Bill Blass smells like it's on the cusp between the sporty, green chypres for the newly-liberated 70s woman and the sweet scent bombs worn by Dynasty-watching, big shoulder-sporting 80s divas.
Top notes: Galbanum, pineapple, hyacinth, bergamot, green complex
Heart notes: Tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, carnation, orris
Base notes: Musk, sandalwood, cedar, amber, oakmoss
But let's talk about this 1983 ad, shall we? I chose to write about Bill Blass perfume almost entirely because I wanted to write about this old ad. It's not as if sexism doesn't exist in ads today, but this one shows how cunning ads can be in deploying liberation rhetoric in the service of the same ol’ conservative attitudes.
In the ad, Bill Blass, the American designer who softened women's fashions and dressed the (working) American woman on-the-go, casts his macho-patriarchal shadow over the clothes-hanger mannequin with her back to us. And check out his "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" look of contempt, complete with corny knit brows and teeth clenching a cigarette.
On either side of this image are lists (ostensibly written by Blass) that tell us what he "likes and doesn't so much like in a woman." (This model is trapped on all sides — Blass in front of her, these lists on each side, and a camera to her back!)
Let's pretend we care for a moment: What exactly are Blass's dislikes? A woman who talks about dieting all the time; who can’t pass a mirror without looking into it; who worries about getting her hair wet in the rain; or who “jogs and tells.” Basically — no vain women who put a premium on their looks, right? Well, not exactly.
You still need to care about these stereotypically girly things, according to this ad, JUST PRETEND THAT YOU DON’T CARE. (See his list of likes, ex.: “Loves clothes, but doesn’t talk about them.”) And although “a woman who can get gorgeously dressed in 15 minutes flat” sounds more liberating than a woman who slaves for hours trying to look good, it also posits a new (almost more punishing?) standard for beauty: be gorgeous in less time. (Translation: you still have to be beautiful, but you'd better make it happen in less than 15 minutes. Say what?!)
In the world of this ad, nothing has changed for women, in spite of the feminist movement. There's an even more complex set of rules women need to follow (many of which involve a woman's appearance and her relationship to its maintenance). Oh, yeah, and a woman is still supposed to follow orders from The Man.
As a scotch-drinking, lipstick and perfume-lovin’ woman who eats a lot but balances fried chicken nights with oatmeal mornings or a good jog (yes, I’m jogging and telling!), and who loves perfume but will not spend my last few bucks on it (fried chicken doesn't pay for itself), I have more important things to worry about than what some dude thinks about the things I like. Also ironic? Most perfumistas I know wear perfume for themselves!
I'm trying to think about recent ads that are this obnoxious. Anyone?
(And here's that amazing Ma Griffe ad that essentially says, "Yeah, yeah, we know you're a marching women's libber, but admit it — you want some random to hold your sign for you like the damsel in distress that you are.")