The Art of Perfume Advertising: Aviance Night Musk (1983)


This one’s an easy one, right?—and it’s influenced by movies rather than fine art, strictly speaking, but I’m including it in this series nonetheless.

Aviance Night Musk (1983) was a flanker to the original Aviance (1975) by Prince Matchabelli, and its advertisements were just a bit racier than the earlier Aviance ads. Whereas the ads for Aviance showed couples heading out for a night on the town, Aviance Night Musk suggested something a little more illicit in their decision to stay in.

I love that sleek red pump; so early-80s…

“Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me.”

The positioning of the woman’s leg as a framing device for the man has obviously been lifted from The Graduate, the classic 1967 film directed by Mike Nichols and starring a young Dustin Hoffman. Since The Graduate is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary next month, this seems like a good time to give it a mention here.

The famous “leg shot” takes place early in the movie, when Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) asks Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) for a ride home from his graduation party, then offers him a drink and mentions that her husband won’t be home until much later.

Poor Ben is emotionally trapped by her wiles and visually trapped by the angle of her leg.

(I’m assuming that everyone has already seen The Graduate or at least knows how the story goes!)

“Mrs. Robinson, this is the sickest, most perverted thing that ever happened to me.”

The Aviance ad conflates that moment with another memorable scene from the film: Ben and Mrs. Robinson have just argued in a hotel room and she’s putting her stocking back on. Ben already looks older, sadder, and more disheveled, but it’s the interior setting (again, he’s literally cornered) that got worked into the Aviance Night Musk scenario.

This was also the image used for the cover of The Graduate soundtrack and some of the posters for the movie, so it’s just as well known as (and often confused with) the earlier leg scene.


Alternate tagline: “His Business is Pleasure.”

On a very different note, the timing of this Aviance advertisement in the early 1980s also makes me think of another, lesser cultural touchstone: Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (1980), the film that made stars of Richard Gere and his Armani wardrobe. I think this movie’s leading man and aesthetic were a secondary influence on the Aviance ad.

Have a stylish week, and remember, one word—are you listening?—“plastics.

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