As the Christmas season barrels unrelentingly upon us, the amount of perfume advertisements seems to grow exponentially. On television, in magazines and around our cities, the push to smell divine becomes more of a shove. Buying a slice of the designer lifestyle seems to attract and assuage our deepest needs. In our rush to conceal our true bodily smells and be recognized as a hip member of the fashion smell tribe, do we ever stop to think about what exactly is being sold to us?
1 Million by Paco Rabanne hit the store shelves some time ago in 2009 and the publicity spot hit our screens. Directed by Paul Gore with music by The Chemical Brothers, a dazzling Mat Gordon prances around, snapping his fingers, achieving everything that his heart desires.
The bottle is gold and shaped like a ingot, an in-your-face declaration of wealth and luxury. The model snaps his fingers, the beat is catchy, the male clichés are all present: the fast car, the fame and success, the risk of gambling, wealth and of course, the girl. But not just any girl… Another snap of the fingers and off falls her dress, her lips part in anticipation. The perfect woman, beautiful, sculptural, willing and ready. All packaged up in the covetable gold bottle. Does not every woman snicker each time she sees this advertisement on television? The age-old differences between men and women are continually played upon in the fashion industry, sometimes with hints of irony, other times so blatant as to be downright offensive and insulting.
This aforementioned irony was to be exploited to new heights when Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million perfume was released this year. This bottle is also gold but shaped like a diamond and not just any diamond. The shape is based on the Regent diamond housed at the Louvre in Paris and considered the most beautiful specimen in the world. Music and director are the same; this time it is the stunning Dree Hemingway who brings to life women’s most coveted desires.
The snicker quickly turns into a giggle. The clichés are very much in evidence, but many of them are portrayed in such a different manner. There are several common factors between the men and women advertisement versions: the snapping of the fingers, the gold bottle, the flashy and wealthy lifestyle, the cars, the good clothes. Yet it is the differences that stand out starkly. 1 Million’s Mat Gordon is broody and mysterious, confident, demonstrating a large dose of sexual clichés. Lady Million’s Dree Hemingway is slightly kooky, very fun, sexy and friendly. An infinity of shoes appear, the men she encounters are often ridiculous (Dree rolls her eyes), she’s looking for something more serious in a man and the ring should always be bigger. Do we all want these things? Probably not, every woman is searching for something different although there will always be some similarities. It’s the sheer hilarity of the clichés which make the Lady Million version almost endearing compared to the cold slickness of the men’s version. And the most blankly obvious difference? Men are willing to gamble, to take a risk for wealth, for business, for the sheer hell of it. Women are more likely to gamble, to take a risk, for love.
To smell like a cliché or not, to partake of the stereotypical views, the imposed differences between men and women… Are the advertisements offensive, plain silly or thought-provoking? I still just keep having a giggle every time I see them.