Perfume by, little black dresses and Brooke Shields


In the mid-80s, magazines often listed the perfume in the credits for a photo.  So… it could be “Christy Turlington is wearing a couture gown by Yves Saint-Laurent, hair by Oribe, make-up by François Nars, make-up products by Chanel, photo by Irving Penn and perfume by Christian Dior Poison.”  The addition of the olfactory facet makes complete sense to me.  You’re trying to portray an image… a fantasy… and adding the scent is an additional way to get the message across.  I’d love to see how the masters of the genre… the art directors… match scent to fashion.  Imagine how Grace Coddington would match perfume to her art direction.  And of course, they could add a scent strip bringing the whole thing together.  If anyone wants to take a stab at what perfume would go with the above photograph, I’d love to hear it.  How about… rose-based Stella by Stella McCartney.  Too literal?  Uh… something more animalic.  Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän?  No.  Or Parfums MDCI’s Enlèvement au Sérail!  YES!

I think this is very different than doing the opposite where a fragrance review is accompanied with something like “to be worn with a little black dress”.  First of all… it cuts out half the potential population… the men!  And second, I find it insulting to tell women what to wear with what scent.  I hate this.  Anyway, the “little black dress” thing has been hackneyed to death… it’s basically the feminine equivalent of the masculine blue blazer and grey flannel pants… BORING beyond belief and designed for men and women who basically have no taste!  Nowadays, you go out to a fancy evening and all the women are in black!  Who died?

Changing gears, most Saturday nights I eat alone at the counter of my favourite Italian restaurant in the Plateau area of Montreal.  I’m one of those people who can’t concentrate unless it is perfectly quiet or it’s total chaos and by eating at a counter a few feet away from the kitchen, I can truly zone out.  I always have a Vogue or a GQ or a Vanity Fair or something as eye candy and it is not unusual for a server to lean across the counter with a comment.

I can remember a few years back when Brooke Shields first appeared in a Jones New York Collection advertisement.  A server shouted, “IS THAT BROOKE SHIELDS!?!”  Within seconds all the other servers stopped dead in their tracks.  The whole counter area froze… I was swamped.  So much fun… and in fact, it was Brooke Shields and she looked better at 40 than she did at 20.

And lastly, I’m almost finished going through the Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set and I’ll come back next week with my absolute favourite.  In the meantime, if you are not familiar with Ormonde Jayne have a look at the following video.  See you next week.

Top image : Fashion photograph styled by Grace Coddington

Leave a comment


  1. annemariec

     /  July 18, 2011

    I still do see perfume mentioned sometimes in the credits in fashion spreads in Vogue Australia. It’s always amusing because the clothes and the styling can be quite radical, but the fragrance will be some mainstream thing like J’Adore, or D&G The One, or something like that. For ages I was puzzled by this. Do the people who buy designer clothes not care about matching them with something more adventurous in perfume?

    It took me ages to realise that the perfume is probably just a paid slot on the page. It may have little to do with matching the perfume with the clothes, or with helping readers explore style or taste. Also, that perfume coverage generally is probably paid for: it’s not journalism. Is a fashion magazine likely to run a piece on J’Adore having apparently been re-formulated, so that it is not as good as it once was? Of course not.

    • annemariec… you are right. It would just become another paid spot. J’adore with everything… couture, jeans and bikinis! Too bad, though. It could be fun.

  2. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  July 18, 2011

    Normand, the picture above evokes to me Henri Rousseau’s Le Rêve (The Dream), also showing a woman and a lion. I have not worn MDCI’s EAS but I’m sure your choice is a good one.

    I once went to a perfume event held in a boutique. There were about forty people there. With the exception of two people who were wearing dark grey, everyone else–men and women alike–was wearing black. Your point is well taken.

    The whole issue of which perfume to wear with which clothes is a non-issue for me because I wear perfume to express what is within rather than to accessorize what is without. On one level it’s easier because it’s not necessary to take clothing or events into consideration; on another level it’s harder because you have to connect with what is going on inside.

    • Le Rêve! Of course! That’s probably where that image came from… only updated for fashion. Thanks for bringing it up and adding the link!

      I don’t often get invited to fancy dress parties but the office Christmas party usually brings out all the little black dresses I can take for one year.

      I’m the same way… I’m not too concerned with what I wear on the outside but my fragrance has to match my mood. And, is there anything worse than realizing at noon that you really should have worn some other fragrance? Puts me off for the rest of the day.

  3. Alnysie

     /  July 18, 2011

    Wow, I didn’t know that they used to do that. I agree with you, it’s a great idea, not only for adding dimensions to the image, but also just for reminding people that “a signature scent” isn’t the only way to wear perfume! (And I don’t get why they don’t do it anymore… so much money in drawing people away from that idea!)

    Je dois demander, puisque j’habite le quartier et je connais très peu la cuisine italienne… quel resto italien? 🙂

    • J’ai fréquenté le Piazzetta sur Ste-Catherine pendant au moins 10 ans mais de temps en temps (et de plus en plus), chez vais au Piazzetta sur St-Denis… toujours au comptoir… toujours avec un magazine. 😉

  4. isabelle

     /  July 18, 2011

    Hi Norm,

    I like what you said about the “petite robe noire”. Unfortunately, it is too often sold as a basic in a woman’s wardrobe – a “passe-partout”, a classy, useful and secure (but unimaginative) clothing choice. However, a perfume can add colour to the little black dress making it unique and different. Against the neutral “little black dress”, the perfume becomes the colour of the dress.


    • Good point! If you’ve got a wardrobe of little black dresses, perfume could help you to add colour! Thanks for the comment.

  5. JoanElaine

     /  July 21, 2011

    Brooke Shields, what a beauty. I watched Endless Love a few weeks ago (again) and she is breathtaking!!

    You’re right, the little black dress thing is quite limiting! One of the most limiting (and really insulting) phrases I’ve seen in a perfume review is “32Bs need not apply”.

  6. I came across an exercise like this a few years ago, wherein you were asked to match the perfume to the still from its original ad campaign. I was rubbish at it, as I’m not a terribly visual person. However, as a huge fan of gourmand scents, I found this article (chronicling a gourmet dinner combined with fragrance sampling) made perfect sense to me. What I would have given to be there!


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