“Hypnotique” by Max Factor

For the women born to enchant men. Max Fac­tor’s Hyp­no­tique … the new fra­grance that’s cap­tured the very essence of wom­an’s pow­er over men. Cool­ly and with great ele­gance Hyp­no­tique attracts … holds … per­suades … and then! Any­thing can hap­pen! (Adver­tis­ing copy from the first mag­a­zine ad.)

Descrip­tion: All cos­met­ics, includ­ing fra­grances, are designed in part to attract and focus atten­tion on the wear­er. Some fra­grances are just a lit­tle more bla­tant about it. Fra­grances with names like “Spell­bound”, “Hyp­nose”, “Mes­mer­ize” or “Hyp­not­ic Poi­son”  bla­tant­ly sug­gest the pow­er of com­mand­ing and con­trol­ling men (although Avon’s “Mes­mer­ize”, which was orig­i­nal­ly a wom­an’s fra­grance, is now being more direct­ly mar­ket­ed toward men, strange­ly enough.) Even fra­grances not so named are fre­quent­ly adver­tised using hyp­not­ic ter­mi­nol­o­gy and imagery.

But one of the ear­li­est and cer­tain­ly one of the most bla­tant of the hyp­not­ic cos­met­ics was “Hyp­no­tique” by Max Fac­tor. Released in the late 1950’s, the hyp­not­ic imagery was very notice­able in the mag­a­zine ads:

He’ll con­cen­trate … con­cen­trate … con­cen­trate on you … when you wear Hyp­no­tique.

Add the image of a love­ly and almost naked (the straps around the neck are bare­ly vis­i­ble) woman hold­ing the bot­tle of per­fume on a chain like a hyp­not­ic pen­dant, smil­ing sly­ly in invi­ta­tion as she gazes direct­ly at the view­er and the hyp­not­ic imagery is com­plete. Fur­ther mag­a­zine ads main­tained the hyp­not­ic or vamp motif, set­ting the per­fume bot­tle swing­ing hyp­not­i­cal­ly, behind which a pair of entranc­ing, star­ing eyes seem to trap the view­er’s gaze, or mysteriously.

His­to­ry: Max Fac­tor (neé Max­i­m­il­ian Fak­torow­icz) was a well-known make­up artist of the ear­ly days of Hol­ly­wood: he cre­at­ed his own make­up because the heavy the­atri­cal grease­paint make­up at the time was too heavy for the hot lights and the cam­eras. He cre­at­ed a vari­ety of make­up for the film and tele­vi­sion indus­try, some of which are still in stan­dard use today. He was also the per­son­al make­up artist for a num­ber of top Hol­ly­wood stars, includ­ing Claudette Col­bert, Bet­ty Davis, Joan Craw­ford and Judy Gar­land, going so far as cre­at­ing spe­cial make­up for them alone. His work was so famous that his beau­ty salon near Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard was extreme­ly pop­u­lar. Max, Senior, died in 1938 but his son Max, Junior car­ried on the fam­i­ly busi­ness through the time of the release of “Hyp­no­tique”. The label was sold after the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of own­ers and is now owned by Proc­tor & Gamble.

I have been able to track down three mag­a­zine ads specif­i­cal­ly for “Hyp­no­tique”. As can be seen, the hyp­not­ic imagery in the mag­a­zine ads would evolve over time. Unfor­tu­nate­ly I have not been able to ascer­tain a date for the last two ads.

In the first mag­a­zine ad above, in use from the ini­tial release in 1958 through at least 1961, the woman is almost dar­ing the view­er to be hyp­no­tized. Also note that the pre­dom­i­nant gold­en col­or of the ad that match­es the gold­en orange col­or of the con­tents of the bot­tle and the gold­en hair and jew­el­ry of the mod­el. The tone is more seduc­tive than hyp­not­ic. The mod­el, I been told but have not been able to con­firm, is actress Lana Turn­er.

In the sec­ond (1959) mag­a­zine ad, the tone is def­i­nite­ly more hyp­not­ic; the swing­ing bot­tle, the direct gaze of the mod­el, the phan­tom hyp­not­ic gaze hov­er­ing above the rest. The dark back­ground only empha­sizes the mys­tery involved.  It also changes the orig­i­nal text, plac­ing it behind the swing­ing bot­tle and mak­ing it more force­ful than before:

Make him con­cen­trate … con­cen­trate … con­cen­trate on you … when you wear “Hyp­no­tique”.

Note the descrip­tion “A mag­net­ic new fra­grance by Max Fac­tor” at the bot­tom, invok­ing thoughts of ‘per­son­al mag­net­ism’ or ‘ani­mal mag­net­ism’ from the time of Mesmer.

In the third (1961) ad, the sense of mys­tery is deep­ened and the ‘vamp’ motif is played up while the hyp­not­ic motif is down­played. The ‘induc­tion’ text is now miss­ing, along with any hyp­not­ic imagery, replaced with a larg­er and more sul­try image of a cool and dis­pas­sion­ate woman: note that she isn’t even look­ing toward the view­er. The only rem­nant of the hyp­not­ic motif is the tag line: “The per­fume for the woman who was born to enchant men.”

Com­men­tary: Com­ing as it did dur­ing the “Bridey Mur­phy” hey­day, “Hyp­no­tique” def­i­nite­ly seems both a reac­tion to and an attempt to take advan­tage of the inter­est in hyp­no­sis at the time. In doing so, it also plays in to a num­ber of stereo­types about fem­i­nine pow­er at the very begin­ning of the Wom­en’s Move­ment of the 60’s. Women were being encour­aged to act out­side the 50’s-era stereo­types, explor­ing new ones and val­i­dat­ing old ones as well. One of those old stereo­types was the hyp­not­ic vamp, cool and mys­te­ri­ous, pos­sess­ing the abil­i­ty to dom­i­nate men as opposed and in revenge to being dom­i­nat­ed for so long.

Triv­ia: “Hyp­no­tique” was appar­ent­ly quite pop­u­lar, judg­ing from the range of ways it was pack­aged. The fra­grance was dis­trib­uted in a num­ber of ways, not just in the tra­di­tion­al bot­tles but also non-tra­di­tion­al ways includ­ing lock­ets but the most inter­est­ing was a ring con­tain­ing a sol­id per­fume sam­ple, a rather inter­est­ing take on the poi­son ring trope.

Recomen­da­tion: Not real­ly much to rec­om­mend: the fra­grance has­n’t been pro­duced in over 30 years, although it still can be found for resale on eBay and oth­er online resellers / retailers.


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