Strange Harvest
Architecture / Design / Art
StrangeHarvest is written and collated by Sam Jacob.


Celebrity Scents: The Bittersweet Smell of Success



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I'm wading through marketing blurb that reads as though Heat magazine has been MagiMixed with a compendium of Victorian poetry. Which I suppose is entirely appropriate because these blurbs concern the modern reinvention of the gentle art of perfumery. The blending of oils, spices, herbs in delicate balance has, over recent years become an alchemy of brand, celebrity, fame, licensing, marketing and endorsement. A massive array of celebrity and personality led signature scents have been brought to market. Here is a - by no means exhaustive - sample:

Britney Spears: Curious ("represents the young woman that pushes boundaries and revels in adventure")

Britney Spears: Fantasy ("A love potion of sweet temptation that leaves a tantalizing trail of embracing sensuality.")

Paris Hilton ("Celebrity...Trend Setter...Model...Beauty...Socialite...Star
This fragrance opens with a sheer sophistication that personifies its creator, Paris Hilton.")

Jennifer Lopez: 'Glow' ("sexy, radiant, revealing")

Jennifer Lopez: Love at 1st Glow ("'a cloud of innocent sensuality')

Sarah Jessica Parker: Lovely ("Feminine. Classic. Romantic. Everlasting. A fragrance meant for every woman.")

Tennis ace, Maria Sharapovas eponymous scent (contains: Pomegranate Leaf, Cassis Berries, Lemongrass, Gardenia, Jasmine, Magnolia, Dewy English Rose petals and - hard to believe but fantastic if true - Wimbledon Grass)

There are also some very unlikely entrants into the market. Some seemingly ironic, others ridiculously hopeless:

Jade Goody: "Shh...' ("sweet and enduring")

Ronan Keating: 'Hope' ('I hope that one day we many have true peace on earth and that we can all help to make the world a better place for our children' - garden herbs and flowers)

Old-timer Cliff Richard seems to have a very successful line in perfumery. Try his latest, 'Devil Woman' (tag line: 'So I came here to you, sweet lady/Answering your mystical call' from his hit of the same name)

Even fictional characters can stretch their brand: Barbie ("a stylish fragrance for young girls"- yikes!).

But we can't dwell on any of these, as we're here to sample 'Intimately' from David and Victoria Beckham. Packaged in black (men's - though pink text shows that we're talking modern maleness) and pink (women's). Both bear a 'dvb' motif that is pleasingly symmetrical on a textured gloss/matt triangle pattern relief. The bottles are the same - a glass cubed top pushed onto a golden atomiser that trails its tube in a wide squat cuboid well. 'Her' perfume is pale pink, 'His' is brownish yellow like a urine sample on a hot day (Obviously, this won't be appropriate when Rio Ferdinand designs his perfume. But perhaps could be right for Ben Johnson?)

For men, the line promises 'to bring the confidence of masculinity with a "magnetic, provocative, cool -- yet never aloof" blend of grapefruit zest, bergamot and cardamom - perhaps inspired by mixing a weight watchers breakfast with last nights curry - an accurate picture of binge-and-purge confused male behavior?

For women, the fragrance line aims to convey "the essence of Victoria known only to the people closest to her". It is a strange ambition, one that seems drawn from Victoria's relationship to the media. Perhaps it is a bid for the most self-referential perfume ever made.

'Intimately' is a romantic relationship made into smell form. Do you think you've ever met a couple who wear his'n'hers perfumes? (and if you have what kind of strange sex club were you visiting?) Or are they intended as some kind of secret signal for teenage pseudo-David's to sniff out pseudo-Victoria's on high streets and in nightclubs across Britain?

Breath deep - that intoxicating smell is an ultra-modern concoction written in primitive, pre-language pheromones. It's a mist of media, a haze of communication.

'Intimately', like all the other signature scents - is personality distilled into product. A slosh of amber liquid in sculpted glass within packaging presenting itself in an overdramatic, self absorbed, manner. It not only tell us what celebrities would like us to think of them, but also provide us with an insight into the strange mechanics of contemporary product design.

Perfume is design about emotion, expression, feeling sensation and identity. Many perfumes aspire to a single word: "Eternity", "Obsession", and so on. They reach towards states of being, of mind or abstract concepts. They sometimes suggest the romance of an all-consuming personality disorder.

