On a whim recently, I broke down and got a mini version of Jean-Paul Gaultier's perfume Fragile (1999). I had no idea what kind of perfume was inside, and I didn't care: the bottle is in the shape of a snow globe that encases a tiny woman in a black evening gown, her arms akimbo, surrounded by glittery confetti.
Fragile's whimsical bottle departed from a decades-long marginalization of unusal bottles in favor of a focus on the scent or on the perfume's invisible attributes as dreamed up by its marketers. (Niki de Saint Phalle's snake-bottle  and Salvador Dali's lips bottle  come to mind as other exceptions, and it's no surprise that both Saint Phalle and Dali were visual artists.)
I've come across many a "figural" perfume bottle while trawling the Internet for vintage perfume. Whether they're Avon owls or Lucien Lelong castles whose columns are individual perfumes, there's something both silly and wonderful about these perfume presentations. They don't take themselves too seriously and they get their audience inducted visually — before they've even smelled the scent — into the perfume's fantasy world.
So without further ado, here are a few of the wildest and most charming vintage perfume bottles I've come across. (Most of them seem to be from Lucien Lelong):
Lucien Lelong's Orgeuil mechanical automaton. Wind it up and a nice-smelling couple dance through perfume eternity. (I think Fragile was inspired by this bottle.)
Lucien Lelong again, this time, for Tailspin.The perfume is housed in (why not?) a plastic case shaped as a stack of poker chips.
I've seen children's play sets that seem better constructed than this perfume castle from Lucien Lelong, but I give its creators points for trying.
There are correspondences between perfume and music: both are composed of notes (musical and olfactory), a series of which can create chords/accords, their compositions unfold through time, have registers, pitches, and moods, and it's very hard to explain the elusive but powerful effect they have on how we feel. Here's a crude figural perfume bottle that pays homage to the music/perfume association:
Shock value often comes in the form of perfume names and brands, nowadays.Take the perfume brand, Juliette Has a Gun. Cool name, but all its perfumes have pretty boring bottles. Not boring: Avon Wild Country Cologne in the shape of a Derringer gun.