Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dreaming of Teenage Suicides & Blue Valentines: The Advertising of Marc Jacobs Perfumes

I have been watching Marc Jacobs perfume commercials for the last five years or so (latest has been for Daisy Dream, a flanker of the original Daisy by Marc Jacobs, after Daisy Eau so Fresh) and I am constantly questioning myself about who they're aimed at really and who can identify with the nubile, hazy, virginal waifs he's depicting at an alarming rate; surely the teenagers are far too street smart to be that innocent, right? And they're young enough not to need to recapture their youth via image associations? Far from a feminist issue (others have tackled this more effectively already), I'm calling the bluff out on an aesthetic issue. The tone is set on a dreamlike sequence, grunge fashion style, with flou ~natch, strike that out~ bad lighting (and small lights creeping up from one focal point on the screen, so 70s) and certain cinematic techniques (gros plan, travelling etc.).

Basically they all look like they're shot by the same director (Are they? If anyone knows, please chime in).

Yes, really, they do.

They invariably remind me of the stylistic approach of two movies: The Virgin Suicides (with its nubile girls aplenty) and Blue Valentine (true life dystopia condensed in two hours or less). The trouble is those are sad movies, I mean really sad. Did I mention they're sad? (And they're absolutely great, go watch them! Like right now).

I can see nothing of the thought provocation that Eugenides's book (on which the movie was made) sparks or Cianfrance's darkish realism in the actual Marc Jacobs fragrances, you know?

Obviously lots of other fragrances have used visual and artistic references which do not correspond 100% to their actual scent (you can find several in our articles under Advertising) but at least they hinted at something a bit less uniform, less mass generated, less dull than the Jacobs brand is churning out. I don't know, maybe I'm grumpy today, what do you all think?


  1. Helg, I am so glad I was not drinking my morning tea your description of Blue Valentine (true life dystopia condensed in two hours or less)is so perfect! Two hours of the worlds most depressing people having sex/trying to. Which reminds me of the greatest description ever by a library user of Shame (the movie with Michael Fassbender): depression porn. Sorry I have gone completely off topic.

  2. Filomena04:00

    I'm thinking that I totally agree with your comment.

  3. Maria06:07

    The style is "innocent", the eyes, situations and poses are not, esp. in the second video, and this fits perfectly with some teenagers I know... They are street smart, but they also wish to look like that, Victorian-lace-refined and yoga-purity-inspired. I blame Instagram :) But I have to agree, as much as this trend is annoying per se, it does make nice pictures.
    And Virgin Suicides is fantastic, movie better than the book. Got me hooked on Sofia Coppola in about two minutes.

  4. Jen,

    thanks. I found it particularly poignant, it almost made me cry (well, it did), because relationships can be difficult even if they start out just dreamy. It takes work and people can have different goals in life, you know?
    Aside from that, love the description of Shame. Huh, another sad theme, there, all right.

    You're welcome to go off topic any time you like, btw!! :-)

  5. Filomena,

    I'm not the only one, then. That's a relief.

    Thanks for commenting! :-)

  6. Maria,

    ha, Instagram, good catch! I should have seen it myself, thanks for pointing it out!!

    Yeah, VS was a terrific movie. That's why I'm recommending it (even though it's so sad).

  7. You have a great visual memory and I'd have to agree that there are both stylistic and thematic associations between the film, Virgin Suicides, and the film ads for at least two of Marc Jacobs fragrances. And my response would be similar: disturbed. In a way, these ads constitute the worst of advertising: They point to the movie while completely disregarding the point of the movie. Wearing the fragrance, Daisy, does not end in suicide. All the worse is that some who view the ads and/or buy the fragrance might, indeed, fantasize that tragedy.

  8. Ellen15:59

    I think they are creepy and disturbing, in a really bad way. The print ads actually turn me off of the fragrance without even smelling it.

  9. Hi Elena,

    I see your link with the Virgin Suicides... but the ads brought to my mind an even earlier film, Picnic at Hanging Rock. A bigger mystery, virgins in white, and then they are gone...

  10. Anonymous17:23

    Sofia Coppola the director of Virgin Suicides directed both the original Daisy and Daisy Dream commercials!!

  11. TQM,

    thanks, glad to see I'm not the only one thinking so!

  12. Ellen,

    hmmm, not really creepy to me, just alluding to something more tragic than the substance would allow. Maybe a bit "odd" in the teenager angst gone awry way….

    Thanks for commenting!

  13. oakland,

    great comment, great film and of course! *smacks forhead* (And another 70s reference, right?)

  14. Anon,

    aaaaah, there you are!! Thanks!

    [as this common knowledge? I feel silly now for not knowing it].

    The scents remain dull for all I know!


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