I’ve been a fan of Atelier Cologne since its line arrived in New York in 2010. I like several of the fragrances and I also admire the beautifully photographed object-collages that accompany each scent, to set a mood and tell a story.
Those visuals usually seem quite personal, as though the owners of Atelier had composed them from favorite possessions. (In fact, I believe they did do this for the initial group of fragrances, at least.) However, the photograph for recent launch Rose Anonyme has me raising an eyebrow. One one hand, it’s a bit generic: the items don’t really seem to belong to anyone. On the other hand, there’s something oddly familiar about the appearance of a mask, a set of handcuffs, and a key, all processed into grisaille.
I’m using grisaille as a fancy word for “monochromatic gray,” and without actually spelling it out in words that can be caught in the Google net, I’ll say that this particular set of objects (including long black gloves and a dagger-like implement) made me think of a certain trilogy of books and their covers.
I’m really hoping that this similarity is just a coincidence, because I genuinely like Atelier Cologne’s philosophy and products. Rose Anonyme is being promoted with a narrative about a seductive female jewel thief, which might explain some of the items in the photo, but not the carnival mask or the cuffs.
I’ve made a very deliberate choice not to read the above-mentioned books, for a range of reasons that I won’t go into here. And I’m tired, so tired of reading punny “Gray”-inspired headlines in every magazine and every newspaper “lifestyle” section that I happen to pick up. I’ve clung to the idea that the fragrance world is one little space that hasn’t been infected with this inexplicable obsession and the interest in its ripple-effect money-making potential.
Maybe I’m just seeing things because I’ve been brainwashed by the over-exposure these books have received.
I certainly hope so.