FAME & THE CULTURE OF CELEBRITY FRAGRANCES

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I’m going to start this post by mentioning that I myself own a few celebrity fragrances. I have to admit that only one was purchased because of the actual aroma and not the name endorsing it. That fragrance was DVB by Victoria Beckham. There, now that’s been said I can continue… I own ‘L’ by Gwen Stefani and her first set of four Harajuku Lovers fragrances , although I have to admit I wouldn’t have purchased them if it wasn’t for the fact that I would buy anything with Gwen Stefani’s name on it. Plus, the bottles are quite possibly the cutest things you will ever set your eyes on (see above)… But that still doesn’t refrain from the fact that the actual scents of them are… well to quote Janice Ian from Mean Girls, I would describe myself as smelling like “a baby prostitute”, but that is just my nose, for you they may be delightful.
Harajuku cuteness aside, let’s just say I have not and will not, repurchase any of these perfumes. As I said before, I do own a few celebrity perfumes and only one was bought for the scent.

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The most recent fragrance I purchased was FAME by the one-and-only Lady Gaga. Now if you don’t know this already, I love Lady Gaga. Love love love. Love love. So naturally I was excited when it was announced over a year ago that she would be collaborating with fragrance giant COTY to produce a scent of her own. A lot of hype was built up around said fragrance, in part because the Lady herself stated that she wanted it to smell like blood and semen… I’ll let you make you’re own mind up about that. So after a long time of waiting in anticipation (any die-hard Little Monster will be well-accustomed to this), in which time the fragrance would be sent to manufacturers and repealed three times because Gaga wasn’t happy with it, it was release day for FAME. In true Lady Gaga style, this fragrance isn’t just your average DKNY-esque, blend into the background fragrance. First off, the actual fragrance is black. The liquid, according to the smart guys at ‘Haus Laboratories’ is: “First of its kind, this perfume is an innovation of fluid technology. It’s black like the soul of fame, but invisible once airborne.” Trust Lady Gaga to create a black fluid that turns clear. I’ll get into the smell of it in a moment… I want to talk about the bottle.

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Designed by Nick Knight, it looks like a grenade. It really does. Ironically enough, the actual glass bottle reminds me of an old Hollywood glam movie star. The cap however, is where the creative big-wigs come in. Personally it reminds me of one of those mechanical grabber-things inside those machines that you used to nag and nag your parents for at the fair. The cap is like a gold, more glamorous version of that. And I love it. For me, the best part of the fragrance is the bottle, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing because I really, really like the bottle.
Now for the actual scent. According to the Haus Laboratories it is: “Tears of Belladonna, crushed heart of Tiger Orchidea, with a black veil of incense, pulverised apricot and the combinative essences of saffron and honey drops.” Got that? Basically it’s a sweet smell with darker, spicier undertones. And that is exactly what it is. For me, after all the hype and the deliciously glam bottle, the scent is underwhelming, certainly doesn’t match the fierceness of the bottle, but it is still a nice, wearable fragrance.
As someone who is not a big perfume wearer, (mostly because I find it to be too expensive to keep up!) it struck me that I have fallen into the marketing trap of celebrity fragrances a few times over and it got me thinking about the origins of celebrity fragrances. Almost everybody in the transcendent world of “celebrity” has a fragrance or a whole line thereof. Ones that currently spring to mind are Britney Spears, JLO, Kylie Minogue, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Madonna. There are hundreds more of which I’m sure you are already aware which would mean I would be wasting my time listing them here. After a swift Google session, I was surprised to learn (It’s AMAZING what Google can teach you) that the first ever celebrity fragrance came from socialite Tabe Slioor in Finland in 1963. After that, Elizabeth Taylor released one in 1991 and the rest is history. Taylor’s one however apparently smells like “a stale old lady’s perfume” so I guess the trend for mediocre-smelling celebrity fragrances has been followed for some time…
As I said before, I am not a big perfume wearer. If I like a smell, I like it, if I don’t, I don’t. Simple. I personally don’t like all Chanel perfumes and love all of Roberto Cavalli’s. Don’t even get me started on Roberto Cavalli. I could drown in his ‘Serpentine’ fragrance and not mind because the scent is literally to die for.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that a scent is a scent, a bottle is a bottle and a name is a name. I don’t think there will be a time when all three factors will match up and become the most “perfect” celebrity fragrance. Having said that, I am so relieved (but also paradoxically disappointed) that Lady Gaga’s scent does not in fact smell of blood and semen.

Do you have any celebrity fragrances that you love/hate? Or any that you just bought for the name or the bottle?

HOW DOES THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOUR BLACK CHANGE, DEPENDING ON THE STYLE AND ERA IN WHICH IT’S USED?

 

 

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INTRODUCTION
The colour black is often referred to the colour of the unknown. So therefore it is difficult to define the simple significance of the colour black. Starting with how black makes us feel physically and emotionally, it can be said that mostly, we connote the colour black with either a depressive state of mind, or death. Although these connotations would certainly be apparent, in our general thoughts, we may sometimes forget the other connotations that the colour black derives. As well as the implications of sadness, blackalso exudes a mysterious and secretive quality that cannot be defined in the same way by any other colour. This links to the theme of seduction, which I will later explore. The colour black also gives a rebellious quality, often in the hands of teenagers, on the cusp of adulthood. In contrast to this, black is also a colour of tradition, linking to religious symbolism and specific mourning traditions. Again in contrast, black can also be seen as a particularly glamorous colour, as a classic complement to the idea of money, elegance and power.

