Thanks for sharing, I had a great time looking at those ads!
Thread: Vintage Perfume Ads
Maybe this site is already known, but I would like to share this site of vintage ads, Lovely ads from the last 100 years showing lots of different perfumes. Evoking the ''zeitgeist'' of the different eras.
Some of the ads can be brought on E-Bay.
Hope some of you will enjoy it!
Thanks for sharing, I had a great time looking at those ads!
Glad you enjoyed!
They kept me up for hours!
I am an advertiser and, well, could not help noticing the different approaches to advertising scents. The one for Mitsouko picturing a profile of a japanese woman with traditional makeup is wonderful.
Did you notice the general focus on social approval in ads from the 1920's - 1940's? They left me wondering why toiletries marketed at that time resorted to those arguments. I guess it has to do with upward social mobility and the improvement in living conditions. Just my two scents...
I am an artist, I liked the Mitsouko ad the best of all!
What do you mean with ''social approval''?
All those parties and upperclass women in elegant evening wear, and men in well tailored sports gear?
The site has lots of advertisements on other subjects, check out the ones on smoking! Including the doctors telling you how good smoking is for you!
I think about it this way: better education and better infrastructure originated a middle class with disposable income that could be spent in toiletries. First royal courts and later cinema provided for models, so basically there were many people becoming part of the middle classes. They must have felt a need to emulate social models, that is what I mean by social approval. I am thinking of the millions of immigrants arriving to the New World and their motivations when it came to fit in big cities - take in mind many came from small towns, in the case of Argentina, mostly from Galicia, in Spain, and the south of Italy, as well as many othe places (Russian jews, for example).
I will check out the ads on smoking... having worked in a tobacco company for almost ten years, it will be fun.
I think you're right. There's a rather obvious focus on social positioning and attracting a suitable partner.Today's perfume ads seem to emphasize sexual attraction and self-indulgence rather than social approval, which makes sense within the context of today's more individualistic society, too.
This makes me wonder if, and in that case how, the advertising differed between Europe and the States. I've seen some older European fragrance advertising and I have a vague impression that it's a little more whimsical, slightly less focused on social approval, and a few products (more along the lines of soap and the like, though) emphasize American origins, or endorsement by American celebrities.
This is my favourite vintage perfume ad, by the way. I think it's glorious, and so well suited to the juice.
@Pollux, I think you are right. And also, the actual use of fragrances has been more available to the less well heeled. Everybody can buy a drugstore fragrance nowadays, and some are good too. And almost everybody could buy an expensive fragrance if they are willing to save up for it. A real ''perfume'' would have been prohibitively expensive for most people a hundred years ago. So a link it to the world of expense seems logical.
And isn't it the obsession with ''celebrities'' nowadays? Instead of social climbing? Hence all these current scents endorsed by a celebrity, named after a celebrity, or introduced by a celebrity?
Now I am writing this I realize I am so allergic to this, I haven't tried even one fragrance with a celebrity name attached to it...
Unless it's Chanel
@Pimpinette, Oh, that poor bottle!
Last edited by FrouFrou; 7th July 2010 at 04:08 PM.
Interesting commment pImpinett... I cannot say if there are differences for I have not studied the subject, but common sense and the limited extent of my knowledge tells me advertising traditions differ. I recall European advertising being influenced by fine artists and graphic design schools - I am thinking of Toulouse Lautrec and the Bauhaus. In the case of advertising in the USA, I have the feeling it must have had a more pragmatic approach. I recall Hollywood and the star system, you must be right there.
Regarding clebrities, I always regarded the perfume industry being a flanker of the fashion industry, and in these terms, celebrities come in handy for they provide for images, rather than contents - fashion industry is based on perceptions and the social implicancies they have. In the case of perfumes, learning the nuances of fragrance perception is quite time demanding, so most consumers resort to celebrities as guidelines: images of beauty, a glamorous lifestyle, succes... that is what they shop for when demanding their scents.
I do agree with you, FrouFrou, I don't like the idea of "celebuscents", but the three Antonio Banderas I bought (Mediterraneo, VIP and Antonio) are really good, even though there is nothing like the classi Guerlains, LOL. Blame it on Antonio Puig, the Spanish corporation that manufactures and markets them.
Pimpinett, that Bandit ad looks amazingly avant garde, do you have any idea when it was released?
Many of the older ads for European houses and fragrances seem to draw a lot of inspiration from those sources, yes. I really like the Schiaparelli ads, for instance, they are very consistent, well done and a great fit with the style and image of the brand. Schiaparelli collaborated with several prominent artists of her time, Dalì among others, so it makes sense that she would have interesting and artistic advertising as well, I suppose. I love the fact that most of the ads from the 50's and earlier feature illustrations rather than photographs, as well, but I expect that was a consequence of the cost and quality of printing photographs rather than an artistic choice.