It's all a long way from photographs of Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan hanging out in the locker room that once advertised Brut. Celebrity has moved from endorsement to becoming the product itself. The construction of celebrity identity is now stronger, more sophisticated, and bigger. It has grown so monstrously that it has consumed the product itself. This is a ravenous, expansive, capitalist vision of personality.

'Intimately' is manufactured by Coty Inc, the worlds largest fragrance company. Coty Beauty is the division which deals with personality based brands - developed in conjunction, with celebrities own management teams. Thus 'Beckham' is a brand that is licensed to Coty by 19 Management, the music, media & fashion empire run by Simon Fuller (of Spice Girls and X-Factor fame) who represent David and Victoria.


Significantly, the actual mechanism of puffed up; fame-gorged celebrity product isn't the celebrity himself or herself. Image and product - manipulated by Svengalis who are in league with military industrial complex - have consumed personality like some kind of sci-fi monster. They have taken over the host body and turned it into a factory where it produces facsimiles of itself. The process continues until the host becomes an exhausted, empty useless husk, appearing on where-are-they-now TV shows. Actions, image, skin, hair, history, even true love become devices in a production line of product. Ironically, the foregrounding of celebrity personality means the atomisation of identity into clouds of dispersing particles.

With her music career stalled and his loss of the England armband and relegation to Real Madrid's bench, perhaps 'Intimately' will become a kind of public epitaph for David and Victoria written in the most ephemeral of media. You could call it a scent-optaph (or should it be monu-scent ?) for the most media mediated British couple of the last decade.



Posted by anothersam at October 4, 2006 1:11 AM.

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Contents:

More Scenes In Cartoon Deserta

Eiffel X-Rays

Beyond: Values and Symptoms

Sub Plan

Shenzhen: Window of the World

White Power

Generic Powerpoint Template: Delivering Bad News

Duplicate Array

The Best New Building In London

Book Review: The Infrastructural City

A Balloon in the Pantheon

Letters From The Pantheon

Henry Moore in Motion

On My Steel Horse I Ride

The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition

Now Showing: John Baldessari Sings Sol LeWitt

Obscure Design Typologies: Life Guard Chairs

Osama bin Laden Cigarette Lighter: Novelty Products as Congealed Culture

Absurd Car Crashes: A Eulogy for J.G. Ballard

Candy Pistol

Now Showing: Dan Grahams 'Rock My Religion'

This Concrete 'O': On Serotonin, the M25, and the Motorik Picturesque

Church of the Literal Narrative

Philadelphias Floating Architecture

Now Viewing: Married To The Eiffel Tower

Le Corbusiers Image Hoard: Poeme Electronique

Giant American Signs: Original Learning from Las Vegas Footage

Giant Soviet Signs Cut Into Forests

Bricks Melted Into Icicles: Napalm Decorative

C-Labs 'Unfriendly Skies' & 'Bootleg' Volume

2 The Lighthouse: Self Storage & Architectural Hallucinations

Ceci N'Est Pas Une Pipe: Infrastructure as Architectural Subconcious.

Viva Sectional Cinematography!

Now Showing: The Installation of an Irreversible Axis on a Dynamic Timeline

Plug: Junk Jet

Sim Seasons Greetings! The Rise of Neo-Winter

Geography in Bad, Festive Drag.

The Ruins of the Future

High Tech As Steampunk ...

On The Retro Infrastructural

Simulations of Industry: High Tech Architecture and Thatcherism

David Greene: The Big Nothing

From The Factory to the Allotment: Tony Wilson, Urbanist

Koolhaas HouseLife / Gan Eden: The Revenge of Architectural Media

Ruburb-ric: The Ecologies of the Farnsworth House

The Architecture of Divorce

Flagrant Delit: The Movie

Landscape as Clothing

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham Redux

Acts of Un-Building: Timelapse Demolitions

Yard Filth: Next Years Hot Look

Stonehenge: A Black Hole At The Heart Of British Architecture

The Popemobile: Mechanised Robes & Motorised Architecture

Tarmac Adam, Tarmac Eden

The Secret Language of Surface

Some Housekeeping

Information Fields: Agriculture as Media

My Bloody Valentine: Sound as Substance

A Cubist Copse: Gehrys Serpentine Pavilion

Olympic Model Protest

Spouting Off: Some Thoughts On The Fountainhead

Form Follows Dysfunction: Bad Construction & The Morality of Detail

Floating Homes

Vintage Tradeshow Surrealism: International Grune Woche

Moving Houses: Buildings In Motion

Desktop Study: The Strange World of Sports Studio Design

Married to the Eiffel Tower: More Objectum Sexuals

60 Years of The Crazy Horse Memorial

Married to the Berlin Wall: "The Best and Sexiest Wall Ever Existed!"

