An aberrant examination of the intersection of perfume, pop culture, and politics
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Perfume of Contempt: Thierry Mugler Womanity
Five years after its release, I feel Womanity's time has come. When it came out, everyone was either underwhelmed that it wasn't as weird as the brief made it sound or thought it was fishy and repellent. I love the bizarre, humorous marketing and bottle that no one knew what to make of; in the 80s Mugler's (and Claude Montana's) designs were considered misogynous and unwearable, classic cases of homosexuals using the fashion industry to bind and enslave women, therefore it's a scream that he rolled out this fragrance with a satirical marketing campaign that parodies modern body-positive feminist self-help rhetoric. Remember the kooky website where women were supposed to connect with women and talk about the unshakable threads of Womanity stretching across the world? On top of this, the juice is pink (symbol of frou frou conventional femininity), evokes vagina stank with a nice salty oily Secretions-lite accord, and is topped with a terrifying metallic Geiger mask that brings to mind the cover of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, held on with a chain. The fragrance itself is sporty and fresh and highly wearable while also being ashy and gray and somewhat staid. This is high art; this is satire; this is a true transgressive statement done in the capitalist mainstream.