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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Uninhibited by Cher c1988

"Uninhibited. Bottled, but not contained."

In 1988 Cher decided to introduce her own line of perfume. Called “Uninhibited,” a name that seemed quite appropriate for Cher, the line debuted with much fanfare that year. Distributed by Parfums Stern in association with Avon.

The Inspiration:

In January of that year, the chairman for Parfums Stern, Michael Stern saw the photo of Cher on the cover of Los Angeles magazine and he wondered why no one had gotten her name on a product. On Oscar night in 1988, Cher picked up the award for best actress for her role in Moonstruck. After approaching Cher with the idea of a fragrance, she enthusiastically agreed and signed the deal to go into the perfume business with Parfums Stern that same day. Cher was as serious about her fragrance as she was when making movies, as she exclaimed "It's something I really believe in."

The Fragrance:

 For the scent, she gave perfumers her own combination of fragrances and had final approval for the perfume. The scent was inspired by two fragrances that Cher wore together: Charles of the Ritz and Vanilla by Jean Laporte, a which she was mixing for her own use for 10 years. When asked if she knew what she was doing at first, Cher said that she "now knows a lot about it. I've always been interested in cosmetics and mixed my own perfume... Over the years everyone has remarked how great I smell. I mean, even David Letterman said "God, you smell good."That's a great compliment,”

Perfume creation is a lot of trial and error. The perfumers helped her to decide on which ingredients she wanted in the perfume, she chose her favorites: gardenia, vanilla and spice. She said "the chemists bring the stuff on a cotton ball and run it under your nose. they said I had a great nose."

The final combination for Uninhibited was created by Francis Bocris. Before it was released to the public, during the summer over a European vacation, Cher tried out Uninhibited on her friends and family during the testing phase and stated that her boyfriend Rob Camilletti "actually, finally liked it."

Cher says that when she and young actor boyfriend, Rob Camilletti were "first, first together, I sprayed my perfume inside his leather jacket" whenever she had to leave on a trip back to Los Angeles. He said "I can't stop thinking about you, I even smell you". "It's a wicked trick, but it worked," said Cher coyly.

So what does it smell like? It is classified as an aldehydic floral fragrance for women. Its character enhanced by romantic Casablanca Lilies- Cher's favorite flower.
  • Top notes: rum absolute, peony, dried fruits, bergamot, orange oil, aldehydes, Casablanca lily
  • Middle notes: Tahitian orchid, honeysuckle, lilac, carnation, tuberose, carnation, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, ylang ylang, tobacco, heliotrope, rose
  • Base notes: musk, vetiver, sandalwood, virginia cedar, vanilla

The Bottle:

For the show stopping bottle, she chose an earring she had worn in “The Witches of Eastwick” for the cap design of the stopper/cap. The bottle is of smoky crystal, the stopper is crescent moon shaped, studded with platinum and crowned with a frosted-crystal disk. The bottle's cartouche design was inspired, she said, by a small marcasite sarcophagus she received as a gift. Even the silver cord around the neck of the bottle is embellished with dangling beads, reminiscent of the jewelry she wears. The front of the bottle featured Cher’s name written in script across a metallic silver foil label.

Cher with a factice (dummy) bottle

Cher stated that "it's a charismatic bottle, maybe nostalgic too. You know the old days, - when you really felt life was romantic."

Packaged in a black and silver box, the perfume made quite an impression. A Cher memorabilia collector, Javier Ozuna, said that "even the perfume packaging reminds me of her - it's beautiful. I bought the $30 bottle of cologne, I can't afford the $300 perfume. Only her friends will buy that."

A very rare bottle to find is the preview flacon.

The included card states:
"It's a great thrill to me to share this preview of my new fragrance with you. It's been a long trip to this point but we made it. Now, you've noticed that this bottle of UNINHIBITED is coming to you in a lab sample container. That's because we were determined that you receive it at this time...to make you the first in the country to preview it. And actually, I think there's something kind of special and exclusive about receiving the fragrance like this--after all, the real bottle will be around for a long time and how many people will be able to say they had it before anyone else did? And it's the fragrance that really matters, right?" 

