The Art of Perfume Advertising: A Modern Take on Bourjois Evening in Paris (1961)

Are you doing any Christmas shopping this week? Have you trimmed the tree? We’re keeping things relatively simple this year, but I’m enjoying the preparations.

In the spirit of opened gifts and fulfilled wishes, here is a Christmas advertisement for Bourjois Evening in Paris, dated 1961. The “dreams come true” in this ad are assorted Evening in Paris gift sets. (I own a vintage bottle of Evening in Paris, mostly likely dating to the 1960s, and I love it…)

Evening in Paris (Soir de Paris) was launched in the late 1920s, and for several decades it was a perennial favorite for gift-giving. This ad is very much of its moment—even without the date of the magazine that published it, we could probably pinpoint its publication to the late 50s or early 60s. The giveaway here is the chair. It’s a Tulip chair from Knoll.


The Tulip chair was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955-56 and manufactured by the Knoll design firm. It was ground-breaking because of its streamlined profile (with a single pedestal, rather than legs!) and its use of industrial materials like molded fiberglass, aluminum, and plastic finishes (not to mention the polyester upholstery). Appearing in the Bourjois ad, it’s a sign of modern living, and it brings Evening in Paris into the 60s, even if the perfume itself and its packaging hadn’t changed.

Christmas advertisements for Evening in Paris in the 1950s still featured the fragrance’s traditional imagery of an embracing couple and an Eiffel Tower backdrop. By 1961, however, Bourjois must have realized that a younger demographic needed to be wooed, and that a well-placed piece of space-age design (and a cat?) would do the trick.

There’s also an interesting subtext to this ad: rather than a courting couple, we see Santa’s jacket and hat draped over the Saarinen chair. Are we back at Santa’s place? or has Saint Nick, having finished his annual gift-giving duties, made himself at home on his last stop—the home of some attractive female perfume-lover? We’re left to wonder.

(You can read more about the Tulip chair here, and you can purchase one here for a mere $1481 and up!)

Images: Evening in Paris ads, 1961 (top) and 1952 (bottom). Photo of Knoll Tulip chairs via Wikimedia.


To see more posts in this series, see here.


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