In preparation for an upcoming project, I've been looking over a lot of different sites for high end perfumes and/or high fashion. Noticed that most of them (at least the perfume ones) have almost the same look and feel. I like the sparseness and simplicity of them, but the color schemes drive me nuts. I'm wondering if there are any scientific underpinnings of this trend? I mean ANY. I find them so off-putting it's not even funny, but I'll have to work closely with fairly high ranking company rep and keep a straight face.


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    p.s. "work closely with high ranking company rep and keep a straight face" is an essential design skill :D Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:54
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    Complete shot in the dark, but I'd guess that one company started doing it, then other companies copied it to stay competitive. Or something like that.
    – JohnB
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:09
  • @ user568458 stand by, agreed, i'm concerned about my subconscious getting the better of me and making my yapper do horrible things
    – vector
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:45
  • @ JohnB - that's what I'm suspecting a little bit.
    – vector
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 16:03
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    Could have something to do with the limitations of the cart they're using, not limited to specific colours, but limited by where they can add color and how it can be balanced, creating a new color scheme for an existing layout can be difficult so the easiest option is what works for perfume giants like Givenchy. Also, by using so little colours the art of the products sell themselves, a trend that has always been present in the perfume industry.
    – Dom
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 16:49

4 Answers 4


I can't tell you about scientific reasoning, but as someone who spends a lot of time browsing perfume sites, my guess is that it's to emphasize the bottle and perfume.

The design of the bottle is as much a selling factor as what the perfume smells like. You may have differences among lines, but generally, a brand has a look, and a family, so that you know what you're picking up before you even smell it. (Perfume makers also have reputations and brands, so if you like one scent by Olivia Giacobetti you may like others, but that's not a design issue.)

Examples of brand lines:


The Different Company

Boadicea the Victorious

The color of the bottle, the label, the liquid itself are all part of the selling experience. Marketing copy emphasizes how the thick solid bottles of TDC feel good in your hand and are refillable, while Comme des Garçons has smaller, daintier bottles because their product costs a third of the price of TDC's.

A minimalist monochrome website design emphasizes the product. I'm thinking that several companies figured this out independently, and the rest followed suit because it worked.

(I note with amusement that Lucky Scent, the website for all those links, does not have a monochrome scheme.)

  • You did not mention that even within brand, there are threads of design which differentiate. The webdesign must work with all designs.
    – horatio
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 19:38
  • @horatio Sorry, thought I covered that with "You may have differences among lines." And I don't understand what your second sentence has to do with anything. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 23:16

Its partly what John and Lauren Ipsum said but its also because black matches everything and is timeless.

Black never goes out of style

In art and architecture schools they often teach students to wear black, gray or very muted colors in presentation for similar reason - it doesn't distract from the project. Steve Jobs can be a prime example of this. When your product is supposed to be the star, especially with something like makeup (which many if not all of these examples also sell) to match a color scheme. Even Pantone's website is predominately white and black/grays with very little to no color outside of the products and a few hints at the color of the year. If I have a green logo and orange background and then am trying to sell 15 different shades of orange makeup there's a real challenge there... luckily though black matches everything and never goes out of style.

  • Makes sense. On Pantone, however, interesting thing happens when you place something in cart and go to checkout.
    – vector
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 20:35

It is because black and white color schemes promote the feeling of elegance, luxury and sophistication. Same reason luxury cars like BMW and Mercedes use those color schemes.

Here is an infographic that covers some of the moods each color associates with.

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    Actually, the black in cars has more to do with it's reflectiveness. The better the curvature of the surface, the more you want to show it off. And black really does that for you.
    – KMSTR
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 6:38
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    @KMSTR That is true too, but you'll notice any company pushing 'luxury' sticks to those colors, while any car that is 'sporty' is usually red, which promotes passion and intensity.
    – John
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 16:34

It's part of the fashion industry. The fashion industry, as a whole, has always tended to stick with the tried-and-true black and white high-contrast aesthetic in their branding.

Perhaps it's just tradition--maybe stemming from black tie formality--or perhaps it's just a nice backdrop for the fashions themselves.

Regardless, it's simply a long-standing trend for this industry. And due to that, the stark black and white pallet now tends to give off a 'luxury' vibe even when used outside the fashion industry.

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