Friday, June 18, 2010

Perfumes are not about sex????

This is one of the special articles written by this editor for the celebration of the blog's SECOND YEAR anniversary this July. As you will notice, it is longer than the usual publishings and it contains a lot more pictures and links. ENJOY!
+ Q Perfume Blog has been writing, as promised, not only fragrances reviews, but also about projects off bottles, about packaging, trends, advertising, events and many subjects that you won't find in many other blogs.
So, this year, celebrating the blog's second year of success, I bring to you, my beloved friends & readers, one of the most controversial themes: Perfumes and sex.
If you are under 18 and you are already buying fragrances for yourself, you are also invited to read this article. It is not about showing nudity or pornography, but to open your eyes to what you are exposed and influenced when choosing a fragrance.
If you are under 18 and you do not buy perfumes, this article is not for you!
In the book The Secret of Scent (adventures in perfume and the science of smell), published in 2006 by Luca Turin, he made an arguable strong statement: Perfumes are not about sex. His arguments were clear when concerning pheromones, and that most fragrances for men are not good (so it could not be about sex right?), and no matter if we have a cold and lost our sense of smell temporarily, sex would still be ok, due to the fact that all the other senses would still be there.


But is it really true that perfumes are not about sex?

The answer is pretty obvious to me: It is not JUST about sex, but it does have a lot to do with it. And to build my case, since Luca has already rested his, I invite you to engage in a different journey, to explore the world of niche and massive production brands, and find out, if not only I do have a point to be considered, but if I also succeed to expose marketing strategies build on sexual attraction to sell perfume.

Our adventure starts with niche brands, and our first stop is a brand that considers itself to be subversive, declaring an independent way of creating perfumes, following olfactory eroticism, and uses personal fantasies as the upper hand on marketing concepts.

État Libre d’Orange owned by Etienne de Swardt, proposes that perfume has the power to evoke the body and its urges, and invites us to wear our sexuality as a second skin. To the founder, perfume has erotic energy and it is a tool of seduction. The fragrances have rather curious names, such as Sécrétions Magnifiques EDP (magnificent secretions), Putain de Palaces EDP (prostitute of the Palaces), Delicious Closet Queen EDP, Vierges et Toreros EDP (virgins and bull fighters), Noël au Balcon EDP (Noël on the balcony), all references to prostitutes, to virile members, drag queens and sexual fantasies. The logos: virile members and vaginas.

They also have surprising inspirations, such as Tom of Finland, an artist notable for his fetish art and stylized homoerotic and pornographic illustrations; Fat Electrician, a legendary urban character and a gigolo from the 70’s.


The most shocking creation, in my opinion is “Don’t get me wrong baby, I don’t swallow!” The perfume is about resistance & surrender and blowjobs!


Resisting so far? Well, État Libre d’Orange is niche, therefore it has its followers and its enemies. Some will find their concepts a collection of bad taste and vulgarity; some will find it hip, creative and super cool. Whatever they are, they are absolutely 100% about sex.

Moving on, there are other explicit messages in the world of niche perfumery such as Alan Cummin’s perfume. He is a Scottish actor and producer who was once described as “the frolic pansexual sex symbol for the new millennium”, and he has launched his own fragrance, named Cumming EDT, a classic men’s cologne, with notes of bergamot, black pepper, pine, whiskey, leather, peat fire, highland mud, burnt rubber and white truffle. In addition to this the core notes, a finish off - Cummin’s nudity.


Well, Cumming could come from his last name, but evaluating both the sexual appeal of the site (where he lies down completely naked), and the video (showing him giving a statement on the fragrance, totally naked and saying “I am coming, or cumming”), one can only think that he really meant a sexual orgasm.

To watch Cummin cumming, click HERE

Sex has also been the inspiration for famous perfumers. Christopher Laudamiel created a fragrance for the brand Shaping Room, founded by Nobi Shioya, called S-EX EDP. Composing the fragrances, notes of salt, oxygen, spirit of life, camellia, willow, white leather, skin musk, malt, strawberry, baroque musk and black leather.

Described by fragrance critic Chandler Burr (New York Times) as “a masterful, complex juxtaposition of elements that gives the scent of the genitalia of a freshly shampooed beast”, I keep wondering if Luca Turin knew all these fragrances when he made his statements.

The other fragrances of the collection are 100% love and s-love (with a sperm logo), lust and sloth.


Designer Jesus del Pozo, launched in 2009 Haloween Kiss Sexy EDT, a fragrance to “A young, modern and cosmopolitan woman who can express her sexual nature without false modesty. She clearly enjoys the power her sexuality gives her.” The advertising – a woman held by a man, showing his naked derriere.


I could just end our journey here, but what about mass production (prestige) perfumery? Are they also not about sex?

Let’s make quick stop at Tom Ford’s fragrances, a brand between niche and mass production. Not necessarily sexual. But the advertising... Exposing human genitalia and placing the bottles strategically near models’ intimacies was not only a marketing strategy to launch his first perfume, but it made a lot of noise and has shaken more conservative people.


And when censure was cogitated, Tom argued, “the highly stylized creative treatment gave the ad an artistic quality, not a salacious one.That is pretty arguable too, but Mr. Ford knows: sex sells! A man of refined and impeccable taste chose to relate sex to his fragrances explicitly for one good reason: To sell his perfumes because men want to get more sex!


