Dani Killam, Assistant Registrar at the FIDM Museum, brings you this post examining how masculine archetypes are reinforced through the design and packaging of fragrance bottles. The bottles discussed in this post are part of a larger exhibit currently on display in the Annette Green Fragrance Archive. Images of Men: Looking Beyond Fragrance features a variety of classic and contemporary fragrance bottles along with garments and accessories. This exhibit is free and open to the public; make sure you stop by when you visit Re-Designing History.
When discussing men’s fragrance in her essay “The Wasteland,” Tania Sanchez states, “[W]hen feminine fragrances are reformulated and cheapened enough, they begin to smell like masculine fragrance.”1 In the exhibit Images of Men: Looking Beyond Fragrance, we consider this view and put scent aside, drawing our full attention to the name, bottle and packaging of the product. By focusing on the aesthetic components we are able to see different themes brands have invoked to showcase their product.
The typical eau de cologne used by men until the nineteenth century was not drastically different from the scents for women. An emphasis on good hygiene followed by advancements in technology began a split between the two appropriate formulas for each sex to wear. Today there are a variety of masculine scent families with continuously expanding sub-categories. Green, citrus, lavender, spicy, floral, chypre, fougère, woody, leather and musk are the main categories, each having identifiable characteristics.
Like all products on the market, there are sought after target consumers that each item is intentionally designed to reach. This exhibit seeks to show the different roles and images of men that the fragrance industry has focused on in order to seek their lucrative business.