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Gainsbourg’s smoky voice selling perfume in France

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Gainsbourg’s smoky voice selling perfume in France

A good article:

PARIS (Reuters) – The work of Serge Gainsbourg, the
large-nosed, Gitanes-smoking French icon whose jazzy, bohemian
songs exemplified a sexually liberated France of the 1960s and
1970s, is enjoying a resurgence in the most unlikely of places —
perfume ads.

Two upscale brands, Christian Dior and Guerlain, both controlled
by luxury giant LVMH, have chosen Gainsbourg’s rasping voice for
television ad campaigns currently running on French TV for the
perfumes Miss Dior and Shalimar.

The artist who half-spoke, half-sang his songs and died in 1991
is beloved in France. Despite what he himself called his ugly face,
Gainsbourg had a long string of lovers, including Brigitte
, and brought a sexually charged energy to his music
that is now being seized on by advertisers.

In the ad for Shalimar, a brand that first debuted in the 1920s,
naked model Natalia Vodianova writhes on an unmade bed as the
catchy piano riff of Gainsbourg’s “The Initials BB” plays.

Gainsbourg’s most suggestive and once-censored song, “Je
t’aime…Moi Non Plus,” (I love you … me neither’) which he
recorded with then-lover Jane Birkin is the soundtrack
to a Miss Dior perfume ad shot by director Sofia Coppola and
starring Oscar winner Natalie Portman.

As Birkin’s breathy voice catches in an apparent sexual climax,
Portman lounges in a lavish, sun-filled Paris apartment,
occasionally sniffing pink roses or gazing longingly at her
tuxedo-clad lover.

Gainsbourg’s status as an icon of “chanson” — that decidedly
French genre of lyric-based poems sung by such greats as Edith Piaf
and Jacques Brel — makes him an attractive target for advertisers,
argues David Looseley, emeritus professor of contemporary French
culture at the University of Leeds.

“These people, once they’re dead, they’re immediately acquired
for their nostalgic element which gives the product not just the
image of contemporary sexiness but an extra allure of the past,”
Looseley said.

The consumer products, he said, are then colored with a
“slightly sepia edge,” a retro quality that “slightly distances the
sexuality… makes it a bit more palatable.”

Gainsbourg’s popularity has never really faded — his grave in
Paris’s Montparnasse cemetery still attracts fans who leave
flowers, cigarettes and Metro stubs for their idol — but a recent
upsurge in interest has kept his name in front of fans.

“Gainsbourg, The Man Who Loved Women,” a documentary released
last year, chronicled 30 years of the provocateur’s relationships
with a host of personal and professional muses from Birkin and
Bardot to Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Hardy and Vanessa

A film about the singer’s life, “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”
reaped France’s prestigious Cesar awards earlier this year for lead
actor Eric Elmosnino and director Joann Sfar.

Meanwhile, the actress-singer daughter of Gainsbourg and Birkin,
Charlotte Gainsbourg, has kept alive the name of her father, with
whom she first sang as a teen on his recording, Lemon

And like her father, the younger Gainsbourg is now linked to the
heady world of fragrance — as the face of Balenciaga perfume.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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Gainsbourg’s smoky voice selling perfume in France

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