French Fashion Perfume Ads
Flip through the pages of any modern women’s magazine and you’ll find pages of sensual images promoting both classic and new perfumes and colognes. Perfumery has been a popular and profitable trade for several centuries. Designer scents have been, for many years, in high demand.
In the late 1300s, the Hungarians produced a perfume that consisted of scented oils in an alcohol solution for Queen Elizabeth. It became known as Hungary Water. In later years, Italy prospered from perfume manufacturing, and in the 16th century Italian refinements were taken to France by Rene the Florentine, the personal perfumer of Catherine de Medici, the Queen consort of France. There, Rene’s lab could be accessed via a secret passageway from Medici’s apartments. The limited access was so formulas could not be stolen while en route. As a result, France quickly became one of the epicenters of perfume manufacturing.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, perfumes were primarily used by the wealthy. In later centuries fragrances became a staple in the powder room, yet many French concoctions remained luxury items due to their cost.
Next to perfume, France is also well known (and appreciated) for its unique artistic approach to media marketing. Both of these play a significant role in French culture, and French fashion has made a considerable impact across the globe.
While today’s advertisements are more provocative, vintage French perfume ads serve as a strong foundation. Ads from the early 1900s are easily identifiable by design and colors. These early ads featured women donned in fashions of the time, commonly sitting in parlor rooms or walking in nature. Hair was usually cropped or tied up or was unbelievably long and flowing, becoming part of the ad design itself. In most cases, the bottle’s label was the basis for the overall design.
Scented soap marketing was similar to that of perfume. Commonly called “perfume soaps”, marketing usually depicted fresh nature – imagery often consisted of flowers, water and greenery.
Vintage illustrated advertisements are now collectible, and replica tin signs and framed boards are displayed as wall art decor in powder rooms.