Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Suggestive Perfume Bottles, vol. 2

I recently bought a bottle of Caron’s “Montaigne” on fleabay, and the seller threw in this bottle of Pierre Cardin’s eponymous scent, after-shave version. 

The bottle needs little introduction. It’s the big-mack-daddy of ridiculous perfume bottles, nearly always cited as such when the subject comes up on blogs and perfume fora. It is, though, so very much of its time. That would be a time many who lived through would like to forget. 

“Pierre Cardin pour Monsieur” came out in 1972. My personal cascade of memories from that storied year includes:

Burt Reynold’s hairy visage as the first “Playgirl” centerfold; actually, Burt Reynolds. “The Joy of Sex,” featuring line drawings of a portly couple doing, y’know, it. “The Sensuous Woman” by “J.” The Loud family blaring it all on PBS in “An American Family.” The first — very first — disco records on the radio. Halter tops (that’s one of mine, from 1972, in the photo). The end of the earnest hippie; the resurgence of detached Hip. “Oui” magazine. Shag haircuts and, damn it, having to start styling your hair again. Cocaine amongst the cognoscenti. The end of Levi 501’s and the beginning of “designer” jeans. Um, waterbeds. Suburban couples lining up to see porn movies at the local Pussycat theater. Really Wide Ties. Muttonchop sideburns and fat mustaches. Shiny shirts with big collars. Deep tans. Hair spray for men.

…and that’s just a few of the references that come to (my) mind when I look at this bottle.

I’m not sure how old this one is. The cologne is still in production, but, in the usual sad story, has been sold and sold again and can now be had in discount drugstores for practically nothing. I think my bottle has some age, because the scent inside has things I recognize from other vintage fragrances I have — leather, geranium, tonka, oakmoss. And, although it starts out gag-me sweet, that quickly dissipates and becomes something that is…not too bad. It actually smells a lot like Habit Rouge, which was marketed for years as the scent one wears while riding to the hounds. 

This one is decidedly Seventies, for the peacock-man of the time. Brian Ferry might have worn Habit Rouge but I bet he never wore this! I’d say it sits somewhere between Habit Rouge and those really downmarket drugstore musks-for-men. 

And then there’s that, y’know, bottle.

Did you live through the Seventies? Do you remember them? So share already! (Posting as “Anonymous” is fine.)

According to Basenotes, the “notes” for Pierre Cardin pour Monsieur are lemon, bergamot, orange, lavender, basil, carnation, geranium, leather, sandalwood, patchouli, orris, vanilla, moss, tonka, benzoin and “amber.” 

photo by Patricia Borow, aka Olfacta. 


Vanessa said...

I was a teenager in the 70s and everything I remember seems decidedly cheesy now: the smocks, the velvet loons, the applique patches of strawberries and snakes I lovingly sewed on my jeans, the ponchos, wet look coats, boots and midi dresses. Oh, and not forgetting the wedges first time round c1975, and those very long skinny scarves that used to get caught in doors.

As for that perfume bottle, it makes me think of American water towers for some reason. Just needs some Sputnik legs...

Perfumaniac said...

I think Shiseido's Feminite du Bois bottle (1992) is like a little phallic mushroom shoot. And lots of people feel the same way about the Halston bottle.

They're beautifully biomorphic and suggestive. But they also kind of look like sex toys. :-)

Olfacta said...

Hi V -- Yes, the 70's were the decade of cheese, to be sure! I'd forgotten about the patches. In Calif. it was mushroom patches. (Hmmmm.....) Mushrooms on everything. Mushroom decals in the bathtub. Ugly four-lobed flowers. I still have a brass mushroom-shaped incense burner. What were they thinking?

Olfacta said...

Hi P -- Yeah, the Halston bottle! Unspeakable things on everyone's dressing tables in the 70's. I remember reading (maybe on your blog?) that Halston had to put up some of the money for retooling factory machinery to make the slanted-neck bottle.

Anonymous said...

Okay, yes, it was a cheesy era. A guy I dated insisted that we go to the movie theater and see Last Tango in Paris. Bluucch.

But there were some good things too: Steely Dan, Karen Carpenter & the first Elton John album. One could obtain hashish without getting killed, arrested or poisoned. One could hitchhike and reasonably expect to get a ride without being raped or killed. When politicians proved to be criminals, they actually had to suffer some kind of consequences. Atheists were not malevolent, anti-social pariahs, but merely people who did not believe in a supreme deity. Patchouli. Charlie, for heaven's sake. I gotta go braid my hair while it's still wet...

Olfacta said...

Yeah, there were some good things. The war in Vietnam finally ended. Exile on Main St.. There was still such a thing as civil discourse. The expression "groovy" went away, as did the Jesus look (long, mid-parted hair, full beard & mustache) on men. "All in the Family." People still chatted on the phone or actually met face-to-face to catch up. The Pierre Cardin bottle, though, conjures the B-side, at least for me.