent appreciation, a glossary of important perfume terms and ingredients, and tips on how to begin your own foray into vintage and classic perfume – such a great way to navigate this sometimes intimidating world, and to find a new love from a back catalogue you may have missed.

I love how Herman injects wit into her descriptions, such as this from her review of Le Galion Sortilége: ‘Boozy, lush, animalic, but lady-like, this is one of those perfumes that, to an untrained nose, might be described as ‘smelling like my grandma.’ Well, maybe if your grandma was Colette or Marlene Dietrich…’ The volume is written with a mixture of humour, historical fact and useful advice, and this is a book that any perfume lover would be delighted to read.

Publisher: The Lyons Press

At amazon.co.uk

*****

Barbara’s blog is well worth re-visiting, but you may notice the last entry was updated in 2016. This is because she had a rather exciting project up here sleeve…

Barbara Herman: ‘I launched a perfume brand — Eris Parfums. Named after the Greek goddess Eris, daughter of Nyx (Night), and one of the bad girls of Mt. Olympus with a reputation as a troublemaker and subversive, Eris has thrown down her gauntlet (or thrown her Golden Apple?) in the form of three new perfumes. I think you’ll like their inspiration: vintage floral animalics.

Belle de Jour, Night Flower, and Ma Bête were each composed by perfumer Antoine Lie (Tom Ford, Givenchy, Comme des Garçons, Etat Libre d’Orange, et al) and each are a take on vintage perfume styles but with a modern twist. I really love them and I hope you do, too!’ And there’s now a fourth fragrance in the collection – Mx.

Having had the pleasure of sampling each of the fragrances, I can confirm that those of with a penchant for vintage will get a real kick out of these. My favourite has to be Ma Bête – ‘(My Beast) caresses you with the suggestiveness of perfumed fur. A collision of the floral and the animal, MA BÊTE combines a regal Tunisian Neroli with spices and a 50 percent overdose of Antoine Lie’s own animalic cocktail.’

‘Ma Bête is a fierce beast with raunchy elegance.’ – Antoine Lie

Whether reading about delightfully subversive scents or wanting to douse yourself in their forbidden essence, this season is an excellent time to slip into your most fabulous gown and exude dangerous glamour, don’t you think?

By Suzy Nightingale

1950s archive film: how perfume is made (unintentionally hilarious in parts!)

We urge you to take some time off to watch this glorious archive film from the 1950s on how perfume is made. Unintentionally hilarious in parts, it’s a fascinating watch, with many of the processes still relevant today – much of the perfume-making method not haven’t changed much in centuries.

We can only picture the male narrator of this short film smoking a pipe throughout, pointing it disapprovingly at the woman we see sitting at her dressing table applying makeup and then dabbing herself with perfume, as he launches such eyebrow-raising comments like these…

‘Throughout the ages, women the whole world over have sought to adorn themselves for the benefit of the male… And here we have a young girl preparing for an evening’s outing in what she thinks is the height of fashion. A mask of makeup and a deluge of scent. HEY, steady with that bottle!’

It’s enough to make us up-end an entire bottle of perfume over our heads this evening, just to annoy men like this narrator, but leaving that hilarity aside, do make yourself a cuppa and settle down for seriously great vintage viewing!

Another note of amusement comes toward the end (after a brusque makeup demonstration in the beauty department) when the perfumer, ‘Mr Collins’ gives a talk describing how women should only choose a perfume they really like, and that the right fragrance, the one you truly love, will bestow great confidence on the wearer. Sentiments we can certainly get behind.

But wait, because when the model is asked to choose her favourite – ‘Oh, I like this one!’ – Mr Collins snatches the bottle out of her hand as though it were on fire. ‘Well,’ he chuckles condescendingly, ‘I don’t think you’re going dancing… You should wear this light, floral one.’ Okay Mr Collins, thank you for your TED talk on confidence.

Although some of the practices, such as cruel methods of obtaining animal products for perfume, are completely outdated; sadly the practice of making condescending remarks to people about their choice of fragrance, or how much of it they should wear, can still be experienced. So to that we say: wear an extra large dose of your favourite ‘dancing’ perfume today – yes, in the daytime. Shocking! – and as you spritz, say ‘cheers!’ to Mr Collins…

By Suzy Nightingale

Cinematic scents

Many famous faces have graced the mini-films of fragrance adverts over the years – for some, their first acting role, for others a moment of evoking the ethos of the house at the very peak of their fame. But did you know several fragrance adverts over the years have also been directed by famous names?

Settle back in your velveteen seats, grab some popcorn and let’s go to the scented cinema…

Sofia Coppola (nominated for Best Director for Lost in Translation in 2003) directed this advert for Miss Dior Cherie, featuring Natalie Portman. Super-stylish, it confirms Coppola’s lifelong appreciation of haute couture, and perhaps evokes her visually stunning film Marie Antoinette in its old-world baroque splendour.

Wes Anderson and son of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Coppola, had previously worked together on films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom. Here, they made three short adverts (comprising one longer film) for Prada Candy L’Eau fragrance. An homage to the French New Wave, the visual aesthetic is pure Wes Anderson, and were fully gripped by the classic ‘two men in love with one woman’ storyline
.

This Chanel short film for Coco Mademoiselle saw Keira Knightly and director Joe Wright teaming up for the fourth time – they’ve also worked together in Atonement, (for which, Wright was nominated in 2008 for Best Director), Pride & Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. Just so beautifully lit, the colours and cleverly composed shots look like poetry on the screen.

Renowned surrealist director David Lynch surprised the fragrance and film worlds alike by directing this advert for Yves Saint Laurent Opium in the early 90s. Spanish model Nastassia Urbano stars, with a striking resemblance to Ingrid Bergman (and her daughter, Isabella Rossellini, who was to star in his 1986 hot movie, Blue Velvet). All the hallmarks of sensuality are there, along with a visual deconstruction/seduction of a body on film.

Comic book writer turned film maker, Frank Miller, uses his iconic deliberately over-stylised look (very reminiscent of Sin City) to great effect in his advert for Gucci Guilty. Starring Evan Rachel Wood and Chris Evans, inky blackness and searing white light are juxtaposed to create a highly sophisticated homage to film noir.

Fragrance and film feature strongly in The Scented Letter‘s recent Perfume & Culture edition, too, in Lights, Camera, Aldehydes!, award-winning blogger and author Persolaise was inspired by his twin passions for film and fragrance – matching some of his favourite fragrances to the films he chose to watch. And in Perfuming a Part, I lift the velvet curtain on the actors and film directors who use fragrance as a tool to create a mood or get into a role…

The Scented Letter Perfume & Culture edition £15 / £12.50 for VIP Club members.

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