We’ve all been grounded for the past few months, thanks to Covid-19…but Anna Sui isn’t going to let a mere pandemic stop her dreams from taking flight.

The newest Anna Sui fragrance adventure is Sky, an edible floral with notes of pear, bergamot, pink peppercorn, lily of the valley, rose, lotus flower, musk, vanilla, and popcorn.

And, following the visual fun of Fantasia’s unicorn bottle and Fantasia Mermaid’s mermaid-topped bottle, Sky is packaged in a hot air balloon-shaped bottle with a gilt basket and rigging.

via Poshmark

Anna has worked with hot air balloon imagery before: here’s a photo of her Montgolfier skirt for Anthropologie. I checked on that name and learned that Joseph and Étienne Montgolfier were brothers who “discovered that heated air, when collected inside a large lightweight paper or fabric bag, caused the bag to rise into the air.” They gave a public demonstration of their project in 1783, in the town of Annonay, France. (Thank you, Britannica!)

I love the way this skirt’s “bubble” silhouette suggests an inverted balloon. And the print, as usual, is fantastic.

The model for the Anna Sui Sky visuals is wearing a peach pastel dress and a sheer, flowing robe for her ride into the clouds.

Note: I’ll update here with the model’s name when I find it. (I’m going to make an educated guess that the photographer is Steven Meisel, since he has shot most, if not all, of Anna Sui’s other perfume ads.)

When I heard Anna speak about her brand’s perfumes last year, I was especially excited to see the mood-board for Fantasia. (I just KNEW all along that the carousel scene in Mary Poppins must have been an influence…!)

Please indulge me while I free-associate with some imagery that comes to my mind when I look at the Sky photography and bottle!

“I, your Wizard par ardua ad alta, am about to embark upon a hazardous and technically unexplainable journey into the outer stratosphere…!”

First of all: the scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when the titular Wizard is about to depart Oz for his hometown of Omaha, taking Dorothy along. (At least, that’s the plan.)

He brings out the hot air balloon that landed him in Oz when it went off course during a long-ago flight, and people of the Emerald City gather to watch.

I’m pretty sure this is the first impression I ever had of a hot air balloon, and it’s still the first thing I think of.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 1965 film adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, although it’s the kind of thing that sometimes aired on Channel 11 when I was young. Or maybe I caught part of it…? For some reason, its poster and soundtrack album cover (both above) are very familiar to me.

via the Anna Sui website

The Sky bottle draws on that 1800s classic balloon form, or rather, on the 1960s’ reinterpretation of it in every medium you can possibly list. Why did hot air balloons go through a mid-century revival?! Let me know if you’ve ever read some clever blog post expanding on this idea.

The designer Georges Briard (born Jakub Brojdo in 1917) seems to have had a particular fondness for this motif in the 1960s. His stylized illustrations of hot air balloons, sometimes carrying passengers, appeared on everything from cocktail napkins and cheeseboards (both pictured above) to every kind of tableware and glassware you can imagine.

And here are some floral-patterned balloons in the material used for this 1950s-1960s dress. I’d wear it in a minute, if it were my size. I also like the purple roses and smiling suns scattered between the hot air balloons.

via the Anna Sui website

Here’s some of the promotional copy for Anna Sui Sky:

“Soar through the air as the wind carries you higher.
Take flight to a place of endless possibilities.
Here in Anna’s world, inspired dreams become wondrous reality.”

“We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky…”

They almost echo the lyrics to “Up Up and Away,” written by Jimmy Webb and originally recorded by the Fifth Dimension (1967). This tune was still going strong as a “lite-FM” staple of my youth, so I know it well.

“Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
If you’ll hold my hand we’ll chase your dream across the sky
For we can fly….”

Warning: if you give it a listen, you’ll be humming it all day.

Hot air balloons don’t show up as often as they used to, not even in fashion. There was a hot air balloon challenge in Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model, but we’ll try to ignore that.

Instead, let’s look at these two images from a Vogue editorial (March 1998) photographed by Ellen von Unwerth. It starred Naomi Campbell riding a balloon while wearing MiuMiu (and a top hat) and helping another balloon to land (or take off?) in Christian Lacroix.

via the Anna Sui website

The Sky visuals aren’t tinged with 1990s irony like the von Unwerth shots — they’re more ethereal and optimistic, which is very much in keeping with Anna’s style (especially her Spring 2020 “Victorianna” collection).

I’ll smell Sky when I have a chance—it’s reportedly scheduled for a Fall 2020 launch—and I’ll let you know what I think. In the meantime, keep floating among the stars.