Inflatable Icebergs: Sublimated Guilt Has Never Been So Fun

The Cinderella Effect: Phantom Architectures of Illumination

Two Deaths and a Retirement: The Strange Shape of British Architecture

If London Were Like New York: Antique Schizo-Manhattanism

If London Were Like Venice: Antique Geo-Poetic Speculations and Hydro-Fantasy

41 Hours in an Elevator: The Movie

NASA: Mapping the Moon with Sport

Lemon Squeezy: Design Tendencies after the Juicy Salif

Stadium Seat Mosaics

The Nihilistic Beauty of Weapons Arranged in Patterns

Light Vessel Automata

Dogs: Britains Greatest Design Obsession

Madison Avenue Modern

Detroit Sucks: The Motor Shows Last Gasp

Mies' Grave: Cut Out Model

All You Can Eat

Valentine Machine

The Tools of Re-Geography

Floating in a New Town Sky

Authentic Replicas: Football and the Franchising of Place

Folk Football: Landscape, Space and Abstraction

Haystack House

A Wishing Well with a Fat Up Pipe

The Camoufluers and the Day-Glo Battleship

Pseudoccino: Instant Coffee Foam

Yesterdays Technology, Today

Blown Up: More Inflatable Military Stuff

On Christmas Trees, Folk Forests and Staples Office Supplies

Hampton Courts Shrouded Sculptures

Named Fabric: 20 Sponsored Pieces of Architecture at the New Museum

Form Follows Felony: The Secret Home of the Un-Dead Canoeist.

Architectural Magazines: Paranoid Beliefs, Public Autotheraphy - More on Clip/Stamp/Fold

Little Magazines Seen Today

James Bond Lives Next Door: Suburban Imagery as Industry

The Ghost of Christmas Futurism

Petrified War Machine

Military Deceptions

Chapters for an Imaginary Book About Architecture

Shrouded Plinth - Urban Striptease

In the Night Garden - Surreal Landscape of Nostalgia

Kim Jong II, The Great Architect

Pill Box Picturesque

Un Clear Monument

Place Faking: Instant Heritage for the Thames Gateway

The Marc Bolan Memorial Crash Barrier.

Warped Domesticity

The Nuclear Heritage Coast

Enjoy The Silence: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Story of O (2)

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham

X100: A Design Exercise

How to Plan A New Town

Carpet Bomber

In Search of Britains Vehicular History

Scenes in Cartoon Deserta

Scary Suburbanism: Why Horror is at Home in the Suburbs

Re-Make Re-Model

I Like Your Manifesto, Lets Put it to the Test-o

How to Become a Famous Architect

Northampton - Sci-fi Pop Planning Promotion

Advertising Central Milton Keynes

Baltic Exchanged

Festival of Nostalgia

The Clapham Trainwash

Airports as Music

Test Card Dummies

The Velvet Underground at the Glass House

Duplikate: Kate Moss on the Production Line of Individuality

The Museum that Ate Itself

Hollow Inside: Starbucks Foam and the Rise of Ambiguous Materials

Revisions to the Architecture of Hell

Crufts: Dogs, Design and Aesthetic Genetics

Eos Airlines: Executive Bubbles over the Atlantic

London's Ugliest Buildings

1.51 Miles Of String

Google Earths Vertiginous Mapping

Church of the Ascension and Descension

Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles

Replica Bombs

The Invisible Bungalow

House / Boat

Reading Lines: Skateboarding and Public Space

Mountain Sculpting

Sint Lucas in BD

Bat House Competition

Old Walton Bridge

Kiruna: The Town That Moved

Spray On Magnetic Defense

Chris Cornish: Prototyping History

The Jubilee Gestalt Vase

The Most Visited Location in the UK

Anything to Feel Weightless Again: The Cargo Lifter and the Tropical Island Resort