When the company decided to expand the line to bath and body products, they created the Cher Uninhibited Fragrance Club and sent out thank you letters along with an 8 x 10 autographed photo of Cher and two samples of the products. here is the letter below:

"Dear Cher Uninhibited Fan,
We know you're a fan of Cher and her wonderful fragrance so we're happy to welcome you to the Cher Uninhibited Fragrance Club. And we're thrilled to introduce you to the newest additions to the Uninhibited Fragrance Collection.
We call it Uninhibited Bath and it features four sensational products created to give you skin of Uninhibited  beauty. Each one is richly enhanced with the essence of Cher's favorite fragrance. As a club member, you have the privilege of being among the first to experience the pleasures of this collection with the two exclusive sample gifts we've enclosed in this mailing.  
Uninhibited body Lotion  is a glamorous skin luxury, blended through with subtle silvery accents for an extra dimension of beauty. It will leave your skin feeling sensually smooth and soft. 
Uninhibited Body Bath is a platinum gel that rolls across your skin like liquid silver, producing a profusion of lather that gently cleanses and nurtures skin.  
The other two treasures in the collection are Uninhibited Body Powder and Foaming Bath Powder which you can learn about at your nearest Uninhibited fragrance counter.
Cher is busy as ever. You probably have heard that her newest album, "heart of Stone", has already gone gold and is soaring near the top of the charts. She's in Boston right now filming her new movie, "Mermaids."
On behalf of Cher and all of us here at the Cher Beauty Division, we thank you for being such a big fan of Uninhibited. We hope you'll take Uninhibited pleasure in your bath gifts and autographed photo of Cher. You'll be hearing more from us soon. Signed, Alicia Greymont, Director of the Cher Uninhibited Fragrance Club."

Uninhibited was a full line that included the following products (with their original retail prices):
  • 1.7 oz Parfum - $300
  • 1 oz Parfum - $175 
  • ¼ oz Parfum - $65
  • 3 oz Eau de Toilette Spray - $45
  • 1.5 oz Eau de Toilette Spray - $30
  • 3 oz Eau de Toilette Splash - $42.50
  • ⅓ oz Eau de Toilette Splash mini
  • 7 oz Body Lotion - $30
  • 1.5 oz Body Lotion (in tube)
  • 7 oz Body Bath - $25
  • 1.5 oz Body Bath (in tube)
  • 5 oz Body Powder - $30
  • 6 oz Powdered Foam Bath - $30
  • 7 oz After Bath Skin Sensation - $18.50
  • Perfume Pen - $18.50
  • EDT Gift set with chainmail earrings
  • EDT Gift set with lotion and perfume sample vial

The Perfume Pen was a sleek, matte silver perfume applicator that came inside of a black pouch, and could easily fit inside your purse.

The Debut:

1988 kicked off with a promotional blitz including personal appearances at high end department stores to hawk her perfume. The tour also included about one million dollars worth of costumes and headpieces designed by Bob Mackie exclusively for Cher over the years. These ensembles were set up on display at the fragrance departments at the stores. The fragrance line was officially launched on August 10, 1988 in New York City at Trump Towers. For her grand entrance and picture taking session, she was clad in a glittery Cleopatra style costume, which was rather revealing from the rear. She told Bob Mackie that “she wanted something Egyptian.” The result was a sheer beaded gown, matching shawl, see through harem pants and a jewel encrusted wig.

Fans crammed the stores until the crowds spilled out onto the streets in hopes of catching a glimpse of the star. At Macy's in New York, over 10,000 women showed up to meet the singer. “This is something new to me as a business. Uninhibited means something different to every one of us...It can suit every woman’s idea of fantasy. My perfume is not me wanting women to emulate me, it's me having the privilege of saying this is what think women might want," Cher told reporters at the Plaza Hotel, while wearing a black, skin-tight off the shoulder mini dress by Bob Mackie, adorned with a peek a boo lace hem and single lace sleeve. Although her idea of fantasy is "running naked through the park." Michael Stern, president of Parfums Stern, said the fragrance will be available about Nov.

Cher with factice (dummy) bottle

Launch Party:

 Studio 54 threw a lavish star studded Halloween party at the newly refurbished Century Paramount Hotel in New York near the theater district to help celebrate the debut of her perfume. The party was held in the old Billy Rose Diamond Horseshoe nightclub and it’s theme was astrology. Guests were sent invitations inside plastic enclosed globes, and she asked her guests to wear costumes or something "uninhibited black tie."

