Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vintage Advertising Champions: The Fabulous American Fragrance Even French Women Are talking About

In an advertisement from the 1950s where l'eau de parfum is advertised as nouveau et magnifique, to stress its "being talked about by the French" concept, Revlon Inc, purveyor of such timeless things as Cherries in the Snow lipstick, sells the idea of Intimate. Intimate launched in 1955 and was from the beginning advertised as premium stuff.

late 1950s

Even in the dark...he'll know it's you.

Intimate never shouts, but oh! how it whispers. 

One can almost picture the Madison Avenue ad men working on these lines with all the gusto of Don Draper's team from Mad Men.

And yet, despite the rather anachronistic (and sexist) implication that women wear perfume to appeal to men, isn't that tag line what fragrance is about? Creating an invisible mantle, I mean, marking your presence into space and into perception via an emanation that is denoting both your taste and your intentions, whatever those may be.


By the 1960s it seems like the mood of the fragrance had become less cocktail hour, long dresses and stoles with compact clutches under one's arm, and more "intimate" companion to every day occasions.

Its message also became ambivalent.

Intimate, it's really a man's fragrance said the slogan., making you imagine that it championed the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the transgression of sexual and social mores.
Until you read beneath it and discovered it prompted men to buy their girlfriends this in order to enjoy it themselves.  So in essence it still made woman purchase perfume to use as a sexual predator.

Even in 1971 Revlon  said "Intimate communicates". This sexy animalic chypre fragrance did communicate. A ferocious appetite for intimacy of the horizontal kind.


Intimate by Revlon  also appeared in another ad form the 1960s fronting a college types couple at the library in the 1960s, which was tagged thus: "cherished as one of the world's 7 great fragrances" Makes you wonder which were the other six!

Care to guess? Please do so in the comments.

ads via vintageadbrowser and ebay


  1. Miss Heliotrope03:21

    I wouldnt dare, but do love the randomness of 7 -

    With the first ad, and indeed, the overall idea/theme/something that perfume is something those frenchies are especially knowledgeable & good at, comes a train of thought about things often having to be approved by others, either bc they are better at it,or more important, or the implication that we are a bit rubbish. In Australia, new local music is not always accepted by the mainstream radio/whatever it is young people listen to these days without it being popular in the US - once America has said a song/artist is good, then the media go wild on our local performer - sometimes years later. Many other things - fashion, art, and so on - are also given greater significance once the US or Europe notice them.

    Cultural cringe - Australian made cosmetics/scents for an Australian market having half the writing on the package in french.

    But it is interesting which country gets to approve what - we may try to make perfumes seem more french, but noone ever asks them about the latest tune.

    1. It's always funny how one nationality can view another as more of an "expert" on something. I suppose that might have something to do with truth sometimes (the ritual of food in France is deservedly a positive stereotype, though there are other people in other countries also paying a lot of attention to their food) but when it's deployed in marketing it gains new significance.
      I suppose the "being approved by others" is as wise a comment as the best out there. Isn't it all about fitting in with an ideal? And what better vehicle than the transient one of perfume?

      Don't get me started on (popular) music....It's totally anglo occupied. Sometimes to the extreme.

  2. yes, who knows why 7. The 7 wonders of the world? 7 days of the week? Charlie came later, different everything, so it cannot have been that yet.

    Now, I've never smelled Intimate, so some ebay will come along eventually.

    1. Your guess is probably right: 7 makes for a good number to quote.

      I will be sending you some as soon as I go the post office, don't spend big bucks yet. Of course my provenance is similar.

  3. Mmmmmm.......well good old Chanel No 5 would be part of the 7! Oh and Lavin's Arpege.... I remember my Mum had a bottle back then.

    1. These both sound plausible, especially as I know they were big in the American market, so it makes perfect sense to imply them in the ad's concept.

  4. Jean Nate, Aquamarine, Splurge, Majorca, Sea Isle are the 5 Revlon fragrances I know of that were around before 1964. And "That Man". Calling any of them The World's Greatest Fragrances seems a real stretch - but it's unlikely Revlon was referring to any Chanels, Guerlains, Givenchys or Carons eh.

    1. Hahahaha, yes, obviously, great comment!
      It's astounding how popular Jean Nate was (and still is in some circles). I think they could boast of creating the equivalent national 4711 version. No?

  5. 'A ferocious appetite for intimacy of the horizontal kind' I LOVE this, lol.

  6. Don't know what 7 they have in mind but on my personal list Aromatics Elixir and Jolie Madame would make the list for sure!

  7. Anonymous22:01

    Somewhere in a box in one of my closets is a 1 ounce bottle of Intimate that I bought years and years ago. I must look for it and see if it still smells as sexy as it once did. Probably not, but it DID smell very "intimate" then.


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