Paco Rabanne: what is remembered is up to you

A chronology of the famous Paco Rabanne ads of the 80's, these are the ones I've seen , maybe there's more.

Brand: Paco Rabanne
Year: 1980

It's me. Biffy. We met last week, at the Wexlers! You were looking down my dress.
I was admiring your brooch. The cameo of your grandmother.
In a pig's eye! You blushed when I caught you at it. How very un-European of you!
It is a trick I perform. It creates an air of boyish charm.
I'd like to see you.
I, too
I have a bottle of cheap Algerian wine, some soggy crab dip, and an apartment with a magnificent view of a brick wall. Would you like to come over?
For such an elegant invitation, I will shave elegantly, and comb my hair elegantly, and then I will take some Paco Rabanne, which is a most elegant cologne, and I will place it on several parts of my body, after which, my dear Buffy ..


This one is also from 1980 - 1982 and the polemic one since many people thought it was the gay version of the campaign, supposely it could be a conversation between men.

Brand: Paco Rabanne
Year: 1980 -1982
Ph: has the commercial that goes with this ad, the same room, the same model, the same everything and the conversation is men-female so it was just controversy.  btw, I don't  speak french, what do they say?

"You snore."
"And you steal all the covers. What time did you leave?"
"Six-thirty. You looked like a toppled Greek statue lying there. Only some tourist had swiped your fig leaf. I was tempted to wake you up."
"I miss you already."
"You're going to miss something else. Have you looked in the bathroom yet?"
"I took your bottle of Paco Rabanne cologne."
"What on earth are you going to do with it…give it to a secret lover you've got stashed away in San Francisco?"
"I'm going to take some and rub it on my body when I go to bed tonight. And then I'm going to remember every little thing about you…and last night."
"Do you know what your voice is doing to me?
"You aren't the only one with imagination. I've got to go; they're calling my flight. I'll be back Tuesday. Can I bring you anything?"
"My Paco Rabanne. And a fig leaf."


Brand: Paco Rabanne
Year: 1983
Ph: Robert Farber

How's the Great American Novel going?
So far it reads more like the turgid insights of a lonely Albanian date-plucker
Did I hear the word "lonely"?
There's a fog rolling in.
You're in Pawgansett, dear, it holds the world record for fog.
The "t" in my typewriter is sticking, I have seventeen cans of lentil soup. And my Paco Rabanne cologne, which I use to lure shy maidens out of the woods, is gone, all gone.
You're going to have to do better than that
All right, I'm lonely. I miss you. I miss your cute little broken nose. I miss the sight of you in bed in the morning, all pink and pearly and surly
And you want me to catch the train up.
Hurry! This thing they call love is about to burst the bounds of decency. And, darling..
bring a bottle of Paco Rabanne, would you? the maidens are gettin restless.


Brand: Paco Rabanne
Year: 1984
Model: Thomas Bradley
Ph: Robert Farber

I hope you sit on a lute!
Ah! the sweet song of the morning grouch!
You didn't say goodbye
I didn't want to wake you
Who could sleep when there's a hunk with no clothes on wandering around at five in the morning, humming
Vivaldi and knocking over furniture?
You have an ear of tin, It was Brunch. And I'm playing it this afternoon up in Boston for the Ladies of the Noble Order of Sweater-and-Pearls, What are you doing?
Lying here, thinking of you, You know, I can smell you Paco Rabanne, It's like you were still here.
I wish I were
I couldn't go back to sleep, remembering everything. I wanted yo hear your voice, It has the most interesting effect on me ..
Maybe I should run over and read you a bedtime story or something.
Or something.


Brand: Ed Locke
Year: 1986
Model: Thomas Bradley
Ph: Joel Baldwin

Is this the man with the secret tattoo?
Now that you know about it, it's not a secret anymore, is it? 
Your tattoo is safe with me. Were you able to get a taxi ?
I walked home. 
And how was Paris while all the sensible folk were still in bed?
It was grey and drizzling and bloody marvelous. I kept making up poems with your name in them. Also a love song that, for rhyming reasons, ended up being all about your right elbow. I don't think my feet touched the ground once all the way home
I meant to tell you. I love the way you smell. Most men's colognes make them smell like they take themselves too seriously.
I thank you. My Paco Rabanne cologne thanks you. My mother thanks you.
Your mother would never approve of what you and your Paco Rabanne do to me so let's leave her out of this. Am I going to see your tattoo again tonight?
That's up to you, Isn't it?


Brand: Paco Rabanne
Year: 1988
Ph: Joel Baldwin

How would you like to come and make a dishonest woman of me?
Where are you?
If you look out the window ...
... Porthole, you'll see a pink stucco hotel overlooking the bay. My plane just got in. I'm in Room 16. First bed on the right
You told me you hated flying.
I didn't know I'd miss you this much.
I never thought I'd hear you say that
I said to myself, " What am I doing up here while he's down there in the islands? He's probably wearing that Paco Rabanne cologne of his — and damned little else - and flashing that smile at all those able-bodied and weak-minded women he's meeting
Listen, you've caught me at a bad time, I've got a cabin full of dusky women in skimpy sarongs plying me with papaya and passion fruit. They've been teaching me the secret island ways of love, as handed down from generation to generation. Only four more lessons and I ...
Oh, shut up! Room 16 and step on it, sailor!


The Erotic History of Advertising
Aromatic Aphrodisiacs: Fragrance

Not convinced about the power of product placement? Paco Rabanne had no hesitations. The company discovered a way to inventively insert its own product-  Paco Rabanne cologne - into a series of sexually laden tête-à-têtes.

The dialogue belonged to a two-page spread revealing the inside of an artist's flat. Against the far wall a man sits up in bed, sheets to his hips, talking on the phone; an empty bottle of wine sits near the foot of his bed. The dialogue flows down the page on the other side of the ad.

Additional vignettes include a lonely writer in Pawgansett, a musician with a towel wrapped around his waist promising the caller another bedtime story, and a man on his boat making arrangements for a rendezvous. All flirted with their lovers over the telephone, and all plots revolved around a missing (or empty) bottle of Paco Rabanne.

The ads created a mini-sensation when they first appeared in the early-1980s. Readers had fun guessing what the other person looked like. Some even speculated about the caller's gender-notice that the text is ambiguous, and there is that reference about "a secret lover…stashed away in San Francisco."

An academic study even investigated another Paco Rabanne ad to see how readers interpreted the motive of a female caller-was she a slut, in control, out of control, rich?

The Paco Rabanne campaign didn't contain nudity (much anyway), and it didn't come right out and say, "This is what attracts her to you…or you to him." But, like most fragrance advertising, the campaign did create a sensual mood, and moods are essential in fragrance advertising. "A fragrance doesn't do anything. It doesn't stop wetness. It doesn't unclog your drain. To create a fantasy for the consumer is what fragrance is all about.


In the 90's the campaign was starred by Thomas Bradley, it was different but the slogan remained,  "what is remembered is up to you"


Shana said...

Seriously, GQ needs to hire you as a Historian! This is great work!

Johec said...

thanks Shana :)

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