10 Iconic Perfume Bottles: Culture and Design

By shakko (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A806db31 seeable

Taught by Jessica Murphy

Jessica Murphy is an art historian and educator who works in visitor engagement at the Brooklyn Museum and leads gallery lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She’s also a freelance writer and she happens to be obsessed with perfume, so she’s been contributing fragrance reviews for nearly a decade to the blog Now Smell This. She’s always looking for new ways to connect her passions for art, fragrance, history, and popular culture. Jessica blogs at Perfume Professor.

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Perfume bottles can be much more than eye-catching containers. The best ones are small works of art, and their designs evoke their cultural eras as well as the fragrances inside.

This illustrated presentation is an introduction to ten iconic perfume bottles from the twentieth century. Whether elaborate or minimalist, elegant or playful, these bottles demonstrate how modern perfumery joined forces with modern design to produce objects of lasting value. We’ll consider the history of each one, including its visual style, its creators, and its fragrance. And, in reading these “messages in bottles,” we’ll look beyond perfume to the ways that these seemingly frivolous items captured something about their wider social contexts.

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