The Annette Green Museum at The Fragrance Foundation is pleased to present its fourth and most provocative exhibit, “Sex, Scents and Cinema,” which opened on June 7, 2001. It examines the role of fragrance in the 20th century and reveals “the sexiest fragrances,” according to popular opinion. “Sex, Scents and Cinema” chronicles the pivotal role fragrance has played in both character and plot development in the movies,” said Annette Green, president of The Fragrance Foundation and the Museum. “It is fascinating to see how often fragrance has long been used to create a certain mood in a film. It is wonderfully depicted in a fabulous video, which is on view in the Museum’s “screening room.” Noted film critic and author, Rex Reed, lent his expertise and access to his film archives to the creation of the video. He also is the narrator. Posters and stills of the films are on display throughout the exhibit.” The exhibit also features the fragrances selected from The Fragrance Foundation’s survey, “What fragrance spells ‘Sexy’ to you?” asking celebrities and the public to name the sexiest fragrance they have ever worn, and the sexiest fragrance their significant other has ever worn. (Complete survey results are listed below).
The survey was posted on Cosmopolitan.com, and in Sephora and select Parfumerie Douglas stores. The “Sex, Scents and Cinema” exhibit had its opening members reception on June 6, 2001 during the week of The Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Awards. Located at 145 East 32nd Street, 9th floor, the Annette Green Museum at The Fragrance Foundation is open to the public by appointment only Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. through September. Entrance fee for non-members is $5.00. Museum memberships are available. The Exhibit Early 20th century films, such as Cecil B. De Mille’s “Why Change Your Wife,” were among the first to immortalize the link between perfume and sex appeal onscreen. It is due to these cinematic pioneers that the use of fragrance has become inextricably linked with glamour, modernity and sensuality. Fragrance has also been used as an important romantic plot device in films such as George Cukor’s “The Women,” in which perfume is prominently featured as a catalyst for seduction. The use of fragrance is so ubiquitous in cinema that it has become visual shorthand for a character’s intentions and feelings.
Onscreen, a woman who lightly applies a fragrance is interpreted as confident, but a woman who uses liberal amounts of perfume is immediately perceived as a seductress. Likewise, given the symbolic link between a woman and her perfume that has been established through cinema, the act of a character smashing her perfume bottle on screen signifies deep emotional distress. Throughout the 20th century, it has been not only the movies themselves but also their stars that have driven home the idea that fragrance is a vital element of seduction, charm and charisma. Actresses such as Mae West and Audrey Hepburn were muses for some of this century’s best-selling designer fragrances, and movie stars such as Elizabeth Taylor successfully developed their own perfumes based on their legendary on and off-screen allure. And last but not least, who can forget Marilyn Monroe’s infamous remark about Chanel No. 5, which did more for the image and sales of perfume then any ad campaign could ever accomplish! “Sex, Scents and Cinema” provides a detailed and entertaining look at the indelible link between fragrance and sex appeal that 20th century cinema has created. Along with original movie posters, advertisements and other memorabilia, the exhibit includes a video narrated by Rex Reed, as well as results of a public poll recently conducted by The Fragrance Foundation as to what fragrances are considered to be the most sexy. Established in November 1999, the non-profit Annette Green Museum at The Fragrance Foundation is the first fragrance museum in the United States and has received more than 1,000 visitors since its opening.