Calvin Klein in the eighties

23May08


I love perfume advertising because they rely 100% on the creation of emotion and fantasy to sell. Sure, that can be easily said about thousands of different things, but perfume is different in that it’s a luxury item that no one has any particular use for except to smell better than average. That interests me for some reason. It’s a low-fi, subdued but inevitably expensive way to differentiate yourself from other people. For some people, especially some women I know, their scent becomes another part of themselves, a signifier of who they are and what they like. I can instantly recognize Madamoiselle by Chanel on some women and suddenly my perspective can change about them and who they are and their taste level. Sense of smell is such a powerful tool! Calvin Klein put out a series of weird, artsy perfume ads in the eighties that I think are so weird and leave so much to the imagination–unlike the more obvious hyper sexualized ads as of late. I love that Obsession series. That opening shot is so visually stunning to me, with those weird angular faces, Escher -inspried stairs and androgyny of the leads, theres something slightly demented about these ads that really interest me! It’s probably working on some strange subconcious McLuhan* level but I really like advertising that puzzles me in a fun way.

*On the difference between hot/cool media, did McLuhan ever touch on smell? Cuz he shoulda.

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