Friday, November 28, 2008

Optical Scentsibilities: Eve and the Forbidden Apple

The story of Eve, her defiance on munching the forbidden apple and the symbolism of poisonous apples standing as wisdom, knowledge and sin in fairy tales have inspired perfume advertising for decades. Today I present you with some of the most beautiful examples.

First there was Nina Ricci and her Fille d'Eve (daughter of Eve) from 1952.
optiChristian Dior exploited the symbolism cunningly from the very start for their Poison series of scents, starting with the very first ~and probably the one with the almost poisonous vapors of a good, true, proper tuberose (me likey!) in mind:

In Hypnotic Poison, the metamodern incarnation of the poisonous apple is fetishly-dressed in red rubberized material, completely in tune with a new audience and the model sports the novel makeup choices to match:

Pure Poison kept the shape of the bottle, but turning it into opalescent white it created a jarring contrast with the jet-black jewels, dress and hair of the model and the Alien-esque movements of the unidentifiable "creature" with which she competes with for:

Recently, after acquiring Monica Bellucci as their spokesmodel, the perfect tantalizing Eve, Dior reprinted their Hypnotic Poison ads with the symbolisms evidently in place, reptilians and all:

In the meantime, Joop had launched All about Eve in a frosted apple bottle in the 90s. Symbolism had gone away from the carnal and into the wholesome by then (in tandem with the concerns for lighter smells and "cleaner" living) and the scent was limpid, promoted with exposure of bare clean flesh.

Cacharel decided to feature Eve and the apple in a regression into the prelapsarian paradise of a garden pre-Greenhouse-effect where there is no hint of doom or decay; it was 1994 and the fragrance was Eden:

Lolita Lempicka is another fragrance who took the symbolism of the apple beyond its fresh, wholesome appeal into the realm of the unknown and the magical. Luckily, the scent resplendid in its bittersweet licorice gourmand overtones corresponds well to the ingenious promotion:

And finally Nina Ricci regresses into their archives to resurrect the apple, but featuring it in a candy-sweet gourmand with a previous fragrance's name, Nina. Hard to envision as either poisonous or sinful apart from its calorific load:

Clips originally uploaded on Youtube. Pics from, parfum de pub, and Elle publication.


  1. Peggy17:00

    Helena I expected a post like that from you...Its very good bravo...I recently discovered poison in my mum's wordrobe(speaking about the vintage EDT bottle) and realised how outstandig and nice it is. Everywhere I go I hear compliments.Yes It is what they say...

  2. I love Poison. There's something slightly sinister in the intense purple chypre-ness of it. I haven't worn it in a very long time, so you've inspired me to revisit it.

    Lolita Lempick's marketing angle was nothing short of genius.

  3. I am not a fan of Poison but , that original magazine ad is wonderful. I love the purple, black and dark green of it all and I adore those gloves!!!

  4. I enjoyed the romp through the orchard...thank you. A fine treat post-American Thanksgiving, wherein all of my apples were baked into a pie.

    Happy Friday...

  5. Thank you Peggy!
    The original Poison probably suffered from overapplying, I guess: it is a powerhouse and I can imagine that wearing it en masse might create the vapors in an enclosed space such as a theater/cinema/restaurant...Now we know better.
    It's very well-made and truly captivating. Enjoy and let those compliments come!

  6. Mary,

    who could disagree with your angle? It's indeed devilish, a little gothic (in the Romantic sense of the word), isn't it? Do try it again.
    Lolita Lempicka had a coup with their own apple: I agree!

  7. M,

    it's a polarising scent to be sure. The print ad has something Lutenesque about it, a Japan-ified air: the claigraphy on the gloves, the sumptuous're right!

  8. S,

    you're very welcome. Funny as it seems I had been keeping that idea for an appropriate time :-)

    Have a lovely weekend!

  9. Helg, love it when you do your optical posts. Must say I rather adore the Poison bottles, but I also rather love my Lolita Lempicka bottle. After looking at so many of them I must say that apple bottles are kind've in the wonderfully awesome category. The Nina Ricci bottles are exquisite.

  10. Jena,

    Thanks a lot, honey! I find the Lolita limited editions exquisite: they do so many miniatures, special pins, little mirrors, it's all terribly girly-decadent and I find myself drawn despite myself! :-)

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  12. joe80505:59

    Very interesting and informative retrospective. The first thing that came to mind regarding apple-shaped bottles is DKNY's Be Delicious scents -- I've probably had them on my mind because a colleague wears the original and I also filed away a sample of it just today.

  13. Thanks for the Eden ad! It's gorgeous. I really love Eden. That ad makes me sorry I've already scented myself with something else this morning.

  14. Thanks Joe for the kind words and the mention of Be Delicious! I appreciate it. It's definitely apple-shaped, although not advertised with any Eve or sin addendum: how times have moved, huh?

  15. M,

    I have a soft spot for Eden as well: it was used at a very specific phase in my life and it is a very lovely fragrance: the advertising is gorgeous! (and the launch party was monumental, I have read)


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