Deciphering the message in the perfume bottle

Panagiotis Xouplidis

Punctum, 3(1): 94-118, 2017
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2017.0008


Humans hardly ever perceive odors in a neutral and objective manner as their perception comes loaded with attractive or repellent impressions emotionally dominating the brain’s connection with the outside world. Although the sense of smell is rather undervalued and the natural body odor is stigmatized in the ‘olfactory silence’ of the modern de-odorized era, the still-growing multi-billion dollar perfume industry exploits the indescribability of odor, cultivating the myth of the magic allure of perfume. Considering the fact that in modern Western societies the majority of perfumes are created and commercialized for female consumers in search of a perfumed gender specific identity, the article discusses two emergent themes from a social semiotic perspective: the feminine perfume olfactory system and the consumers’ preference patterns of perfume according to the cross sensory perception management of perfume packaging in the form of the perfume bottle.

KEYWORDS: olfaction, perfume, cross-sensory perception, multimodality
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