I don't have have a date on the Bandit ad, unfortunately, but I would guess 50's or earlier. There are a few variations on the theme, including one where the bottle is pierced and leaking but not broken, and a later ad featuring a photograph of the bottle with a black bandanna tied to it that I'm guessing is from the 60's or 70's.
I think you both have a point about celebrity and celebrities. Sometimes I wonder how much that really motivates the customers, and how many of them just buy them for the juice and/or the bottle, though, but I'm not really the target group and I must assume that it works, since they keep saturating the market with celebrity-fronted perfumes. It's definitely aspirational, just like the older social approval-focused ads, but in a different sense.
I think the idea of a zeitgeist is fascinating in this context, too. Sometimes the complexity of older perfumes is taken to mean that people had more sophisticated taste before, personally I think that people are much the same, it was the idea of what perfume should smell like that was different, just like the idea of how clothes should look, fit and feel is different. Possibly perfumers were given more freedom, time and resources to work with, though, as it was as a bigger investment for both the company producing it and the customer buying it? I think the same case could be made for clothes on that point, as well.
Last edited by Pimpinett; 9th July 2010 at 04:18 PM.
Lots of interesting points, I think maybe I am biased because the modern celebs are so trashy compared to the elegant glamorous celebs from the fifties. Maybe if the modern celebrities had more elegance and personal style I would be less irritated by their endorsement.
I am an illustrator and I don't think it was cheaper to reproduce an illustration versus a photograph, I think they came across stronger. And it is fashion too of course. I think a piece of art gives an extra vibe to it by being art. So that would add art to the list, and make it even more sophisticated in feeling.
I love the Dior ad illustrations.
I wish people would commission more illustrations in these times!
I happened to look at Schiaparelli's ads in the site posted by FrouFrou and found them a masterpice, and as you said, the surrealistic touch is quite evident, thank you for mentioning that. FrouFrou, here is a link to Rene Gruau's works as per a search conducted in Google images: http://www.google.com.ar/images?um=1...=&oq=&gs_rfai=
There is a reason why illustrations are not (almost) used today, image banks have lowered the price of photographic production and marketing, illiustrators becoming some kind of advertising artisans, and thus being much more expensive.
Pimpinett, you mentioned that perfumers were given more time to work on their creations, that is so. I don't recall were but I had the chance of reading that perfume makers are given a very limited amount of time to work, plus the fact that best sellers can easily be copied if resorting to some techniques. No wonder why we are seeing so many smell - alikes around.
I onced posted about the house designing and marketing the most complex scents around, and opinions revolved around four houses. I think that there are several factors responsible for changes that are being implemented based on the market's lack of awareness on the attributes of quality in perfumes, so this actually means that we are going te be left with a small group of artisan perfumists working along traditional guidelines. I think that if these happen to be succesful, sooner or later they will be bought by corporations.
As a matter of fact, it is the same in other sectors. Take music for instance, and the path many musicians follow: from unknown indy musicians to big cultural industry icons.
Gruau was a fantastic illustrator, all those Eau Sauvage illustrations may be my favourite ad campaign ever. Brilliant. That iconic lipstick ad with the blindfold is such a stunner, too.
In a sense, many of today's ads are almost approaching illustrations, I sometimes think. There is so much work done both pre-production (sets, light, etc) and post-production on the images that viewing them more as illustrations than photorealism seems like a healthy approach. I really enjoy highly stylized photography ("photography") in the vein of Pierre et Gilles, Annie Leibovitz and others.
It just seems inevitable that the sheer amount of fragrances produced and released would have some kind of impact on the time and resources spent by the producing companies, as well as the increased popularity and demand - perfume is a commodity today, in a way that I don't think it was to the majority of people 50 years ago, and there are so many people out there buying and wearing fragrance not because they care a lot about perfume, but because it's part of their daily grooming. The popularity of perfume that is supposed to smell like you're not wearing perfume is very speaking, I think, and like celebrity fragrances it's a completely different market, in a sense, than the market for classic, old-school perfumery.
Pollux, could you link to that thread? Sounds like an interesting read (is complexity really an objective thing, though, or more of a subjective opinion?). You're probably perfectly right about the shift from mass market to indie perfumers, and I'm sure many of the successful ones will be bought up. It will be interesting to see how that affects them, by the way - if they are bought up because they are commercially successful creating quality perfumes, how will that affect them?