Young women dressed in merry widow corsets and other underwear lined the entrance. Witches garbed in white handed white wigs and nose/mustache/glasses disguises to guests. DJ's Anita Sarko and Dina Regine kept the crowd dancing and entertained all night. The party featured an open bar, roast beef, crab leg, puff items, desserts and plenty of dancing. A glitter and confetti explosion helped the party go out with a proverbial bang.

Cher again dressed up in her Bob Mackie Egyptian goddess ensemble to promote the perfume. One attendee at the party claimed that Cher's costume was a "combination of gaudiness and taste, as she is now all things to all people." Cher headed straight for a fortuneteller's tent and had her palm read by a psychic all the while watched over by her companion/bodyguard dressed in a long red dress. After taking promotional photos in the Cleopatra get up with the press, she changed into a slinky, black shirred jersey and lace spandex minidress by Giorgio di Sant'Angelo.

The Halloween affair was attended by 500 of her closest friends including Sylvester Stallone (with Viennese model Kim Andrea), Eric Stoltz, Christopher Reeve with Dana Morocini, Debra Winger, Faye Dunaway, Francis Ford Coppola, Debbie Harry, Lorne Michaels, Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager, Liza Minnelli (escorted by designer Halston), Liz Smith, Barbara Walters, Chris Stein, Stephen Sprouse, Beverly Sills, Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley, Harry Jay Katz (and wife Andrea), Gloria Steinem, Billy Crystal, doorman Haoui Montaug, Carmen Maura, Cindy Adams, designers Betsey Johnson and Bob Mackie, musician Jim Matus, Mort Zuckerman, Toni C., Blythe Danner, Bianca Jagger, Tony Bill, Francesco Scavullo, the Beastie Boys, Penny Marshall, Griffin Dunne, amongst other luminaries.


Jay Katz claimed Cher was "very loving towards" beau Rob Camilletti during the party, who brought his parents to the fete. Michael Stern dressed as Louis XIV predicted that the sales of the perfume line would be "big! Really big. People  will buy because of Cher."

More Department Store Appearances:

At an Atlanta department store, she addressed the crowd saying, “This is really cool that you guys took off work to come and see me.” A promoter urged the fans to be uninhibited in their questions during a brief question and answer session, and many were. Cher was asked, among other things, the number and location of her tattoos. “ I guess it’s 5 ½,” she said, “one on my left foot, one on my right shoulder, one on my arm and the other two, only a very few people have seen them,” she replied coyly.

Speaking at another department store to promote her perfume, she was asked if she herself was uninhibited, Cher said, “I am not really gutsy as a person really. I think we should try to do things we are afraid of. Like, I couldn’t even dial the phone when I was a kid, I was so shy. My mother used to say, “Go head, Cher. Dial. They can’t see you.”

“But when I think of “uninhibited,” Cher said, “I think of running through the park naked or something but that’s like the kind of thing I couldn’t do."

She gave the media a cool reception at another store promotion, on account of an incident in which her boyfriend Rob Camilletti was arrested after a tabloid photographer claimed he tried to intentionally run him over with Cher's Ferrari. She was not happy about the bad publicity as it probably didn't help her perfume's ad campaign, as she made her feelings known to the hovering reporters around her, "The press is like humidity, it's there, you live with it." Gossip rags annoyed her with their vicious rumors and innuendos, and she said that "a lynching is the only gathering I'd invite them to." But she went right back to the task of promoting her perfume in the next breath, she said she felt as strongly about the fragrance as she did her movie role in Moonstruck and how the venture was something she "really believed in" so as a compromise with the press, she decided to talk a little about her perfume and her personal life, "but it's a rough tradeoff" she said.

Macy's in San Francisco had to ask its agency to stop advertising the new perfume because they couldn't keep it in stock. Four thousand people jammed the store on the last leg of the perfume's promotional tour, shouting "We Want Cher!" as the singer was late. Wearing her black di Sant'Angelo dress and a black leather jacket, she was most likely exhausted from travel and appearances, as she declined requests to sign autographs. However, she made one exception, and agreed to sign the shoulder of a man who wore a tattoo depicting her own leg, complete with high heel and her famous rose tattoo. One woman asked Cher "where are the most exciting places to put perfume?" for maximum effect, and the star quipped with annoyance, "I don't know, just don't put it on where it burns."On her way out of the mobbed store, she was boldly quoted as saying "In the best of all possible worlds, this really sucks."

Though she told a reporter that "I don't know that a perfume's function is necessarily to drag you to the bedroom. But it's the first step to have a man look at you and say "You smell really good."