'Its beauty will know no season'

2000 Years of Non Stop Nostalgia. Or How Half Timbering Made Me Whole Again.

Inside-out Aldwych

Backpeddling into the Future: The Historical-Futurism of British Architecture

Miss Selfridges' Feeling for Fake Snow. The Oxford St. Lights and Why We Need Artificial Winter

Nelsons Cavern

Foam Gargoyle

New Tory Logo: A Hazy Shade of Politics

Jeff Koons, Rem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine

Souvenir Empire

Celebrity Scents: The Bittersweet Smell of Success

Imperfect Pitch - Football, Space and Landscape

Product Placement: Making the Impossible Possible

Suburban Growth: Matthew Moores Field of Dreams

Perfect Sound Forever: The Secret Function of High End Stereos

Picture of the Week 1

A Little Light Product Placement

Some Advice To A Young Designer

London and on and on

In the Gallery of Ice Creams

Useless Proclamations for a Beautiful City

Mini Mies Chair

Topsy Turvy VSBA: Inverted Heros of an Upside Down Avant Guard

Harvest III: Buried Things

The Harvest II

The Harvest I

Estuary Urbanism

The Royal Families Trees

Everything Flows: ideological cartography

How Geostationary Was My Valley?

The Psychotic Utopia of the Suburbs and the Suburbanisation of War.

LegoLand London Cluster

In a Lonely Place - Under Construction

Design Will Eat Itself

Mach 3 Nitro Gel - Design that's foaming at the mouth.

Marchitecture. Architectural things to do in London this March

Metallic Jet Powered Cloud

"When we got married I had no idea he would do something like this, he just said he was going to do some decorating."

The Electric Cenotaph

Russian Rok

Commitment ...

Dinner in the Iguanadon

Trace

What happens when you cross a pen with a car?

Leg Table Leg

Florentine Building Sites

Good Morning Britain

Football Pitch: Best of British

The Sad Photographer

The First Cut is the Cheapest - Blenheim Palace: pop architecture that goes for the jugular

Book Now For Christmas

Requiem for a Toilet Seat

Architecture that Destroys

TomTom Mobile 5 / GO 700

Winning Design

Another Croydon

Holiday Snap II : Giant Glowing French Balls

Holiday Snap: Canadian War Memorial, Vimy, France

Pecha Kucha London

Anatomy of an Architectural News Story

Big Bens

First Cut - Case Closed

The Texas Tower

Its All About the Big Benjamins

G8 Security Tower

White Cubed Blues

Poundbury, unexpectedly, in the rain

The Exploding Concrete Inevitable. Lou Reed and the Casa da Musica

Swingball

Untitled (Plastic Sack and Timber)

Berlin 1945 - The Obscene Picturesque

Pizza Planet

Goal Sculptures

Interview: Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane

Previewing Cedric Price

The Mardas Touch

Building a Lionel Richie Head

Ornament is Grime 2

An Incredible Smell of Roasting Coffee

Flatpack Frenzy at New IKEA

Langlands & Bell - The House of Osama Bin Laden

Labour is kind of working

Happy Death Men

Build to Let

Architectural Criticism gets Sharp

Niagara Falls

Ornament is Grime

FA(ke) Cup

Q&A: Wouter Vanstiphout

X-treme urinals

Unigate Cowscape

Spray-on Snow

From the Baffler ...

One in a Taxi

The Queen Machine

The Knork

Venturi, Scott Brown and my love that dare not speak its name.

Polictical Placards

The Ketchup Conumdrum

Douglas Coupland: Design and Fiction

It's a Small World

Images de Parfums

Soft Carcass

Christopher Dresser at the V&A

Blow up Pub

Municipal Mummification

The Matt and Ron Show

Semi - detached

Half Timbered Van

Feltham Future

Favorite Things

Fugitives and Refugees' - Chuck Palahniuk

The Pop Vernacular

Design by Chefs

Just What is it That Makes Yesterdays Homes So Different, So Appealing?

Archigrams Pastoral Futurism

Sorry Mies

The Flaming Lips - Live.

Everything Counts - The Sound of Geography Collapsing.

Carlton Terrace Extension

Other:

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