Fragrance and colour – what’s the connection?

Fragrance and colour

These days, fragrances come in bottles of all shapes, sizes, designs – and colours. In fact, with many of them, almost as much thought goes into the packaging as into the scent itself. But what does the colour of the container say about the perfume? Is it a reference to the olfactory experience triggered by the fragrance and the scent notes within?

The answer is both yes and no, says fragrance advisor Candice Macranas – it really depends on what goes into the design process, and what the relevant perfume creators want to reflect. For instance, with Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur le Nil, the answer is a resounding yes. This fresh, sophisticated scent is exquisitely packaged in a green-washed glass bottle that perfectly conveys its grassy, citrus and “green” notes  – “you can almost smell the foliage,” smiles Macranas.

Giorgio Armani’s Aqua de Gio range of subtle, marine-inspired scents is also well represented by the brand’s design ethos – the pure, clean shapes and translucent aquamarines bring to mind a soft sea breeze, as does the fragrance itself. And of course there’s Deep Red, by Hugo Boss – a potent, fruity-floral aroma with top notes of blackcurrant, blood orange and pear, and undertones of freesia, ginger, wood and musk. This sultry, full-bodied fragrance is absolutely in sync with its name, and has the vivid crimson packaging to match.

But then there’s other packaging that is more closely tied to the creator’s identity or brand than to the scent itself, points out Macranas. Also of the fruity-floral variety, but lighter and more playful than Deep Red, is Issey Miyake’s new scent, Pleats Please. The pinks, oranges and whites of its floral-motif box do describe the scent itself – which is optimistic and exuberant, with notes of pear, peony and sweet pea – but the geometrically faceted glass bottle is a reference to Miyake’s ultra-modern clothing designs, which are often inspired by technology and tend to play with angles, pleats and dramatic lines. “I have always been interested in conducting research that yielded new methods by which to make cloth, and in developing new materials that combine craftsmanship and new technology,” explains Miyake.

“Similarly, The tartan-embellished perfume boxes of Burberry Brit are trademarks of the company’s original creation, the trench coat. The packaging is not really connected to the ‘personality’ of the fragrance,” explains Macranas. “And Bvlgari’s ring-shaped perfume vials are iconic of his primary profession as a jeweller, rather than of the scents themselves.” Another currently popular example is Ralph Lauren’s new Pony collection. This quartet of fragrances is packaged in vivid electric tones – cerise, lemon yellow, peacock blue – but some of these scents are more subtle than their boxes may suggest.

So at the end of the day, it comes down to the cardinal rule – don’t judge a book (or a fragrance) solely by its cover. Some perfume packaging may represent the scent notes within, but keep an open mind and you may be surprised at what you find…

Other articles you may be interested in:
Fragrance notes: citrus and fresh
Let us spray: How to wear perfume
Build your fragrances wardrobe
Smells like fame
Scents to walk you down the aisle

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