She described her perfume as both "wild and innocent"and claimed she always wore perfume, even to the gym. She didn't regard perfume as a luxury, "when I get up in the morning I spray it all over myself in a figure eight design. Over the years everyone has remarked how great I smell."

The fragrance advertisements showed a slightly restrained Cher, in more modestly designed clothing, reflecting a different side of the star and ultimately women in general. At an appearance, she explained "I'm a different person with my kids, my boyfriend, in the gym..when I wake up." She then disclosed that she does indeed have wardrobe standards, despite some of the revealing outfits she has been known to wear, saying "I'm not under the illusion that I'm a great dresser. I don't believe we should dress to impress."

She urged her fans to be themselves and reveal their own personalities, "I don't want to be a role model. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it." She didn't want to name her perfume, Cher, because she "wanted a fragrance that's your perfume - something that's you. I don't want you to be a clone of me."

In addition to Cher's appearances, store displays helped create a festive and bold image to attract customers. A stylish fragrance tester display helped reinforce the product's launch. The display was engineered and manufactured by Trans World Marketing (East Rutherford, NJ) based on a concept provided by Parfums Stern, combined mirrored and frosted Plexiglass, a laser cut logo and hot stamping to showcase the product’s black and silver packaging. 

advertisement showing the counter display

Video monitors were placed around the fragrance departments running a continuous 10 min loop of clips of Cher in Las Vegas, clips from the "We All Sleep Alone" video, Cher speaking about the fragrance,  Cher modeling. The background music is "Perfection" and "We all sleep alone".  This continuous loop was repeated three times.

The video monitors also allowed for a live simulcast for the waiting crowds to conveniently watch when Cher would finally appear at the store. Silky silver lame banners silkscreened with a stylized profile image of Cher and the perfume's name were hung around the stores to advertise the fragrance. Giant light boxes covered in black laminate on the front facade with the same Cher profile image in white. These light boxes were fitted with a fan inside to keep cool and were an impressive 48" x 48" size. These display items are rarely found today as after the promotional campaign was over, they were returned to the advertising or perfume company or destroyed.

Customers were given collectible double sided gift bags, made up of glossy black paper and featuring the Uninhibited logo with the Cher profile image. Beauty representatives wore large silvery colored buttons to advertise the perfume. Paper cuff bracelets given out to customers recalled the image of the crescent moon on the bottle and could be sprayed with perfume and worn on the wrist or made into a skirt for the bottle.

The Success:

Uninhibited garnered more than $15 million in sales during 1988.

By 1989, the success of Uninhibited spawned a copycat fragrance, Untamed made by Deborah International, a company that produced other designer imposter fragrances in the late 1980s such as Eternity by Calvin Klein (Everlasting), Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld (Kleo), Oscar by Oscar de la Renta (Olivia), Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills (Gypsy), Giorgio Red by Giorgio Beverly Hills (Gypsy Rose), Knowing by Estee Lauder (Wisdom), Liz Claiborne by Liz Claiborne (Miz), LouLou by Cacharel (For You), Obsession by Calvin Klein (Enamored), Halston by Halston (Hemlock), Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (Omni),  and Lauren by Ralph Lauren (Leora).

The Aftermath:

Cher's Uninhibited perfume dropped from an impressive $15-million in sales in 1988 down to $10-million the very next year, and it was soon for sale (this time, by the company who made it ).

A series of disagreements about marketing resulting in poor sales by 1990 and the fragrance was pulled off the market.  Parfums Stern, distributor of Cher's fragrance, blamed the flop on marketing decisions. Cher wanted Uninhibited to be brought out as an expensive “prestige fragrance,” while Stern felt her felt her image had a broader appeal and that the scent should therefore be moderately priced.

Annette Green, executive director of the Fragrance Foundation explained in 1992 that Uninhibited bombed because of its image didn't have any association with the rebellious, leather clad singer, "the packaging was Art Deco, Cher's image is hardly Art Deco."  In 1994, Ms. Green also stated that "as it turns out, people didn't necessarily want to smell like Cher. They do want to smell like Elizabeth Taylor." by 1996, it was an industry joke, however many of its loyal fans still covet the long forgotten scent. I myself, prefer it over Chanel No. 5.

1 comment:

  1. as a long time Cher fan, i found this to be fascinating and quite impressive. it was very well written and i even learned a few things. thank you for doing the research and Chering this with us. :) xxx


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