Thursday, December 5, 2013

Iconic Moment: Jimmy Page and the Smell of Pantene (with Vintage Ads)

By Randi Reed

Pamela Des Barres, during an interview to promote her book I'm With the Band (about being one of the most famous rock groupies of all time), helped sell a boatload of shampoo with one simple line:

“He smelled like Pantene.”

She was talking about Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page (Photo: unknown)

To rock musicians at the time, Jimmy Page was a guitar god. Actually, he was more than that. Yes, Jimmy Page could play, but he was also a f**king enigma, which was reflected in his rumored lifestyle: he (allegedly) lived in a dark, haunted manor house formerly owned by Aleister Crowley. He was mystical and mysterious and dangerous-but-charming enough to flirt with the occult without seeming scary or even the slightest bit strange. He was known to sport a walking stick and occasionally even wore a cape--without looking like jumpsuit-era Elvis.

Later, I’d realize all this was likely the perfectly crafted imaging of an effective publicist. But  just for fun, let’s follow along with my early teenage brain on this: Jimmy Page was completely, unattainably godlike. And he had "bitchin' hair!!!"

So, when Miss Pamela uttered those four little words, “He smelled like Pantene,” it was like opening the magic door to the garden path that Misty Mountain Hopped its way to up the castle of the God. And goddamn it, every rock & roll chick wanted her Jon Bon Jovi Livin’ On a Prayercut to smell of Pantene so she could have something in common with Jimmy Page. Or breathe in his scent…or…God knows what, because we were too young at the time to even know what.

Never mind that we didn’t know which Pantene* Jimmy Page smelled like (which led to much discussion and unscrewing and sniffing of gold-capped bottles in the shampoo aisle of the local Walgreen’s among friends). But dammit, we had to have it! Goodbye Vidal (Sassoon), hellooooooo Jimmy! All at a drugstore price.

Image:   (unknown)

*Sadly--you may need to sit down for this--Pantene long ago changed formulas and fragrances, which unfortunately means that you can no longer smell like Jimmy Page...err, his Pantene. When the rock chicks used Pantene, the shampoo for each hair type’s shampoo had its own distinctive fragrance and was expensively packaged in pastel-colored frosted plastic bottles with clear and gold caps. The colors I remember were lilac purple, mint green, pink, and white. The bottles in this ad from 1988 ad are sort of how I remember the bottles looked:

1988 Pantene ad (Image: Ebay)

1982 Pantene ad (Image: Ebay)

1979 Pantene Ad (Image: Ebay)

Another blogber’s thoughts on the wonders of the smell of Pantene (sans Jimmy Page) can be read here:

Follow us on Twitter @CosmeHaul.

©2013 Cosme-Haul and Randi Reed.
Images are included in this blog solely for purposes of education and discussion under the Fair Use provision of US Copyright law. No infringement is intended, and take down requests will be honored if issued in writing by the copyright holder. If you feel your copyright has been violated, contact us in writing at Cosme-Haul 2219 West Olive Avenue Suite 136, Burbank CA 91506 or via email at cosmehaul (at) gmail (dot)com.