Sunday, June 22, 2008

Optical Scentsibilities: Guerlain Vintage Ads

Perfume Shrine has always been greatly interested in the visualisation of fragrance and the aesthetics which dictate the delivery of any fragrance's message. In that regard one of the most intriguing houses is that of Guerlain, both for its historical scope which allows to monitor the progression of social and artistic expectations of what a perfume advertisment should entail and for its use of talented illustrators such as Vassi, Leonard, E.Darcy, Charnotet, Mik and Nikasinovich.
A great collection of mainly 1930s Guerlain advertising is collected in this wonderful link via L', with the inclusion of the magnificent and coherent "Are you her type?" 1935 series by Elise Darcy for each of the great feminins of the time.
And those that were missing from that, well, we added ourselves!
Click here for a slideshow of precious, vintage Guerlain advertisements.

Pics through , and mr.guerlain


  1. Thank you for the images, they're lovely! I especially like the "are you her type?" series. The women look a bit scary with their blank white eyes and skeletal nostrils, especially Mitsouko, but in a good way! Do you know where I could download the 4 images from the series featured in the slideshow? I'd love to have them on my computer...

  2. Dear Erin, you're very welcome!
    I love the "are you her type" images myself. And you describe them very well: In fact as far as I can recall the Mitsouko woman has always been a brunette with arched brows and short bobbed hair, with one exception, a Japanese woman in 70s advertising.

    The series is rather rare to be seen online and, like I said, I found a couple on and the Vega one on mr.Guerlain's blog (he's an avid collector of Guerlain). Unfortunately not the Mitsouko one or L'heure bleue (which I don't have on my hard-drive either...)
    They're in the book on Classic Perfume Advertising by Jacqueline Johnson available on Amazon.
    You can of course copy the images I posted from my page, if you wish ~I have just uploaded two more for your benefit :-).

  3. Thank you so much for the extra images and the reference to the book! I'll be sure to look it up...
    I found one of them (Liu) for sale as a poster here as well:
    Oh and I'm not Erin, I'm Tove. :)

  4. These are indeed lovely. I was interested to find out that "Sous le Vent" translates as "Leeward", a sailing term. And also to see that it was considered one of the major fragrances of the house with Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vega and L'Heure Bleue (as opposed to many others like Djedi).

  5. A million apologies dear Tove. How daft of me!

    You're very welcome and indeed thank you for the additional link :-)

  6. Dear D,
    aren't they very represantative of their times? I think so.
    Fascinating stuff about the sailing term (which bodes so well with "sillage" ~almost fit for a little verse).
    Isn't it fortunate that Vega and Sous le Vent were re-issued for us perfume lovers to appreciate all over again? :-)

  7. Thank you for these visual treats. I too adore seeing how perfumes have been translated visually. These are really wonderful and very evocative of the times.

  8. You're very welcome Roxana. I find so too.
    I see that you have a special interest in the visual aspect and are very talented yourself! :-))
    Thanks for stopping by and welcome.

  9. Indeed, a special interest on many levels. In the eighties when I lived in NYC I illustrated the fragrance column for Connoisseur Magazine. At the time I had no idea I'd find myself where I am today.

  10. A ha! Very interesting and thanks for letting me know :-)

  11. Anonymous07:02

    Hello there,

    Can you tell me who the artist is who created this Guerlain ad? There is a signature on the lower left but I cannot read it. It was created in '46. Link:

    Thank you!

  12. Anon,

    thanks for the interesting question and for reading the site.

    I believe this is Nikasinovitch, a well-known Guerlain illustrator. Hope this helps!

  13. Anonymous01:14

    Thank you very much for the reply! I found out who the artist is, but Nikasinovich was a great guess. The artist is Adolphe Mouron Cassandre. The signature in the bottom left says Adolphe Cassandre '46. Sadly, this French Ukrainian artist killed himself in 1968. This is my favorite Guerlain ad and I have often wondered who the woman is in the picture. I believe it was an idealization of the artists imagination, but I actually think the woman bears a resemblance to Adolphe Cassandre himself. At least in certain photographs there is a strong resemblance to me. For example:

  14. Ah,

    Adolphe Mouron Cassandre then it is. Yes, the '46 is clearly visible, but the rest needs a HD pic to tell. Thanks!

    Grafting the artist's own presence into a painting/illustration isn't anything new (starting with Velázquez and Las Meninas and so forth, the hypothesis on the Mona Lisa etc).
    [After all, painting has influenced perfume iconography too, as I had elaborated on this Optical Sensibilities article. ]

    Interesting if it is so here too. (The eyes though are very feminine looking to me)


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