Friday, November 2, 2007

Optical Scentsibilities -new feature!

Perfume Shrine has an eye for the visual as well as a nose for the olfactual, as has surely been apparent to our readers by now. In the interests of pursuing the investigation of common themes running through perfume images, a new feature is introduced: Optical Scentsibilities. A feature focusing on elective affinities among images concerning fragrances that will run regularly from now on.

The idea came up while releafing my art books, which abundantly depict what Umberto Eco has so infamously made an academic career out of: semiotics, of course. Like "books talk about other books", images draw inspiration from other images and perhaps instill a new twist on an older theme. In this sense there is no purpose of talking about "plagiarism", as it is well established that there can be no parthenogenesis in art. Basically, everything has already been said and there is nothing trully new under the sun. However it is interesting to contemplate just how some undercurrent runs through similar concepts.

Today we focus on two takes on the dark-silhouetted-profile hovering over a bottle resting on the top of the knee. Here is an example by Fidji, the green floral perfume by Guy Laroche. The brilliant tagline reads: "The bare essential. All it needs is you". There is a quiet anticipation in the picture, as if you are waiting for that face to turn into focus, into the light and speak. Which is obviously what the perfume does for you, anyway...

And there you can witness a comparable image advertising the floriental Boucheron Femme. There is a difference in more overt sensuality in the second paradigm, conveyed through the half opened lips, which is logical considering that the advertisement came out in 2003 (and it had a similar male counterpart for Boucheron Homme), while the one for Fidji is older (per my calculations late 70s to early 80s). In most other regards however there is an uncanny similarity.

Another case is within the same brand: Rochas did a very similar print campaign for two of their feminine perfumes. Lumière came with this advertisment in 1986 (the scent first launched in 1984 and got re-orchestrated in 2000, reportedly to its detriment): the nude feminine back holds an aura of subtle seduction, seemingly vulnerable and leading to other paths to sensuousness. In this image the soft focus of the lilac colour palette imparts a soft halo of romanticism.

Contrast with this one, for Rochas' Mystère (scent launched in 1978, the ad is from the 80s). The same position of the model, focusing on the nude back and with a coif to match, but this time with a more dynamic arm position which, with its arrow line, suggests a certain assertiveness and with a dark yet fiery colour palette that hints at more seductive intentions.
I am guessing that here we have a case of a brand wanting to establish an homogenous aesthetic in its products and I think it succeeds in providing a backdrop of reference. This intent is more apparent if we notice the taglines: "Vous laissez tant d'énigme derrière vous" (=you leave such an enigma behind) for Mystère and "Vous laissez tant d'éclat derrière vous" (=you leave such a luminosity behind) for Lumière. If you are extra attentive you will also notice that the names are analogous in number of syllables, intonation and way of pronunciation.
Bravo, Rochas advertising team!

Pics from, image des parfums, parfums de pub and Ebay


  1. Wow, great idea for a feature, Helg. I'm fascinated. It's a wonderful way of approaching the whole issue of perfume advertising. I'm eager to see where you go with it.

  2. Thank you dear M.
    I thought it would be original for such a venue and hopefully interesting. And it's not too far removed from my studies anyway, so...

  3. Anonymous17:28

    Interesting finds here again, how do i like your analytic and academic approach! Mhhh... Fidji, merci, Helg... :-)

    Greetings, Nina

  4. Nina, you're very welcome, dear.
    Glad that the analytical and academic are of interest! ;-)
    I do like Fidji and its advertising is part of that.

  5. Love it! I can't wait to see and read more.

  6. Thanks T, hon. I'm also excited about the new feature; it's fun to put together.


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