BLACK AS SEDUCTION          
Black often has the connotation of being mysterious and perhaps sexual. The classic black Christian Louboutin shoe represents this. With his trademark red sole, Louboutin provides an intriguing basis for which the consumer will be captivated. The contrast of the red–on-black production is that the red acts as an instant dominant power in the sea of black. This is a physical metaphor for the heightened sense in a sado-masochistic sexual act.  Added to this sense of intrigue is the ideal heal height for the shoe in black as seduction. The idea of
“pain as pleasure” denotes from the suggestion on dominance in a sexual relationship. Taking authority is also something that the colour black represents, particularly to suggest power. There are many links to the idea of “pain as pleasure” within the fashion industry. Often, trends which could be linked to a more sexual-side of fashion such as corsetry, killer heels, PVC and leather are all featured on the main catwalk shows, therefore bringing the idea of sexual clothing to the high streets.

 BLACK AS GLAMOUR
Coco Chanel famously created the first stylish “LBD” or Little Black Dress in the 1920’s which, at the time, was her most notable contribution to the fashion world. The colour black depicts the height of elegance and sophistication, with the links to black-tie events, which is typically a power and money-based event in which the men will wear a black tuxedo with bow-tie and women will adorn themselves in their finery, including diamonds and ball gowns. Black worn in this way suggests that the wearer is of a high status and therefore has the sufficient power and wealth to warrant the ability to wear the colour black. Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn help make the LBD famous during their time in the ever-evolving spotlight. Hepburn’s infamous Givenchy LBD has become perhaps more iconic and recognisable than her film-work. The phrase “… is the new black” is a commonly used phrase to show the popularity of something, this proves how the colour black will never fade out of style and will always be used in one way or another, in the fashion industry to provide a basis for new and evolving designs. Black can be used as a method of providing a slim line effect to one’s body shape, adding to the sophistication that wearing the colour allows. It could be psychologically seen that someone that wears the colour black gives off a sense of success and confidence within their demeanour. This is something that provides those in authority with their authoritive power in the way they dress.

BLACK AS HISTORY
Historically, culturally and socially, it has been of an age-old tradition that close family members of the deceased would only wear the colour black during the period of mourning. In some areas of South America and Africa, widows would wear black for the rest of their lives as a self-sacrifice in a submission to their late husband and God. In these areas of the world, it would be a form of self-inflicted pain, an almost self-harm as these are the hottest parts of the world, the women feel they have to suffer for their loss, it is a submission until the end. Close family members to those deceased will wear black for a prolonged period of time (1 year) out of respect for the widow or widower, however women in the Victorian era would be in mourning dress for 2 and a half years, (In contrast to this, men in the Victorian era that had lost their wives only wore mourning dress for a period of 3 months after.) Traditionally, especially in the Victorian era, Mourning dress would consist of extremely conservative, plain clothes that covered up almost every part of the body, except the face and hands (However, a widow would use a veil to cover her face when leaving the house). The colour black represents a feeling of darkness, both physical and mental, a sense of doubt and uncertainty, it can be used as a cover of fear, loneliness and insecurities to the outside world. Women’s mourning dress were often corseted to allow for an even harsher shape to the body, and to add to an even more “torturous” time for their period in mourning.

However, although in history, the colour black may be seen as a link to death, there are also other connotations with the colour black that are perhaps not so negative. In those times, it was usually only the very wealthy and aristocracy that wore black during mourning. However, many other people started to wear black so as to imitate those that were wealthy. Because mourning dress was expensive to produce and own, it therefore became a fashion statement, and more of a tool for presenting your inevitable high social status. In Elizabethan times, people who could wear black was dictated by English law called Sumptuary Laws. This was because good black fabric that didn’t have the tendency to fade was extremely expensive to produce. Because of this, one that wore the colour black usually was of a high class, which reflected where they were in the social hierarchy. King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) is often shown in paintings wearing expensive black clothing.
In another way however, black used to represent plainness and humility when used in con junction with cheaply made fabrics that were uncomfortable to wear such as coarse, rough, undyed dark wool that would be used for those in monasteries, this again links in with the theme of black in religion symbolising submission to God.

CONCLUSION
The colour black in fashion and tradition can take on many symbolic meanings. Tradition says that black is the colour of mourning and death. However today, black has a much broader and less meaningful purpose. Nowadays, it is more common for people to wear black as more of a fashion statement than as a means to symbolise something. However, there are a few exceptions such as for religious purpose that still carry the traditions such as priests wearing black in submission to God. However, in contrast, black in fashion can mean taking authority rather than as an act of submission. Stemming from the old tradition of black meaning power and authority, it has filtered its way down into today’s society with the common thought that one is taken more seriously, perhaps in a job, when wearing black. With its sense of mystery, black can be used, in conjunction with fabrics such as lace and satin, as a toll for seduction in the way in which a perhaps different persona could be created when wearing black. This may also be linked to why black is also seen as a glamorous colour also. As traditions are broken, the idea of a more provocative look is one that has become more and more popular. Perhaps Old Hollywood actresses making the trend of wearing black on the red carpet helped them to create a persona, which then filtered into the mainstream of wearing black. With the many varied ways in which black can be used and worn, it is no wonder why the colour possesses such intrigue. Many personal messages can be sent and statements can be made from wearing the colour black and it seems as if the colour is timeless, no matter what the current symbolism is. It is down to personal decision and preference what the colour black symbolises as it can represent different things to different people at different times of the day, year of in their lives. It is true to say that black is the colour of the unknown, it is open to personal representation in terms of the significance.