Loewe’s advertising video for the fragrance Aire Loco EDT shows a woman entering a room where men are sitting down. She sits in the center of the circle. By the influence of the perfume spread in the air through a peephole in front of her, she takes a glass of champagne, spills it on her breast, and with the tongue she licks it off the skin. Not only sexual, but also exhibitionist.


To watch the hot video, click HERE

Charlize Theron undressed for Dior in the TV commercial for the perfume J’Adore. The actress walks through the room, throwing jewelry and clothes to the floor suggesting that gold, diamonds and expensive cars are not competition for a good fragrance. “Feel what is real,” she says.

Contemporary elegance or cliché? Whatever opinion I might have on this, one thing is for sure: Charlize ‘s perfect naked body sells!

To watch Charlize strip teasing, click HERE

And if we are already mentioning clichés, most of fragrance commercial advertising videos show women or men seducing or chasing each other. Men cannot resist to this or that celebrity/model wearing the brand’s fragrance. He chases her like animals ready to breed during spring.

Another steaming hot video is the one performed by model Kate Moss for fragrance Parisienne EDP by YSL, the last launch of the brand. Highly suggestive, the blondie is in the back of a limo, fantasying about having sexual pleasure in a leather bustier & high heels, on a bed of roses with a stranger.

By touching herself with hands and a rose that travels her body, including touching her intimacies, Kate Moss is one more time doing what she does best – getting a lot of attention. Why? Because the brand decided that showing a model kissing a guy on the top of the Eiffel Tower would not be enough to sell the weak flanker of Paris.

To watch Moss' fantasies, click HERE

Still in the same brand stop, the last masculine launch, La Nuit de L'Homme EDT shows French actor Vicent Cassel being smelled and lusted by many women. Less explicit, but still selling the idea that wearing this perfume women will come like bees searching for flower nectars.


To watch Cassel's seduction, click HERE

The script for masculine fragrance commercials is always the same, what changes is the brand, the fragrance and the celebrity. So Luca has a point when he states that most masculine perfumes are not that good, but the marketing strategies directors of the brands are.

Dolce & Gabbana launched a new collection of fragrances called Anthology - the advertising campaign shows models Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigova, Naomi Campbell, Fernando Fernandes, Noah Millsand Tyson Ballou all completely naked, proving that today's competition for celebrities went one step up. To leverage sales, not only a brand needs celebrities, but also sex and naked bodies.

If you wish to watch some campaign relying on sex to sell, check those:

Hot by Davidoff campaign - to watch explicit sex in Brazil's beach, click HERE

Light Blue by D&G campaign - to watch the video, click HERE

Scape by Calvin Klein campaign - explicit sex - to watch the video, click HERE

I will not exhaust my dear readers with a long list of many other brands, and their descriptions of videos and advertising campaigns. To make my closing argument I will bring some of the words and descriptions appearing the most to describe a fragrance, either by press release, critic or review: sexy; sensual; voluptuous; sex appeal; brings out the sensuality; unveils or reveals the sexiness or sensual side; brings out the desires; inspired by fantasies, encounters; makes women irresistible; expresses the sensuality; incarnation of a Diva, etc…

Of course there are fragrances inspired by gardens, childhood memories, temples, exotic lands, history, etc… and as Luca Turin brilliantly explains, pheromones are perceived by a separate organ in the nasal septum, and the perfume itself is not a biological attractant. I agree with him when he explains that the sense of smell is not even necessary for human sexual engagements, so chemically, perfume is really not about sex. But psychologically, wearing perfume is to care more about yourself and the image you project, is to self indulge the senses and up scaling the self-esteem therefore, it is also a make-believe that anyone can attract this or that person they desire and therefore, get more sex. And knowing that, many marketing strategies to sell perfumes rely on it.

So, to rest my case, perfume is not JUST about sex, but a huge percentage of the launches and the purchase decisions are pretty much about it!

...and extracted from the New York Times, with an All Street Journal video: Some cats disagree with Luca Turin, proving that chemically, perfumes do have a power of attraction:
"Calvin Klein's advertisements are so great because the sex appeal and lust between the models seems so natural. Turns out they don't need to pay human models to fake it for their men's Obsession scent, when there are big, hot, hulking cats out there who naturally lust for the stuff. Zookeepers at the Bronx Zoo discovered the cats like to rub, hug, and lick things sprayed with Calvin Klein's men's Obsession scent. Now researchers are using the fragrance for crucial research in Guatemala, in which they put Obsession-spritzed rags in the forest to attract jaguars to their hidden cameras. How else are scientists supposed to see them having sex?"
Obs.: all photo and video credits belongs to the brands and its photographers: Loewe, Dior, D&G, Tom of Finland, Mily Serebrenick, État Libre d'Orange, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, YSL, New York Times, J. Del Pozo, Shaping Room, Alan Cummin, Image Bank & Pinkcakebox.


Bellatrix said...

It is about sex. Maybe not creation, but marketing for sure :D

+ Q Perfume Blog said... got my point...
When Calvin Klein brought Brook Shields in a very sensual campaign when she was very all started! :-)

Ines said...

You really made quite an effort putting all this together. And I believe you made your point (and some of those videos are really explicit - were they all shown on TV?).

Btw, I would lust after Mr. Cassel no matter what perfume he wore. :)

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Yes Ines, they were all on TV, surprised???
Well Cassel is also my weakness! I would kiss him even if he was stinking! :-)

eula_w said...

"It is about sex. Maybe not creation, but marketing for sure" agreed in here.

Great read on this article you have shared. Nice photos too.

do pheromones work

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