Imperial Leather: a question

A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, my lovely friend Stella tweeted that her husband had been reminiscing about Cusson’s Imperial Leather: “The first time we got it, it came in a cardboard box and I thought this is the poshest f***in’ soap in the world!”

To this day, I still think of it as fancy soap. In fact, the first time I saw it at the in-laws, I pointed it out to David and said, “Have they won the lottery?” Even though I know that it costs less than 50p a bar (cos I just looked it up).

But it’s the cardboard box and the little label that makes it seem like posh soap, innit? And I always thought the point of the little label was just to show off its fanciness, even when the box has been thrown away, but Frank Skinner was talking about it on his radio show the other day and he reckons the little label was to stop the soap sticking. To the soap dish, the side of the sink, wherever.

He said you put the soap label side down and it makes it easier to pick up again. He called it one of the greatest design ideas of the 20th Century. And then he said that’s why it has a little shaped plinth. Like a kitten heel, he said. “Bugger me,” I thought. “I never knew that.”

Neither did Emily, his co-presenter, and they talked about it being an Idiotic Eureka Moment, while I wondered whether everyone else knew this. So then I got home and googled Imperial Leather and found that, not only has the label been oversimplified to the point where it no longer looks fancy, but also the plinth has gone. Making me wonder if that was ever the point of the label in the first place.

It’s possible I’ve spent too long thinking about this…

What do you think?

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16 thoughts on “Imperial Leather: a question

  1. I just love the smell. Very evocative of childhood…

    Concerning the label, I’m sure it was even used in an advert as a USP…

  2. I don’t get why the label would stop it sticking (I thought it was always recessed) and I don’t remember a plinth… I do feel a lot of nostalgia for Imperial Leather, though. It always made me happy to use the angular soap with the gold label (which I now suspect was for branding as much as anything else) and I remember always wanting my mum to buy it. I just saw a blog post where someone was moaning about the label and saying it was a waste of time, and it made me very sad.

    1. No, definitely wasn’t recessed when it was on the plinth. Beki on Facebook has a bar at the moment with the label on a bump…

      Have just googled and apparently ad used to say the label stopped the soap sliding about (they advertised it as being used in space. Ah, the 80s…)

  3. The ad campaign assured us that the label went face down because “Imperial Leather always rests on its name”

  4. Imperial Leather is one of my strongest scent related memories. For as long as I can remember my grandad has had a bar of Imperial Leather on the sink (my granny’s side of the sink always had Palmolive). When I was young it always felt so indulgent to use my grandad’s soap (mainly I think because it had a label on it), and I adored the smell. There’s currently a bar on the sink in the shared bathroom here – every time I walk in I’m transported back to my grandparents’ bathroom.

  5. Oh I seee, it used to stick up. That *is* a clever design. I’m sure we always had it with the label showing, though. ‘Cos it looked nice. 🙂

    It’s a scent memory for me, too, Jenni. Takes me back to the bathrooms of my childhood. That and my Grandad’s aftershave, Old Spice. Ahhh.

  6. I love Imperial Leather and Cussons in general. And I remember one of my (girl, strangely enough) cousins once saying “ooooh, Imperial Leather smells SO gorgeous!” I had to agree. Every Christmas when I was small my aunty Kath would give me a lovely gift box of Cussons Apple Blossom – bath cubes, talc and soap. (Not one piece of plastic packaging in sight, thank goodness.) I loved it – Christmas wasn’t ever the same without Apple Blossom and I don’t think aunty Kath ever knew how much they meant to me. They stopped making those sets though, and I’ve been told that Cussons isn’t even Cussons anymore, just part of a large conglomorate. It’s all very sad. On a happier note, my new deodorant is Imperial Leather and it smells so fresh! (And so, hopefully, do I.) 🙂 xx

  7. Gosh, I think I am in the minority in my dislike for Imperial Leather. I had to ask my husband to stop buying it, because it reminded me of old people. I hated that the sticky up bit always used to get grubby and the label tatty. *ducks for cover*

  8. Well, I’m shocked, Cara! Reminded you of old people? What’s wrong with old people anyhoo? You’ll be old yourself one day….;/

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