I’m constantly gathering images for my posts about art history and perfume advertising, and I’ve come across many beautiful examples from the past century. I’ve also encountered some ads that have not aged well at all. Here are five perfume advertisements that seem (to me, at least) unappealing, borderline offensive, or just plain odd.
“To make you feel especially feminine,” Yardley proposes (in addition to its fragrances)… a Madame Alexander doll, playing cards. “Of course,” as they add. There was a series of these ads. Some kind of cross-promotion? I do not know. (1957)
“Good Fighting. Good Hunting. Good Loving.” A “gri gri” is an African good-luck amulet or protective talisman. Weil is a venerable Parisian perfume house. The less we say about this ad, the better. (1946)
Many vintage perfume ads are valued for their elegantly styled models, their artistic photography, and the evocative names of their featured products. And then we have Nectaroma (“goes with a woman”) from Tuvaché. (1961)
Centaur “Massage Cologne”: it’s “half-man, half-beast, all-male.” And more than a little repulsive. Plenty of cleavage and body hair, plus a confusing concept. Does anyone really want to be, or to mate with, a centaur? (1967)
“Mommy, don’t cry… I’m sure Daddy’s giving you Arpège.” Nothing sells a classic like the suggestion of domestic violence, apparently. Promise her anything… (1965)
Images: advertisements from VintageAdBrowser and various online auctions. Top photo via Christies.