The Art of Perfume Advertising: Princess Isabelle (1980s) and Monet

princesse isabelle 1981 ad

This is such a perfectly summery perfume advertisement that I had to post it. I don’t know anything about Princesse Isabelle, or about this fragrance, other than that it seems to be a romantic floral eau de toilette.

What I do know is that Princesse Isabelle selected a painting by Claude Monet for this ad…


It’s Monet’s Jeune fille à l’ombrelle tournée vers la gauche (Essai de figure en plein air), dated 1886, now in the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (see here for more information).

It’s such an apt choice of image. This is just how a perfume should make its wearer feel in the spring or summer: an impression of flickering light, a cool spot of shade, a crisp white dress, with no extraneous detail or narrative to distract from the sheer sensory pleasure of that moment.


Art, Music, Perfume: Rasputina’s “Cabin Fever” Album Cover


I didn’t know anything about the band Rasputina until I walked into one of their live shows, thanks to my husband, who had bought tickets, guessing (correctly) that I would enjoy it. Rasputina’s musical style is often described as “gothic cello-rock,” and it’s certainly a love-or-hate thing. For me, it was love at first note.

I just wanted to share this image, the cover of Rasputina’s 2002 album Cabin Fever. Rasputina’s frontwoman, Melora Creager, creates much of the artwork for the band’s visual materials. She seems to have collaborated with photographer and multi-media artist Ryan Obermeyer for this cover.

Do you see what I see?

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Bergdorf Goodman (and Matisse): Vintage Advertisement, 1964


I’ve had this vintage magazine advertisement saved for a while. It’s a Bergdorf Goodman promotion for an “autumn afternoon dress” by Townley, available in Bergdorf’s “Country & Casual Shop” for $110. The illustrator showed his elegant female figure (wearing not only the Townley frock, but also heels, hat, gloves, and earrings) enjoying several works of art.

matisse icarus

The work on the left is clearly Matisse’s Icarus, one of the images in his illustrated portfolio Jazz (1947). The illustrator seemed to be drawing a parallel between the strong, graphic curves of the Townley dress and the bold contours of Matisse’s paper cut-outs.


The larger picture-within-a-picture is based on Matisse’s Interior in Venetian Red (1946), from the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.

I love the fact that this illustrator took the time to include actual works of art, and to imagine his model visiting a museum or gallery. There’s plenty of lip-service nowadays to the interplay of fashion and fine art, but we rarely see anything this specific in today’s advertisements.

(You can read an earlier post touching on the related issue of museum-as-backdrop here.)

Bergdorf Goodman advertisement (1964) via Vintage Ad Browser.

Alexis Karl’s Mythological Evolution, A Multimedia Exhibition


Last weekend I paid a visit to the gallery space Warehouse 623 in Brooklyn to catch Alexis Karl’s multimedia exhibition “Mythological Evolution” before it closed. I’ve known Alexis for eight years or so. We first met when she was presenting her fragrance line Scent by Alexis at Henri Bendel, and I was immediately charmed by her fragrances and her overall style.

This exhibition, which ran from May 3 through May 24, brought together Alexis’ work in sculpture, painting, video, music, and fragrance. Its conceit was an alternative theory of evolution that involved lots of ruined (and re-emerging) civilizations, hybrid beings, and otherworldly transformations.

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