In honor of tomorrow's SF Artisan Fragrance Salon—as well as Barbara Herman, author of Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume and vintage perfume blogger at YesterdaysPerfume.com, and her upcoming SF appearance—I came across a gaggle of perfume ads that require your immediate attention. (One in particular, so horrific, we tacked it on the end to show you how far we've come. Brace yourselves.)
10. Dune by Dior (1991)
Dune arrived in the early '90s soon after Poison's bombastic domination of the '80s. If you've never enjoyed Dune, you really should. It's a bizarre but beautiful scent. ("Unsmiling from top to bottom...drained of life, flesh-toned in the creepy way of artificial limbs, not real ones," is how Luca Turin deliriously describes the five-star fragrance in Perfumes: the A-Z Guide) The ads for the (now-rare) scent, though, are so simple and so European. The perfect palate cleanser.
9. Coty Wild Musk (1983)
So bad it's bad, this ad for Coty Wild Musk proved why cocaine was a helluva drug in the '80s.
8. Opium by YSL (1986)
Linda Evangelista can do no wrong, even while appearing in an inadvertently pro-sex slavery ad for YSL's Opium. Fabulous. (The campaign, however, was not without controversy: this particular ad, featuring a jonesing Evangelista on a drug run, offended the American-Chinese community and was banned in Australia. Classic Linda.)
7. Gio by Armani (1992)
Awful fragrance (which continued the trend of bad water scents, ones that continue to dominate your Marina boyfriend's chest), but this as was directed by David Lynch (during his Madonna days) and, of course, means it deserves a place on the list.
6. Rive Gauche by YSL (1979)
While '70s end with "the girl so contemporary, she's having too much fun to marry..."
5. Beautiful by Estee Lauder (1980)
...and the '80s begin with her staunch white wedding.
4. White Diamonds (1987)
"These have always brought me luck." Indeed. The fragrance—one of the first celebrity fragrances, for better or for worse (but mainly worse)—was a smash hit.
3. Chanel No. 5 (1978)
"This unexpectedly poignant Chanel No. 5 commercial hints at something kind of radical: that perfume might in fact be a personal, private, aesthetic experience for women," Barbara Herman notes on YesterdaysPerfume.com. "This flies in the face of the majority of perfume ads that suggest that perfume is created to help women drive men wild...I'd say that Deneuve's description of her relationship to perfume is what comes closest to how niche perfume lovers experience scents. " (The same could be said for some men too!)
2. Compulsion by Calvin Clean: SNL's parody of Calvin Klein's Obsession
Wonderful sendup of this famous excessively arty ad.
1. Kazumi Kurigami's Parco
Required viewing for all human beings. In a word, genius. In five words, Faye Dunaway eating an egg.
SHAME: Love's Baby Soft (1975)
Trigger warning: Love's Baby Soft's ad is downright disgusting and frightening. View at your own peril. Appalling.
Thanks goes out to Barbara Herman for her inspiring work on YesterdaysPerfume.com. You can hear Herman read at Opera Plaza Books, Inc. on March 27. And be sure to check out the SF Artisan Fragrance Salon happening this Saturday at Fort Mason.